Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Letter to St. Peter's Wife

My Dearest Rock Princess,

First of all,
I hope you don’t mind my calling you "rock princess."
I just figure that since you are married to "the Rock"
I should really honor that.
And I didn’t want folks to confuse that
and think I was referring to the actor
named Dwayne Johnson.
And, being that your husband was the first Pope and all,
I just consider you as sort of royalty.
it never occurred to the scripture writers to call you by name.
So.. .I call you"Rock Princess."

I’ve written to your husband, San Pedro, a couple of times.
But you know,
I just thought it was high time I contacted you.

Tell me, Princesa, tell me the truth.
What role did women play in the early church?
I’d rather ask you than read it in some theology text book.
Mind you,
I’ve studied formally at seminary.
But I would just rather hear it
from a woman who was there.

What happened to the role of deaconess
that we read about in Romans?
And why did the so called "scholars"change the text?
Does not the original Greek say "deaconess?"
What happened to them?

And does it bother you
that people don’t recognize you as the first Pope’s wife?
Did you and San Pedro have any children?
What are there names?
Can you tell me something about them?
Did you and the pope have any grandchildren?

And tell me,
how active a role did your mother play
in helping to form the early church?
And the child of Talitha Koum,
was that a relative of yours and Pedro?

And tell me, Princesa,
What do you think of what has happened to Sister Louise?
I mean,
I fully understand that the church must guard her teachings,
protect what’s important.
But what is important?
"Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again."
Isn’t this the truth we must guard?
Isn’t what happed to Sister Louise
nothing more than Ecclesial Espionage?
Where will the hidden cameras be next?
Who will we see praying with whom on camera?
And then condemn them for it. . .
It just doesn’t seem right.

The church says " don’t do this. Don’t go there."
And then, the church goes and does it.

And what is going on in St. Louis anyway?
I, for one, truly admire Fr. Bozek.
I cannot say that I agree
with everything he has said or has done.
But I admire him.

I mean,
you can’t have dialogue
unless and until someone first speaks.
When someone speaks or writes something
and those words make you think,
its like activating brain cells.
Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant at first.
The point is that you form thought
triggered by the words of another.

If someone speaks or writes
and it makes another think
I believe that those words serve a purpose.
For once brain cells are activated action is certain to follow.
And if the reader or listener
can offer a comment or challenge,
well, only then do we have dialogue.

And so,
I admire Fr. Bozek because he makes me think.

To think:
Something that I dare say
the church has historically not expected of her members.

for Fr. Bozek and Sister Louise there was no real dialogue.
It would seem excommunication is handed out
like free parking passes lately.
And I dare to say
that it has lost its power.

My apologies, Princesa, if my sarcasm is showing.
But you know,
The nopalito will never flower
without the espinas to protect her.

Anywy, my point is
that Sister Louise and Fr. Bozek. . .
. . . .Their words and their actions
all somehow make me think of you.

I wonder. . .
If you were on this earthly plain today. . . .
Would the church spy on you with a hidden camera?
Would the church consider you a harlot
because you had an intimate
marital relationship with a Pope?
Would the church condemn all of your comadres
via guilt by association?

Would the church consider you a rezadora,
pastora de la comunidad?

the church doesn’t even bother to remember you by name.

But I remember you
and I think of you often.
And I am inspired by women like you.

give my "hello" to all of the Gospel Girlfriends that,
like you, were never given a name in scripture:
Girlfriend at the Well, The Comadre from Cana,
the woman bent over,
Tu mamá.

and give my greetings to the gals of the Old Testament:
Ruth, Miriam, Hanna, Rebekah, Hosea’s Wife,
Lot’s wife, Tamar, Judith. . .all of the girls.

Please remember me to those ladies
the lectionary places in brackets
as women optional to our story:
The Prophetess named Ana, The woman with a hemorrhage.
the woman who anointed Jesus on the head.

For the fact is,
they are not optional to me at all.

And send my greetings
to those women whose stories
are completely omitted from the lectionary:
Shiphrah and Puah, Deboraha, Huldah the Prophetess,
Phoebe, Lois and Eunice.
It would seem that some women
are still being cut from the story.

Finally, and most importantly,
please remember me to Lupita in a very special way.
Let Her know that when difficulties arise
I remember Her words,
"Am I not here, I who am your mother?"
Let Her know that when I remember Her words,
I feel inspired, encouraged and accompanied
in all of life’s difficult moments
and joyous moments as well.

You are so lucky, Princesa.
You got to know Her in person.

Thank you, Princesa, for taking the time to read my letter.
I admire you more than you may ever know.

