Friday, March 19, 2010

Heart thread - 03/19/2010 - updated

For Declan, a wee lad who has many health challenges. For the health professionals who minister to him and for his family. I know his grandmother through work. You may read about him here. Holy Declán of Ardmore, intercede for this little one to Christ our God.

For Sandra that she may continue to be treated at home. May her body, medications, and the Spirit work together for her complete healing.

For Mark in his ongoing work of grief and recovery. For Diane as her body continues to recover. For Kathy as she pursues physical therapy. For Jack as his mouth continues to heal from surgery. For Tad and his full recovery following knee surgery.

For those in danger of any kind this night. May the holy angels defend them.

For Matt, the Nephew, and his aunt and uncle and parents and brother, whom many have come to know at Daily Kos, that he and they may be sustained by mighty grace while he comes to terms with who he is as a young gay Christian man. May the peace that passes understanding hold his heart safely as he deals with overwhelming emotions and external pressures. (Today's update is here. The aunt's diaries are here. Matt's diaries are here.)

For Lois' brother, Steve. For Delsy and her family following her 16-year-old son's suicide and for Sister Ellie who ministers to them. May he be received with joy into the everlasting arms. For three-year-old Taylor and her family. (See comments to the Prayer List at OCICBW.)

For those endangered by the rise of the Red River.

On this feast of St Joseph, I give thanks for Paul Victor, the only father I knew, and for my birth father without whom I would not be here. May Christ crown them both.

From Kirkepiscatoid's comments on the feast:
But I am absolutely convinced that Jesus had a wonderful earthly father, because of the glowing tones he uses in describing God. He even calls him Abba, which more or less means "Daddy."

Psychological research also tells us that people who have had abusive fathers (particularly women who were abused by their fathers) have a really hard time in modern Christianity dealing with "God the Father." People who had abusive fathers, fathers who could not be trusted, or absent fathers, find it hard to latch onto the notion that we are children of a loving God. These people learned not to trust the male parental unit in a family. If St. Joseph had been that kind of a parent, I don't believe Jesus would have felt authentic describing God in the terms that he did, and if we know one thing about Jesus, he's all about authentic.

So in my mind, it tells me all that's good about "the love of a good dad"--whether it is one's biological father, one's stepfather, or anyone who plays a paternal role in the lives of young people. Thanks be to God that these men exist in our lives!
My father and his father before him were both, among many other things, skilled carpenters. My father never called me anything but "Joe."

Holy Joseph of Nazareth, I ask your prayers this day. Pray for all fathers, stepfathers, godfathers, fathers in Christ, and fatherly persons that they may find strength, wisdom, and grace to nurture and guide those entrusted to them with compassion, integrity, and joy. Pray for the Church Universal that it may be defended from its own stupidity, brutality, and patriarchal toxins, for you know that fatherhood is not about the domination structures of this world. Pray for all workers and craftspersons that they may understand their labors as part of the building and healing of the world, do their work well and in hope, and be fairly treated and rewarded for their efforts. Pray for us sinners in the daily round of our lives and in the hour of our death. Amen.

--the BB


Jane R said...

Dear Paul, I love St. Joseph and love his feast. Thank you.

I know that women with abusive fathers have trouble with God as Father but let me say that I have trouble with the use of the term "Father" for the all-holy creator as well (unless it is in the context of Jesus calling God "Abba") and I have the most wonderful, gentle, kind father one could have and love him dearly. I simply think that the dominance of male language (not male language itself -- but the heavy, heavy imbalance) is idolatry. If we use a variety of images for Godde, "Father" is fine. But as we all know, male imagery in mainstream churches occurrs 95% of the time...

Anyway, happy belated feast of Blessed Joseph, worker, father, spouse, and man of faith.

Paul said...

Jane, I understand and agree. Intriguingly, when I inclusivized the language in all the services at St Cuthbert's (including revamping the psalms over the three-year cycle), I was intrigued and puzzled that none of the women were urging me to do so. Not every reference to Father or "he" was removed but they became some of many ways God was addressed or referred to.

Ellie Finlay said...

Thank you for the prayers for Delsy and for me.

I will be going to the family's house on Tuesday evening to bless the place and do appropriate space clearing (as well as encouraging any remnents of anguish from the young man who killed himself to move on.) Please continue the prayer support.

author said...

I am proof that women with less than perfect fathers can find the loving Father that permeates Love through everything in us. My faith is sustained through experience of that love, and recognition of that grows with time and expands in my experience of nurturing guidance in prayer. This is my whole basis for faith.

author said...

I'd like to add that for these reasons a loving Father has been ESSENTIAL for me

author said...

PPS hoping not to embarrass you, but men who are loving like you are (and priests or other important figures) are also incredibly important as those who share and represent that Love

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Paul, thanks for the linkup! Always love it when someone borrows my blogposts.

Jane and author both make very good points and they are not at all in conflict with what I cited. Some women have very good fathers and still have some problems with the "95% male imagery" of God in Scripture. That is also true. People with less than perfect fathers can still come to appreciate being perfectly ok with "God the Father." Also true.

My references stem from a tendency that "difficult parent experiences in childhood often create difficulties with parental references and parental-type authority" later in life. Since we refer to God with a male pronoun frequently (for better or worse), it is a magnet for the leakage of what ails folks about "the male parent." Hence the importance (as author states) of "good male role models."

I confess that I do not get terribly hung up on the male pronoun for God as I tend to dismiss it as "the culture of the times," and tend to think of the Holy Spirit in entirely female terms. It evens out for me, but that does not mean it evens out for everyone in quite the same fashion. I tend to write my prayers using God in a genderless role to be sensitive to these differences.

Paul said...

My prayers lean heavily toward gender-free imagery and language, though not exclusively. We all wrestle with a heritage that carries with it both blessing and curse. May the wrestling lead us beyond limitation toward the Mystery that embraces us all.