July 02, 2013

Epiphany #644

Photo courtesy of www.kansas.com
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I had a serious debate regarding our religious schooling.

He attended a Catholic private school (K-12) and I was a public school student. Even though my education was in public schools I regularly attended Catechism twice a week from 1st through 12th grade. Saturday mornings and one afternoon every week after school we walked to the church for religious education.

Our debate became quite heated. I was sharing with him how I felt being born female in a Christian/Catholic world. I told him the things I was taught about being female in Catechism.

I was taught that women, as descendents of Eve "first to sin, second created," would never be equal to man. They taught us that it was because of a woman that sin was brought into the world. It was because of that original sin that women would be punished forever by having pain in childbirth and their children would all be the bearers of original sin. I was taught that woman was made for the benefit of man and, because Eve, a woman, was the first to sin and then introduced the forbidden fruit to Adam and made him to eat of it, that women would, forever, be unworthy.

(Never mind that Adam was the first spineless man in the world and couldn't make up his own mind and threw his mate under the bus when God admonished him for eating the fruit and he pointed to Eve and said "she made me do it!).

I was taught that in the beginning of the church the men debated whether women even had souls and then when they decided (for us) that women did possess souls they debated whether those souls could ever be "saved"!

Funny how many men throughout the ages, see a woman's body and react physically and blame their lack of self control on the woman. St. Augustine especially hated women and believed that they should never be looked upon and never, ever touched or sin would hop right out of her and spoil the manly soul.

So my devout Catholic husband became pretty upset and told me that I was never taught that. Not that he was never taught that but that I, me, could not have been taught that.

We got out the bible and I showed him the print! I didn't even show him Timothy 2:11-14: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men. She is to be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

We never did resolve the debate but quietly let the dust settle. I did, however, let him know that he can't tell me what I was taught and what I wasn't taught.

Could it be, because he is male, that he never heard the message with his heart and soul like I did?
He was never taught that God saw him as "less than" or damaged goods.

Could it be that he just was not "present" in religious class, thinking of riding his bike or airplanes or clouds?

Yesterday, as I was floating on my back in the pool watching the crow at the top of the tree watch me watching her that I had a huge epiphany!

My husband was taught by Immaculate Heart Nuns in the Los Angeles community.  Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary were a rare breed as far as religious orders were concerned.  They believed in equality, they didn't believe in being held down because they weren't born without, you know, The Package of Privilege!

Immaculate Heart Nuns taught elementary, middle and high school as well as college classes.  They laid a foundation of works that promoted "truth, dignity and full human development," of course, in the 1960's, promoting full human development for women, especially women in habits was described as radicalism!

In the late 60's, they became very angry and protested that Bishop in the Archdiocese should not be allowed to dictate their lives, which included bedtime, prayer time and method of dress.  After all,  Pope Paul VI had challenged all religious orders to examine rules and regulations to assess if  their original missions were being met in the modern world.

The sisters took a stand, refused to wear the habits, wanted to go to bed when they wanted to, pray when they wanted to. The sisters held fast, the Vatican refused to take sides.  The Bishop insisted that the sisters could not be good teachers or good role models is they did not follow the rules he deemed necessary for a community of women. (Notice the lower case "h" in he!!!)

The majority of the good sisters were divested of their vows.  They got the holy boot!

About 10% remained and followed the rules set by the men, the rest founded a community of women and men that they named the Immaculate Heart Community. They are still out there, teaching, nurturing, inspiring and they wear what they want, pray when the spirit calls and go to bed when they are tired!

The Bishop's timing was very poor for my husband and other students in his high school. Without the nuns to teach and no one volunteering to step into the IHM-revolution, priests were brought in from Italy to teach. A few of the Italian priests spoke very little English, the majority spoke no English at all. My husband went from a straight A student to, well, to not-so-good.

So, the blessed Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary didn't teach my husband the same things the Dominican Sisters taught me.  It would be interesting to see if any of the women taught by IHM nuns are in the 14% of Fortune 500 top management who are women!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Please but Play Nice!