Back in December 2010 my friend Battle Beads had a post on which I commented, but only saw last night that she had requested some more information about what I had said (sorry about that, Battle Beads!). Since I was ferreting out my research anyway, and it was too much for a combox, I decided just to post it here. You can read Battle Beads’ original post and our comments as background to what I am talking about here.
Re Pope John Paul II: I have a newspaper clipping I saved from our local paper from September 11, 1999 (I don’t have the author’s name though). The headline reads: Pope’s “God the Mother” views hailed by churches. Here are a few excerpts:
Officials in many of Canada’s mainstream Christian churches have reacted supportively to Pope John Paul II’s recent descriptions of God’s “feminine side” and his reference to “God the Mother.” “What the Holy Father is saying has been the traditional teaching of the church for centuries,” said [then] Ottawa Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Gervais. “There is no sexuality in God, who is neither male nor female. He is described in the entire Bible in male terms. But he is given female characteristics in many, many parts. So it is legitimate to say God is Father. But God is also Mother.”….
[the Pope said, to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square the previous Wednesday]: “The hands of God hold us up, they hold us tight, they give us strength. But at the same time they give us comfort, they console and caress us. They are the hands of a father and a mother at the same time.”….
Father Gervais suggested that the Pope’s revelation might come as a surprise to some because it is not a subject that is often addressed and they may not have heard about it. “Most people realize God is beyond sexuality. Everything we say about God is by analogy, and every analogy is partly true, partly false. It doesn’t matter what word we use for God, it’s inadequate.”
Julian of Norwich: From: Revelation of Love
Chapter 48 (pg. 95) “For I beheld the property of mercy, and I beheld the property of grace. And these have two ways of working in one same love. Now mercy has the property of pity, for it belongs to the Motherhood in tender love…” [and the footnote says, re Motherhood: the first reference to God’s Motherhood, which Julian later develops and appropriates to Christ.]
Chapter 52 (pg. 113) “And thus it was I saw that God rejoices that he is our Father, God rejoices that he is our Mother, and God rejoices that he is our true Spouse and our soul his beloved wife. And Christ rejoices that he is our brother, and Jesus rejoices that he is our Saviour.”
Chapter 54 (pg. 120) “For the almighty truth of the Trinity is our Father, for he made us and keeps us in him; and the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother in whom we are all enclosed…”
Chapter 57 (pg. 127) “For Christ, having knit to himself all those men and women that shall be saved, is the perfection of humankind. So is our Lady our Mother in whom we are all enclosed and of her born in Christ; for she who is mother of the Saviour is mother too of all who will be saved in our Saviour. And our Saviour is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born yet we will never come out of him.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church (#370): “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.”
From Holy Scripture: [I’m too tired to look them up, but you must know some of the ones, about God nourishing us with milk as from a mother’s breast, and there are others. Help me out here if you like!]
St. Faustina (Her Diary, # 230): Although I didn’t mention it in my original comment at Battle Beads’ blog, there is also St. Faustina [no coincidence, is it, that Julian of Norwich sees God as Mother in the same vision as she sees mercy, and St. Faustina is God’s secretary of Divine Mercy]:
Jesus, living Host, You are my Mother, You are my all! It is with simplicity and love, with faith and trust that I will always come to You, O Jesus! I will share everything with You, as a child with its loving mother, my joys and sorrows – in a word, everything.
Because of the way most of us were raised, because of the “Our Father”, because Jesus took a male body when He incarnated and because of our day-to-day exposure to the masculine-gender words used for God, many of us really do relate to God primarily as if God were male. But as we can see from the actual teachings of the Church and through the revelations of the mystics (only two of which I have quoted here; no, wait, three – JPII was certainly a mystic) there is no reason why we cannot relate to God by knowing and imitating God’s female characteristics and attributes as well. I classified this post under the category of “mysticism” because one of the things that likely inhibits people’s understanding/knowing in this regard is the mind. Perhaps only direct experience of the Divine Feminine will alter a person’s perception.