I’m a Catholic woman who was allowed to preach at Mass—until it was banned

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Editors’ note: For another take on the question of women preaching during Mass, read “Should Catholic women preach at Mass? Here’s a better question.

“Mary,” Jesus said to her. When she heard him call her name, she responded, “Rabbouni!” Teacher.

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“Go to my brothers,” he said, delivering a direct commission to announce the “good news.”

“I have seen the Lord,” she told the disciples.

•••

In our parish in Northern California, lay women began to preach the good news during the Sunday liturgy in 1996. The practice emerged from within the faith community. Several women had approached our pastor and spoke of the devastating lack of women’s spiritual wisdom and leadership in the church for 2,000 years. We asked: Couldn’t women, who feel called and are prepared, give a homily—a teaching that expands on the message of the Scripture readings and invites listeners to a change of mind and heart?

“I wondered if anyone would ever ask,” he said.

Mary of Magdala (Icon by Bonnie Hardwick, a secular Franciscan living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.)
Mary of Magdala (Icon by Bonnie Hardwick, a secular Franciscan living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.)

Like Mary of Magdala, women who gave homilies had experienced a deep call and felt commissioned to share the good news. We had discerned both with our spiritual directors and pastor. All of us who were lay preachers had studied theology at the university level—some had earned a masters of divinity degree. Some were or had been members of a religious order or had special knowledge of a particular pastoral issue within our parish community. We had demonstrated an expertise or experience of the lay faithful, as required by Canon Law (No. 766).

Members of the congregation told us they were eager to hear our words. One parishioner said to me: “Hearing a Catholic woman reflect on the Word during Sunday’s liturgy is a breakthrough experience for women and for men. It strengthens us as the body of Christ.” We felt that the church, local and universal, recognized in us the gifts bestowed on us by the Spirit—the fresh perspectives we contributed to the community—just as the early Christian church had recognized women’s leadership.

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Each time one of us preached, the pastor who had first invited us wrote a two-page, single-spaced letter to whomever had spoken, warmly commenting on the delivered homily. Once a year, the parish priests invited us lay preachers to dinner at the rectory, where together we discussed what went well and what we might do better. We women felt enmeshed in the prophetic leadership of the parish.

Parishioners might say, as the townspeople of Samaria did 2,000 years ago, “We believed in Him on the strength of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:3).

•••

In 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accordance with No. 766 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, declared that “preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.” Nevertheless, the conference recognized the right of each bishop to permit the practice of lay preaching in his own diocese, though not during the time traditionally set aside for the homily.

Like Mary of Magdala, women who gave homilies had experienced a deep call and felt commissioned to share the good news.

Our bishop and our parish priests, years earlier, had recognized the gift of lay preaching. Nobody expected that the clock might be turned back. But in 2009, restrictions began to be put in place. A new bishop in our diocese mandated that the priest celebrant must read the Gospel at Mass and he alone give a short homily. Lay people could then offer a “reflection,” sharing our thoughts. But we could not give a homily.

The congregation was stunned. Yet this was an order, and we lay preachers had no choice but to obey. In 2013, another new bishop arrived, and we lay people were told we could no longer give even a “reflection.” The crushing ban has spread to many U.S. dioceses.

A friend of mine in Wisconsin who had preached monthly at her parish for over 20 years wrote to me in “great sadness and disappointment.” She shared with me the letter she was sending to Bishop Rembert Weakland, a former archbishop of Milwaukee (1977-2002). She began by thanking the bishop for “opening the door” years ago by allowing lay ministers to be trained and formed to preach through the diocese’s preaching institute. She knew she had brought the Gospel to life in the hearts and minds of many who heard her.

We who preached had a particular gift to offer to the church, which our faith community affirmed. An institutional decision rejected the giving of gifts.

The clerical decision to ban lay people from preaching affects women in a particular way. Women are not allowed to be deacons, deemed unworthy of holy orders. Only in the last century have we been admitted to study theology at Catholic universities. In the movements begun by the Second Vatican Council calling for a greater place for the laity at every level of church life, women have seen new opportunities to share our gifts in the church, and lay preaching was one important way to do that. Of the 13 lay preachers in our parish, 12 were women.

