The “Female Diaconate” after the Amazon Synod

The Mystery of Human Sexuality in the Woman at the Well and the Vital Sacrament of Apostolic Succession

In light of the recent Amazon Synod, the question of the female diaconate has once again been raised. It is more than obvious that novelty and change are today’s signs of progress. In the twentieth century, for example, scientific accomplishments developed at an astonishing rate, as if they might even herald the signs and wonders of apocalyptic language: electricity, motored cars, flying machines, bombs, nuclear weapons, refrigeration, mass communications, computers, and the like. Yet, also, the terrible scourges of spiritual catastrophe exploded beside the materialistic victories, and they have been cause for supreme concern for the Church, the world, and all persons of good will. Indeed, the substantial moral collapse of our modern times — the apostasy from natural law — necessarily succeeded the loss of doctrines of faith that paved the way for the terrible rebellion against these even self-evident moral truths.

For first, Catholic Christendom was radically disturbed by an apocalyptic rejection of the Church’s authority in favor of a “Scripture-only” solution to the pursuit of truth. To be sure, this age was still Christian, but dreadfully shaken to the core. Then, as a natural consequence, the faith was confounded incomprehensibly without the essential guidance of the Church, and this in turn disemboweled the world not merely from Church authority but even the self-same Scripture, in favor of a brute remnant Reason, or parallel age of “solo ratio” to diabolically mimic its mother, “sola scriptura.” Finally, we return to this last century of ours, and even Reason is set aside in exchange for the fullness of darkness: atheism in the East, and relativistic, hedonistic materialism in the West. In this context, we understand the crisis of our current age to be in the context of a wider decline.

Consequently, we now come to a central issue in this drama and one that is intrinsically bound up with our discourse, the mystery of human sexuality. Here, we see that the moral apostasy formed the climax of the semi-millennial epic loss of faith: the sexual revolution, per St. Paul VI, sealed the coffin of spiritual death and put European civilization over the edge of the recognition of the immeasurable dignity of the human person into an illusory and perverse, pleasure-seeking society, the collapse of total morality. Indeed, the noble St. Paul VI1 prophesied that if artificial birth control became widespread and accepted, it would lead to a total collapse of morals. The reader needn’t be informed that this has taken place. Human life and sex issues, which are at the core of human welfare, have utterly collapsed: abortion, euthanasia, substance abuse, gossiping, bullying, crime, terrorism, adultery, divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, pornography, same-sex activity, transgenderism, and on and on.

Out of these considerations, the mystery of the sacrament of Holy Orders is intimately connected to these realities, and this, by the very fact that Holy Orders introduce a veritably imperative contrast of roles. More specifically, the Church has taught and known from time immemorial that this most precious and vital sacramental grace can only be received by men. But in modern times, an effeminate and hyper-corporal-works-of-mercy form of Christianity, coupled with an unbridled and perverse form of feminism, began to practically demand female ordination under the pretext of “equality.” Accusations were hurled against the Church, and continue to be cast upon her, that she is against women, that she is sexist and chauvinistic, that she is hopelessly stained with a bigoted patriarchal spirit that is not “in touch with the times,” and on and on.

To be sure, many good and notable theologians, writers, and clergy have come to the Church’s defense, trying to clarify to a world that has lost the concept of roles, that whereas men and women are most certainly equal in priceless dignity — immeasurable in worth on account of their calling to possess infinite Love forever in the next life (and even beautiful love and knowledge in this life) — nevertheless, their sexuality gives them different roles in some senses, first and foremost in their very sexual nature itself, which imprints upon them an indelible mystery of their identity as a son or daughter of the Eternal Father, and secondly, if even in a general but not absolute rule, appropriate vocations and manner of living out the virtues of self-donation and reception in the context of their earthly calling.

In light of this one crisis among many that the Church faces today, unfortunately, a specific problem has arisen, namely, that there are recently disturbing rumors at the infamous Amazon Synod that some sense of a “female diaconate” is being considered. We can possibly conjecture that this is being misunderstood, yet, the issue, I feel, is serious enough that a more full synthesis of the mystery of human sexuality in light the sacrament of Holy Orders might be probed to better arm teachers and laity alike to lovingly but boldly engage opponents of the purity and male-exclusive state of the priesthood.

Now, where would we begin? Well, we should clearly start by reviewing the foundational mysteries of human sexuality in the context of God as Triune and Incarnate. Here, two primary dimensions are relevant: the Trinity as image of the family, and the Incarnation as image of the Creator-to-creature relationship.2

The Trinity as Image of the Human Family

The Trinitarian mystery of human sexuality begins, appropriately, with the First Person of the Holy Trinity. From all eternity, the Father is the Lover unbounded. He desires from within that same eternity to share His Divine Essence. Therefore, the Father empties Himself into a Reservoir. This Reservoir fully receives the Divine Essence, and is therefore also consubstantially God. Yet the Reservoir is distinct from the Father, another Person. This we call the Son, and in this mysterious and profound gift of selves, there is the Divine Essence Shared, the Gift between the Giver and the Receiver, a Third Person, the Holy Spirit who is also consubstantially and fully God.

In this exchange of selves, the human family must be patterned: Adam is “alone,” like the Eternal Father in order of procession. But Adam is made for love — for gift and reception. So, God places Adam into a deep sleep. . . Woman proceeds from man, of equal substance, co-equal in priceless dignity — “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God . . . consubstantial.” She is bone of Adam’s bones, and flesh of his flesh. Then, we contemplate the wondrous marital act: man and woman become one, recklessly sharing the whole gift of themselves — completely, totally, and faithfully — and this very love between the man and his beloved bride can become a third person of equal substance, worth, and pricelessness — a child — just as the Eternal love shared between Father and Son is a third Divine Person, the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that each and every person is in of him or herself is not a divine image and likeness, but it is to see that this divine potential is realized only in a perfect gift of self (cf., Gaudium et Spes §24). This is the first great mystery of human sexuality. The second builds on it.

