RSS

St. Thérèse of Lisieux longed to be a priest

23 Dec

St Therese of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church (one who endows significant advantage to the church) by Pope John Paul II. She was the third woman to receive this title, which has been conferred on 30 men. Less publicised is the fact that Thérèse felt a strong calling to the priesthood.

As told by her sister, Céline Martin:

In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Thérèse told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: ‘You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest … If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations. So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn’t have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry.’ The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply.

via B.A.S.I.C.: St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

It is obvious that many women experience the call to ministry. It is patronising and abusive to insist that this call cannot be of Jesus. The Vatican Pontifical Biblical Commission ruled in 1976 that the New Testament had no admonitions against women as priests.  Instead, it spoke of tradition, of the male sex as a sign of apostolic tradition and symbolic of Jesus as man (ref).

The LCA, however, which holds Scripture alone as reference, cannot claim to be guided by tradition. It therefore continues to cast doubt on the theology of the matter.  The longer the Church continues its obstinate position on the matter, the longer the Word of hope is denied to women and men in congregations throughout Australia, and the weaker is our evangelical position within our communities.

Advertisements
 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2011 in theology

 

9 responses to “St. Thérèse of Lisieux longed to be a priest

  1. Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

    December 24, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Comments on ST. Theresa blog
    I appreciate the blog K&M have provided on this Saint; however, I feel it is incomplete and hence, I will provide additional information. I have added my comments as footnotes so as not to disturb the flow of the text.

    St. Thérèse of Lisieux longed to be a priest
    by Katie and Martin

    St Therese of Lisieux
    St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church(1) (one who endows significant advantage to the church) by Pope John Paul II(2) . She was the third woman to receive this title, which has been conferred on 30 men. Less publicised is the fact that Thérèse felt a strong calling(3) to the priesthood.
    As told by her sister, Céline(4) Martin:
    In 1897, but before she was really ill, Sister Thérèse told me she expected to die that year. Here is the reason she gave me for this in June. When she realised that she had pulmonary tuberculosis, she said: ‘You see, God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest … If I could have been a priest, I would have been ordained at these June ordinations(5) . So, what did God do? So that I would not be disappointed, he let me be sick: in that way I couldn’t have been there, and I would die before I could exercise my ministry(6).’ The sacrifice of not being able to be a priest was something she always felt deeply (7).
    via B.A.S.I.C.: St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
    It is obvious that many women experience the call to ministry. It is patronising and abusive to insist that this call cannot be of Jesus. The Vatican Pontifical Biblical Commission ruled in 1976 that the New Testament had no admonitions against women as priests(8). Instead, it spoke of tradition, of the male sex as a sign of apostolic tradition and symbolic of Jesus as man(9).
    The LCA, however, which holds Scripture alone as reference, cannot claim to be guided by tradition. It therefore continues to cast doubt on the theology of the matter. The longer the Church continues its obstinate position(10) on the matter, the longer the Word of hope(11) is denied to women and men in congregations throughout Australia, and the weaker is our evangelical position(12) within our communities.

    (1) Hence she should KNOW the Holy Scriptures.
    (2) October 1997. In declining health at the time – onset of dementia.
    (3) Agreed, this was possible.
    (4) Also known as Sister Genevieve of St. Teresa. (note the different spelling)
    (5) Impossible, the Roman Catholic Church did not and does not ordain females as priests.
    (6) By her early death St. Therese was protected from the sin of breaking Holy Scriptures.
    (7) Not being able to be a priest – or in our denomination a Pastor – is indeed a sacrifice which we can offer up to God. I know this from personal experience. I also wanted to be a Pastor and from my childhood my family prayed that I would become a Priest. I wrote earlier that there are other ways to serve which do not offend the Word of God; e.g. Chaplaincies, volunteer services or aid to the aged and disabled.
    (8) Departing from the NT Apostolic Instructions. The Holy Bible is our first and foremost authority in deciding what Christians can or must do; study our Sola Scriptura Doctrine; c.f. FC, Ep, 1.
    (9) The LCA – when it upholds its Constitutional Doctrine – does not see any way how a female can be a Pastor without breaking Holy Scripture; how can a female be leading a Divine Service with Holy Communion in total silence, i.e. without using the spoken Word? C.f. 1 Cor. 14:34-38, and 1 Tim. 2:11-12.
    (10) The LCA is not obstinate in its position; it adheres to its Constitutional Doctrine.
    (11) The Word of hope is not denied! What is denied is the feminist drive to have females officiating in the Christian Church against the Word of God.
    (12) The “evangelical position” cannot and should not be confused with the “feminist position”.

