Sunday, May 10, 2015


This is my bulletin letter for Mother's Day at St. Joseph Want-To-Be Basilica:

Dear parishioners,
Happy Mother’s Day to all our moms! At all our Masses this weekend we will remember our mothers both living and deceased and we will offer a special Solemn Blessing for our mothers at the end of Mass. 

Many of us may not realize that the Catholic Church’s theology, doctrines and dogmas as well as moral teachings on sexuality  center on the complementarity of the male and female relationship. 

Thus all the Sacraments of the Church are centered on this male-female anthropology that has a divine origin in God’s creation as revealed in natural law.

In Holy Baptism, Christ begets adopted children through His bride, Holy Mother Church by water and the Holy Spirit, just as a husband and wife would beget children in the natural order in the Sacrament of Marriage. Thus the male/female imagery as well as mother/father imagery is extremely important to our doctrine and dogmas surrounding not only Holy Baptism but also  marriage as a divinely established institution defined by God alone despite those who think it can be redefined by government, judges or democratic vote. 

Even the Sacrament of Holy Orders is completely dependent upon the anthropology of natural law as it concerns the bridegroom and bride, male and female, mother and father. For bishops, priests and deacons, the bridal imagery of the Church as the Bride of Christ and the Risen Christ as the Bridegroom takes on added importance. 

During the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the bishop or priest becomes an icon or sacramental image of Christ the bridegroom of the Church especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the consecration of the Bread and Wine when the priest acts in “the Person of Christ, Bridegroom and Head of the Church". The male gender is extremely important in the Sacrament of Holy Orders in this regard which goes to the heart of what it means to be a priest or bishop. This is true also for the deacon who during the Liturgy of the Word proclaims the Gospel which has the very words of Christ. Thus in the sacramental liturgical setting, the maleness of the deacon is a sacramental sign of Christ speaking to us quite literally!

The Church is also referred to as Holy Mother Church, always in the feminine. Although bishops, priests, deacons and laity would all be a part of the Church thus comprised of both male and females, our souls are considered feminine even for the male. This is lost in English, but the Latin word for soul, even for a man, is anima which is a feminine term. Thus the “souls” that comprise the Church are collectively understood as female and the Church as the Bride of Christ and Holy Mother.

The Catholic Church values the role of females and males and how we complement one another. We don’t have to be like each other with equal access to the Sacraments of Holy Orders or Matrimony. We are not merely some kind of sociological institution where there is a contrived egalitarianism. 

We honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as our Mother and consider her the highest in the Church amongst everyone including popes but second of course to Christ. She is closest to us and to closest to Christ in the hierarchy of the Church. 

So on this Mother’s Day we are grateful for our mothers, for our Blessed Mother, Mary Most Holy and for Holy Mother Church. We are grateful for the natural order of sacred roles of male and female that the Catholic Church upholds in her teachings and how male and female complement one another according to natural law. God bless you.

Your pastor,
Fr. Allan J. McDonald


John Nolan said...

In Great Britain and Ireland Mothers' Day (more correctly Mothering Sunday) is the fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday). The Introit refers to Jerusalem as a mother and in the Middle Ages it was the custom for the faithful to attend the mother church of the diocese, i.e. the cathedral.

The custom of celebrating it on the second Sunday of May, although widespread, only originated in 20th century America and as far as I am aware has no connection with Catholic liturgy or custom.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mother's Day here is quite popular and all the restauants today will be packed, packed, packed. It transcends relgion or no religion. It is far more popular and sentimental than Father's Day with is the second Sunday in June.

But as my bulletin letter indicates it lends itself well to religious themes and to Catholicism in general and May as being the Month of Mary our Blessed Mother. Thus the secular and religious collide in a happy way!
From Wikipedia:
Mother's Day is a modern celebration honoring one's own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Father's Day and Siblings Day.