Man-to-Woman as Image of Creator-to-Creature

The Apocalypse thunders marital imagery at the apex of its drama: the end of all existence is an eternal wedding banquet, the marriage of the Lamb and the Church, the Christ and His apocalyptic bride. And since what begins spiritually is almost always eventually manifest in the flesh, this wondrous imagery does in fact break down into the mystery of man and woman as one body. How? It is common sense. More succinctly, physically, the act of love between man and woman images the spiritual relationship between God, the Creator, and the creature, the human person. Firstly, man has a proceeding sexuality, and woman, a receptive one. Man holds the seed of life that is originally infused. Woman, effectively, receives it. This is the precise nature of the seed of “truth and grace” in the spiritual life: God, the Creator, is the ultimate source of all truth and grace, not the creature. The creature, effectively, is in a receptive position in this regard. We creatures do not determine the truth; God does. God is the truth! “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Moreover, all grace is a finite created participation in the Divine life and love of the Trinity. It must come from God; it must be given by God. The creature does not create grace. The creature receives it. Too, this same truth and grace “proceeds” from God into us, the creatures. Hence, again, the nature of procession and reception.

Similarly, just as man overshadows woman from above (“The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you”) man thus overshadows his bride and enters her inner being, lovingly, infusing the total gift of life, the seed of life; similarly, God overshadows the creature, enters its inmost being, its soul, and lovingly infuses grace for the will, and truth for the intellect. The grace is conceived and brought forth into new life — a new life that proceeds from the creature to the outer world, meaning that the creature, renewed at Mass with God’s Words and strength in the Eucharist, goes forth to “love and serve the Lord,” to bring the life and truth it received to others through acts of charity and evangelization.

Now, man is in no way superior to woman just because, in the act of love, he is physically “above” her. The co-equal pricelessness of man and woman remains intact. In fact, the man is called, far from exercising superiority or domination, to lay down his life in sacrifice for his beloved bride, as Jesus did for the Church (“husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church”). There is, however, a point to be made here: that man comes down from above upon his bride is revelatory of a supremely important concept in our spiritual scenario of the Creator and creature: that the Creator truly is above the creature. That is, we are not God. We have a desperate dependency on God for our very existence and well-being, not the least of which is the Divine Revelation of truth, and life of grace, both in instantaneous strengthening and enlightening (actual grace) and in Divine life and love (sanctifying grace). Without supernatural truth and grace, we are goners. (“With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible!”) Hence, the overshadowing aspect of the Divine upon the Virgin, and derivatively, the man coming down upon the woman, are not arbitrary but revelatory.

The Catholic Balance of Male and Female
(and Why Only Men Can Be Priests)

We now come to essential theology of the Incarnation and of the mystery of Holy Orders. We have just seen that God created male to female physically to image, at least in one layer, Creator to creature spiritually. For this very reason, if God makes Himself flesh, He absolutely must take on the sex that images the Creator in the Creator to creature analogy, seeing as He is Himself the Creator. Hence, the Son must become male. This also indicates why the Sacred Scripture and Tradition effectively use male pronouns for God: Father, Son, Lord. God is, again, the source of truth and grace. God comes down upon us and infuses within us truth and grace. Truth and grace proceed from God, just as male sexuality is proceeding. This brings us, incidentally, to a central proof in our discourse: this theology vindicates the Church’s tradition that only men may be ordained. How? Well, the priests are in persona Christi. They mediate truth and grace of the Creator in the supreme form of worship, as though they were the source, the Creator; they are also the mediators of the primary sources of grace, the Sacraments. Therefore, precisely because the entities that they pass on are the supreme gifts of God unto us, and because Christ is the supreme manifestation and giver of such gifts, priests, again as in persona Christi, must bear the image of the Christ, hence, the male.

The War of the Sexes

To build on this, we have seen also from the Armageddon symbolism,3 that in sin and lack of faith, man is at war with God; in fact, he desires to seat himself above God, as in the frog. More specifically, the frog was regarded by the ancient pagan Egyptians as divine; they elevated the mere animal below them in the chain of existence up two notches, one above themselves. In a similar vein, when humanity sees itself as the frog, as in the spiritual frogs that emerge from the mouths of the diabolical trinity of apocalypse, sixth bowl, they elevate themselves two levels above their existence, which places them over God, since God is only one step above man. Here, then, can we not see the dreadful psychology of modern humanity: the world, or creatures, are at war with God, and since the creatures are imaged by the female in our analogy thus far, creatures versus God becomes woman versus man — the war of the sexes: man and woman utterly incompatible; and this, sadly, divulges into the other sinister ideology that we are moving towards in this discourse, the hyper and radical feminism that attacks our culture with vengeance (the bride rebels against the Bridegroom). Indeed, when man, out his arrogance and brute anger, abuses woman, which is utterly diabolical, it ricochets back in a knee jerk reaction: woman desires to dominate and overpower man.

How, then, can these forces of the fallen nature, which try in desperate frustration to argue not merely equal dignity of the sexes, which is absolutely true, but interchangeable roles in all dimensions, not end up assaulting the sexuality of the Church, and in particular, the mystery of Holy Orders?

