Despite the cold and dark, I made it to confession last night just before Father Ubel was ready to pack it in for dinner. Since I usually try to make it to confession on the eves of First Fridays, and considering it is Advent, I was shocked when I pulled into the empty parking lot and totally surprised to find I was the only one in the chapel last night.
When I first knelt down and Father slid the panel open, because of my tinnitus and poor hearing, I could not hear a word he said. A frequent problem for me in the confessional. Since no one else was there, instead of talking in a whisper, I said my confession in a normal conversational voice. Fortunately, Father Ubel piped up a bit too.
Think I made it all the way to Rosedale and then to the Cathedral to hear a talk on St. Paul without racking up any more venial sins.
Got to the Cathedral and had plenty of time to sit quietly amidst its massive beauty before the lecture on St. Paul was to start. This fell right in line with Father Ubel's instructions in the confessional to "be silent" during Advent. With kids, things are rarely quiet and hardly ever silent.
Dr. Pia de Solenni spoke on St. Paul and his much misunderstood views of women. I think one of her main points was to see St. Paul's writings in context and not look back with revisionist or modern notions. At that time in history, Christianity, as far as women were concerned, was quite a departure from the norm. Now women were to been seen as equals, having as much a share as adopted children of God as the men. Christianity saw that both men and women were created in God's image with equal dignity, not that they are identical; equal but different.
Since I didn't take notes, I cannot provide the scripture passages she cited, but there were probably at least a half dozen where she shows that St. Paul had no problem with women having a role in the Church or in civic and domestic life. She mentioned Lydia several times as an example of St. Paul's attitude being, in the very least, accepting of her role as a business woman and head of a household, if not encouraging and supportive.
But, where her lecture got really interesting to me was when she talked about marriage and its ultimate goal, the roles of men and women, and discussed what "submissive" really means.
Dr. de Solenni mentioned St. Paul, and St. Thomas Aquinas expounding on Paul's ideas, to show how marriage is a divine contract or relationship that mirrors Christ's relationship to His Church. Pope John Paul II wrote that Christ cannot be separated from His Church, they are so much a part of each other -- the same with marriage. As Christ loves the Church, so too is a husband to love his wife. If you consider it for a moment, you see how steep that requirement truly is. Christ condescended to become a man and walk among us, then give His life for His bride. That is the role of a husband, to imitate Christ by giving completely of himself for his wife.
Dr. de Solenni then said the word "submissive" is greatly understood by modern people. Submissive does not mean to give up your will. It does not mean to be silent or to patently accept bad behavior or poor choices. On the contrary, as St. Thomas Aquinas would say, it means to allow your husband to fulfill his mission of being Christ within the family. The husband, like Christ, is the head, and the wife, like the Church, is the body. So divinely united that they are inseparable, seeking only to serve the other, to do what's best for the other, and to give themselves completely in love to the other. To me, it wasn't about a power struggle, but the exact opposite.
I'm hoping to hear Dr. Peter Kreeft speak on Saturday at the Cathedral on "St. Paul has some Good News and Some Bad News."
Talk 1: Saint Paul formed the essential shape of all subsequent Christian theology by concentrating on the two themes of Sin & Salvation, or Bad News and Good News, especially in Romans, the world's first systematic Christian theology, but he always did it in a dramatic, historical way (thus "news" rather than simply “truths”). The first presentation is a reflection on the significance of this fact in distinguishing Christianity from all other religions.
Talk 2: In light of theme #1, the incredible, passionate, unparalleled optimism of Saint Paul (e.g. Romans 8) is made possible only by the context of the “pessimism” (really, realism) that his critics routinely fault him for. A reflection on the “bad” foundations of the “too good to be true” goodness of the “good news” in Saint Paul.
See you there.