The celebration of Mother's Day began in the United States in the early 20th century; it is not related to the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the Christian Mothering Sunday celebration (originally a celebration of the mother church, not motherhood).[1][2][3][4] Despite this, in some countries Mother's Day has become synonymous with these older traditions.[5]

Anonymous said...

Well, you certainly managed to ram down everyone's throats your traddie, sexist agenda in your bulletin message. Outrageous!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I call it orthodox. I presume you prefer heterodoxy?

And by the way, Pope Francis would agree with what I wrote. He has to; His Holiness is Catholic, not post-Catholic.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

And I might add, since when is being called "traddie" and I presume you use it as you might use the "n" word, an insult? Of course it is if you use it as you would use the "n" word.

And since when has God's natural law and defined dogmatic teachings of the Church in sexuality, marriage and Holy Orders considered sexist?

Are you Catholic or an anti-Catholic bigot?

Dialogue said...

I think it's very funny for someone to consider anything placed in a parish bulletin to be shoved down throats. These bulletins are hardly the New York Times, or even the Daily News!

Anonymous is shocked, just shocked, to find Catholic doctrine described in a parish bulletin. She would probably be surprised to find Communism described in the Daily Worker.

George said...

Fr. MacDonald and Dialogue

On response to Anonymous-


Anonymous said...

If the "Sacrament of Holy Orders is completely dependent upon the anthropology of natural law" (note the word "completely") then, as the saying goes, "Houston, we have a problem."

Also, what might there be in the nature of a woman that prevents her being a true icon of Christ?

Marriage is not, and never has been, "defined by God alone." Various entities - states, etc - have defined marriage through the ages. Marriage was defined at various times and places as a political institution to solidify political bonds, as an economic institution to protect wealth, or as a physiological institution to beget children.

Much of what has been seen as "anthropology" though the ages has been little more than male dominance with little regard whatsoever for male-female complementarity.

Women, it was said, can't head businesses, can't be doctors, can't vote, can't hold high political office, etc. The roles of men and women are not always differentiated anthropologically, but for reasons of male dominance and control.

Carol H. said...

I was very happy to read this, and it can be taken further. This is why we should dress up for Mass; we are the bride come to join with her Bridegroom. This is the primary reason why I have decided to veil every time I enter the church. This is also the reason I require my grown sons to wear button down shirts when they attend Mass with me.

If we truly believe what we claim to believe, then we need to live accordingly.

George said...

Mother of God

Just as the first light of dawn heralds the appearance of the sun from which it comes forth, so the Blessed Virgin was that first light of the Dawn of Redemption from which the Son of God would spring forth.
Just as the sun would be of no benefit to man without the atmosphere - and the moisture and oxygen it contains, so also was the human flesh of Mary necessary to provide flesh to Christ, the Son of God, by whom man would be redeemed.
Just as the moon sends down to us light which is not of it's own generation, but comes from the sun, so does the Mother of God reflect down to us the Light of her Divine Son, by whose Light we are spiritually re-generated. So on this day of the year set aside to honor our mothers, we also honor her who is the Exemplar of Motherhood.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous at 7:02 a.m.:

Please see Anonymous at 12:07 p.m. This is the way to challenge a position with which you disagree, that is, intelligently and with various factual assertions that put assumed premises into question. Of course, that comment only scratches the surface and is itself open to challenge. But Father’s cogent and coherent post (it is hardly outrageous) and Anonymous at 12:07’s rebuttal can be the beginning of intelligent dialogue on the topic -- dialogue that hopefully will at least result in greater mutual understanding. I am afraid that your own comment is just shouting and does not advance the debate. The same is true, of course, regarding similar comments from the other side.

Dialogue said...


It's obvious enough that various entities try to define marriage to suit their own purposes, as is happening today in several states and courts, and as happened in the recent past with miscegenation laws. But such efforts are often contrary to natural law.

