Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friend of the Groom?

I met my husband through the local university ballroom dance club. He was an advanced student with several amateur competitions under his belt; I had signed up primarily as a way to meet people, having recently moved from California to Michigan to start a new job. That he was willing to dance with me at all was something of a miracle (he says it was the lemon tarts I served at a club luncheon).

One of the first lessons I had to learn was that, if we were going to dance together, I had to let him lead. Otherwise, a graceful waltz soon degenerated into an awkward power struggle. Now, the fact that I let him lead didn’t mean he was superior to me in any other way (though in fact his dance training was far superior to mine). His job was intrinsically different -- and the moment I lost sight of that fact, the party was over.

This week I read a post that reminded me of those leather-soled shoe days, more specifically of the days when I had to fight my "natural born leader" tendencies and ... follow. In those moments of feminine receptivity, I was keenly aware of the complementarity of the sexes as God designed them.

To be perfectly honest, I am equally troubled by the original post -- the women who thinks the laity should "strike" until the ordained clergy come to their senses and allow laity to serve in every possible capacity (altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, etc.) -- as well as the half-dozen men who leaped to "put her in her place." Honestly, gentlemen ... don't you know a damsel in distress when you hear one? "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Prov 15:1).

The Mass can be described many ways. It is, first and foremost, the "summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and the font from which her power flows" (CCC 1074). It is a "public work" of communal prayer (CCC 1069). It contains song and music "closely connected with the liturgical action" (CCC 1191). When I read this last passage, I am reminded once more of the reality that the Mass is a temporal expression of an eternal reality: the love of the Groom for His Bride, and of the wedding feast that is being prepared for us in the New Jerusalem.

This last image -- the liturgy as a dance -- is what I would want to show my poor, disgruntled sister, and all those like her who are chafing at the "new" restrictions being placed upon them in their parishes. To turn this into a battle of the sexes is to miss the point. We image "Bride" in a way our brothers never can. And who do you suppose will have an easier time of it when we all get to heaven … and the band strikes up for that bridal waltz? The ones who patiently and joyfully followed her groom (no matter how human and undeniably fallible) here below.

(I have no idea what the boys will do … sit and watch from the sidelines a great deal, I imagine.)

I'm not saying women shouldn't lector or shouldn't sing in the choir or shouldn't bring the Eucharist to nursing homes ... We all have gifts, and we all need to use them if the community is going to function properly. However, there needs to be order, and in a family that means the members need to follow the head. So ... listen to your Father, or go take a time-out! :-)

1 comment:

Catholic Mom said...

I addressed this topic a little bit here and here. Our parish is also doing a wonderful thing in teaching our youth of the complementary roles of men and women in the Church. We only have boys as altar servers. Right now we have a corps of 125 young men who graciously serve at all Masses, funerals, weddings, Holy Hours, etc. They also have social outings led by our priests and the dads. There are also opportunities for faith development and catechesis. For the girls we have a group called Fiat! They commit to service activities and to time spent in Eucharistic adoration. They also visit local orders of religious women such as the Missionaries of Charity. They have opportunities for catechesis as well as just social events. In this way, the boys and girls see they have separate but equally dignified and equally valuable roles in the Church. It is a grave error to always insist that equal means identical.