The people, world, and Word of God are three things that helps author Megan McKenna keep faith in the Holy Trinity.
Guest blog by Megan McKenna
How do I keep faith as a woman in the church? First I remember who the church is—there are more than 1.1 billion Catholics in a world of 6.8 billion. Less than 2 percent of the church works for the church as ordained, professional ministers, from the pope on down to deacons and members of religious orders. For me, they are members of the institutional structure and their primary role is to be servants of the servants of God, though it’s a stretch to actually find many who would fit that description
It is the people of God, especially the poor, who give me hope, sustain me, amaze me with their faithfulness in the midst of horrific conditions, usually without any support or affirmation from the structure. It is the people who are excluded in liturgy or Eucharist. It is those struggling to raise families—taking care of their own children, sometimes grandchildren, or grandparents and parents—with limited financial resources or with little or no insurance and how generous they are, sharing and working with others they see who are in even worse circumstances than they find themselves.
The church is the universal communities of believers—spread out all over creation living with all sorts of issues—who know the Spirit as sustaining grace and imaginative creative and life-giving joy. I am invited to speak and work and live with them for periods of time and I am honored that they listen to me—and I seek to share their stories with others around the world. These folk—the church—gives me hope and teaches me what it means to be holy and incarnate the Word as Christians in today’s world.
Secondly the world gives me hope. Contrary to much that is written by church leaders, the world is holy. It is the sacrament of the Spirit, and the Spirit is constantly revealing the grandeur of God in science and what we are learning about the immensity and complexity and vastness both of the universe and microscopically within all things.
The world—not of government, economics, politics, religion, and the institutions that maintain dominance, but of art, literature, music, dance, culture, language, religious traditions, geographies, expressions of life, everything that grows and moves, and how it survives along with people and sometimes often in spite of them—is a constant teacher, encouraging and stretching boundaries and breaking holds of what is and what can be. The more I know of the world, the more I am humbled and take delight in it. God so loved the world—more and more, I can see why.
Finally, I have come to know and experience that the Spirit works first and foremost in the people of God, bottom up and in circles, swirling around where grace is most needed to sustain life on a daily basis. It is here that theology is first lived and then shared in stories with the gospel in small communities.
I was overwhelmingly reminded of this from the last synod on the Word of God. Sadly, practically no one was invited who has been studying and praying and putting the Word of God into practice in millions of small groups around the world. They talked among themselves in Rome and came up with an exhortation to do lectio divina.
Lectio divina is fine, but it’s individualistic and very intellectual. It doesn’t have a community aspect or a way to be held accountable for change or work for justice. The place where scripture comes alive is in small groups meeting weekly, looking at the gospel in the lectionary and seeking to put it into practice where they live. They have re-discovered over the past 60-70 years that the Word of God was inspired and written to be proclaimed out loud in community where all who hear can be held accountable to take it to heart and make it a reality in the community and the world.
The people of God, the world that God so loves, and the Word of God shared together make up the trinity that gives me hope and that I am so grateful for.
As a supplement of the January 2011 special issue on women, U.S. Catholic is asking guest bloggers, “How do you keep the faith as a woman in the church?” To submit your answer (about 500 words), e-mail email@example.com.
Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.