In the past months, I have asked others in our parish whether they believed the ban on lay women delivering a homily affected their feelings about their place in the Catholic Church. Most said that they carry within themselves a sense of loss, of dislocation. Some women said they felt anger, others disappointment and discouragement.

I found myself in grief, as though a loved one had died. As mourners are often counseled to do, I realized I had to name and claim the loss to heal and go forward. We who preached had a particular gift to offer to the church, which our faith community recognized and affirmed. An institutional decision rejected the giving of gifts.

Catholic women are seeking community, are worshipping and sharing their faith in new ways.

Catholic women are seeking community, are worshipping and sharing their faith in new ways. While remaining Catholic, one woman I know now also participates in an Episcopal parish where she says she finds more inclusive language in worship. Another, who is lesbian, joined a Methodist church where she said she felt more welcomed in her sexual orientation. Some visit Protestant parishes where women preach. I have met Catholic women who have left the church to serve as ministers in Methodist and Unitarian congregations or as Episcopalian and Presbyterian priests.

Some Catholic women cannot find a home.

What kind of church are American women looking forward to in this 21st century? My friend Kristi, a lay associate of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, answers for many of us: “a beloved community.”

Kristi supports low-wage workers and immigrants who are fighting for justice and dignity in the workplace by helping them to organize for unions, health care and a living wage. “I am doing what I am doing in the world because of my Catholic faith,” she said.

In each of the four Gospels, Jesus commissions Mary of Magdala to go to the brothers and herald the good news.

Yet Kristi feels she no longer has a place in the church. “I had just been invited into lay preaching when the bishop stopped it in our parish,” she told me. “Days later, I dreamt I was being gagged, a black cloth covering my mouth, silenced, powerless.”

“At this point,” she said, “this church is not a healthy place for my soul.”

At a recent lecture at Santa Clara University, theologian Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., pointed out that for centuries the church excluded women’s voices and spiritual wisdom “because of our so-called feminine nature.” But she advocated for “courage and hope.”

Today women “do not have the authority of the church office, but they have the authority of their baptism,” Sister Johnson said. We were given new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. Girls and boys. We have to be deeply prayerful despite the conflict, she said. “You cannot do this alone.” Sister Johnson suggested we form support groups.

In our parish, we have formed a bi-monthly lecture, reflection and discussion series, just for women. Feminist biblical scholars examine overlooked stories of women in the Bible and provide skills to reconstruct biblical history in which women were central and active agents. Muslim women dialogue with us on their faith, and undocumented mothers share their stories, as do women ministering to girls who have been sex trafficked. We inform one another of needed social actions that reflect Catholic social teaching. We make retreats together; we visit monasteries where we search for wisdom for our everyday lives. Wanting to seek and share contemplative intimacy with God, we are forming prayer and spirituality study groups in our homes and apartments. Some women have joined religious communities as lay associates; others are forming new base Christian communities.

Women’s experiences and ways of relating to the mystery of God can be a vital source of spiritual wisdom, can help build up a vibrant and inclusive community and offer collaborative forms of leadership. After all, in each of the four Gospels, Jesus commissions Mary of Magdala—or Mary with other women—to go to the brothers and herald the good news.

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Michael Caggiano
3 months ago

Respectfully, the USCCB did not ban lay preaching in 2001 - they decided to reiterate the canon which had already prohibited lay preaching during Holy Mass. Just because a law was ignored for a period of time does not mean that it was always okay to ignore it.

You are still free to preach and instruct outside of the Mass, just as any other lay person, such as myself, is. But, because the Mass has become the only thing people go their parish for anymore because of the absolute disintegration of parish life in the last 50 years, I can understand the frustration.

Perhaps the correct move, rather than to lament our bishops actually enforcing Church discipline, is to try to revitalize parish life. Give people a reason to congregate other than the Mass. Celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours as a parish and have lay people speak to the readings in the Office of Readings. Pray the Rosary as a parish with lay-led reflections. At the current moment, the parish being only seen as a Sacrament dispensary is a pressing issue. Perhaps this helps to solve both issues.

