One of the most often cited arguments against women’s ordination is that Jesus Christ only saw it fit (for whatever reason) to confer Holy Orders on men, and so the Church is absolutely incapable of extending the Sacrament to women. This seems like a sensible argument except when we consider the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Tradition seems to say that the Last Supper, which is generally understood as being the very institution of the Eucharist, only included Our Lord and the Twelve (all of whom were men). Using the same argument to limiting a Sacrament to how Jesus instituted it, wouldn’t it then follow that only men should receive the Eucharist? Taking this to a more extreme interpretation of the manner in which Christ instituted the Eucharist we’ll consider the fact that only Apostles were present. Would this mean that only Bishops (and possibly priests) should be given the Eucharist?
The purpose of this thread is to analyze the efficacy of the argument to institution, not whether the Eucharist should be limited to men or clerics only. Given the 2000 year Tradition of the Church it’s painfully obvious that the Eucharist should be made available to all who are properly disposed for such. I’m more curious whether it’s time to ditch the argument to institution with regards to Holy Orders.
It is a non-sequitur argument. Jesus made sure that at the Eucharist institution those whom HE had chosen were present so that when they in their turn would go out unto the world and preach “All that I have commanded you” would have a single event in their communal life to look back to.
It is so crucial that this event is recorded on 3 of the Gospels as well as in many letters from the Apostles.
Because the Apostles preached the Eucharist to every one and GAVE it to every one that was converted and became a part of Jesus’s Church we can be confident that it was never reserved only to the Bishops who are the descendant of the Apostles.
But also because we are told explicitly that when HE instituted it and also when HE appeared to them in the upper room again after HIS resurrection HE breathed on them only and gave them the power to forgive or retain sins.
Something that only GOD could, do we are certain that HE chose to have a male only priesthood.
Had HE wanted, HE could have included the many women who were HIS followers in the great commission.
Certainly this custom was not contrary to many other ancient cultures, which did have female priests. Alas HE did not do this.
There are also many theological bases of why, HE chose this and you can probably find them here on CAF. Many have a lot to do with Typology, which is, GOD’s way to show us the why’s to many of HIS mysteries.
In addition to observing what Christ did, we must look a little deeper to the “why” Christ did what he did. And the “who”. Who is Christ?
Christ did what he did because of who he is, who his father is, who we are. This is a very deep and complex topic that I cannot begin to address in a post.
The sacraments are a sign of a deeper reality. They bring about what they signify.
Christ is God’s full and final revelation of himself, right? How did God reveal himself then? God reveals himself as Christ, who is a divine person with full human nature.
As a point of observable fact, Christ is a man. He is not an idea, or a great theological construct. He is not a gender-bent amorphous person.
Jesus of Nazareth becomes flesh in the womb of a mother, and is a man.
Again, I can’t begin to flesh this out in a post, but the above is an unavoidable observation which the Catholic Church remains faithful to, and in fact the Catholic Church is the only one standing that remains true to what is objectively observable, that Jesus Christ is God made flesh, and is in fact a man. **So, the institutional nature of the sacraments is not an argument, as you say, it is observation of and transmission of reality. It is the transmission of living reality (Jesus Christ) in the life of the Church, not a man-made argument that is imposed on people. **
So we get into the Theology of the Body at this point. Huge and deep topic.
There are many good books written and perhaps a good place to start is with the Church’s promotion of the dignity and vocation of women.
It is a good question. My own opinion is that because the priest sits in persona Christi.
Jesus was a man and therefore His representatives on earth, the priest, is a man. Not that women cannot bear Christ to others or lead others to Christ - the hands of Christ instituted and he is a man so shall the hands of the priest be the hands of a man. Maybe that is just too simple of an answer. But if a woman was consecrating, I don’t think my mind is going to be brought back to the Last Supper account - the image that I know in Scripture and thru Tradition is that a man, Jesus, did those things so I don’t think the Lord would have my full attention if a woman was consecrating.
I found this article if its any help: catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/why-can-t-women-be-priests.html
And this poem:
The Beautiful Hands of a Priest
We need them in life’s early morning,
we need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of friendship,
we seek them when tasting life’s woes.
At the altar each day we behold them,
and the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their
greatness; their dignity stands all alone;
And when we are tempted and wander
to pathways of shame and sin,
It’s the hand of a priest that will absolve
us----not once, but again and again;
And when we are taking life’s partner,
other hands may prepare us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite
us is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy
For the Host which their fingers caress;
When can a poor sinner do better than
to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us
may our courage and strength be increased.
By seeing raised over us in anointing the
beautiful hands of a priest!
There is no Tradition that the Last Supper only included Jesus and the Twelve. There may well have been others there. We know that the Eucharist was offered to all Christians, male and female, laity and clergy, from the beginning. Presumably, Christ gave the Apostles some such instruction, although it is not recorded in the Gospel.
The argument you are making is something like the following:
(this is a very inadequate analogy but still addresses the point)
A basketball team passes on the knowledge of the game and the practice of it to it’s players.
