“Longing for the Sun of Justice” 

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (W.O.W.)

“Longing for the Sun of Justice” 

Press Statement 22 July 2017

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) with the launch of Dr. Annette Esser’s beautiful original painting, “Longing for the Sun of Justice.” The painting symbolizes women’s calling to priesthood, not granted by men in the church, but through Christ.

The painting shows two dissimilar hands varied in shape and color, joining together to resemble a chalice, illuminated by a blazoned sun in the place of a host along a horizon. You may also notice a small cross in the middle of the sun. Made whole and Holy by one another, the hands are united in the Sun, in Christ.

WOW reaffirms our call for the institutional Church to rid itself of the sin of sexism and model unconditional equality by opening up all ministries to Catholic women who have the talent and vocation to serve their communities as St. Mary Magdalene did.

On the Feast of the “Apostle to the Apostle,” we are reminded that Mary Magdalene followed Jesus’ call to go and tell the Good News of the Resurrection, inspiring women for centuries to answer God’s call to preach, minister, and live the Gospel message of equality.


WOW Leadership Circle:           

Pat Brown                        (UK)                                    +44 113 268 2887                        pat@patbrown-at.co.uk

Alicja Baranowska          (Belgium & Poland)        +32 488 67 69 20                        alicja.baranowska@wp.pl

Colm Holmes                   (Ireland)                          +353 86 606 3636                        colmholmes2020@gmail.com

Kate McElwee                  (Italy & USA)                   +39 393 692 2100                       kmcelwee@womensordination.org



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  1. Con Devree says:

    Some of the symbolism is a bit opaque. Does the small cross, low-key in terms of the overall visual, play second fiddle to the sun which takes the place of the host, (“in place of the host”)?

    Why is the sun “in place of the host”? How do the two hands, representing male and female “make” each other “holy”? What is holiness and what is its source?

    All catholic women have a vocation to serve the Church and, in terms of the laity at least, myriads of them have not disregarded their talents and have outshone the men.

    The biblical debate about her identity is still open. The Provençal tradition identifies Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman who wept at Christ’s feet in the Gospel of Luke, as well as with the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The French exegete, Fr. Andre Feuillet, shows that this tradition is perfectly coherent with the Gospels, even if no Catholic is obliged to accept it.

    Whether one accepts the Feuillet conclusion or not, St. Thomas Aquinas states that she had the privilege of being a prophet because she was worthy enough to see the angels, for a prophet is an intermediary between angels and the people. She had the dignity or rank of an angel insofar as she looked upon Christ, on whom the angels desire to look. She had the office of an apostle; indeed, she was an apostle to the apostles insofar as it was her task to announce our Lord’s resurrection to the apostles.

    If one accepts the Feuillet conclusion, then Mary Magdalen was unrivalled in repentance, a reality acknowledged by Christ, who also commended her for taking “the better part.”

    Neither can her attentiveness to Christ be laid to one side. She highlights and teaches the “better part,” the kind of reverence and love Catholics should have in the presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion and Eucharistic Adoration. She would surely demand the same dedication and reverence. She would welcome invocation of her assistance in conversion to the effort to be attentive to Him truly present.

    Consequently, how would she evaluate this painting? The sun is indeed the symbol of the risen Christ. However the Host is the Risen Christ, and also the absolute memorial of the Saviour crucified. Given her dedication and courage to be “with Me” on Calvary and the centrality of the consoling, vivifying spiritual light she experienced emanating from Christ’s Risen Body, would she support the low-key position of the cross and the absence of the Host, the same Christ, in the painting? No.

  2. Kevin Walters says:

    Con @1

    Some time ago while on my way to attend Sunday mass, the way was blocked due to traffic congestion, been almost eleven o’clock I found myself outside *St Aidan’s a Anglican liberal Christian Church.
    I decided to attend the service. The church was extremely large, with a high vaulted roof built in 1894 it reflected its age and deterioration but nevertheless retained some of its former Victorian grander. There was a congregation of about eighty people I was surprised when the priest came out onto the altar as she was “female” slightly built and possible in her early thirties. Her sermon was what one expects to receive from a formalized priest nothing out of the ordinary but it was informative and clearly given. Before communion a healing service was held for those who wanted to participate I did so and felt His peace upon me (I believe that this has much to offer).
    At the end of the “Mass” (I use this term as I believe this is the term used by Anglicans also). She the priestess went and stood at the back of the Church waiting to acknowledge the congregation as they left. The most striking aspect of this whole experience was in her attire in the splendor of her vestments, heavy gold brocade miter type head gear etc. She appeared to be carrying a great weight of worldly pomp reflecting a by gone age symbolized by the declining Victorian grander of that Church and she looked lost within it all.

