13.10.09

... longing for the priesthood

I found this in my in-box today (see below) and I found it really moving. It made me feel another surge of overwhelming gratitude to God that he would have me do this with my life: ordination training for ministry.

I have such feelings quite frequently at the moment. I stood in the library yesterday and for a moment time froze as I took in where I was, and stared at all those books lining all those shelves, sensing the awesome weight of the privilege it is to be surrounded by those voices shouting of God's love from their slightly sticky and perhaps often wept-over dust jackets. I imagined all the fingers of the priests past, present and future who have agonised in heart, soul and mind over the words contained therein. I have a kind of heart churning, stomach clenching reaction at these times, a kind of painful joy.

At  the moment, I am also being treated to the most amazing sunrises on the A52 as I travel the 20 minute journey to college at just after 7 am each day. God paints the sky in colours I've never seen before and the landscape flashes past me bathed in a kind of rising mist like some beautiful painting. I like to think that the occupants of the other cars must feel a little of the awesomeness of God at these times, or at least acknowledge the beauty of his creation in some way.

When I first heard God's call some years ago, I must admit I did wonder whether he was preparing me for the end rather than the beginning of my life. I couldn't understand at first why he seemed to want me to get to know him with such an urgency. And so I was very touched by the idea that Theresa accepts her death as a kind of cruel kindness because living, she would never have been truly alive, unless she had been able to take up holy orders and be ordained as a priest. God was taking her to spare her the agony.

It would seem to me from the little that I know about her that she was quite prepared to live and love hard and passionately, without fear that she was making herself vulnerable.

I think I must find out a little more about her. This is the second time in a week that she has caused me to pause and breathe in afresh the aroma of my Lord and Saviour.



Who is this?

'I sense in myself the vocation

of Warrior, Priest, Apostle,

Doctor, and Martyr.



In the heart of the Church,

my Mother,

I will be love.'

The unlikely answer is St Therese of Liseaux.  The saint is often called 'the Little Flower' offering a softer image of a gentle soul whereas Marie Francoise Therese Martin had  steely determination and a vision of where she wanted to  go and was only thwarted by her poor health. The picture shows her dressed as Joan of Arc, another strong woman of vision.

Here in England, relics of St Therese are making a tour invincing much public interest.  Her relics are being displayed in churches around the country not only Catholic churches but Protestant churches and in chapels attached to universities and even one of London's prisons, Wormwood Scrubs - a testament to Therese's popularity as an accessible saint, one who acknowledged the trials and tribulations of daily life.

She is one of the great modern saints and is one of only three women to receive the honour of being recognised as a Doctor of the Church...

Catharina Broome OP, a a well known lecturer, writer and preacher based in Stockholm, Sweden, also explores St Therese's priestly vocation.  She writes ..'The most significant testimony to the fact that Therese of the Child Jesus priestly vocation was nor a symbolic one but was indeed very serious, is the confidence she shared with her sister Genevieve. Her sister does not give the exact date when Therese confided in her, but says, only that is was some time in 1897 her final year, when she was only 24 years old.

'Don't you see that God is going to take me at an age when I would not have had the time to become a priest. If I had been able to become a priest, it would have been in this month of June, at this ordination that I would have received holy orders. So in order that I may regret nothing, God is allowing me to be sick; I wouldn't have been able to present myself for ordination, and I would have died before having exercised my ministry'
       
       
See http://www.womenpriests.org/called/broome.asp
May St Therese of Liseaux continue to be an inspiration to us!

Leonie Russell (Editor Womenpriests.org)

2 comments:

SueM said...

Very moving.

Jane said...

Did you know that St Martha was often protrayed as a dragon slayer? I thought of this as I looked at the photo ... thanks for what you write Rachel I love reading when I have itme.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.