from the kitchens of the church to the dining room

A Korean gentleman stood up to speak at a Vatican-sponsored women`s conference that I attended several years ago. He was accompanying his wife who was both a delegate and presenter. He told us that 60% of Catholics in Korea are women. Of active Catholics, women number 80%. He concluded his list of statistics with, “Yet women`s work in the church has been confined to the kitchens of the church. My hope is that it can be moved to the dining room”.

In my previous post, I tried to uphold the value of the work that is done in the kitchens of our churches. Nourishing bodies is as important as nourishing souls. Forming strong communities of friendship, support and family spirit is as important as gathering around a beautifully prepared altar in prayer and worship. The kitchen work is what makes the dining room experience possible.

The analogy of kitchen and dining room is illustrated beautifully in the old BBC series, Upstairs, Downstairs. Set in the early 1900’s, it chronicles the lives of the servants in the lower quarters and the nobility who live above. This kind of class division still exists today. There are those who will always be serving, and those who will always be served.

In our church, the dining room remains exclusive. Yes we are all invited to gather around, but places at the table are carefully assigned. We are all called to listen to the Word being spoken, but all are not given a chance to speak. Opportunities must be given to all to take a seat at the table, especially those who have served it so faithfully for years.

3 thoughts on “from the kitchens of the church to the dining room

  1. Let’s look at our authentic history and made the table bigger!

    “The Ordination Of Women In The Early Middle Ages”
    Theological Studies, Sept, 2000 by Gary Macy

    “These references to the ordination of women from the early Middle Ages are by no means exhaustive. A thorough and determined search of the sources would, I am certain, add considerably to this list. However, even this sampling demonstrates that neither liturgies, nor popes, nor bishops had a problem referring particularly to deaconesses and abbesses, or to nuns, as persons entering into an ecclesiastical order through a ritual ordination.(16) None of these sources distinguished the ordination of deaconesses, abbesses, or nuns from that of priests or deacons. In fact, two of the sources include the ordination of women along with other forms of male clerical ordination. It should be noted as well that the sources quoted cover the fifth through the twelfth centuries, some seven hundred years, not an insignificant period of Christian history.
    Historically, however, the words ordo, ordinatio, and ordinare had a far different meaning in the early Middle Ages than they came to acquire in later centuries. The problem with references to ordination in the Middle Ages, in fact, lies precisely in the lack of precision with which that term was used. Yves Congar, in a brilliant exploration into the words ordinare and ordinatio, suggests that particularly in the period before the 13th century considerable diversity existed both over what constitutes an ordinatio and which states or ordines should be considered “clerical.”(17)”

    For more on this topic go to:

  2. Never again will I listen to “there have never been women priests” here is one reason why.
    In the 1970’s in Eastern Europe women were secretly ordained Roman Catholic priests in order to keep the faith alive under Communist persecution of the Church.

    This is a review of a book about one of these women.

    “”Out of the Depths” by Miriam Therese Winter, a Medical Mission Sister, is the story of Ludmila Javarova, a Czechoslovakian woman, ordained a Roman Catholic Priest 30 years ago. She was ordained in secret by Bishop Felix Davidek, a man of intense devotion and spurred with new ideas to fire the Church with God’s Holy Spirit. Ludmila lived most of her ministry in secret, out of personal devotion to God. In 1996, a news headline riled the pope who revoked her priesthood. As Ludmila said, “I’m a priest forever,” even though she couldn’t carry out any priestly duties. I found this a very moving testimony of the Power of God in a woman’s life, as well as enlightening of the effort of certain Catholics who kept their faith strong through the underground church during the reign of Communism just a few years ago. After Miriam Therese Winter listened to Javarova, visited her home in the in what was Czechoslovakia, and found a soul mate in Ludmila, she wrote the story so personally that the book feels like an autobiography. Ludmila Javarova is still coming alive out of her own depth of spirit, making a contribution to the changing face of Catholicism as women rise up.”

  3. Thanks for sharing these references, Ray. Pondering the role of women in the church naturally leads to the question of ordination. But how do you dialogue on an issue where debate has effectively been silenced? I have no answers, but am trying to write out some thoughts for upcoming posts. Stay tuned…:-)

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