It's been too long. I have had so much stirring in my heart, and not one decent moment to get any of it on "paper." So I begin with the earliest stirring...
A few weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI gave a stunning address on the feast of the Nativity of Mary. If you haven't read it you really should, and you can find his piece on Womem at this link.
In short, Benedict states that theology can be richly influenced by the theological expression of women, whose "specific intelligence and sensitivity" lend themselves to the mysteries of the faith.
This makes real sense in light of JP II's Theology of the Body, in fact. Woman has a deep tie with mystery. In her own body, she hides the source of her femininity; she carries within her the capability to grow life. She is, as he says, "the master of her own mystery".... And so, it is not surprising that woman would have a unique language and understanding for mystery, even the mysteries of the faith.
These words are electrifying. The shepherd of the Church carefully constructed, on the day of the Nativity of Mary, a woman who would not have studied theology, and yet lived it more profoundly than us all, an address about the ways women can contribute to the dialog. And more than that, he encourages women to join the conversation - even suggests they are particularly suited for it.
This is not the "boys' club" of theological education, an exclusive precipice for men alone. The Church is still evolving, but she is not stuck in imagined bonds of male domination. No! It is rather an acknowledgment of the voices that have been singing from the days of Hildegard of Bingen to Teresa of Avila, from Gertrude Stein to Janet Smith. Beyond a nod to women, Benedict makes an invitation to women who are called to discover theology. He urges those women "who carry out this service to do so with a profound ecclesial spirit, nourishing their own reflection with prayer. "
So why, when I read that phrase, did my eyes tear up, my heart leap in my chest, and I felt the need to stop and pray? Truth sparkles, in the same luminous way that Benedict suggests the work of female saints has done. And that truth is so bright and so real and meaningful. We women have a clear and strong presence in the church, to be sure. But some of us are called to a specific step of faith - to clothe ourselves in that "profound ecclesial spirit" and in that way to use the gifts of intelligence and sensitivity we have been given to seek God and to bring others to Him, who is Truth.
So, my sisters, especially those of you who, like me, find yourselves always driven passionately towards the Truth, who have gifts to approach and nurture the mystery, be encouraged! We too are on a luminous path. And our intellect, at the service of the Truth, can and will have a profound impact on the Bride, the Church.