Reclaiming the F word

‘Mum, what are you doing?’

‘Writing a post for my blog.’

‘YOU HAVE A BLOG?  What is it about?’

‘Faith, Family and Feminism’

‘You’ve gotta loose that F word mum, no one will read it otherwise,’ he said laughing.

And I wondered… Was he right? No of course not, but he did have a point. Mention Feminism and people roll their eyes and assume that they know all about you. What you are going to say, what you think, what you believe, what your responses are.

Couple that with being a Christian and all sorts of land-mines go off in people’s heads. Other Christians, or more specifically other Catholics think that as a feminist I only want Ordination opened to women. Secularists, question why I remain part of one of the most anti female religions on the planet.

Neither will engage in dialogue. Yes they listen politely but they don’t really want to know what I think, what I bring to the conversation or any insights I might have. Because they already know. And they are too busy telling me why I am wrong.

Which is why I have put off this post since day 1. Maybe it is still too soon, it doesn’t read as well, it is more emotional, not as clear as I would like, but I have to get it out there and this is the beginning…

Feminism is  neuralgic issue. It polarises people.

For me I am a feminist precisely because I am a Christian. For me feminism goes hand in hand with Justice. It’s about God gifting each one of us regardless of our gender. God’s gifts are limitless not limiting. Feminism, like Christianity calls us to build a place where all can call home, where all are valued, where all are respected and where all have choice. And ‘all’ includes both female and male, for men are bound by sexism too.

Yes we have come a long way since our grandmothers and great grandmothers fought for and won the vote. But there is still along way to go before the Kingdom is a reality. We can not say we are building the Kingdom, or that we live by Gospel values if we turn a blind eye to oppression. And that includes oppression of women which includes oppression of men too.

Every time we allow comments such as ‘she was asking for it’, ‘what was she wearing?’ to go unchallenged we are colluding with sexism.

And we all need feminism.


Every time we allow the same traits to be described in positive ways for men and negative ways for women we collude with sexism

And we all need feminism.

Every time we work to end poverty but do not see that women make up the largest section of the poor we collude with sexism.

And we all need feminism.

Every time we allow figures of speech which gender objects or situations negatively as female to go unchallenged we collude with sexism.

And we all need feminism.

Every time we allow language, dress, actions to keep women (and men) in their place we collude with sexism.

And we need feminism.

Every time we do not hear that the story is being told from the standpoint of patriarchy we collude with sexism.

And we all need feminism.

For me feminism is not about women being or seeing themselves as better than men. It is about not being humiliated, made to take the blame, being patronised because of gender, made to feel ashamed because I am a women. It is about equality, about having choices, about having the right to education, healthcare, of being valued because we are all born in the image and likeness of God, ‘female and male God created them’.

And I haven’t even started on the issues of gender and church…

But I will.

One word

Somewhere between Christmas and New Year, in that lovely lull which for me is a time of non routine and invites reading, rest and reflection, I read an article about New Year resolutions.

For many years now I have not made resolutions. It has something to do with not wanting to buy into all that false optimism that surrounds New Year. I like to think it is because one shouldn’t need a day to start afresh, to change something that needs changing, but it’s more to do with knowing that yet again I will disappoint myself with my lack of will power.

This article though, changed that. It invited the reader to pray and think about a word that they might live by for the year. Something in me moved. Maybe it was the suggestion of bringing it to prayer, maybe it was the simplicity. I don’t know. What I do know is that I started to pray about it and by the 1st of January I had my word.

This word does not fill my every waking hour, is not the foundations of my prayer but it is like the still small voice making a difference. Not all the time, but it is noticeable – to me at least.

I notice how often it is there in Scripture, in hymns, on facebook.

I notice the many ways it invites me to practice it.

I notice when it is practised by my friends.

And I notice when I let opportunities for it to enform me pass by unattended.

I notice how much I need it.

I notice; there is no judgement of myself, no condemnation, just a noticing. An awareness. A becoming present to this virtue God wants to gift to me.

God wants to gift this to me so that I can become all that I am meant to be.

The gift?


otherside of fear.

Ordinary time

This is my daughter, the beloved, my favour rests on  you.

And with that wonderfully scary affirmation Ordinary Time begins.