-Tu Amiga,

Tell me, Princesa,
when are you going to start your own blog?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Letter to St. Peter's Wife
(c) 2008, Rubi Martinez-Bernat.

About the author:
Rubi works in the area of music and liturgy in the Archiodese of Detroit and has several blogs and websites, including: Permission is given to use this writing on websites or blogs as is in it's entirety provided that: 1) Author name and copyright are included; 2) this paragraph must be included with clickable link in this paragrah; 3) Nothing may be deleted or added. All other use in all other media prohibited.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for naming the women of the bible.I must admit that I do not know some of them you mention.You make me think. Now, I must open my bible to find their stories! Thank you!

Rubi said...

You are very welcome!

I'll make it easier for you. In my next blog entry I'll give you the scripture citation of where you'll find these gals. . . Book, Chapter and verse.

And thank you for stopping by!

Neal said...

The Old Testament has Gods plan for his people. The building of the temple and who was to keep the Ark of the covenant(priest) and the role of women in the making and maintaining it,the CHUCH today has kept that tradition(catholic).

Neal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neal said...

From the old testament one tribe was selected to be Priest and along with the Alter the various vessels there assignments for the building and running of the temple which woman had specific rolls,the Church has honored Gods selection from the past to the present..

Rubi said...

It would seem you misunderstand at least some of the content in the letter.

The letter isn't about the role of women per se, nor about the Ark of the covenant and ministries thereof.

The letter is about women being omitted from the lectionary and/or made as optional in the readings. The fact is, what we do or fail to do in our liturgies affects and effects how we live our life. Which, by the way, is the whole point of this blog: Liturgy and Life.

The letter is about naming and claiming certain women as a part of Salvation History. . . Tamar and Judith, for example. I'm a pastoral musician, for goodness sake! How could I not take to heart the story of Judith!

In my personal journey of faith, I would add modern day women to that list like Ada Maria Isasi Diaz, Rosa Martha Zarate, Ana Castillo, Isabel Garcia.

Why name and claim? Because when you say out loud who you admire you are in the process of "selving." To name and claim and remember biblical women is an intricate part of my faith journey.

The letter is about women, like St. Peter's wife, that we are slowly forgetting even existed. Even though in the bible, how many can tell us something about Huldah the prophetess or Phoebe? And the latter are mentioned by name in the bible. Many of the women aren't. And, even with their names, we manage to forget to tell their stories, or choose to omit them altogether.

The letter is about double standards that exist within the institutional HUMAN church. . . For exmaple, telling folks not to attend a ceremony, but then sending folks to the ceremony that everyone was told not to attend. . .

This is not a criticism of Mother Church. It is a criticism of the HUMAN side of her. For the fact is, at times even church leaders can behave more humanly than at other times. . . just like the rest of us baptized believers.

The letter is certainly NOT about women as priests. . . .Nor, may I add, do I have a desire to be one. . .In all honesty, I can say that I don't know any women personally who do. . though I do believe that in El Santuario de Santa Ana (a little church south of the border) someone did manage to baptize me as "priest, prophet and king..."

And the simple matter of fact is, that St. Peter's wife is a part of my prayer life, as are the women I wrote about in the letter. And I can honestly say that certain subjests like the ark of the covenant and the ministerial priesthood have not come up in my prayer life with any these ladies.

. . And you know, that's why I wrote it as a letter. . . because it's my prayer, my personal dialogue with my Gospel Girlfriend. . .

. . . gotta run. . my caller I.D. says that my comadre, Maria Magdalena, is on the line again. . .

Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Sister In Christ-

You wrote:

I mean,
you can’t have dialogue
unless and until someone first speaks. When someone speaks or writes something and those words make you think,its like activating brain cells. Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant at first.
The point is that you form thought
triggered by the words of another.

If someone speaks or writes and it makes another think I believe that those words serve a purpose. For once brain cells are activated action is certain to follow. And if the reader or listener can offer a comment or challenge, well, only then do we have dialogue.


Only look at J E S U S to see how people - even San Pedro and other "followers"- responded to His thoughts and attempt at dialogue.

He was killed for it.

But first He suffered for us.

He offered an alternate method to the "go along to get along" lifestyle or "kill or be killed" mentality of the power hungry people of his day...

He was killed for it.

The J E S U S we think we know is much more than we are aware of.

Sure, He loves us. But He challenges us as well (part of His love) what - 35-40 times in Scripture. What do you want? What are you doing? Where are you going? etc...

How did most respond?

Do we respond ANY different today?

He was told, for the most part, to keep quiet by the High Priests - or else.

