Women and the Mission
March 2012 Newsletter
Human Dignity and Gender
See and hear Salem Foad, M.D., XU Board of Trustees member, address human dignity and gender in introductory remarks offered at a 2007 Ethics/Religion and Society event.
Juana, S.J (1535-1573)
The only woman known to have lived and died a Jesuit. [M]ost women in Ignatius’s time could not embody the availability for mission that is essential to the Jesuit charism. Ignatius’s group was a religious order. The question of the admission of women to the Society was, in most cases, a non-starter in Ignatius’s time, because women were either cloistered if they were religious, or not religious if they were not cloistered. On grounds of mobility Ignatius consistently rejected the idea of women belonging to the Society. And Juana’s admission underscores the idea that sex cannot be the deciding issue here—Juana was no less a woman after her admission than before. What she was after her admission was a woman living under the religious vows of the Society of Jesus while substantially assisting the Society’s work in Spain. To an unusual extent, Juana was able to overcome the catch-22 that kept most women from being able to live as Jesuits: her political influence was an avenue to a kind of apostolic availability for the work of the Society, and at the same time it served as leverage that enabled her to force the question of her admission on the Jesuit leadership. And, as it turned out, they let her in. Beyond that, they admitted her in a strikingly ordinary way. The infanta Juana, Regent of Spain, became—a scholastic. An extraordinary person in extraordinary circumstances was seen to fit into a very ordinary niche. It is her ordinary admission, freely undertaken, that is salient about Juana’s case: when all was said and done, the Jesuits decided that Juana was a Jesuit—an unusual Jesuit, to be sure, but a Jesuit nonetheless. (ibid.)
The Examen, a prayer of awareness that Ignatius of Loyola taught in his Spiritual Exercises, helps one notice God’s presence in our daily lives. This modern adaptation invites reflection upon five points for spiritual thanksgiving, grace, and introspection.
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident in knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
-St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"In the faces of men and women I see God. "
(Picture by Kevin Edward Fitzgerald)
More reflections can be found in the book, Creating Privileged Moments.
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