Mary Peitler
3 months ago

Well, Michael, you hit the nail on the head with "the absolute disintegration of parish life" But why is this? Because Bishops haven't been laying down the law? No, because of the tremendous hypocrisy and clericalism many of us have seen during these decades. The pedophile crisis and incredibly terrible way it was handled, the lack of respect for women in the church, the elitism of higher clergy - so many people said "Why am I here and why am I supporting this institution?" If women were given equal rights as they are in the Episcopal Church things might not have "disintegrated." I attend an Episcopal Church and the best preachers are the women, priests, deacons and seminarians alike.

Josef Herz
3 months ago

Mary you are right, I have seen Seminarians and Priest who are arrogant and un-caring. Rattling off their duty of the prayers and disappearing faster than they showed up. Woman in the Pulpit would revitalise and revive the morose church.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

A group of presumably young Seminarians and 1 singular priest, should not be basis to refer to the entire Catholic Church made up of well over a billion followers, 'morose'! The Church, which is made up of all sorts of followers, some possessing stronger faith than others, is not perfect, but through Jesus Christ, is made perfect. The Catholic Church as its stands, possesses much theological riches and truth, that what is needed is for people to better practice it.

JOHN GRONDELSKI
3 months ago

No, the reason for this disintegration has been spineless bishops who refused to insist that Mass be celebrated as the norms prescribe because they were afraid of tackling pushy people who wanted to "do their own thing" regardless of those norms. No sympathy.

Mary Peitler
3 months ago

Well, Michael, you hit the nail on the head with "the absolute disintegration of parish life" But why is this? Because Bishops haven't been laying down the law? No, because of the tremendous hypocrisy and clericalism many of us have seen during these decades. The pedophile crisis and incredibly terrible way it was handled, the lack of respect for women in the church, the elitism of higher clergy - so many people said "Why am I here and why am I supporting this institution?" If women were given equal rights as they are in the Episcopal Church things might not have "disintegrated." I attend an Episcopal Church and the best preachers are the women, priests, deacons and seminarians alike.

William Juliano
3 months ago

Parish life has disintegrated because the Church has become too much a part of our secular culture, caught in between staying true to the Word and trying to accommodate the interests of an increasingly self-glorifying people. If the Church hopes to survive, it can't bend to the will of society ...it must encourage society to bend toward it.

Ami Adii
3 months ago

Too late. Because of their antics they've lost all moral authority.

Dale Athlon
3 months ago

Gay priests have lost their moral authority. Big difference.

Larry Motuz
2 months 3 weeks ago

Being a priest does not confer moral authority on anyone.

Alexander Fretheim
3 months ago

Actually the law does not even technically prohibit lay preaching during the Mass, it only prohibits lay homilies. This is actually why we Catholics refer to the sermon given at that time as a homily, because it is a specially honored and revered sermon given by the priest himself at a point of profound significance during the Mass at the very pivot to the beginning of the sacrifice. There is an earlier part of both Novus Ordo and Tridentine Masses typically reserved for parish announcements when lay sermons can in fact be given, in the priests judgment, but they are not to be homilies and they are not worthy of a homilies honor. Although I'm not sure the law specifically mentions this, while it is not an exact requirement for every Mass to have a homily, it would seem proper intuitively for any Mass that has a lay sermon to have a homily as well.

Latrell Castanon
3 months ago

Well said. A lay person (man or women) does not have apostolic authority to give a "homily". There should be a distinction between preaching a sermon or lesson and the Homily that is reserved for a priest who has been ordained.

Nora Bolcon
3 months ago

Why? If the homily is equally powerful to the sermon of an un-ordained person why do you care there is a distinction? Who are you trying to serve? God does not care that priests and bishops get treated as higher in status than the lay people they serve so why do you? This is what clericalism is in action. This ridiculous labeling of things by the person's title, as though that labeling of the same work somehow made the servant's work more or less powerful. Like when we call lay people "Readers" instead of "Lectors". I know many a Reader who is far more powerful at exhorting the scripture in a meaningful way over many ordained priests and bishops. Pay the tribute to the Holy Spirit who works through all equally who give of their efforts to serve the cause of Christ. Do you believe the Holy Spirit does not help the lay person equally to the priest when they call upon the Holy Spirit to be potent in their same service to God at that same moment? What kind of God does that describe? Sorry, lay person, but I am only going to let you be mediocre at preaching my Truth to the congregation so the priests don't look bad.

