Let Them Eat Wedding Cake-
Yesterday at Mass the usual cycle of reading came around and presented that troublesome verse that make priests uncomfortable. You know the one- Jesus was brought to the house of Simon-Peter whose MOTHER IN LAW was sick with fever, Jesus cures her and she gets up and serves him. Wait, What?
The first Mass I went to indicated that Peter Had a Mother in Law, ergo Peter was a Widower. Reductio Ad Absurdum, non sequitor. Why did this priest think that-aside from the convenient justification of the absurd policy forbidding wives of roman catholic priests you may wonder. He was taught that because nowhere is Peter's wife mentioned anywhere in scripture she must not have been alive during his travels. He couldn't divorce her-that wouldn't fit the narrative- and the apostles had to be a sort of band of brothers, so ditch the wife. Kill her off before the show begins. Magdelene who?
When I went on Pilgrimmage to Rome I asked where the statue of Mrs Peter Pope was at the Vatican.
This shocked and horrified the mother of the priest who led the pilgrimmage as if i had asked where Saint Peter's brothel was in the roman baths, such was her association with Priest and Wife. Very Silly but true. Can you say oedipal? The tour guide said in hushed tones that its rumored throughout Rome that she was crucified upside down as was Peter, next to him, and she is buried with him in the tomb of Saint Peter in Rome, because of course. Wives were buried with their husbands. Has anyone done any DNA on the bones in the Tomb of Saint Peter to see if there is only one person in there?
The fact of lack of mention of a wife would be normal if she were as ubiquitous a backdrop as the wallpaper. If she was always there you wouldn't need to mention her as her presence would be and is assumed, i.e. and then Peter went home and had his back rubbed by his wife to put his troubled mind to sleep - or whatever. You wouldn't write in the gospel of Matthew, then Peter's wife washed the clothes and laid them on Peter's bed before he went fishing. Women didn't rank much then and their works wouldn't make the narrative. Peter's wife might just have been the reason for the bed he found made, the clothes he found washed, the bread he found baked and the soup he found hot and the folded fishing line in the back of the shed. That's not what the story is about however. If I am writing an engineering book about NASAs first flight I don't need to mention that the wife of the astronaut makes great lasagna. I don't need to kill off the wife however narratively to demonstrate what superb mission the NASA flight is. Its just a non-mention.
I wanted to see how the Jesuits treated the passage so off to Holy Trinity whereupon the same reading is read. If you don't already know anywhere in any catholic church in the world the same New Testament gospel reading is read the same day-they do it in cycles. Here is how they treated it: they didn't. The Cardinal ordered all churches apparently to pump the Cardinal's appeal and ask for money, so after the reading the Pastor pre-empted this broadcast for a message from your sponsorship. Convenient dodge? A segway from "and she got up and served them?" I choose to think that the Pastor had more sense than to peddle the -ergo Simon Peter was a Widower line. That's why I like Jesuits-they don't pretend.
This nixing of wives from holy men's biographies strikes me as fundamentally at the root of some of the deeper malaise plaguing the catholic church creating pathologies that are legendary. The debate over whether the catholic church should come into the realization of the worth, value, and intrinsic equality of women surprisingly has people actually debating whether girls can even be altar servers in some areas of the modern world. In which cycle is the passage "there is not male nor female in Christ as all are one in the Lord…" because we don't hear it enough or it doesn't sink in. There are women Deacons mentioned by name in the scripture. If you ask a Dominican how to explain that one away they will say the office of 'deacon' didn't mean the same thing then as today. That's because we now define it to only mean-the stuff people who are not quite male celibate priests do. Clearly the women who are significant in the Bible have been footnoted into minimal importance in modern times but we still know they were hugely significant then. I want to know more about them. Why can't you find a bible class in a catholic church on Women in Scripture. There was a judge named Deborah-who was she for example. There was a saavy business woman named Lydia, who appeared not to fund things with just her husband's money.
It is highly disturbing to me that churches overtly want to put women in the church 'in their place' and some even are required to have classes on the 'proper role of women' in the church- as if to say-don't you dare fall in love with a priest or we will deem you unfit to sit in the pews. This of course should offend the entire Christian world as much as it grieves the Holy Spirit and God who is Love.
It appears that tempting a priest to marriage is akin to a temptation worthy of a whore house because the emotional lives of women have been so theologically demeaned or misunderstood that Woman as temptress Eve is the predominant view.
The maligning of women, the petty persecutions of women, the caddy gossipy perverse bullying of women that goes on in catholic churches where there is a woman in love with a priest is a form of emotional distress that scandalizes God.
I puzzled how to title this. I almost titled it "the Miseducation of Monsignor," or "the Writing -Off of Peter's Wife" or "the Murder of Mrs. Pope."
But that didn't say enough. Because if you understand how profound this negation of the wife of Peter plays into theological bastardizations and perversions of the life of catholic church communities, you will understand better why women get beaten, abused, dismissed, demeaned, disgraced and emotionally destroyed by men who consider themselves "Holy" or at least justified. You will also understand better how men can justify pederasty as an occupational hazard because going the temptation to women route would be utterly more damnable.
Its time to put a statue of Mrs. Peter Pope in the Vatican, somewhere next to her husband, where she likely was all her life. When Jesus told people that those who left behind wives, children, brothers, sisters, etc. for the kingdom would receive multifold more in this life and the life to come, he did not mean ditch, castigate out those also following me. That verse is a twin to the one telling people that mother will be against daughter, son against father, brother against brother, etc….because some would follow him and some not. It is not a command to leave your wife. You don't leave people on the same mission.
I settled on the aspirational title 'The Age of Women' because its time. It must be time. It is a call of the Holy Spirit to get real and get right with half the human race.
Because a Heart is a terrible thing to waste.