· Vatican City ·



Face to face with God

 A tu per tu con Dio  DCM-004
06 April 2024

In April, following the Pope’s Prayer Intentions for 2024, we pray “For the role of women”. “Let us pray”, asks Francis, “that the dignity and richness of women be recognized in every culture, and that the discrimination they face in various parts of the world may cease.

“However, does prayer exhibit a distinct feminine specificity?

The theologian Cettina Militello, who has written an analysis in this edition of Women Church World, disagrees. She asserts, “If women's prayer appears different, and particularly confined, it is thus owed to the men who have constructed this framework, restricting it as a means of communication between Divinity and the human collective”.

Women have always sought a face-to-face encounter with God even in different forms and spaces. In all faiths and confessions, women’s prayer is akin to dialogue, so more than mere contemplation. “It is the dimension that helps me come to terms with the Other”, says Baptist pastor Lidia Maggi. 

Prayer takes various forms. It is the heartfelt invocation of Brazilian mothers for their children’s protection. It is also evident when the Mexican Patronas hurl bags of food to migrants escaping poverty, suffering, and dictatorships aboard the “Beast”, the notorious freight train they ride in their quest to reach the US border. A collective journey of prayer unfolds in the pilgrimage led by a Dominican nun, aimed at preserving the memory of the 342 peasants massacred in Trujillo and its surrounding villages in Colombia. To enable prayer at anytime and anywhere, a group of Italian Catholics established the “Wi-Fi Monastery”. Others opt for the School of Silence, knocking on a modest door beside a church in the heart of Rome. Another example is a Camaldolese nun, who, while weaving tapestries, follows the thread of the soul.

In the Quran, certain female supplications hold profound significance, and within Islamic tradition, a woman is revered as the embodiment of spirituality. These roots have ancient origins, traceable back to the Torah, where the prayers of Jewish women find their foundation. 

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The question of women’s roles is expected to take center stage during the second session of the Synod of Bishops in October. Out of the ten themes delineated in the letter dated March 14th from Francis to Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the synod, point five is particularly noteworthy. It is titled “Some Theological and Canonical Questions Around Specific Ministerial Forms”. This theme encompasses ongoing theological and pastoral investigations into women's potential access to the diaconate.