Larry Motuz
2 months 3 weeks ago

Any 'apostolic authority' that does not recognize women as carriers of the good news to others is simply a claimed authority to do what Christ himself did NOT do: namely, excluding women from preaching his gospel. Canon Law can be changed. It has been changed many times in the past. When it frustrates women's callings to preach, it may not claim to be respecting Christ's own acknowledgment of the central role they played in spreading his teachings.

Michael Bindner
3 months ago

There is an old saying about what animal the law is in cases like this.

karen oconnell
3 months ago

these guys are absolutely frightened to death for fear of losing relevance to a bunch of '''little women.''' it is laughable. ..... and to think we *used to* put our ''immortal souls ''' in their hands.!!! unbelievable......... and frightening. (wonder how many other hoaxes are drifting around.)

Kemper Wilkins
3 months ago

They have already lost relevance Karen. As you say, it is laughable. They are completely unaware of their irrelevance.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

I guess to many, like the Roman guards, who would have witnessed Jesus in his final hours on that Cross, his very small band of loyal supporters gathered underneath, inclusive of His poor mother, Mary - A bloodied, belted, humiliated and dying Jesus, by now even mostly abandoned by His apostles - would have also laughed hideously as yourself, 'Kemper' - for now, how relevant would Jesus have been in the eyes of many in his apparent brokenness of Mission? This is also the journey that Christ's Church must also take, in following His own Passion. Today, the challenge for all believers is to remain true to the Churches truer teachings and call. Of priests who have been bad example to the true teachings of Christ, they must face God ultimately for their actions, for they should have known better, but this should not deter anyone from belief in the true Church regardless. I still believe that the great majority of Religious leaders, whilst not all perfect just as lay people are not perfect either, are still good. Our God hungry world honestly needs what the Church can offer, especially in regards to the value it places on the inherent dignity and worth of every human life, which is being undermined everywhere today. Irrespective of what we perceive as failings by some religious leaders, this cannot diminish whatsoever the Mission of our Church that Jesus Christ Himself foundered, that continues to have a Mission in the world today, just as relevant and needed in the world as any other age before it. God Bless you!

Marco Luxe
3 months ago

Anne Jeremy: "especially in regards to the value [the Church] places on the inherent dignity and worth of every human life, which is being undermined everywhere today". I don't know how you square the "dignity and worth of every human life" with the systematic exclusion and undermining of women which is what the article is all about. You may be irony-impaired.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

And yet, I have never felt so valued, as I do from my Church, Marco - and I know countless women who think the same as myself - that's the truth! It is only a fool, the person trapped in the limited reality of this world only, that jumps up and down about these so called 'inequality' differences, because they only see things through the eyes of, greed; pride and soulless ambition, which I suspect might be blinding yourself as to what really is important. The world around us, despite all its technological advancement, wizardry; and wealth, across a broad spectrum of disciplines, capable of so much, is still so poor in what matters, and under threat of losing such values as true love of thy neighbor, thus an even greater need for a strong Church today. You are a fool Marco if you limit the potential of women in the Church to some requirement that they must be Priests; or preach from the pulpit. I can assure you, as a wife and mother of six children - I possess much ground empowerment to shape and influence people where it also matters. Likewise, I have had a long succession of religious vocations in my family, priests and nuns, who in their own way have achieved so much good, no one less important than the other. Likewise, I had a brother born mentally impaired; who could never speak; who only lived for a short time, whom ostensibly may well have appeared to the world as having so called limited value, yet in the eyes of my family; and in our understanding of God/His Scriptural teachings, was a Saint, whom God designed for a specific purpose, and continuing after his death. Our true worth, comes especially in serving others, not getting caught up in our own importance, Marco. Open your eyes, and you will see many good women absolutely serving God in so many ministries across the Church - in teaching, nursing, at parish level, and other very worthwhile ministries, including prayer, who would be absolutely incredulous at your distortion of things, as to what pleases God, for it is God only that we must please. And when I refer to the threat against the dignity of the human person, I am of course referring to the multitudes of people living in war zones; suffering needlessly from undernourishment; the millions of defenceless babies being aborted each year across the world; and many other human abuse violations that followers of Christ across all spheres of service are being called to address. There are so many ways to serve God faithfully, and ultimately, it is not about seeking gratification from one's fellow man that determines one's inherent worth, but God! Are you familiar with the Scriptural account of when they apostles were arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest? Jesus answered:
11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted". God Bless you Marco! Let us not get caught up in petty whining, when there are real battles to fight!

