AM A MIDDLE AGED white man who has no credibility weighing in on the complex and sensitive issue of inclusive language. Working in parishes for nearly thirty years, I appreciate how important this topic is to many. The nature of language is ever changing. Awareness has changed. And then it changes again.
The USCCB has grappled over the years with many aspects of how to handle inclusive language. Various publishers have struggled, revising nearly all texts to be inclusive in the early 1990’s and in the last decade walking back many of those revisions. It is a hot-button topic I should not touch with a 100-foot pole.
But what is not at debate is the inclusive nature of the message of the Gospel. More than calling all men and women, the Gospel calls all sinners. None of us are exempt.
As Jesus spent most of his time with sinners, lowly fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, He in fact called them to service. Today, it is the margins of society, those disenfranchised, those most unattractive to us that that the Church must call to bring back into the fold of Christ’s love.
O, AS SOMEONE WHO CANNOT speak to the challenges of being a woman, a minority, poor, or on the margins of society, I can hopefully add some small perspective as a father.
I am daily amazed at the gift of my children. Oh, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The delightful photos we show our friends are not the picture of constant reality. Parenthood often brings a sense of desperation and even failure. But the day I became a father—a daddy—was the greatest day of my life. It’s scary, humbling, and God calls me, a man, to be a better and stronger person for the sake of my children.
Out of these experiences, I propose a different perspective upon encountering masculine pronouns in prayer and song, but especially in reference to Jesus’ relationship with God, the Father—whom He called “Abba” or “daddy”: Instead of thoughts of male privilege and entitlement, one may look more to St. Joseph, the great role model for all men and fathers—loving, humble protector, advocate, and possessor of great inner-strength, all in service to God.
Furthermore, remember that St. Joseph, like Mary his spouse, said “Yes” to God—all in less than ideal circumstances. And with Mary, he raised Jesus.
Try as we might, mere words are inadequate to express God, the Father’s love for us, his children. So are we called to love one another with a love that is beyond all telling.
You can learn more about the sacred art of Dony Mac Manus and his Sacred Art School in Firenze, Italy here.