The basketball team also invites the general public to partake of the game and enjoy it. These are simply two different sacraments. Although they come from the same source, they are two different yet related realities.
Your argument is that because the team invites the public to games, the public should also be players.
In fact common sense dictates that the opposite of the OP’s premise is in fact true. We know Jesus travelled with a large group, including his mother and other women. We also know that men in that time simply did not “serve” at table if women were present. It is almost a certainty, although admittedly speculation, that these women were in fact present at the time of the last supper, a Passover meal, and shared in that meal with the apostles.
Women were present throughout his ministry and included among his disciples: Matthew 27:55: “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.” Then Luke 8:1-3: “Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
“ditch the argument to institution with regards to Holy Orders.”
Is holy orders a right which can be discussed and argued over, to determine it’'s proper constitution, subject to political determinations? Or is it a vocation? What’s the difference?
This is important because if it is a right, we can begin to debate whether or not a particular class of human being deserves to have this right. We tend to think of the denial of rights as dis-empowering people and discriminating against them, rightly so.
A vocation is a whollly different thing. A vocation is a call from God. God does not call any person to something for which we are not objectively suited. Do I have a right to be a pro basketball player, or is it something I am called to? Can I be a mother ( I am a man)?
I would like to add that there is a strong argument that when Jesus appeared to the people in the upper room, there were more than just the apostles there. More than likely, there were women there also. If we look at Luke 24 and John 20, they talk about the same event although through different eyes. In Luke it speaks of people there other than just the apostles, and in John 20, Jesus says “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” So there is a strong argument that Jesus spoke those words to all and not just the apostles.
The problem isn’t the text and who was there, the problem is how is the text interpreted by the Church, which is the only true and reliable intepreter of such matters.
The Church, whose Apostles and their disciples wrote the NT, certainly understood it as Jesus conferring the priesthood on the men present, but not on those who may have been there witnessing it.
For instance, we have altar servers, both male and female, serving the priest at the altar but their mere presence as servers doesn’t confer the priesthood on them nor on the congregation.
We know what Jesus intended because he told his Apotles all they needed to know to form the liturgy, to pass on the priesthood, and to administer the sacraments. We don’t need to second guess the Church nor come up with scenarios we find will “explain” things that need no other explanation than the Church has already provided.
Matthew 26:17-20 Now …the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him,l ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ " And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them… When it was evening, He sat at table with the** twelve disciples**;
“The Disciples” doesn’t mean exclusively the twelve. It is common tradition that women and others were present. Disciples is not the same thing as apostles.
Can you imagine twelve men pulling off a meal?
I don’t think we’re talking about the owner of the house and/or who prepared and served the meal. We’re talking about who sat down with Jesus and ate the Last Supper with Him in the room reserved for Him and His** twelve** disciples. There is no evidence that the domestic help, other disciples, or owner of the house were present and participated in this final Passover meal and time of instruction that Jesus desired to have with the twelve before He was crucified.
It is not common tradition of the Church that women and other men were in the room dining with Jesus at the Last Supper. If someone told you that, then they are mistaken. Challenge them to provide accepted historical writings (eg. church fathers, saints, church documents) that validate such an assertion. If you’re aware of any, please provide them.
There is no evidence one way or the other who all was there. It defies believability to think that only the twelve were there eating the meal when Jesus traveled with a group of people.
Does it threaten the sacrament of Holy Orders in some way if women were present at the last Supper?
NO. The sacrament is not based on who was there and who was not. It’s based on Christ giving it to those he gave it to. :shrug:
There is all kinds of “evidence” that Jesus dined with 12 and that His words were addressed to the 12. Scripture is evidence - “He sat at table with the twelve disciples”.
**Church teaching **throughout the centuries regarding the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders at the Last Supper.
**Christian art **depicting the Last Supper
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
610 Jesus gave the supreme expression of his free offering of himself at the meal shared with the twelve Apostles “on the night he was betrayed”. On the eve of his Passion, while still free, Jesus transformed this Last Supper with the apostles into the memorial of his voluntary offering to the Father for the salvation of men: “This is my body which is given for you.” “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
611 The Eucharist that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice. Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it. By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
Does it threaten the sacrament of Holy Orders in some way if women were present at the last Supper?
Do you mean elsewhere in the room - standing, or at some table other than the table Jesus sat at with the twelve?
Since there is no historical record in Scripture or Church teaching that others (women and/or men and/or children) were present in the room at the time Our Lord instituted these Sacraments why even make the assertion that others were present - with no basis other than one’s personal reasoning/opinion.
It doesn’t defy believability at all. Jesus knew it was His final meeting with the twelve who would be the heads/bishops of His Church. Now that the crucial point was at hand, it’s very believable that He would want to spend those final hours with them - final teachings/preparation etc.
Luke 22:14-15 When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
No different than say a U.S. president who has lots of people and staff around. But at certain crucial times he’ll hold meetings with just the cabinet members present.