When I first launched the Order of the Magdalene Priesthood Training, I thought it had to do with building a “new church.” I thought it would be the training ground for women and men to come into their fullness and be ordained as priests and priestesses as was originally modeled in the Church. Very quickly, I learned this was not to be the case and it seems I am learning this truth more and more every day. What is most interesting about this unfolding, however, is that it is turning out exactly according to what I have been saying all along about ordination in the institutional church:
There is no shortage of vocations. There is only a shortage of vision.
For the past many years, the institutional Church has complained about a vocation shortage. In the Catholic Church, especially, there aren’t enough men coming forward as candidates for priesthood. This is a fact. The Church’s response to this has been to close parishes and to make a single priest responsible for multiple parishes. (Note, there is also a HUGE shortage in people attending church, but that is a whole other story.)
When I was still working in the Church, I would argue, “There is no shortage of vocations. Those who are called are sitting right here in the pews, we simply need to empower them to identify, cultivate and then use their unique gifts. When we do this, we will never have to ask for the ministries of church to be fulfilled, people will willingly and enthusiastically come forward offering to share their gifts.” My words fell on deaf ears, but with the Magdalene Priesthood, I am finding the fulfillment of these words.
In the Magdalene Priesthood we are doing just what I described to our priest (and anyone else who would listen) all those years ago. Through the Magdalene Priesthood training (for women and men), participants are given the resources and support they need to:
- Discover their unique giftedness.
- Cultivate these gifts.
- Move through the fears, resistance and societal conditioning that might otherwise hinder them in the use of their gifts.
- Be empowered in the use of these gifts 1) for the sake of their own fulfillment and 2) in service to the betterment of the world.
In short, the Magdalene Priesthood training supports participants in coming to know themselves and then empowers them to live that truth fully in the world. The end result is a community of self-empowered women and men who are living their unique gifts fully in the world and doing so in a way that is unique to them. With the Magdalene Priesthood, members are living these gifts IN THE WORLD. Graduates of the Magdalene Priesthood are living these gifts in a multitude of ways:
- Massage Therapists.
- Yoga Instructors.
- Dance Educators.
- Dental Assistants.
- Office Managers
- Business Owners.
- Registered Nurses.
- Clerical Support.
- Government Employees.
Participants and graduates of the Magdalene Priesthood Training are women and men from all walks of life. We are not locked away in an ivory tower or sequestered in a monastery. Instead, we are IN THE WORLD doing every day jobs (even I am working part time as Office Manager for a local arts academy). The difference is that we are no longer bringing our broken, wounded, fragmented selves to these jobs, we are bringing our WHOLE selves and in doing so, transforming the work we are doing, our workplace and even the people around us. In completing the work of the Magdalene Priesthood Training, we are bringing the fullness of love into the very heart of where it is needed the most – in our broken and fragmented world.
This is what Mary Magdalene did. This is what Jesus did before her. Jesus was not “in” the temple. He was not a priest of the temple. He, like any other rabbi, sometimes spoke within the temple grounds and at synagogue, but he was not a priest in the clerical sense of the word. He served at table – but over ordinary meals. He performed ritual – but they were not the rituals in the temple – they were the homey, earthy rituals that were part of everyday Jewish life. The same was likely true of Mary Magdalene. She was a woman of the world, ministering IN the world through her own unique calling and her own unique gifts – not in a temple, not in a church, but in the midst of the people wherever and however she was called.
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