As a woman, and as a woman growing up in the Catholic Church, I have always struggled with my faith. Even as I got older and I finished some of the sacraments such as communion and confirmation, I always looked up to the women in my life more than than the men, even though the Catholic Church puts more of an emphasis on the importance of male leadership. It is not because I had bad experiences, or because I’m a dirty feminist. It is actually quite simple: I attached myself to people who I could relate the most to, and logically, that would have to be other women who relate to my own life experiences as a woman.
I remember my struggle growing up. I did not understand why I never saw a female priest. I did not understand why it was so damning to get a divorce. I did not understand why I could not be an altar server.I did not understand why women had to take more submissive roles. However, in my state of confusion, I found myself gravitating toward the little female leadership I did see. One of my Sunday School teachers was a woman, and I found myself pushing to go to each class because I enjoyed her presence so much. I admired her passion for her faith despite it all.
Ultimately, I also found myself gravitating toward women in the Bible. More particularly, the Mother of God, Mary. I found myself saying Hail Marys more often than Our Fathers. Mary is the prime example of listening and accepting God’s call. When I tell people about the concept of Hail Marys, a lot of people think that I am putting an idol before God or worshiping her like a deity. However, Catholics pray to Mary not because we are worshiping her, but rather because we are honoring her and asking for her intercession. I look at it as praying “with” Mary. Personally, I view it as as a way of honoring the woman who played an essential part in our salvation. By paying tribute to Mary, I hope that I will be able to answer God’s call like she did.
I have so much respect for notable women, especially in the Bible. That’s why for so long, I battled with Paul’s statements about women in the Bible. If I told myself that Paul’s statements are invalid, doesn’t that mean that the whole Bible has to be as well? For so long, I was confused why such a prominent figure in the Bible would discuss women in such a demeaning manner. It was not until college that I realized that Paul was actually an advocate for women. I had the pleasure of reading What Paul Really Said About Women by John Temple Bristow.
By reading this book, I realize the true impact that culture can have on a text. Over the decades of the Bible being written over and over again, the author argues that over the centuries, Paul’s words were twisted to reflect the culture and philosophy present at the time. As imperfect humans, it is so easy for us to push our biases into Scripture, and it is like a puzzle piece was finally found in my spiritual journey. It makes so much sense that this could have happened in Paul’s day and later. In fact, the author makes a point that when the Bible was translated over and over, some of the words that had double meanings were misconstrued to fit the ideal of the culture of that day. In reality, it is possible that Paul was an advocate for women.