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Gender and Sexuality: Week 2 Summary

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Gender and Sexuality: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, April 22-Friday, April 27, 2018

Gender seems to be a very deep archetype in the psyche. As long as we read reality in a non-contemplative, dualistic way, any gender identity that doesn’t follow our binary “norm” will invariably be challenging and usually resisted. (Sunday)

Even as we acknowledge the sacredness of gender and sex, we also need to realize that there’s something deeper than our gender, anatomy, or physical passion: our ontological self, who we are forever in Christ.  (Monday)

Mary Magdalene can help us cut through two millennia of doctrine and dogma to Jesus’ teaching. We find here relational health, an astonishing vision of love as a transformational path, and profoundly empowering models of women and men working together in spiritual leadership roles. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

If Jesus shows us what the completed human being looks like in male form, Mary Magdalene models it for us in its female version; together they become the Christosophia, the androgynous archetype of human wholeness. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Wednesday)

The Franciscan lightness of heart comes from contact with deep feminine intuition and with consciousness itself; the firmness of foot emerges when that feminine principle integrates with the mature masculine soul and moves forward with confidence into the outer world. (Thursday)

Love turns passion into transformative power. —Ilia Delio (Friday)


Practice: Falling into Love

Let us rejoice, beloved,
And let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty,
To the mountain and to the hill,
To where the pure water flows,
And further, deep into the thicket.

And then we will go on
To the high caverns in the rock
Which are so well concealed; . . .

There you will show me
What my soul has been seeking,
And then you will give me,
You, my life, will give me there
What you gave me on that other day.

—St. John of the Cross [1]

In his prologue to The Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross (1542-1591) writes, “it would be foolishness to think that the language of love . . . can be at all explained in words of any kind.” Words fail to describe human and divine intimacy, and yet all mystics, poets, and wisdom teachers use words to point to the ineffable.

To take this week’s reflections on gender and sexuality further, beyond the rational level, I invite you to listen to a guided meditation with CAC core faculty member James Finley. As he explores the mystical realm of union, listen with your heart. Visualize the images. Notice what sensations arise in your body. What experiences of love from your own life come to mind? Reflect on moments of love you may have skimmed over quickly at the time. Allow this teaching to guide you deeper into the love that is always present but sometimes unnoticed. You may want to journal about this and see what your own experience has to teach you about love.

Listen to an excerpt by James Finley from Intimacy: The Divine Ambush.

Read the unedited transcript for James Finley’s Intimacy: The Divine Ambush Excerpt from disc 6.


[1] John of the Cross, “Stanzas between the Soul and the Bridegroom,” (36-38) in The Spiritual Canticle. See John of the Cross: Selected Writings, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh (Paulist Press: 1987), 226-227.

From James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush, disc 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CD, MP3 download.

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr, God As Us (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011), DVD, CD, MP3 download

Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013)

James Finley and Richard Rohr, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), CD, MP3 download.

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)

Image credit: Study of a Boy Turning His Head (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, c. 1529, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If Jesus shows us what the completed human being looks like in male form, Mary Magdalene models it for us in its female version; together they become the Christosophia, the androgynous archetype of human wholeness. —Cynthia Bourgeault
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