Some of the people (again, some were his own) of his day did not answer the Clarion Call, the challenges He set forth to us to do what He said was to be done...

Apathy in the ranks continued and they allowed the Changemaker to be murdered.

Thankfully, the dialogue He came to share has been passed on and did not die with Him, as He rose again in fulfillment of those very Scriptures we STILL sometimes turn a blind eye to..

We cannot embrace what we do not know and we certainly cannot have that dialogue, as Rubi pointed out, if we are UNWILLING to possess a teachable spirit to allow thoughts that are not ours to enter our heads.

If we do not open our MINDS to allow a dialogue, how can we truly claim that our HEARTS are open to pray over those new thoughts?

I agree, Rube, that whether one agrees or disagrees is irrelevant.
It's about being OBJECTIVE. But - by praying for and allowing a Teachable Spirit to envelop us -we are, at least, open to examining thoughts of OTHERS,rather than collectively chanting, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" whenever a new idea may arise...

When we do that, we have progressed NOT one single step in 2000 years.

Thanks, again, Rubi....

Maybe the next blog could be what we do AFTER we think NEW thoughts.

Do we just keep thinking them or actually do we do something with them?

Take it a step farther, if we dare, and blog about what/how long it takes to turn those ideas into a reality...

I think we may sometimes miss the point of why we pray to start and end meetings with prayer (not because that's the way we've always done it)- to open our hearts and minds to allow His precious blood to wash us anew and invite the Great Physician in to our fold so that His ideas may come to fruition through others that may just be sitting in our midst trying to start that dialogue...May He bless us all today and beyond, and may we all be accepting of ALL we hear today -whether it is our idea, a friend's idea, a stranger's idea or a foe's idea - and accept those thoughts with Grace and not cast them out because it is new or that they are not our thoughts. May we be bold in taking those new ideas and forge them into something real. Lord, we come to you just as we are and ask you to soften our hearts, but first give us the strength to let you in so that you may perform the miracle,our free will not withstanding...In His MIGHTY NAME, we pray...AMEN.

"Never confuse motion with action."
~ Benjamin Franklin

The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round

Rubi said...

"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
I know that song really well.
I mean, I'm the Samaritan woman before I even walk through the door. . .I won't go there. . .now. . . my point is, I know that song. . . .

The truth is, My truth is. . that I will not stop singing, writing and talking about the Women of the Bible and about Biblical Women in my life. They inspire me and encourage me.

We must become all things in order to bring some folks to Christ. For whatever reason, I've been gifted with a desire to know, learn, experience how women fit into the story of Salvation History. Cuz you know, we ladies belong to Jesus, too!

But you know, sometimes people just get defensive. . . Like if I say all that I am or state all that I desire to be I might just be taking a piece of the pie away from them. . .as if that were possible with Christ.

If St. Peter had a mother-in-law, which we know he does because the Sacred Scripture states it. . .well, then, he had a wife. . .

. . .is it wrong of me to think about her? Is it wrong of me to wonder what her life was like? Is it wrong of me to wonder how the role of women like her has changed through the centuries?

I think not. But then, again. . .I do take the time to think! . . .Oh, I'm a believing Catholic.

But it's precisely because I believe that I can see.

I don't believe because I see.

I believe, therefore, I see. . .

. . .I can see what women like The Rock Princess had to go through in those days. . .

. . and if I can reach more women through their state of womanhood. . if I can reach more women with the stories of women in the bible that most forget even exisited. . .Why does this scare some folk?

I don't think it's me they're afraid of. Nor do I think it's the fact that they don't know the scripture as well as they think they do. . .I think it's because they don't know themselves all that well.

And, that being so, they, in turn, don't know Christ as well as they think they do.

I say, "St. Peter's wife," and folks panic!

. . . and. . .oh. . . well, I did hear from The Rock Princess. . . She, in fact, will be starting her own blog. . .She's asked me if I can handle the earthly things for her. . .like the blogger account and technorati, things like that. . .

. . You know, I think most women know a little something about their husband's best friend. . .And for The Rock Princess, that man would be Jesus.

If the path I take is a little colorful, so be it. At least I'm on the road. And I am enjoying every little bit of this journey!

"Crucify Him!"
Why is it that this is the part of the bible people know best?????

Anonymous said...

"Crucify Him!"
Why is it that this is the part of the bible people know best?????
Lots of answers to that one, but I think the most glaring, for lack of a softer answer, is that we are most capable of knowing each and every moment of the DEATH of Jesus Christ and all the suffering and all the pain and all the false testimony and all the betrayals and all the _________ that led up to His murder, but...