    I spoke to a few of the congregation but I did not speak to her as I felt a little embarrassed due to the pomp she had succumbed to, as I had felt a strong urge to confront her on this matter but in doing so possible would belittle her assumed struggle for ordination.

    As I left the Church I felt sadness for all those women who want to serve as priests as we/mankind do not need to perceive marionettes or lackeys at this moment in time as women have far more to offer in that they need to be part of the transformation of the present day model.

    Jesus often taught us by the use of Symbolism especially symbolism taken from nature often used as metaphors for the condition of the human heart.
    It could be said that the symbolism in the painting above is a reflection of the human heart that painted it or those that commissioned it, as it reveals a strong desire for the harmonization of all creation, although the cross is not dramatically shown it sits between heaven and earth and is central the whole picture but for me it should have been depicted as indelible.
    The symbolic sun with its radiating veins takes on the characterization of the authentic (small lobe) shape of the human heart, held in His transforming (Suffering/heart) cup of salvation, which is depicted by two hands lifting up a holy offering of our hearts in the equality of all of mankind, black and white, male and female.

    Con your astute question points us to a fundamental flaw within the picture
    “What is holiness, what is its source?
    The two hands hold the key, as in my opinion they should reflect humility, the reality of what in essence we are before our Fathers glory that is revealed in His risen Son (Transformation of the host/heart).
    If the two hands male and female had been depicted in working hands as in brokenness and suffering they would reflect our fallen human nature while we embrace the Transforming power of the Host (Jesus Christ), we would then have a masterpiece, as an image of Holiness (Humility) before the splendour of God the source of all holiness would be manifest.

    *St Aidan’s Church in Leeds is a Church of England parish church built in 1894 The church is unusual among Anglican parish churches in celebrating the Mass daily.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  3. Con Devree says:

    Kevin @ 2
    # 1 did not address the question of female priests. I have no wish to do so.

    Artists rarely if ever seek to depict reality; they seek to interpret it or convey a perceived essence of it. Hence the variety of visual representation among artists of the same period and over different periods.

    Artists live with the fact that viewers can read what they wish into a work. The latter can be diametrically opposed to what he artist may have intended. Symbolism like art is often in the eye of the beholder. I respect and indeed take on board the depth of reflection in the exploration of the symbolism you find inherent in the picture. There is plenty to take on board.

    But I think that starting with even well-reasoned analysis of symbolism in the painting will not necessarily enable any enlightenment on St Mary Magdalene. As far as I know people are free to select any patron for causes they adopt. Should there not be some obvious, argued link between the characteristics of selected patron and the cause in question?

    The article implies a close link between St Mary Magdalene and the picture. But I see very little of her, and I believe she would see very little of herself in it in terms of what the New Testament reveals about her and which I attempted to outline in # 1.

    St Mary Magdalen’s presence on Calvary was not an accident. It derived from her knowledge of Christ and from her dedication and her commitment to him. The Cross without he Crucified would have had no meaning. He was the only agenda. Moving from the awareness of “I Don’t know how to love him” (one line “Jesus Christ Superstar” got right) to choosing the “better part”, to Calvary, to the Resurrection had to be an experience of breath-taking submission derived from her everyday interaction with Christ. This characteristic has to be the core idea of any patronage ascribed to her – I think.

  4. Kevin Walters says:

    Thank you Con @ 3 for your response

    “# 1 did not address the question of female priests. I have no wish to do so”.

