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.