Ami Adii
3 months ago

Don't forget.. The True Church is all of us who identify as Catholic.. the real followers of Jesus Christ who founded this Church. The institutional church run by a cadre of ignorant "little men" has no moral authority. We will all have to answer to God in the end and they especially will have to provide an answer as to how they ran around for at least the last 1500 years telling the rest of the world what to do while all the time committing crimes against innocent people until finally getting caught with their pants down (no pun intended). For we know they NEVER would have cleaned up their act otherwise. The result is they've lost all moral authority.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

I accept that the clerical side of the Church is not perfect; yet nor are the laity either, and certainly not the secular world - all prone to sin and failure, yet prone to also doing great good. There are also so many wonderful holy priests and other Religious who have faithfully answered God's calling down throughout the ages, many bravely dying for their faith, or for the protection of others - think of the first apostles; the martyrs, those brave religious during WW2 who tried to assist the Jewish people escape the murderous hands of Hitler - here, think of Maxamillian Kolbe, a priest who volunteered to died instead of another condemned man, just so he might be returned one day to his family. That is a great story, and there are many like it. It seems apparent then, that God also knew that His beloved humanity were also not perfect, but still sent His only Son into the world to also save us. We will all have to answer for what we do in this life, and priests especially, who have violated innocents, in positions of great trust might answer accordingly. But as I look down through the ages, acknowledge many wonderful Catholic saints and leaders who have indeed lived good lives; and knowing as I do, that the Church belongs to Christ, I believe still in this Church, and its need to have a voice in our current world. For an exercise, do any search on the internet on Catholic charities, and you will see there are so many, hospitals and other charitable groups; voices also for the least and marginalised in our society. Without a Church, we though have no structure, - which is more important than people realise. I still accept that the Church hierarchy must still look into itself, making any improvements it can - but I feel justified in still saying, all is not completely bad either in it!

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

I joined the Catholic church in the early 90s in N. California. We had a progressive priest, girl altar servers, women were encouraged to take part. Now my church, to which I no longer go, is super conservative with constant eucharistic adoration. Things will not improve for women under Pope Francis - he has made clear what he thinks of women and their purpose.

Michael Caggiano
3 months ago

You say constant Eucharistic Adoration like its a bad thing - why is that? What do you make of the beautiful experience many, both male and female, have had through Adoration?

Please do not catch up the Worship of our Eucharistic Lord in petty squabbles between "progressive" and "conservative". There's no need for Adoration to be used as a watch-word against "the other".

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

Why do I think it's a bad thing? Because Jesus said "take this and eat it" ... he didn't say "take this, put it in a monstrance, and stare at it worshipfully 24 hours a day". It's an abstraction, Jesus in a knickknack.

Michael Caggiano
3 months ago

Crystal, I'd ask you to prayerfully reconsider your conception of Adoration as a fellow Catholic who would only want to see his sisters and brothers prosper in their prayer lives.

Adoration was a natural and organic development of the Church's very real belief that the Host literally becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. - Right before Jesus said "Take this and eat it", he said "This is My Body".

Christians began reserving the Hosts in a Tabernacle so that they would be available in the event of emergencies. A consequence of this is that Christ was thus physically present and available for veneration and Worship. Adoration is intimately connected to the Mass - it is not a distraction, or a knickknack.

Do you want to know how the Church can reach the youth, and teach them contemplative prayer? Take a look at successful Catholic Youth Programs. They almost always include significant periods of Adoration - not replacing the actual reception of the Body and Blood during Holy Mass, but as a further outpouring of our love towards Jesus.

Even if its not your cup of Spiritual Tea, referring to the Eucharist in a Monstrance as a knickknack is eminently disrespectful, bigoted, and short sighted.

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

Jesus gave the disciples an example of how to pray - it wasn't contemplative, it was conversational and with God. He asked his followers to share bread and wine and remember him, and that's what they did in agape meals after his death. The church has ritualized and rococo-ized everything. I don't think that's progress, even if it makes it easier to get others onboard.