Hence, the sensitive but difficult issue of “female Holy Orders.” Now, certainly, the feminine genius and beauty has a very powerful and meaningful place in the Church. We know, for example, that some four of the Church’s 36 Doctors are women and even women of great significance in her entire 2,000-year legacy. Too, there are many roles that women can play in evangelization and service to the Church. We think most especially of Mother Angelica, from whose spiritual breast an entire world nursed the milk of love, truth, and good humor. Indeed, the image of the Christ child receiving sustenance from the holy bosom of the Virgin establishes that us “little children,” as the very sacred words of the beloved disciple address us as in Scripture, repeatedly find our spiritual nourishment and love from the figurative source of feminine grace. This would, therefore, create the foundation of another dimension of human sexuality that is revelatory: that secondary mediation of truth and love is to be found in the feminine beauty.

Yet, because of the Christo-ecclesial mystery of sexuality, Christ and His Bride, and since Christ is the primary mode of mediation for truth and grace, we are still left with the position that is difficult for modern ears, that men must, again, take up the primary role of mediation of these, leaving the feminine mystery to have a secondary role for the dissemination of formal truths and graces. But, once again, note that this is not sexist in any way. It rather reveals greater and more profound mystery and depth about our sexuality in relation to God and His ineffable meaning than if distinction of roles did not exist.

Conservatives, Liberals, Masculine, and Feminine

Progressing, a related observation is in order: in general, I think that it is safe to say that if there are female “clergy” in a Protestant community, the community is more likely to be from the left bent rather than from the right, so that, derivatively, the farther left you get in the Christian religion, the more effeminate the approach to truth and formality of grace becomes, and the farther right you get, the more masculine, respectively.

Now, we may ask, is this theologically predictable from our model? I would say unequivocally yes, and that such theology can be most appropriately found in the alabaster jar scenes of the Gospels (Lk 7:36–50; Mt 26:6–15). How? First, it is so wonderfully beautiful to consider how the woman’s heart overflows with contrite worship and love for Our Divine Savior in these scenes. They are indeed touching and profound. The heart-breaking interruption comes to us, unfortunately, in the harsh rebukes, or criticism, from certain onlookers. Now, I ask, what if profound meaning can be assuaged from the critiques of the woman in the respective scenes that sheds light on our Holy Orders and gender discourse? Well, come and see. It will be compelling to say the least.

To begin, we note that in one scene, the woman is anointing the feet, and in another, the head. The complaints, too, come from different dimensions of concern in the Church. More specifically, when the woman is anointing the head, the complaint comes from the earthly, or lower dimension, of Church mission, the corporal works of mercy: “What a waste! This jar could have been sold for much and given to the poor!” In the other case, where the woman is expectedly anointing the contrasting end of the Divine body, the feet, the complaint comes from Pharisee of the other dimension of Church mission, the spiritual, or other-worldly, that is, the order of truth and mercy for sin. “If this man [the Christ] were a prophet [implying Divine Knowledge] he would know who this woman is, what manner of woman she is, and that she is a sinner.”

This is utterly profound! The head of the Christ is the upper dimension of His Sacred Body, and his feet are the lower dimension of His Body. Yes, the upper and lower dimensions of the faith, no, seeing as the Church is the Body of Christ, per the perennial Apostle to the Gentiles in his wondrous letter to the Corinthians? Yes, how appropriate it is that those who throw themselves extremely toward the earthly dimension of the Church (“could have been sold for the poor”) should criticize the other-worldly dimension of the Church, the head, and, in contrast, those of the harsh spiritual dimension should critique the lower dimension of religion, the feet.

This is very amazingly what we find from general experience of the religious extremes, which is to say, right and left. Take the left first: the corporal works of mercy. Very frequently, in left-bent churches, theology and sin is light, and helping the poor and suffering is in. That is, left-bent communities tend to shrug off much of the spiritual and moral dimension of religion in favor of a, if even warranted, merciful compassion on the downtrodden. In other words, the left is what we could call a hyper-corporal-works-of-mercy religion. Indeed, when the disciples and/or Judas complain here, they deflect the highly spiritual dimension of the woman’s actions to merely the corporal essence, e.g., could have been sold and given to the poor. The woman’s sin is not even on the radar, as it is, extremely, with the Pharisee scene. The worship of the God-man is not warranted, at least not in extravagance.

Similarly, when we alternate to the Pharisee, the anointing of the feet of Jesus can image the vindication of mercy and love toward the suffering, especially the spiritual, so that the Pharisee’s stern judgment within himself of the woman and Christ’s compassion upon her becomes a picture of the rejection of the merciful component of our faith, especially the corporal works of mercy. Indeed, the Pharisee’s character throughout the Gospels reeks of his disposition here: he is self-presumptuous of his knowledge (“You were born completely in sin and you are telling us . . ?”); he is bigoted toward those different and “sinful” (“Lord, I thank you that I am not like this publican”; “This man was born blind from birth. Was it his sin or his parents?”); and so forth.

This places us now into a context to form effeminacy out of the left and hyper-masculinity out of the right. In short, we have just seen that the left is firmly within the lower dimension of the Church, and the right in the upper. Well, lo and behold, the Creator is up above, and the creature is down below in the spiritual imagery we have discussed earlier. Moreover, the man imaged the Creator, and the woman, the creature. Bingo! When religion becomes too well entrenched in the lower dimension of religion, the realm of the “creature”, it can fill up within itself the sex that images that, which is woman! Similar arguments go for the right. This, then, can at least provide a possible window into why women’s ordination is largely a phenomenon of liberal Christianity.

Apocalyptic Sexual Imagery of Holy Orders and Division in the Body of Christ

Now, we move to a final section meant to supremely fortify and build up the notion that human sexuality is mystically and analogically tied to authority and ordination within the Christian mystery, and here, we will appeal to powerful symbolism toward an apocalyptic form of sexual imagery, as it were: historical ecclesiology, that is, that at the center of sexuality and its nature in the New Covenant is not merely the base reality of Holy Orders for the individual male, but also the ultimate end of Holy Orders, which is the integrity of union in the body of Christ en masse, meaning that separation from the Church brings in the immediate sign of separation or “immorality” in the human sexuality, as in, but not limited to, divorce, remarriage, and committed monogamous fornication. The main analogy we will center upon is the Samaritan woman at the well.

For whereas the schismatics have valid Holy Orders, and therefore spiritual “husbands,” yet in a form of, as it were, divorce and remarriage, the heretical sects have lost the Apostolic bond. No Protestant community can be called a church, for a church necessitates the literal presence of the Christ, which is to say, not merely spiritually, which is everywhere, but physically. But there is no physical presence of Christ in a tabernacle except where the Eucharist is, and there is no Eucharist except where the priest resides; and there is no valid priest where there is no valid bishop to ordain him. And there is no valid Bishop unless he be a man that succeeds the Apostles.

The Woman at the Well as Image of Christian Division

Now we are ready for the profound Scripture. The act of seeing ecclesiology in this passage of the Samaritan woman is of utmost appropriateness. However, one may object and say that we need to look at the words of Christ as strictly fulfilling Old Testament realities, and that allegory that anticipates, dare we say prophetically, New Testament realities that will arise long after the Deposit is closed are to be excluded. Here we can say that, yes, admittedly, in an initial approach to the Gospels, we read passages in light of the OT to find their fulfillment in the Christ. But need we stop there? The Fathers were also repeatedly seeing New Testament realities veiled as forth-looking types of Christian mystery in the words and actions of Our Divine Savior. Indeed, the article on loaves and fishes4 showed that, there — right there — in those stories of ordinal amounts and types of food, the sacraments as regards divisiveness in Christ’s Body were perfectly veiled. In the article on the Joyful Mysteries,5 we saw that the entire narrative of pregnancies of Our Lady and St Elizabeth perfectly revealed the whole history of the Divine Plan, from the garden to the Second Coming. Too, in the article we have been discussing from Armageddon and the Kings of the East,6 the East turns out to perfectly image the OT division of the North, and that, as Christian division, finds a more profound understanding of why great strife arises in human history: Christian division begets loss of faith, and loss of faith alienates man from God, which in turn alienates man from himself, and hence incomprehensible strife results. We could go on, but it is not necessary. Consequently, whereas the Woman at the Well may indeed show a fulfillment of an OT type in the marital successions, why should we dismiss that this text could be forward-pointing to epic New Testament division? It works! Let us consider it.

Firstly, the Samaritans are the proto-religious society separated from authentic Judaism. The Samaritans are the remnant of the separated North several centuries before, remembering that, hence, the North is the supreme image of Jewish division for the Old Testament. The capital of this Northern Kingdom was Samaria. The Samaritans possess a corrupted form of Judaism. They are unorthodox. Jews and Samaritans are at supreme spiritual enmity with one another, to the point of no discourse. “How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman?” (Jn 4:9). Furthermore, the conversation between the Christ and the beloved woman centers profoundly around the places of worship. Indeed, the setting for the event is Jacob’s well, which is the rival place of worship to Jerusalem. The Christ, then, clearly setting as one great litmus test of orthodoxy the place of worship, testifies to the woman, “You worship what you do not understand. We worship what we do understand, for salvation is from Jews.”

Toward these ends, if we already have here the blatant situation of religious separation in an Old Testament context, how much more could the Scripture forwardly look in allegory to the New Testament separation. In short, again, it fits perfectly.

The primary examination centers effectively upon the obvious: the sexual history of the woman.

Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly. The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore (Jn 4:16–20).

Here is the profundity in short: per our analysis of sexual theology, divorce and remarriage images schism, and cohabitation, however committed, images heresy.

North as Image of Both Forms of Christian Division: Bethel and Dan

I would like, now, to make one final observation that ties Christ’s presence to the separated place of worship in the well scene, Jacob’s well, with the North as type of all Christian division. How? Let us consider it. Immediately, the very reality that we have seen above, namely, that Christ uses the place of worship as a supreme test of orthodoxy (namely, that the Jewish place of worship, Jerusalem, was then the true place, and not Jacob’s well, the place of the unorthodox Samaritans) can be used to argue that the North embodies in herself both of the forms of NT separation, namely, schism and heresy, and not merely schism, which has been our consideration thus far.

This can be argued as follows: when the North broke away, surprisingly, not one but two places of worship to compete with Jerusalem were inaugurated, one very close to Jerusalem (Bethel, in the very south of the Northern kingdom) and very far away from Jerusalem (Dan, in the northern extremities of the Northern kingdom). Now, let us note for future reference that Bethel was of the tribe of Ephraim, and the city Dan of the tribe of the same name. This introduces completely appropriate profundity: places of worship, again, by our Christological discourse in the well scene, can image faulty religion if not correct. Hence, already, the two places of worship in the North can convey the mystery of two primary forms of religion in Christianity separated from the Church, the only two that actually exist in the big picture: schism and heresy. And lo and behold, one form separation is nevertheless very close to our true place of Worship, the Catholic Church, and one is very far away: schismatics retain all elements of our faith sparing Peter, the supreme See, and minor issues of doctrine (“a few fish”), whereas heretics are very distant from us — all they effectively retain is mainly most of Scripture and two sacraments, two fish, Baptism and Marriage. They lack all Apostolic Succession, the Sacred Tradition, the Mass, and five sacraments, and are severely confounded in doctrine. They are far away indeed, like the remote city of Dan in the far, far north of the North, the most separated of the separated.

The 144,000

And here are a few final corollary gems to throw in. Remember that, from above, just as the 144,000, as 12 x 12 x 1,000, bears the mark of a Church who fulfills in her being the Old Covenant, so the delineation of these 12,000 from every tribe may actually bolster our theology hence far. More specifically, in the original listing of the twelve tribes in OT Scripture, all of the tribes are singular entities, that is, with no sub-tribes, saving one, Joseph. In this regard, Joseph would go on to have two subdivisions, firstly, Manasseh, and then, convenient for us, Ephraim. Note the, that if we were to list, in addition, the redundant sub-tribes of Joseph, then we would obviously have fourteen in the list. Well, get this: when the tribes are listed in the 144,000, something very interesting takes place: twelve tribes are mentioned, and it is like our just-mentioned redundant list, but with two profound omissions! As in? Dan is excluded, and Ephraim is excluded! This means that there is one full loss (Dan) and one half redundancy lost (Ephraim). Why is this significant? Because Dan and Ephraim are the very two, and only two, tribes that house the unorthodox places of worship in the separated North: Dan houses Dan, and Ephraim houses Bethel! Hence, precisely in the context of the true Church, the 144,000, and of the NT authority fulfilling OT authority, the theology of North as type of Christian division finds an astonishing ally.

Samaria as Image of Christian Division and Their Belonging to the True Church of Christ

Two more corollaries to go: first, recall that Samaria was the eventual lasting capital of the separated kingdom of the North. This can make Samaria image the totality of division in the New Covenant, just as the North embodied both forms of separation. Secondly, Samaria was allotted into the kingdom of Joseph, and it was split up between Joseph’s two sub-tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim. Here is profundity: we have just seen that in the book of Revelation, Joseph and Manasseh are mentioned as part of the tribes of the 144,000, but Ephraim is not, which, again, can be argued so because it housed one of the places of worship that was false. In other words, Ephraim was one of the images of division. By way of implication, Manasseh, the other sub-tribe, could, in this context, image a belonging to the true kingdom of the Catholic Church because it was mentioned in the 144,000. Consequently, Samaria belongs to both Manasseh and Ephraim. That is, Samaria, or Christian division, belongs to both the truth and the separation! Bingo! The Catholic Church teaches that non-Catholic forms of Christianity belong to the Church mysteriously by way of Jesus’s grace. Indeed, they participate in sanctifying elements, as we were reminded of above. Hence, they have one foot into our territory, if even imperfectly. But they also have one foot out of us, since they are separated by their errors and partial lack of communion. Hence, why Samaria has one foot in Manasseh and one in Ephraim!

The Orthodox and Protestants, Ephraim and Dan

For the final gem, consider again that Dan and Ephraim are the two tribes not mentioned (in the 144,000). They were, again, Protestantism and Orthodoxy, respectively. Here is something. The manner in which they are not mentioned is different. More specifically, Dan is completely not mentioned, since his tribe is whole. However, Ephraim is really partially mentioned. How? Because, on the one hand, Joseph is mentioned in the 144,000, and since he includes both Mannasseh and Ephraim, Ephraim is implied. Yet, Ephraim is not explicitly mentioned, whereas, again, Dan is neither explicitly mentioned nor implied.

Here is a common sense yet very meaningful interpretation: the Orthodox, or Ephraim by our earlier analogy, who at least have an implication in the 144,000 listing, are Apostolic Churches. They truly have the Eucharistic presence of Christ, the Apostolic Succession, and full sacramental life. Hence, they can warrant an implication because the 144,000 necessarily implies authoritative essences of Christianity, meaning, the 12 Apostles inherent as a factor in this Church Militant, are themselves the sign of true authority: Apostolic Succession, so that therefore, the 144,000 images an Apostolic Christianity!

Consequently, Protestantism, is utterly excluded from the mystical list (Dan), since it is not a collection of Churches. They have no Eucharist, no Apostolic Succession, nor full sacramentality. Hence, since they are not churches, but, more properly, ecclesial communities which cannot really be numbered even as an implication.

In conclusion, how might we apply this to today? Behold, the Mystical Body of Christ stands before the Mystical Samaritan Woman at the Well, and speaks to her. In previous times, when the separation was deemed formal and culpable, they did not speak to one another. They were estranged. Now the God-Man’s Body embraces the mystical Woman, who, like Samaria — which had one foot in the tribe of explicit separation, and one foot in the implied tribe of union — has one foot in the true Church of Christ and one foot out, and converses with her. The Great Council has commissioned Him to reach out to a People that, largely, can no longer be held fully accountable for separation. The Church is now embracing those who truly belong to her in heart, and are only separated by spaces that can be healed by the Spirit, if we all but renew ourselves and open our hearts to the fullness of all that the Gospel has to offer. Indeed, the Woman will surely go back unto her brethren and say, see, this man told me everything I ever did. He is the Messiah! Many in Samaria began to believe on Him. Indeed, too, are we not now on the threshold of the reunion of Christians, if only a chastisement be necessary to correct the wayward children of the world. Does this not, then, offer us hope that soon, we shall be One, in order that the world may believe that the Father sent the Son!

We have seen that theology of sexuality as image of the Trinity and Incarnation provides a wonderful basis to interpret the priesthood, that is, the mystery of human sexuality in individual Holy Orders, and, secondly, we have seen that mystical analysis of sexuality in an apocalyptic, allegorical, and historical context, gives profound insight into the macro mystery of Holy Orders, the historical wonder of ecclesiology. I hope that this can be a helpful venture into assisting the diligent Catholic today in defending and proposing the beauty of our faith as regards the wonder of the priesthood and the Spirit’s prayer for that day when they shall all united.

  1. Scott Pauline, “Artificial Birth Control, the Sexual Revolution, and the Modern Collapse of Morality,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, June 1, 2018, hprweb.com/2018/06/artificial-birth-control-the-sexual-revolution-and-the-modern-collapse-of-morality/.
  2. Pauline, “Artificial Birth Control”.
  3. Scott Pauline, “Armageddon and the Kings from the East: Probing Deeper into the Meaning of Strife,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Nov. 6, 2017, hprweb.com/2017/11/armageddon-and-the-kings-from-the-east/.
  4. Scott Pauline, “Sacramental Ecclesiology in the Loaves and Fishes,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Sep. 27, 2017, hprweb.com/2016/09/sacramental-ecclesiology-in-the-loaves-and-fishes/.
  5. Scott Pauline, “Analogy of Analogies: The Joyful Mysteries as Image of All Human History,” Homiletic & Pastoral Review, June 18, 2019, hprweb.com/2019/06/analogy-of-analogies/.
  6. Pauline, “Armageddon and the Kings from the East.”
Scott Pauline About Scott Pauline

Scott is a Catholic revert, blessed to have had his story shared in This Rock Magazine in 1999. He is currently attempting to complete a book on the meaning of salvation history in light of analogies from Apocalypse, and other scriptures, and Tradition, a great portion of which can be found at: www.theologyoftheages.com. He is happily married to Linda since 2009 and resides in Portland, Oregon.

Comments

  1. Avatar Louisa Rani says:

    Dear Scott,
    Excellent article!. Profound reading and interpretations. Very enlightening. Thank you for this.
    Louisa

    • You are so welcome and thank you, Louisa, God bless you. For the record, there is a fuller version on my web-page which was shortened undersstandable because not all content was useful for clergy. If you like, I can include it here, and also bring in quotes of stuff that didn’t appear there:

      see website in comment data

      Enhanced quotation
      Apocalyptic Sexual Imagery of Holy Orders and Division in the Body of Christ

      Now, we move to a final section meant to supremely fortify and build up the notion that human sexuality is mystically and analogically tied to authority and ordination within the Christian mystery, and here, we will appeal to powerful symbolism toward an apocalyptic form of sexual imagery, as it were: historical ecclesiology, that is, that at the center of sexuality and its nature in the New Covenant is not merely the base reality of holy orders for the individual male, but also the ultimate end of holy orders, which is the integrity of union in the body of Christ en masse, meaning that separation from the Church brings in the immediate sign of separation or “immorality” in the human sexuality, as in, but not limited to, divorce, remarriage, and committed monogamous fornication. The main analogy we will center upon is the Samaritan woman at the well.

      However, before entering into the mysticism and wondrous analogy of this beloved text, it will be necessary to recall some element s of previous theology and articles. Toward that end, we will commence with the harlot of apocalypse, that supreme anti-spousal imagery that was treated of in Pentecost and the New Babel, [iv] and in the article on Armageddon and the Kings from the East. [v]

      In this first picture, we will examine, as hinted at above, the worst assault on purity, the radical rejection of love and goodness in sexuality, prostitution (as opposed to divorce from marriage or committed monogamy, if even in fornication, which will be treated of momentarily). From the Babel essay, we can revisit how Scripture encapsulates this mystery in brute materialism, a vehement dismissal of the only true fulfillment in a creature, eternal marriage to the Creator in the next life, in exchange for a brute, superficial fornication, as it were, with the creation in this life.

      On the other hand, in opposition to this imagery, is the Whore, who is a reflection of the antithesis of this Divine Union: humanity, when fallen, has no desire to be with God in the next world, and so carries itself away to infatuation with this world, to fornicate with the Creation rather than to seek marriage with the Creator. Also, the aforementioned oneness of the Church, and the People of God, in relationship to one another, and to their Lord, is mocked and twisted in the Whore. As at Babel, the Whore shows forth humanity, like the Church, as “one,” united in a common cause, and “joined” to a partner. However, the partner, far from being a Person of wondrous mystery, depth, and love {God}, is rather a brute thing, as a thing of this world. This “thing” is full of superficialities—pleasures, possessions, and egotistical accomplishments—taken as the final end of man, instead of the Creator, Who is infinite goodness, and the only entity that can truly satisfy human longing.

      This clearly places the worst assault on God’s love and goodness in our sexual being with the worst spiritual disorder, arrogant and blasphemous materialism.

      To progress, then, we are led to explore the possibility that lesser assaults on our nature in gender and relations might bear imagery for intermediate spiritual woes, that is, between full purity in the Catholic Gospel and the horror of total rejection of God. And what might we mean? We mean, dare we conjecture, the halfway spiritual diseases of separation in the Body of Christ! In fact, just as there are two primary assaults to Christian unity—first schism, then heresy—so we effectively have two primary levels of sexual assault on the mystery between total purity and total depravity—first divorce and remarriage, then committed, as it were, fornicating monogamy. The correlations will be immediate.

      In that vein, let us take the immediate attack under purity, divorce and remarriage. This can be seen as the first form of Christian division, schism. How? Well, we can start by recalling that schism does not cut the community off from Apostolic Succession. The Bishopric remains intact. Consequently, holy orders are mainly valid for schismatics, at least especially the Orthodox. And since holy orders formally and indelibly render the male recipient a spouse of the Church and his community, he really is a “husband,” as it were. However, in schism, he is really like a remarried husband, (as in an OT context when remarriage was permitted,) since the schism has rendered his community in a divorce.

      This, then, leads to the final condition we consider, committed fornication. This is like the last state before our depravity above, materialism, or derivatively, prostitution, unfettered fornication. A committed, as it were, fornication is much better than orgies and prostitutes, or even promiscuity. One is choosing a single mate, no more. One may engage in activities common to marital commitment, as in common tasks, common home, common financial obligations, meals, schedules, routines, etc. I live in Oregon, and Oregon lists domestic partnerships, or “living as married,” as a common option on financial assistance forms, meaning that, like much of Western Civilization, there are plethora of couples who cohabitate for years before marriage. Yes, this is gravely immoral, but it is NOT as gravely immoral as rolling around in a puddle of 15 naked bodies, taking a different person home from the bar every weekend, or soliciting services from a woman of the night. For this reason, Divine Revelation may indeed leave open for this final midway sin against chastity a spiritual type; but what? Heresy!

      Yes! For whereas the schismatics have valid holy orders, and therefore spiritual “husbands,” yet in a form of, as it were, divorce and remarriage, the heretical sects have lost the Apostolic bond. No Protestant community can be called a church, for a church necessitates the literal presence of the Christ, which is to say, not merely spiritually, which is everywhere, but physically. But there is no physical presence of Christ in a tabernacle except where the Eucharist is, and there is no Eucharist except where the priest resides; and there is no valid priest where there is no valid bishop to ordain him. And there is no valid Bishop unless he be a man that succeeds the Apostles. Protestantism radically rejected the Apostolic College and supplanted it with heretical ministers, however sincere they may have been or are to this day. Indeed, Protestant ministers stand in as a spiritual husband, most times in all good faith. They do things like spiritual husbands: they baptize, they marry, they lay on hands to other ministers, they read the Word of God and preach it. They visit sick persons, and sometimes anoint them with oil or fragrance. They console their parishioners in need, they pray with persons, they bless things, and once in a while they take crackers and grape juice and do a “holy communion memorial.” But in all these things, are they actually FORMALLY men of God, FORMALLY marked indelibly with the sign on their soul of a spiritual spouse unto the true People of God? Unfortunately, no! Alas, then, they are stand-in husbands. No Protestant minister has actually been ordained by a true Successor of the Apostles, and so has no formal status as a spouse of the Church. Hence, we reiterate, Protestant ministers, despite their good hearts and sincere desire to lead People to God, in the end, have an informal status as a husband.

    • continued

      The Woman at the Well as Image of Christian Division

      Now we are ready for the profound Scripture. The act of seeing ecclesiology in this passage of the Samaritan woman is of utmost appropriateness. However, one may object and say that we need to look at the words of Christ as strictly fulfilling Old Testament realities, and that allegory that anticipates, dare we say prophetically, New Testament realties that will arise long after the Deposit is closed are to be excluded. Here we can say that, yes, admittedly, in an initial approach to the Gospels, we read passages in light of the OT to find their fulfillment in the Christ. But need we stop there? The Fathers were also repeatedly seeing New Testament realties veiled as forth-looking types of Christian mystery in the words and actions of Our Divine Savior. Indeed, the article on loaves and fishes [vi] showed that, there—right there—in those stories of ordinal amounts and types of food, the sacraments as regards divisiveness in Christ’s Body were perfectly veiled. In the article on the Joyful Mysteries, [vii] we saw that the entire narrative of pregnancies of Our Lady and St Elizabeth perfectly revealed the whole history of the Divine Plan, from the garden to the Second Coming. Too, in the article we have been discussing from Armageddon and the Kings of the East, [viii] the East turns out to perfectly image the OT division of the North, and that, as Christian division, finds a more profound understanding of why great strife arises in human history: Christian division begets loss of faith, and loss of faith alienates man from God, which in turn alienates man from himself, and hence incomprehensible strife results. We could go on, but it is not necessary. Consequently, whereas the Woman at the Well may indeed show a fulfillment of an OT type in the marital successions, why should we dismiss that this text could be forward-pointing to epic New Testament division? It works! Let us consider it.

      Firstly, the Samaritans are the proto-religious society separated from authentic Judaism. The Samaritans are the remnant of the separated North several centuries before, remembering that, hence, the North is the supreme image of Jewish division for the Old Testament. The capital of this Northern Kingdom was Samaria. The Samaritans possess a corrupted form of Judaism. They are unorthodox. Jews and Samaritans are at supreme spiritual enmity with one another, to the point of no discourse. “How dost thou, being a Jew, ask of me to drink, who am a Samaritan woman?” [Jn 4:9] Furthermore, the conversation between the Christ and the beloved woman centers profoundly around the places of worship. Indeed, the setting for the event is Jacob’s well, which is the rival place of worship to Jerusalem. The Christ, then, clearly setting as one great litmus test of orthodoxy the place of worship, testifies to the woman, “You worship what you do not understand. We worship what we do understand, for salvation is from Jews.”

      Toward these ends, if we already have here the blatant situation of religious separation in an Old Testament context, how much more could the Scripture forwardly look in allegory to the New Testament separation. In short, again, it fits perfectly. Let us probe it.

      The primary examination centers effectively upon the obvious: the sexual history of the woman.

      Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. [17] The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: [18] For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband. This thou hast said truly. [19] The woman saith to him: Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. [20] Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore. [Jn 4:16-20]

      Here is the profundity in short: per our analysis of sexual theology, divorce and remarriage images schism, and committed cohabitation images heresy. Bingo! How many husbands has the woman had? Five! These are obviously spiritual husbands. And there are two kinds of spiritual husbands: utterly authentic, as in Catholic, and divorced and remarried husbands, as in schismatics. Well, lo and behold, from our Armageddon article, we saw that just as there were 12 tribes of Israel, there were 12 Apostles. And in the OT schism, the North broke away and took most of the 12 tribes with it, namely, 10. In the NT schism, with the East fulfilling the North, the East took most of the Apostolic Sees with her. Here, the 12 Apostles did not leave behind 12 Sees, but only, yes, FIVE! Peter, and the others: Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. The East took all but one See, Peter, with her. Peter, plus four sees, is five apocalyptic husbands.

      Hence, to return to the well, in the beginning, the apocalyptic woman of division had one earthly spouse, a completely legitimate spouse, Peter, who is the ultimate husband for the Church on earth. Later, after the first millennium of the faithful, she “divorced” Peter and took upon herself “four lesser husbands,” the four remnant Apostolic Sees. “For you have had five husbands…”

      Then, in a self-same apocalyptic development, division scourged the Body of Christ in the inglorious heretical rebellion. And, lo and behold, once again, the theology of the next most depraved form of sexuality sets in: the stand-in husband, the fornicating “committed” partner, remembering that per our theology just developed, the Protestant minister has not a formal status as spouse, being part of communities that do not possess authentic holy orders, and so is a “live-in husband.” “And the man you are now with is not your husband.”

    • contnued:

      Objections

      The Five Sees, the Five “Husbands”

      Ok, one will say, the five husbands is a stretch. I will admit that from initial glance, it appears highly fanciful. Nevertheless, return to the NT layers we have, which are very appropriate:

      Again, the East beautifully fulfills the North in the question of Apostolic Sees fulfilling the 12 Tribes. After all, the explicit declaration from Scripture of the 12 Apostles fulfilling the 12 tribes is contained in several places: “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” Matthew 19:28. And in Apocalypse twice: in the 24 elders (12 + 12) and in the 144,000, (12 tribes of Israel x 12 Apostles x 1,000 multitudes = the universal Church militant, which fulfills the Old Testament Kingdom). Hence, that Scripture may need to call out the five as fulfillment of the OT authority and dominion for purposes of ecclesiology, even though five is not an intrinsically necessary number of Sees that would emanate from the 12, and therefore, in a certain sense, arbitrary of its own volition, nevertheless, “in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled,” the NT could call it out. In fact, in the loaves and fishes article, the theology wonderfully vindicated the two dimensions of division as concerned the sacramental economy:

      Is it any wonder, then, that heretics, who, as we have seen, lack the very stability of doctrine, the “earth” of Apostolic Succession, lose the 5 sacraments that require the “earth”, that is, 5 loaves—Confession, Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick–and retain only 2 sacraments, Baptism and Marriage—2 fish, seeing as they can only “fish” in their instability of doctrine.

      Then, similarly, the schismatics (Orthodox), who do have Apostolic Succession in general, or the “earth”, have all 7 sacraments (7 loaves), but they are a little unstable in doctrine because they lack Peter, the ultimate foundation of truth (they have a “few fish”).

      And now, consider a deeper implication in looking at the number in the respective crowds, the 5,000 [fed 5 loaves and 2 fish] and the 4,000 [fed 7 loaves and a few fish]. In actual history, the Apostles only left 5 Apostolic Sees, first, Peter, the Supreme See in Rome, or the West, and 4 more, those that are now in schism, the Sees of the Orthodox Churches, or the East. Note also that since Peter himself has the special charism of infallibility, being the head of the one completely true Church, the fullness of Apostolicity resides in him, even apart from the other four Sees. Hence, we can say that in a certain sense 5 is a good symbol of Peter, so that the multitudes of his children in the West are 5,000. Similarly, the other 4 Sees, as it were, of the Orthodox, symbolize almost full apostolicity, but not quite, just short of the fullness. Therefore, 4,000 is a good symbol of the East, the schismatic Orthodox.

      Hence, the 5|4, 12|10 fulfillment has excellent support from the loaves and fishes, in addition to the very essence of the schism’s themselves that we already have (the schismatic kingdoms take most of the sources of authority, leaving the ultimate authority as a remnant). There is, as well, a residual seeming fulfillment of the East/West, North/ South paradigm and that is the respective chastisements:

      The OT Kingdom split between North and South, the North being the Schismatics, taking most of the Twelve Tribes. When godlessness worked out to its peak, the North was chastised first by the beast Assyria. The South, the true Kingdom, had over a century to repent but did not and so also went into chastisement under a different but similar beast, Babylon.

      In a similar vein, the New Testament Kingdom, the Church, has seen schism between not North and South but East and West. In this case, the East are the schismatic ones and, like the North, have taken most of the Apostolic Sees with them.

      Now, we have seen that Christian division, when it works out its implications in full, leads to secular enmity with God. Well, we know that 100 years ago, the same secular horror as culmination of the spiritual tragedies was rising up, and the East began to go under an epic terror of worldly and brute messianism, atheistic materialism, or communism. The West, for its part, has had this basic century to consider this monster and repent of her own materialism but has not, and so has descended into another beast since the late twentieth century, relativistic, hedonistic materialism. Are we next? Already, with health care mandates and gay marriage impositions, it seems we are! [ix]

      This solidifies the parallels between Old and New Schism.

  2. Avatar Matt Chustz says:

    Thank you for this article – it may well be the best explanation of the Holy Trinity I have ever read. Once again, HPR knocks it out of the park!!

  3. Avatar Tom McGuire says:

    I tried hard to follow you, without success. Are you being a little anthropomorphic in your certitude about how sexuality works in the mystery of God? In the ANAMNESIS, the secret prayer at Mass, In this prayer men and women pray that they come to share in the divinity of Christ:

    “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

    The man above the woman in procreation, not sure this makes sense. Certainly not the way it always works.

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