    Barney

     
  2. Marg

    December 24, 2011 at 4:11 am

    Christian, we have spoken before over the internet. I notice that you provide 1 Cor 14:34-38 to support your claim that women cannot lead a church service.

    Do you think that 1 Cor 14:34-38 prohibits all women from all forms of speech in every church service for all time?

    I believe this prohibition refers to a specific kind of speech in a particular context, and cannot be used to silence women who are called and gifted to be leaders and teachers.

     
  3. Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

    December 24, 2011 at 5:26 am

    ” … God is not a God of disorder but of peace as in all the churches of the saints … what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. Anyone who does not recognise this is not to be recognised.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 – 38. NRSV

    No doubt Marg, you are familiar with the text represented by the “…”! For your benefit, I repeat; “As in ALL churches of the Saints.” [my emphasis]. St. Paul did not say “as in all churches today” [first century] but “as in ALL churches of the Saints. and “Anyone who does not recognise this is not to be recognised.”

    Barney

     
  4. Marg

    December 24, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Barney, your reply has answered part of my question. But just to be clear, do you think the command is for total silence from all women during church services?

     
  5. Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

    December 25, 2011 at 4:25 am

    Marg, if you were to study the writings of Dr. Martin Luther, you’d find that he did not object to women praying, or singing. It is the leading and or teaching part in the liturgy when no willing or capable men are available that is the crux here. Where no willing or capable men are available the Word must be preached. I am not going to insult your intelligence by specifying or limiting cases where this can be done in good faith and in obedience to the Word of God.

    BArney

     
  6. Marg

    December 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Barney, In your original reply to this post you stated that “The LCA . . .holds Scripture alone as reference . . . ” If this is the case, I wonder why you bring Luther into this discussion?

    I also cannot see that scripture substantiates your view: “It is the leading and or teaching part in the liturgy when no willing or capable men are available that is the crux here. Where no willing or capable men are available the Word must be preached.” What scriptures did you have in mind when you wrote this?

    In regards to 1 Cor 14:34-35:
    I believe that Paul is prohibiting a specific form of speech from the women, which has nothing to do with either liturgy or leading.

    Silence is called for three times in 1 Corinthians 14 – in verses 28, 30 and 34. In verses 28 and 30, silence is called for in specific situations to regulate congregational contributions to the meetings. (The “silence” in verses 28 and 30 is not gender specific.) It is very likely that the silence called for in verse 34 is also addressing a specific situation and is not meant to be a blanket statement to silence all women for all time in church meetings.

    From clues given in this passage, I believe that Paul is prohibiting women who were asking nuisance questions during church meetings. Instead of asking basic, even ignorant, questions that were disturbing the order of the meetings, Paul tells the women that if “they want to LEARN (mathein)” something they should ASK their husbands at home. (This was sound advice for the time, as men were generally more educated than women at that time.)

    Paul condoned women who prayed and prophesied aloud in church meetings. If Paul did not prohibit women from prophesying, it seems unlikely that he would prohibit any other edifying and influential spoken contribution from women during church meetings. Significantly, Paul lists the ministry of prophecy before the ministry of teaching in the lists of ministries in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and in Ephesians 4:11. (cf Ephesians 2:20a; 3:5b.) Many of Paul’s most valued ministry colleagues were women.

    It seems a shame that called, gifted and godly women are barred from some forms of ministry on the basis of inadequate (and even faulty) interpretations of just two scriptures – an awful shame.

     
  7. Christian P.J. Bahnerth PhD

    December 26, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Dear Marg,

    I’ll try to answer your l o n g reply bit by bit, even though after the recent unexpected death of one of our Elders I have become a little “time poor”.

    Re: “The LCA … holds Scripture alone as reference … ” For further guidance on this please see you Constitution Article II. For further detail also see the Formula of Concord, Epitome Article I,1-2 which also reads:

    [PART I: EPITOME]

    A SUMMARY EPITOME OF THE ARTICLES IN CONTROVERSY AMONG THE THEOLOGIANS OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION EXPOUNDED AND SETTLED IN CHRISTIAN FASHION IN CONFORMITY WITH GOD’S WORD IN THE RECAPITULATION HERE FOLLOWING

    THE COMPREHENSIVE SUMMARY, RULE, AND NORM ACCORDING TO WHICH ALL DOCTRINES SHOULD BE JUDGED AND THE ERRORS WHICH INTRUDED SHOULD BE EXPLAINED AND DECIDED IN A CHRISTIAN WAY

    1 1. We believe, teach, and confess that the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged, as it is written in Ps. 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And St. Paul says in Gal. 1:8, “Even if an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.”
    2 Other writings of ancient and modern teachers, whatever their names, should not be put on a par with Holy Scripture. Every single one of them should be subordinated to the Scriptures and should be received in no other way and no further than as witnesses to the fashion in which the doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved in post-apostolic times.

