By Fr. Thomas Loya
Our gendered bodies “speak a language.” They speak about God and the entire create order. Our bodies have a “theology.” It is the language of our bodies that tells us why women cannot be priests.
In every way a woman’s body is designed around the “genius” of receptivity. In this way John Paul II said woman is the “archetype” of the human race. The human race was designed by God to stand in a posture of receptivity to God’s love-to be the bride of the Bridegroom Christ. A woman’s body is designed to accommodate the environment, to bring the world to her center. The language of her feminine body therefore speaks the language of immanence and connectedness and therefore tells us that God is near, tender, loving, proximate and intimate. The body of a man, on the other hand, speaks the language of externality, of “out there-ness” of what is beyond, powerful, mysterious and awesome. The fundamental phallic thrust of the design of the male body speaks the language of initiative, of moving outward from itself to act upon the environment. It speaks the language of the initiating love of God the Father who made the ‘first move’ outward from Himself toward His beloved. If the female body speaks the language of the immanence of God, His closeness, the language of the male body therefore speaks of the other aspect of God-His total transcendence. God is “out there”, beyond us, totally transcendent, a powerful, awesome mystery. God is both transcendent and immanent all at the same time. He is not either/or and to reveal this God created us male and female. Indeed the Spousal Mystery is the DNA of the entire created order.
Liturgy which has the Eucharist as its source and summit is the place where the Spousal Mystery is experienced in its fullness on this earth. The Eucharist is not about who is performing what function. Rather Liturgy is about the sign value that is revealing the Spousal Mystery. The Eucharist is the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” It is the Bridegroom coming to consummate a mystical marriage with His bride. Are not the quintessential words of the Eucharistic celebration “This is My Body given up for you?” (or as in some Eastern Rite liturgies: “broken” for you.) This is the precise language spoken in the language of the body of a husband for his wife in the one flesh union. In fact, the one flesh union finds its very meaning in the Eucharist which in turn finds its meaning in the sacrifice of the Bridegroom Christ on the Cross which finds it ultimate fulfillment in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in Heaven. On the Cross Christ, becomes the New Adam and his Mother becomes the New Eve. Christ the bridegroom looks at His bride and does not refer to her as “Mother” but as “Woman.” The only other time that Christ refers to His Mother as “Woman” was at the Wedding at Cana.
On the Cross the human race is mystically reconceived as Christ says, “Woman, behold your son.” When Christ finally gives up His spirit on the Cross he says, “Consummatum est”-not it is “finished,” rather it is “consummated.” This is why in some of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church at the Paschal services they sing the following ancient verse written by saints: “Christ emerges from the tomb like a bridegroom from a bridal chamber and fills the women with great joy!”
The entire action of the Liturgy is Spousal. In his theology of the body John Paul II said that the “language of liturgy becomes in a sense conjugal and conjugal relations become in a sense liturgical.” Therefore the specific and consistent place of gender in Liturgy plays a vital role in our participation and experience of the Spousal Mystery.
I just started listening to a podcast by Fr. Loya a couple of weeks ago called "A Body of Truth." It is an open, honest and interesting look at the language of the body as a male or female, how God made us to interact as male and female, our sexual desires, chastity, marriage, celibacy, etc., all based on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Go check it out! (Parental discretion is advised, however, this is not something for the kids to listen to.)