March 23, 2007

Catholic Church Basement Women

One of my favorite times during Lent is the time spent in my parish basement kitchen preparing the soups for our Friday Lenten Soup Suppers with some of my Catholic sisters.

In my raging feminazi days, I was taught to be just furious in any situation where the women are in the kitchen cooking and the men aren't. My heart was never in that particular ultra-feminist argument because I've always enjoyed the kitchen time spent with my female relatives and friends.

Ladies, How many of you want men in the kitchen while you are cooking a huge meal for your loved ones with a group of your female friends or family? I see a few hands raised. No doubt the folks who hope Emeril Lagasse will stop by. Or, the gals who are lucky enough to have a really good cook for a husband.

For the rest of us, don't get me wrong, I'm always happy to see men cooking. Many men are far better chefs then I'll ever be. But, there is a dynamic among women who are together preparing food for loved ones that is hard to explain.

There have been occasions where a man will stop by the kitchen and check the food, pick something up, raid the 'fridge. What happens? Women joke around with him and switch the topic to something neutral but all serious female conversation comes to a standstill.

The group feminine kitchen time is a time to bond over: kids, husbands, the single life, dating, romance or lack thereof, your weight, movies, illnesses, news, stories, faith. It's a time to bounce ideas off of a sister, to get an opinion. It's a time to cry, bond, and above all laugh. (Wine helps too!)

It's also a time to stop your sister in Christ from putting too much black pepper in the tomato basil soup as I almost did last night!

It's time like these that I see how women are the backbone of Holy Mother Church. If we weren't there, who would step up to make meals for the senior suppers, the homebound parishioners, the Lenten soups, the visiting priests, the funerals? Women have a natural tendency to want to help and to team up--more so then men, I think. I always joke with my surviving Grandma that I think it is her mission in life to feed the world. Walk in the door there's Grandma telling you she just baked a pie for your visit. There's Grandma offering to make you a huge sandwich or breakfast. The roles are reversed now because my Grandma has Alzheimers, I'm the one feeding and cooking for her when I visit. That suits me just fine. I'm carrying on her feminine tradition using the skills she taught me and her daughter (my Mom).

It IS a woman's job to feed the world. At every moment of every day, somewhere in the world, a woman is preparing a meal for her family. It is a man's job to make sure his family can get the ingredients for the meal.

Some may say that I have oversimplified and overmagnified women's roles in our Church. It's not enough for women to cook, clean and organize in the parish. It's belittling. It's stupid. They should be priests and let the men cook and clean. blah, blah

Women have enough responsibilities that they should be doing NOW without adding the priesthood to it. Look how the family has suffered in the last 40 years. Look how many of our young people can't do anything more then open up a box of frozen meal because they never learned to cook. Look how many kids spend their afternoon in front of a PlayStation babysitter because no one is at home.

Women's roles are to support and lead. You can support and lead at the same time. A lot of people say you can't. Men support and lead too but in a different way. Men and women need to support each other. Priests need female support to do their jobs as priests and our laymen need female support to do their jobs as men.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! You made me cry! Some of my best memories are of me and my SILs washing up after dinner and swapping stories that run the gamut from hysterectomies, cancer, school, kids, husbands, lipstick, jeans, etc.!!!!

March 23, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I sense a book here!

Great job, Cathy!

March 23, 2007 10:24 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

A month ago I was treated to the play Church Basement Ladies for my birthday. It's about Lutheran ladies in the 1960s, and while there are some lighthearted jokes about Catholics ("Ya, when you marry a Catholic they have a special secret ceremony where they shave your head and tattoo "I promise all my children to the pope" on your head. That's why they have to wear those doilies on their heads in church!", spoken jokingly by a college age women to her frightened elder) it embodied some of what you shared. And it's hilarious!

It IS a woman's job to feed the world.

As the husband of a lactating wife, a woman's body is made for it!

March 23, 2007 11:32 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

I read this post this morning, and today we had our RCIA retreat. Several women prepared the Seder meal including ROAST LAMB in the kitchen, it was incredible, and of course we all helped to clean up.

I can't say I experienced the female bonding part...I still always find myself with the guys, doing the guy stuff, dunno why.

Somewhere in there, I never learned how to really bond with women in that way. I'm not sure I'm at all "domesticated", although certainly I've never been excluded from such things.

I wish I could relate to your post and I actually think it's sad that I can't.

Even sadder...I'm not an anomoly. How many women out there did their best to avoid the kitchen for fear of being seen as "weak"?

We shot ourselves in the foot.

March 24, 2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Am I going to have to have a cooking party or something?

I was always with the guys when it came to sporting outings but I always was with the gals when there was cooking being done.

No wonder I have a split personality. :-)

March 25, 2007 8:30 AM  

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