    Yes that was quite obvious; the initial part of my post was to try to create a balance between your justified overall critical assessments of the painting which I had assumed partly stemmed from lack of empathy for their cause.
    In doing so I tried to demonstrate that to imitate the present day perceived model of priesthood would lead them nowhere as they have so much more to offer and now I would define this as the ability to show vulnerability/humility before God and mankind. As the present day model has been underpinned by the arrogance of clericalism the fruit of which is seen in the “Broken Image” in the link below, reflecting what the elite within this system have done to the crucified body of Jesus Christ, “scrutinize” the detail and understand the reality of the leadership of the church at this moment in time.


    “Should there not be some obvious, argued link between the characteristics of selected patron and the cause in question?…

    Yes absolutely and that is why I endeavoured to looked for the positive aspects of the painting this was natural for me to do so as I have empathy for their cause as (I have for all perceived victims) woman kind has been under the jackboot of man since the “Fall”.

    “I Don’t know how to love him” (one line “Jesus Christ Superstar” got right) to choosing the “better part”, to Calvary, to the Resurrection had to be an experience of breath-taking submission derived from her everyday interaction with Christ. This characteristic has to be the core idea of any patronage ascribed to her – I think”….

    I have looked at the picture again for me the Host definitely conveys a shape and fleshy texture of an authentic human heart, if I were to attempt to convey the reality of Mary Magdalen I would agree with you in that she “was unrivalled in repentance, a reality acknowledged by Christ, who also commended her for taking “the better part.” And would add that she possessed a heart of flesh that openly embraced her own human vulnerability before God and mankind, that created an ardent heart for the love of Him and that this human transformed heart is present within the core of the painting. Held in human hands male and female black and white configured to form His transforming cup of sacrificial love, look closely, I see living flesh moulding itself into the human hands that lift this human heart up high giving glory through Jesus Christ to our Father in Heaven.

    To draw in the patronage ascribed to Mary Magdalen I would consider renaming the painting for example “Expectation” with a short quote from the Gospels such as

    “Where ever you hear this gospel she will be remembered”

    I have seen this vulnerability in many women during my in my lifetime, born out of love of family and friends/colleagues etc. And I believe that this venerability/humility, the disarming manifestation of love, is what Christianity needs to convey more than ever at this moment in time.

    “They were both naked (Equal) before God the man and his wife, and were not ashamed”.

    “And God said to the woman “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you”

    Jesus teaches (desires) a healing equality in all things, from those who love Him and this equality is manifest in Unity of Purpose (to act as one).

    For me as a Christian’s the continuity of gender (Male Authority) is nullified as the sacrificial image of Christ is genderless, as it is reflected in both male and female, this truth gives Christianity the authority over all other religions to heal the divide between the sexes.

    At this moment in time we have what could be described as an opportunity of a timeless moment, that is one of a new spiritual awakening within the Church,

    Is an act of humility too much to ask?

    If this act of humility were to happen a new splendour would occur within the church as it would create a culture of honesty/humility, giving the church the opportunity to reassess many of its ongoing difficulties and also heal so many who have suffered injustice at her hands.
    Can you imagine the effect upon mankind as a whole, if the church truly embraced females in true equality?

    I have a picture on my mantelpiece of St. Mother Teresa when I look at her in my mind’s eye I see an image of Jesus Christ walking amongst the poor and broken, to say that she is not a shepherdess is surly an affront to God.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

  5. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    I think it comes down to understanding our Aboriginal ancestry and how important women were at one time in regards to the transmission of our faith in action. It can be argued that we have not known any better rule as a species under the complete care of women in control of message dissemination and spiritual reinforcement. They are better guides and understand an establishment of precautionary action that is peaceful and not violent. The article mispells Rouyn-Noranda as Rouyn-Norand – I have spent time there during my days as VP of a second language school. Imagine-toi, donc! Allowed by the Vatican – do you even need any more doubt.

  6. Kevin Walters says:

    Extracts from the article in the link below

    “For most of Christian history, headship was, in fact, used to justify domestic violence.”

    “That doctrine says that men are to be the leaders in their marriages and the church. Women must submit”.

    “I was reminded of the discomfort Saint Augustine showed, in The Confessions, towards his father beating his mother. But he still praised his mother for placating her husband to avoid beatings, and for criticising wives who were beaten.
    Augustine, then, while possibly opposing domestic violence, had no idea what to do about it, and endorsed behaviour that made it worse”.


    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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