John Wilson
3 months ago

I am one who feels that perpetual adoration is not necessarily a good thing. I would much rather see Chapels of Repose, where someone can go to pray in front of the Tabernacle with the reserved Eucharist at any time. In parishes with perpetual adoration, it seems they are constantly needing to recruit adorers to fill slots where they either do not have anyone or do not have sufficient adorers.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

You explained yourself extremely well and eloquently, Michael Caggiano. In fairness to Crystal, she is a convert to Catholicism in relatively more recent times, her induction into the faith, by her own admission, by a "progressive" Catholic faith community, which sounds concerning. One almost has had to have known soundly, the benefit of having parents/grandparents educated in the Catholic faith, prior to what I term, a distinct new modernism that has crept into the Church as if to undermine Her, to appreciate the beauty and gifts of what many modernists now regard, as old Church theology, to appreciate experiences as 'Adoration of the Holy Eucharist', which as I am sure you know, has been often associated with fostering faith vocations and other benefits in a genuine faith community, when practiced. My suggestion to Crystal would be to sit before the Blessed Sacrament and simply be; maybe to ask God to help her in her disbelief. For many, inclusive of myself, when I have the opportunity to sit before Jesus in this way, it is such a tremendous faith experience; one of typical peace, yet discernible powerfulness of experience, often where one can really listen to Jesus in a very tangible way. In our modern and noisy times, I would argue that such spiritual opportunities are a necessary 'time out' for the God seeker. It is sad that Crystal's earlier teachers of the Catholic faith, had not introduced her to this beautiful encounter with Jesus experience.

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

I'm not alone in disbelieving in transubstantiation. That doesn't mean I have no spiritual life. I practice Ignatian spirituality and have a fine prayer experience.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

My goodness Crystal, your response explains it all! If you can't believe in one of most important aspects of our Catholic faith, 'Transubstantiation' - then your conversion to the Catholic faith as you attest, never done! Any wonder you don't believe in 'Adoration of the Eucharist' when you are still a protestant, so doubt a loyal one in your prayer life and all, but not Catholic!

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

Crystal Watson, most true Catholics would be highly offended with your irreverent comments stated in your post!! (your comparing Jesus to a 'knick-knack'???) Wow, that is so terrible! Though to be fair to you, I see that not only are you a later convert to the Catholic faith, but that your induction into the faith, was achieved in what you readily admit, was a 'progressive parish' at the time. To an informed Catholic, the term 'Progressive' doesn't necessarily mean 'good' or 'true' - rather, quite the opposite, in that your faith induction appears to have been highly compromised by radicals within the Church (wolves in sheep's clothing!!). So this acknowledged, if at the very; very least, you were taught or understand that Jesus Christ becomes truly present in the consecrated Eucharist during Mass, whether we are receiving Jesus in the Mass during Holy Communion, or praying before the 'same' Real Presence in Adoration of the Holy Eucharist, the reality of God's presence is the same!!. Protestant faiths of course do not believe in any of this, because fundamentally, they reject the ordained priesthood! There is for many, a crisis of faith at the moment enveloping our Church - which even Jesus Himself foresaw, advising His faithful followers, that He would regardless remain with His Church until the end of time; and that, the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. (that she would in other words be tested, but still triumph, because of the great Sacrifice of what Jesus Christ achieved through His sufferings on the Cross, and triumph over death through the Resurrection). Please, condemn me or others on here because they might think differently to you, but don't blaspheme Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. If you accept Jesus is real when you receive Jesus during Mass, then accept He is real in the same consecrated bread and wine contained in the Tabernacle, as also used in the Monstance. I perceive that so far, no one has truly guided you into the beautiful theology of the Church, which has so many profound riches in its beliefs. Please, try and do some independent research on this subject, and you may be surprised at what you will learn. Just be open! God Bless you! Know, we are all journeying on the same road, and spiritual warfare is very real!

