Cultivating women disciples
Christian women possessed by the living faith of true disciples are vital to the authentic renewal of faith in Australia and within the Church. Such has been the case for two millennia in many other lands. This is especially true in times of conflict and crisis or when familiar institutions within the Catholic landscape seem frail or corroded.
We need only to think of the great epoch-marking saints such as Clare of Assisi, Joan of Arc or Catherine of Siena to be reminded of this.
Just when things seem at their blackest and most turbulent, a holy woman is called into history and invites disciples into her transformative encounter with the Person of Christ.
No disciple is simply humanly born. She or he is invited, cultivated, watered and transformed into life by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
In a real sense feminine disciples “preach” if not always in texts or words, but through grace-responding presence, the beautiful outworkings of their inner love for the Lord and through lives formed in a type of concrete, faithful “maternal” care to others.
The founding “sisters” to all female disciples are the women at the tomb: those women called in the Eastern Christian tradition: “The Holy Myrrh-bearers.” (Mark 16:1-11 Mark 15:40-41; Luke 24:1-P12; Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-8). Tradition names them: Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Joanna, Salome and Susannah and Mary of Cleopas.
The New Testament witnesses to the courage, fidelity, generosity and loving resourcefulness of this band of women, who from different ages and vocations, came together to follow Jesus from Galilee (Mark 27:55) and continued to follow Him during his excruciating hope-crushing Passion, Crucifixion and Death.
Though terrified and grieved, these women displayed almost reckless courage following Jesus to his tomb. Most of the male disciples and apostles had fled Jesus after his arrest (Mark 16:1-8).
They were formed and called as disciples in the first place by being touched by Christ’s truth and healing.
Now they want to provide tender care to his cold and battered body, to swaddle it as they might a child.
They do this intuitively, with the wisdom of the heart- rather than with a business strategy. “Who will move the stone?”
What a world-changing and astonishing encounter they have when they arrive at the tomb!
The Myrrh-bearing women with their empathetic courage, their brave and loving vigil, their extravagant care for the body of the Crucified Lord and their importance as witnesses of the Resurrection are the “matron saints” today of The Anima Women’s network which has recently become affiliated with the 100-year-old Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga.
Anima aims to bring with it, humble, agile and creative ways to collaborate “between generations” with an emphasis on the nurture of the soul, the imaginative formation of the heart and mind and opportunities for shared prayer and practical wisdom.
•Anna Krohn- Convenor of Anima Women’s Network.