You get the picture, Sister, and I don't even need to finish here because you know what I'm gonna say, don't you? Amen, indeed...

What we could be doing (WITHOUT losing the focus that He did, indeed, die for us, thanks be to God) is focus more on his 3 years of ministry that took place BEFORE He gave His Life for us....

To do that would mean getting to know Him on a more intimate level...

You say the same - "And, that being so, they, in turn, don't know Christ as well as they think they do."

I'm not talking about listening to the Lectionary readings or to the Gospel during Mass...I'm talking about aside from that....

And, for what it's worth from me, I commend you on your singing, writing and talking.

Don't stop.

In fact, pump up the volume.

You say it is encouraging and inspiring, and for that reason alone, please do continue.

We all have made our mistakes along the way (The Church is no exception -just ask the likes of Galileo, et al - due to Her human element)and the promise, thanks to that great tasting apple, is that we will all continue down this sordid path on many an occasion.

We can, however, avoid some trainwrecks that have already occurred by not repeating mistakes that we - or others - have made.

How do we do that?

By thinking. By examining for ourselves (as Scripture commands). By learning from others....

How can I learn from myself? Think about it...If I'm learning, it is by doing, reading, saying something someone else has already wrote or said or did or...

Or we can turn off our brains because we already think we know everything we need to know and we know it exactly how it was supposed to be known, because that's how we learned it - and our teacher, like us now as we pass it on, could not have possibly been incorrect...

Knowledge,wisdom,instruction... We know the line in Proverbs...

Or, do we?

Keep thinking, Sister...

And keep sharing your thoughts.

As I said before, 2 Timothy is another awesome way He shows us much...

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is NOT chained."

And speaking of David, I read your letter to the Husband of the Rock Princess....Very nice...

Yes, David did dance before the Lord - UNASHAMED - and was rewarded most handsomely by J E S U S for doing so....Michal - the depsiser of such an atrocious act, did not fare so well...

But, do WE dance before the Lord (in front of others)? Or do we hide our affection for Him, containing it as "a private thing?"

We can do that, too, but are we Michal when others choose to openly show their J O Y for Him? Do we tell them not to do that here?

Just something to THINK about...

The Glory is His, but the laundry folding is mine, so off I go...

Bless you, Sister...

Todd (B D)

Rubi said...

"Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
. . Ah. . the song is known even by those who are not Catholic (Roman, Independenant, Old or otherwise. . .). .

But the sad fact is, the "Crucify Him!" song is sung most by those claiming to be Christian.

Someone sends us an email about one of the presidential candidates being a religious extremist and we shout out, "Crucify Him."

We THINK someone is in this country without proper documents and we shout, "Crucify Him!" (In fact, I know of an American born Detroit Cleric who was stopped recently by Border Patrol in Detroit.) . . Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees. . . .

Those people dress differently:
"Crucify them!". . . The Magi surely wore different clothing, being from Orient land and all. . .

They talk differently:
"Crucify them!". . it was Peter's accent that gave him away. . .

Their actions are sinful:
"Crucify them!". . . funny how we call that story in the Scripture, "The woman caught in the act of adultery,". . why don't we call it, "The Woman Jesus forgave?" . .

Why, indeed!
Because we want to keep the crucifixion going!
We want to keep singing:
Crucify Him!
Crucify Her!
Crucify Them All!

I was speaking with a minister the other day. He was looking for a building to start a homeless shelter. He learned of a church with buildings that were vacant and approached that congregation about using the space. They replied, "We don't want those people here. . ."

Sadly, even the homeless are being crucified by those professing to be a people of faith. . .

. . .aye. . .the more and more I write the more and more I realize that I really need to simplify my life more than I've done. . . .

. . the more and more I write the more and more I realize the liturgy I need to "sing" isn't solely the one on Sunday, but the daily liturgy of life. . .

. . .I need to teach those being crucified that there is another song. . ."Yes, I shall arise. . ."

But sometimes we crucify by our lack of action, our lack of interest. Or simply forgetting and omitting. . . And so, this letter to St. Peter's wife hoping to help the ladies of the bible rise. . .

.. and. . now I'm quoting Maya Angelou!!!

Anonymous said...

(or should I say "brava!")
Your letter is amazing. And the dialogue you've managed to create here is all making me think. I have never ever spent so much time thinking about the stories in the bible as I have after reading this letter and what people have to say about it.

To be honest, I usually find going to church boring. But now, I'm going to be listening and paying attention. Thanks for the wake up call. You help me realize that it is not only a gift to be Catholic, but it's gift to be a Woman.

-Carrie M.