Paul Hierholzer
3 months ago

Unnecessarily wordy and pedantic. And spiritual warfare, as you see it, is not real.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

Paul Hierholzer, you only say the things you do, because you just don't agree with me, even though I speak what I know, is the truth! And whilst you may not believe in Spiritual warfare, the vast majority of informed Catholic believers in fact, 'do'. The Church also has priests who specialise in exorcising people possessed by evil spirits, just as in Jesus's time. If you even practice the Catholic faith, you would be aware that it is a regular event for Catholics to renew their baptismal promises, which absolutely includes, 'rejection of the evil works of satan' as part of its liturgical practice. Of course, it all comes down to faith! There is a famous saying, "for those that believe, no evidence is necessary; for those that don't believe, no evidence is possible". Please, if you are remotely interested in the subject of the reality of spiritual warfare, do some reading. Have you ever heard of St Padre Pio, a fairly modern times Catholic Priest (very holy man who possessed great spiritual gifts, but was also tormented by the devil). Spiritual attacks on him were in fact witnessed by others.) His life story is very compelling; and of course, there have been many similar Saints in the Church. There is much information about Padre Pio on the internet, including a movie about his life on Youtube. But then again, if you are stubbornly a non believer in such things, then nothing I will offer will change your mind. If you are a determined non-believer in things supernatural - then it is a curious thing to me, that you are on this site to start with!!! maybe you are indeed searching for something deeper in your life! Sorry for any unintended wordiness or being wrongly perceived by you, as pedantic. Definitely, not my intention! God Bless you! http://infallible-catholic.blogspot.com/2012/05/padre-pios-triumph-over-devil.ht

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

No, I didn't compare Jesus to a knickknack, I compared a monstrance to a knickknack. I've had fine guidance, thank you, including a few different Jesuit spiritual directors.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

I see now the basis for our interpretation of things. As you explained above, you don't believe in the Sacrament of Transubstantiation, thus this part of what most Catholics do understand is the summit of the Mass, where modest bread and wine, becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus, then it follows logically that you don't recognise Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament elsewhere, in the Tabernacle or Monstrance. Just to reaffirm, Catholics will refer to the Blessed Sacrament as, Jesus, truly present sacramentally, which explains a typical Catholic's reverence and why we also genuflect inside the Church, often in the direction of the Tabernacle etc - things like that. Sorry, when you said you were a convert to the Catholic faith in 1990 in one of your posts, I just assumed you were a Catholic, also believing in its doctrines. Other than this, I don't doubt you aren't a sincere person otherwise in your spiritual life. But perhaps now you might appreciate that if a Catholic believes Jesus is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine, He must be also in the Monstance (Adoration of the Holy Eucharist) thus you might understand why your comments seem also very offensive to a Catholic believer, acknowledging this being a Jesuit/Catholic forum page! God Bless you anyway!

Nora Bolcon
3 months ago

Hi Crystal,

I am thankful for converts like yourself. You know I am progressive - we have talked before. So this is just an aside or little note: Even some progressives like myself truly believe in transubstantiation and value time in Eucharistic Adoration. It certainly isn't my main prayer choice but many Catholics do feel closer to God during these times. I am only saying this since I know when a person feels continually attacked, it can lead to throwing the baby out with the bathwater before realizing there may be something worth keeping. Conservatives may push Adoration most but they are not the only ones who gain strength from this kind of prayer - they don't own it! All Catholics can gain from all forms of prayer that our Church offers to all equally. Anyway, hang in there! please! Women in this church especially need passionate caring women like you praying with us and sharing in worship. I am glad you found a kind of prayer life in Catholicism that fills you too.

J Jones
3 months ago

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J Jones
3 months ago

HI Nora and Crystal, I love time spent in prayer and rest in chapels that reserve the Eucharist ("Adoration") and I do not believe in transubstantiation. I have had some of my most powerful experiences of prayer surrounded by those prayer-soaked walls. As I have moved for my work and full-time volunteer Catholic ministry work, my spiritual directors have been a Dominican nun, a Josephine priest, a former silent monk-turned-diocesan priest and a diocesan priest/Cursillo director. My prayer life and ministry and participation in Mass and my conscience ----- and never my belief or lack thereof in transubstantiation ---- was our focus. I am a cradle Catholic, was properly Catechized, my spiritual directors were all very traditional

J Jones
3 months ago

Stuttering internet and finger....

J Jones
3 months ago

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J Jones
3 months ago

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J Jones
3 months ago

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Egbert Souse
3 months ago

No wonder you feel the way you do......Jesuit spiritual director is an oxymoron.