    The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 1959 (T. G. Tappert, Ed.) (464–465). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
    Re: “Specific forms of speech from the women … ” v28, 30 & 34 sigato, “let be silent” i.e. not speaking, the first 2 refer to all present but v 34 is specific for women. If the word hesuchia was used it would mean “in studious attention” as it appears elsewhere.

    Re: Where no willing or capable men are available …”
    Martin Luther, who always spoke very highly of women, especially his wife, writes about service by women thus;

    “A woman is not permitted to preach, but she should be subordinate and obedient.” … Thus Paul charges Timothy to entrust the preaching of the Word of God to those who are fitted for it and who will be able to teach and instruct others [II Timothy 2:2]. The person who wishes to preach, needs to have a good voice, good eloquence, a good memory and other natural gifts; whoever does not have these should properly keep still and let somebody else speak. Thus Paul forbids women to preach in the congregation where men are present who are skilled in speaking, so that respect and discipline may be maintained; because it is much more fitting and proper for a man to speak, a man is also more skilled at it.
    Paul did not forbid this out of his own devices, but appealed to the law, which says that women are to be subject [Genesis 3:16]. From the law Paul was certain that the Spirit was not contradicting Himself by now elevating the women above the men after He had formerly subjected them to the men; but rather, being mindful of His former institution, He was arousing the men to preach, as long as there is no lack of men. … Therefore order, discipline, and respect demand that women keep silent when men speak; but if no men were [available] to preach, then it would be necessary for the women to preach.”

    Luther, M. (1999, c1959). Vol. 36: Luther’s works, vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Page 151-152). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

    Re: “Paul condoned women who prayed and prophesied … ” Our discussion is on whether a woman can be a Pastor, NOT on whether a woman can pray.

    Re: “It seem a shame …” Yes it seems very unbalanced to us mere humans that God in HIS wisdom has made rules that our finite minds cannot grasp. Also not every one can understand the most endowed teachers in the Christian Church in their interpretation of what God has caused them to write, St. Peter for instance writes about St. Paul that he was not always easy to understand. Among my descendants – all females – there are several with excellent minds, who could learn to be ministers of the Word and the Sacraments, but alas such is not to be.

    Finally, I believe that Lutheran Doctrine is always unchangeably Lutheran

    “If the whole nominally Lutheran Church on earth should fail to observe the Lutheran doctrine, that doctrine itself would remain as really and truly Lutheran as it ever was. A person or a group of people may cease to adhere to Lutheran doctrine, but a doctrine which is a true Scripture based Lutheran doctrine once, is and remains Lutheran doctrine forever. It is the people who fail to observe a true Scripture based Lutheran doctrine who then, ipso facto, cease to be true Lutherans, even if they – then falsely – adhere to the name ‘Lutheran’.
    Hence, now, as in the beginning of the Reformation, we cannot call a group of believers, a Congregation, a Parish, or a Synod; ‘Lutheran’ if it does not adhere to each and all of the Doctrines of the Augsburg Confession, c.f. the Formula of Concord.”

    Bahnerth, C. P.J. Public Office in the Household of God.

    Barney

     
  8. PIchi

    January 12, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Barney, your comments show you search for answers. I wonder what you think the main purpose is of God’s gift to us, of God’s gift of Christian ministry? Luther did very well for us in the fifteenth century, helping us to work with the reality of God’s word in our world. What is the reality today?

    When we consider things spiritual we are considering things deeply part of ourselves, deeply emotional. My youngest son came across the term ‘conformational bias’ in his studies, about being biased to accept only data/information/input which conforms to that which we have already set out minds upon. Considering our Christian faith and life we need to know from which garbage our Lord has freed us and to which life-generating absolutes our Lord frees our access.

    Pichi

     
  9. PIchi

    January 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Sorry – sixteenth century. And ‘set our’ not ‘set out’. Still taking strong immunosuppressants so not quite with-it.
    Important stuff to think through, though.

    Pichi

     

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: