Opening Hearts & Opening Doors

“Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.” Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017

In his Lenten message, Pope Francis speaks about opening the doors of our hearts to the Other, who is both a gift and a summons to conversion. But for centuries, women in the Church have suffered from closed doors and devalued personhood. Francis has reaffirmed that the “door is closed” on women’s ordination, and yet we know that is not the reality. Catholics around the world support full equality for women in the Church, and women are active in ministry and are being ordained.

This Lent, members of the Women’s Ordination Conference are calling the Roman Catholic Church, and particularly the hierarchy, to be converted to the cause of gender equality. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we open wider the doors of our own hearts and invite others to greater faithfulness to the God who decries oppression and desires a justice that is rooted in the equality of all people. Thank you for journeying with us!

This booklet will help us pray together on Ash Wednesday, the five Sundays of Lent, and Palm Sunday. On each of these days, there will be a Gospel passage from The Inclusive Bible, intercessions for ourselves and for the world, and suggestions for different ways we can fast and take action in the coming week. Throughout Lent, as you pray, we invite you to stay connected with the Women’s Ordination Conference through Facebook, Twitter at @OrdainWomen, and our mailing list.

Note on Fasting: This practice has historically been linked to sacrifice and self-denial, often tied to making oneself more worthy or elevating the spiritual life. Such a theology of fasting has been quite damaging. We instead advocate fasting as a practice for hollowing areas of our life to make us more capable of being disciples in relationship with God. This theology of fast- ing is an embodied and holistic practice, affirming compassion for oneself and the self-care necessary for us to live healthy and flourishing lives.
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