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To take seriously the marriage of the Bridegroom to the Bride means to take seriously their fleshly nature.  One cannot offer and receive the sacrament of their mystical union in such a way that means that one does not receive their offerings to each other.  Each is offered, one for the other, as in marriage.  So when the Church kneels, in her Bridal form, offering up the priest as Christ, the Church also kneels in her form as Bridegroom, as Christ’s Body, offering up the perfect sacrifice of Mary.  It cannot be other, for to say otherwise would be to deny that Mary took part in the sacrifice of Christ.  We know that Mary’s offering of Her Son was a perfect participation, a priestly offering of the highest order.  But Mary’s co-offering is to be distinguished from other human offerings.  Mary’s co-operation is totally unique.

So the question stands, how can the male priest offer Mary’s sacrifice?  The answer lies partly in that He takes on feminine form.  He must, for Mary’s sacrifice is intertwined with that of Christ. Whilst the Bride and the Bridegroom offer up the same thing – their Body (like Adamah, perfectly one), they do not offer in the same way.  But if the male priest is able to take on female form, subservience to the will of God, then may not one such as Mary take on the male sacrifice?  It is not about choice, but about subservience and perseverance to the end.  Mary offers as a mother to the Father.  So to say that Christ and Mary offer in the same mode would be a mistake, but it must be affirmed that they offer the same material.  When the male priest stands before the altar, he stands in Persona Christi, his Body offered by the female Church.  When the female priest stands before the altar, she stands as Mary stood in the Gospel of John.  The Church offers her because the Church is not only her body, but His.  Her sacrifice is enabled because of His.  It is a sub-sacrifice, but it is not lesser.  For she too, represents the Body of Christ, standing underneath the Chasuble as Mary beneath the cross, standing at the altar in reparation for the previous imperfect sacrifices of both Eve and Judith.  She offers all that one who is most perfectly human can offer.  She offers all that any mother can give - her child.  And this is the Passion, the sacrifice, the tragedy, the pain, but ultimately the work of redemption and so the love-making of the Church with her Bridegroom, and Christ’s Body with his bride.

I have played here with the metaphors.  Can the Church be construed in such a way that Her offering is a male offering?  I think so because the Church stems from a male offering, is indeed a Male offering.  And if that is the case, then perhaps Christ’s offering can be construed so that it is a female offering – that of His mother, in her perfect obedience – God’s “yes” to mankind in them both.

Is this page a wordy way of saying 'I want to be a Catholic, but with women priests'?
Actually, it's more like a kind of question: "is it possible for a woman to receive the orders of ministerial priesthood, and might it still be called catholic?"  In a way, it's probably a more Anglican? question than anything else.  I'm interested in catholicism in the "little c" sense, and whilst I admit to finding RomanCatholicism? fascinating, it's not the only kind of catholicism "out there".  My thinking is being transformed at present by HansUrsVonBalthasar?, and I want to find a way to sustain his account of sexual difference, without having to accept the (unAnglican) implication that this doesn't entail female ministerial priesthood.  Since I wrote this, I've changed my mind somewhat because I wonder whether the sacrifice offered by Mary is the sacrifice offered by the Church, as opposed to some kind of sacrifice offered through dislocating her from the Church.  On the other hand, (and just in case there's somebody who knows this stuff better than I do, out there), I do not want to end up with a Mary (bride) against Christ (bridegroom) where the former represents created, and the latter uncreated, which is an Eastern Orthodox concern illustrated (apparently) by Zizioulas. --AR

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