I love Ordinary Time. There is a comfort in the rhythm, the same-ness; time to go deeper, to bed down, once more in routine; seeing God in the everyday, a time to hone our Sacramental Imagination.

Ordinary Time is where we live who we are, a time to live baptismally. This week I came across the following poem (with my slight adaptation!) which I loved immediately. I loved the way it challenged me to move out of Christmas, not leaving it behind but taking it with me.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:                                                                                 

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.

You are my daughter, my beloved, on whom my favour rests.

How can I not work for the Kingdom knowing that? How can my baptism be in the past, something that was done to me when I was a baby?

When the Godparents have returned home,

When the white robe has been cleaned and put away

When the candle is back in its box,

The work of baptism begins:

It  is said that Martin Luther, every morning on waking said ‘I am baptised’. When I imagine this he says it incredulously for when we begin to recognise what it means to be baptised it is awe filled. We  have been named for Christ, invited to to work for Him in bringing about the Kingdom because

Rebekah, you are mine, whom I love beyond measure and my favour* rests on you.

Happy Ordinary Time everyone.

Poem: Dr. Howard Thurman was an influential author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. He was Dean of Theology and the chapels at Howard University and Boston University for more than two decades, wrote 20 books, and in 1944 helped found the first racially integrated, multicultural church in the United States.

*Some translations read ‘well pleased’ for favour. I prefer favour to ‘well pleased’, if God is well pleased, God can also be not well pleased. God’s pleasure is somehow to do with me. Whereas God’s favour is freely given, to all and that includes me regardless of what I do.

Picture by HeQi

Gearing up for Epiphany

Epiphany is my favourite of the Christmas Feasts. So much so that the kids and I all have a set of Kings and camel to move around the room throughout the 12 days arriving on the 6th of January.

Or at least that was the theory. You know how these things go… the idea of making memories, each child choosing their set of Kings to accompany the ones that come with the Crib, re-enacting their journey in Matthew’s Gospel, moving the Shepherds and sheep on to a nearby shelf to make room in the inn (not in Matthew’s Gospel), culminating in the grand arrival to us all singing ‘We Threes Kings’ and opening a final present after dinner.

It worked well for a few years. Now it is left to me to move all 15 Kings, 3 camels 1 servant and the gold pot of myrrh and frankincense to each allotted place until they arrive in the Crib.

For the past 5 or 6 years our parish has taken on the tradition of house blessing. This tradition, practiced most often in Eastern European countries, takes place on the Feast of Epiphany. Blessed chalk is distributed after every Mass with a sheet which as well as explaining the tradition also has the prayer for blessing the house . When the house has been blessed the following would be chalked upon the lintel (or somewhere near by)

20+ C+M+B+20

The initials of the 3 Kings surrounded by the year of the blessing, signals sanctuary to all those who flee persecution. . C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

But what I really love about this Feast is the beauty and symbolism of the story. It is a story of wonder, yearning and trust. It is a story of pilgrimage, inclusivity, awareness and insight. It tells of Mystery, transformation and action. A group of people outside the Jewish community, convinced that what they sought, yearned for, would be found when the stars aligned, watched and waited. When the Star showed itself, without hesitation they packed up, left their land and followed. They trusted their beliefs, their knowledge, their experience and opened themselves up to possibility and adventure. They bring gifts which announce to the world who this Christ child is: gold for Jesus who is King; frankincense (used in worship): for Jesus who is God; and myrrh (used in anointing at burial) for Jesus who is man.

Led by a star to the Christ Child, the Light of the World. Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) echoes this in its very first sentence ‘

Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature,(1) to bring the light of Christ to all’

And so the Light of the World is revealed to each one of us. Never again will we walk in darkness, we may not comprehend the Light but it will never leave us, God-with-us, now and always. And it is up to us to witness to Him, to mirror His Light in our lives.

I’ll leave you to ponder how while I get to the shops before they close. They might not be bothered to move their Kings but they still like their presents!

Christmas 2010 (12)

Happy Feast.

If you want a copy of the sheet just ask, meanwhile here is the house blessing…

A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,

You revealed your Son to all people

by the shinning light of a star.

We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.

May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,

and your truth our benediction:

Through Christ our Lord.