Caroline Daniel
3 months ago

i totally agree with you Anne Jeremy

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

Thanks Caroline Daniel! Nice to hear from you! God Bless!

Michael Bindner
3 months ago

Jesus would never sit on a golden throne. There is no way of knowing if adoration is reality, because you cannot have your Host and eat it too. We do know that no Jewish Rabbi would worship an item. There was no Adoration for the first 1500 years.

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

Michael, are you protestant perhaps or maybe are you a recent convert to Catholicism??? I only sincerely ask this because your statement is a odds with true Catholic faith and belief. Unlike other Religions, the Catholic faith recognises that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, modest offered up bread and wine, do in fact become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. This is something any well informed Catholic knows from when they are very young, and does not have to satisfy any proof method (do you mean 'Scientific'???) to be taken as reality. It is about simple faith conviction, of which many beautiful Saints and Martyrs have also been prepared to lay down their lives for such a reality of belief. Your reference also to the Jewish Rabbi not worshipping "an item" (which I think you must associate with someone worshipping a false God etc) is completely irrelevant to what Catholics believe, that the Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus, God, among us, as the Jewish faith doesn't obviously recognise Jesus Christ as God to begin with, thus would/could not believe as Catholics do, in the last Supper; nor that Jesus was the son of God, who would suffer, die on the Cross, and in whose Resurrection, Catholics believe offered all humanity Salvation and eternal life with Him. It is a reality of Catholic Faith additionally, that not only do we believe in the historical events of Jesus Christ's life among us over 2000 years ago, but that we also believe that Jesus Christ continues to remain with His Church in a real and tangible way, down through-out the ages, guiding his faithful believers; and that He will be with us until the end of time, thus why even when a new Pope is elected, Catholic leaders turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance, or when important decisions are to be made! The belief in the reality of the Real Presence is a natural development of what Jesus first established at the last Supper, and informed Catholics therefore also see our Lord's faithfulness to this promise to remain with us, in the reality of the "Real Presence" - in the consecrated bread and wine (Body and Blood of Jesus!) of which Catholics also adore (Adoration of the Eucharist). If you can even imagine that Jesus Christ is actually present when we receive Holy Communion, why would this not still be so, in the same Eucharist held in the tabernacle??? Of course, it all comes down to faith - and maybe for some, they are still yet to get there. Please, at least do some additional reading on the power of Adoration of the Eucharist; what it can mean to faith communities. God Bless you!

Crystal Watson
3 months ago

Almost 40% of Catholics don't believe in transubstantiation ... http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/201305/knowing-believing-and-sometimes-not-knowing-believing-too-27323

Anne Jeremy
3 months ago

Well, that is news to me! Oh I acknowledge we can all from time to time, experience dark nights of the soul; spiritual doubts - this phenomena also of course known to the Saints, old and new - St Theresa of Avila; Theresa of the little Flower, to even more recent Saint, Mother Theresa, yet despite their periods of spiritual sufferings, also still valued the Mass, and experiences, before the Blessed Sacrament still. I am a mother, who has been a Catholic all her life; whose six children have also made the relevant sacraments in the Church, and cannot say enough, that belief in Transubstantiation is a basic thing of our Catholic faith, referenced also in our normal Apostolic Creed as professed in a typical Mass on Sunday. I'm sorry, but your formation into the Catholic faith is a flawed one - if you believe that Transubstantiation does not occur! God truly help our Church if 40% of its believers thought like this as you attest! I have no doubt, that our Church has suffered from demonic attack, since it is the true Church, and which attacks must always seek to undermine the Priest's sacred role, thus the reality of the Mass - but any true Catholic who knows their faith, sees your position here Crystal for what it is - 'lies'. You deserved to have known Catholic teachers truly worthy of their calling, so you would understand its truths better. Even if I remotely plant a small seed, please do question things more profoundly than you are, if you want to call yourself a Catholic. As Catholics, we have been given one of most profoundest gifts in knowing Jesus truly present in His Blessed Presence; just incredibly Sacred! You might cite 40% or more not believing in anything Catholic, just as you might cite Catholics can believe in abortion now and still receive the Eucharistic sacrament - all such benign statistics and 'some' Catholic's actions don't account for much when they stray from the truth. But by the grace of God go I - and I always pray, God keep me faithful to the true Church!

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