Reading List: The Women of Holy Week

This past Holy Week, it was gratifying to see so many people from around the web writing about the role of women in the Easter story, women who are often ignored by the Catholic establishment. Before the Internet, it is hard to imagine such feminist voices having a platform in religious discourse. One of the women contributing to this conversation is the author Rachel Held Evans. Here’s how she introduced her series of blog posts about the women of Holy Week:

“It is easy to dismiss the women of Holy Week, to say their presence at critical moments in the Easter story is inconsequential, holding no significance in modern-day conversations about gender equity in the Church.  But I’m not convinced it’s an accident that the first person to declare that Jesus had risen from the dead (to a group of skeptical men!) was a woman. I’m not convinced it’s unremarkable that God chose a woman to anoint the Messiah with oil and a mother to hear his cries from the cross.”

Our very own Sister Chris would not consider such details inconsequential, and neither would anyone else who draws upon scripture in their fight for gender equality in the Catholic faith. In fact, Sister Chris also published a powerful piece about Holy Week for the National Catholic Reporter, entitled “It Was the Women Who Stayed.”  Though women are often overlooked by Catholic teaching, she writes that this is especially painful during Holy Week, “when preachers commonly emphasize that Jesus was ‘abandoned by everyone.’ Everyone, that is, but the women, whose presence must have meant a great deal to Jesus, if to no one else.”

For Sister Chris, who advocates for women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, the fact that Christ calls on Mary Magdalene to proclaim his resurrection is quite significant. At the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, the Bible reveals women to be faithful disciples and fearless leaders. Why shouldn’t they be Christian leaders today? Clearly Rachel Held Evans is correct; It is important to talk about Jesus’ female disciples. So here is a roundup of articles you can read on the subject, and one about women during Passover for good measure!

Rachel Held Evans, “The Women of Holy Week”

  1. Why the Women Matter
  2. The Woman at Bethany Anoints Jesus
  3. Mary’s Heart is Pierced (Again)
  4. The Women Wait
  5. Mary Sees the Risen Lord

Sister Christine Schenk, “It Was the Women Who Stayed

Bronwyn Lea, “What Easter Says About Trusting Women

The Junia Project, “The Anointing of Jesus at Bethany

The Junia Project, “The Commissioning of Mary Magdalene

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, “The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover


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