So, I just finished reading this great book entitled Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. The basic (very basic) plot – It is about a young girl named Jeanette, who is adopted by evangelists who want her to become a missionary. As Jeanette realizes her sexuality as a lesbian, her mother’s friends subject her to exorcisms.
The richness of this book’s exploration of religion and love is overwhelming. I have to admit that it took me a while to get into but once I did I could not put it down. I want to share with you two quotes that speak poignantly to my faith as a Catholic woman and to my dedication to the reform of the Catholic Church. Perhaps they will resonate with you as well.
“It is not possible to change anything until you understand the substance you wish to change. Of course people mutilate and modify, but these are fallen powers, and to change something you do not understand is the true nature of evil.”
I think this is a (if not the) great strength of the Church reform movement. The leaders of the movement – generally speaking – know their stuff backwards and forwards. They understand Canon Law and Church doctrine as well, if not better, than some leaders of the patriarchal Church. However, this understanding does not just include mind-knowledge, it also includes heart-knowledge – being able to feel and know in your heart the depth of the Church.
As young people, I believe we are called to obtain this intimate understanding of the Church so that we can create substantive, long-term change in our Church. I think the number of young adult Catholics – women and men – in Divinity schools, faith-sharing communities, and other settings show that we want to understand, to know in our minds and hearts the Church that we love so much. The Church we love enough to want to change.
“I could have been a priest instead of a prophet. The priest has a book with the words set out. Old words, known words, words of power. Words that are always on the surface. Words for every occasion. The words work. They do what they’re supposed to do; comfort and discipline. The prophet has no book. The prophet is a voice that cries in the wilderness, full of sounds that do not always set into meaning. The prophets cry out because they are troubled by demons.”
I am honestly still trying to put into words the reason why this passage pulls me in so deeply. I know for me it relates to both the debate within the Church reform movement about the reform of the priestly ministry/office and my own calling to ministry. These questions came up: Can one be both a priest within the institutional Church and a prophet within the Church reform movement? Do we need priests to be the keepers of knowledge? What does it mean to be priest? What does it mean to be a prophet? Are they different? Should they be? What am I called to be?
I think I will leave you with those thoughts and questions. I look forward to hearing your reactions. Oh, and I highly recommend the book!