Father Roy Bourgeois addresses his Maryknoll community

Father Roy Bourgeois, who was automatically excommunicated and faces removal from the priesthood for his support for women’s ordination, discussed his position with fellow Maryknoll priests Tuesday evening during an impromptu gathering at the opening day of the order’s U.S. regional assembly.

Well-known for his work on justice issues, Father Bourgeois explained how he came to see the church’s stance on the ordination of women as an injustice. Church teaching holds that ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood is reserved for men and that the church has no authority to ordain women.

The discussion is reported by Father Joe Veneroso, a veteran journalist, on the knollnews blog.

The detailed report quotes several priests, some of whom questioned why Father Bourgeois did not at least approach the order about his views before going public and a few who openly supported Father Bourgeois’ and his stance. One called for a frank discussion within the church on the topic.

While the discussion may not resolve the issue of Father Bourgeois’ likely dismissal, as outlined in a recent Catholic News Service report, it sheds some light on the tensions facing the missionary order that may very well spill over to the church at large at some point.

A ‘no-vacation nation’

Summer is traditionally the time to take some time off, get away from the day-to-day work life and re-energize.

But do we?

Writing on the Archdiocese of Washington’s blog, Msgr. Charles Pope addresses the issue of vacations for American workers — more likely the lack thereof in comparison to the rest of the world — and offers a reflection on God’s call to rest, as expressed in Scripture.

The starting point for the pastor of Washington’s Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish was a recent CNN.com entry that asks the question “Why is America the ‘no-vacation nation’?

The article contrasts the work ethic of Americans, who take far less vacation time on average than their peers in some of the world’s leading economies, with the belief widely held throughout Europe that family life and the time to rest is as important as hard work.

What does God have to say about rest? Msgr. Pope cites several passages from the Old Testament in which God calls for six days of work and rest on the seventh. He writes:

Does it sound like the Lord is repeating himself? He is. But sometimes (most times) we’re slow to hear. He has written sleep into our physical nature and rest into our work week. The Lord also prescribed a series of feasts or holy days (holiday is just a mispronunciation of holy day), and here the people were to cease, pray and celebrate.

We Americans are miserable at this. We are hard workers, and that is good, but what good is it to work hard and never be able to enjoy the fruit of our work? Do we work to live, or live to work? Of all the commandments, you’d think we’d get this one right. God commands and prescribes a certain amount of rest and yet we seem to prefer the status of bond servants. How strange.

This coming Monday is Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer. Msgr. Pope’s commentary perhaps is the refreshing summer breeze we need.