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miraculously marvelous ME

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 01, 2007

Boston College recently hosted a panel discussion titled "Called to Be Catholic: Practices that Nourish Women's Spirituality." Alumna Kate Carter shared.

[Carter] referenced author Sue Monk Kidd's idea of the "feminine wound," which asserts that merely being born female puts women at a disadvantage and renders them inferior. "I really internalized that idea as a child. I didn't trust my instincts, I doubted myself deeply, and I didn't trust the authority of my own experiences," said Carter.

Ye shall not surely die. For God knoweth that in the day ye eat of your experiences, then shall your eyes be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Referring to herself as a "lifelong Catholic girl in recovery," Carter said she constantly served others before herself until working in impoverished areas here and overseas in her 20s opened her eyes to the life she was leading. "I began to look at the world through the eyes of these people, and not the top-down authority I had been viewing myself through."

Uh oh. I sense a Subaru-sized bumper-sticker coming on ...

Carter began to question the structures [thunk!] that she had put so much faith into in the past, and the internal doubts telling her she was never good enough began to be challenged in a battle that she still fights today. There are three areas she focuses on to protect her "internal sacredness": personal solitary practices, activities in the community, and constructive practices.

That's all fine Kate, but what about YOUR needs?

Carter said, she tries to center herself at least once a day or on the task at hand. By doing something mindfully and fully immersing herself in her present actions, Carter keeps herself present in her emotions and learns from them.

Yes that's wonderful, Kate, but what about YOUR needs?

She also tries to rest when she can. "I'm trying to exercise the spirituality of 'no,'" said Carter. She finds holiness in rescinding her need to be responsible for everything and taking time to take care of herself.

We're deeply edified, Kate, but what about YOUR needs?

Carter also finds herself guilty of being an "over-giver." After talking with friends, she realized she never let herself receive because she was scared of the vulnerability produced by being open to others. "I need to know interdependence, so I don't always have to be in control. My gifts are more authentic out of that place."

Enough of that, Kate. Tell us something about YOU.

Within her community, Carter is actively involved in her ministry and small groups of women, not all Catholic. Although she loves her church, it cannot nourish her in the ways other women can, although she hopes that will change in the future.

And could you explain to Catholic women at Boston's Jesuit university how the Church needs to change?

"In my women's groups, I feel that my whole self is welcome, not just the pieces the church acknowledges," said Carter.

Outstanding. Gotta love a gal doing her darndest to "get beyond" a shallow narcissistic world-view and into a really, really comprehensive solipsism. The word "catholic," I believe, comes from a Greek root meaning "it's nobody else's business how I decide what's best for me."

During a casual discussion some years ago, with no intention of being funny, a friend once off-handedly remarked, "My mother didn't have time to have needs." The phrase has a certain aphoristic finality to it, and it stuck with me. Viewed against the backdrop of social history, it's clear that one needs a modicum of leisure to become aware that one is unleisured, and an extraordinary degree of leisure to arrive at the conviction that human desires for personal satisfaction are human necessities. What was dessert for a Mother Cabrini, for Kate Carter is oxygen.

John William Waterhouse, "Echo and Narcissus" (1903), detail.

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