"Women, it was said, can't head businesses, can't be doctors, can't vote, can't hold high political office, etc." Who said these things? Women headed extensive monastic businesses throughout the Middle Ages, and nuns headed hospitals before Women's Liberation became a popular movement. Women's suffrage came at the exact same time that suffrage for all economic and racial groups was born. Elizabeth I headed the most powerful nation on earth (oppressing plenty of Catholics in the process) in the 16th century, and "Ma" Ferguson was governor of Texas--yes, Texas, that bastion of progress--in the 1930's.

Anonymous said...

Dialogue. Abbesses and Nun CEO's were the rare exception, as was Ma Ferguson.

Chauvinistic attitudes about the capacity of women for "complex" occupations is not something of the ancient past. Donald Regan, Ronald Reagan's White House Chief of Staff, said in 1985, said that women are "not going to understand throw-weights or what is happening in Afghanistan or what is happening in human rights."

Who says women can't be doctors? "In order to be a physician one needs a sharp and open mind, a solid and varied education, a serious and strong character, a great deal of self-control, a mix of benignity and stamina, a complete command over one’s feelings, moral vigor and, when necessary, muscular strength. (…) Isn’t feminine nature just the opposite?" [Richelot, G. La femme-médecin (Women doctors), Paris: E. Dentu, 1875]

NOTE: The erroneous "feminine nature" argument from "male-female anthropology."

Or this beauty: "Women cannot seriously pursue medical careers (…) unless they stop being women: due to physiological laws, women doctors are ambiguous, hermaphrodite or sexless creatures, monsters at any rate. Let those who fancy such a distinction try to acquire it." [Lucas-Championnaire, Just, "article 9997" J. méd. chir. prat., June 1875 issue.]

Flavius Hesychius said...


I've missed you.

John Nolan said...

There is indeed evidence that the pre-Reformation Church was less patriarchal than post-Reformation Protestantism; John Knox's famous trumpet-blast against 'the monstrous regiment of women' did not endear him to Elizabeth I although she was not his main target. Most Catholic women saints who weren't martyrs have been consecrated virgins - a state which 21st century mores would regard as far more 'unnatural' than lesbianism.

There were powerful women in the Middle Ages and after but in the secular world they held power 'faute de mieux' and were seen as contradicting the natural order of things. Powerful men were admired but their female counterparts were 'she-wolves'. Elizabeth herself knew that her sex was more a disadvantage than an advantage: 'My lords, were I crested and not cloven you would not treat me thus!'

For a number of reasons (evolutionary, cultural, physiological) absolute sexual equality is unachievable even if it were desirable. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to other egalitarian notions.

Dialogue said...

And yet there were formally trained women physicians from the early 19th century in England and the USA, the same time period during which this profession became a reliable medical resource.

Each normal man, from the moment he enters adolescence, desires nothing more than to please and protect--even die for--women. If there had ever really existed institutional oppression of women, then it would have been millions of women, rather than men, conscripted and sent to the trenches of WWI, the BVM would never have been the mother of Christendom, and men would never have submitted to toiling in the fields and factories to provide for their wives and children.

As far as men are concerned, women are it, women are everything, and history proves this. After all, even the most socially conservative (repressive?) age in Western history was presided over by a woman: Queen Victoria, in whose name men built a communication and transportation empire.

John Nolan said...

Certainly there were women physicians in the Middle Ages, and one suspects that most of the pharmacists were too.

More women than men now qualify for the medical profession but most go into general practice, which is well-paid and easily compatible with family commitments. There are not many top-flight female surgeons.

Queen Victoria was a constitutional monarch and certainly not a feminist. The cult of the Virgin Mary in the first half of the second millennium coincided with the culture of chivalry and courtly love.

The romantic tendency to put women on a pedestal still resonated when I was an adolescent. Of course marriage will quickly disillusion one of this, and present-day adolescents are more hard-headed than we were, not least because the easy availability of pornography removes any of the mystery from inter-sexual relationships.

Anonymous 2 said...

Thanks, Flavius. I hope to be a more regular participant again, at least during the summer.