Today, the Franciscan Family, with rest of the Catholic Church, celebrates the memory of Clare of Assisi. A young noblewoman of the medieval city of Assisi, she was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, to leave a life of wealth and influence, and follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, guided by Francis, she and a group of liked minded Assisian women, formed a community of prayer, and evangelical poverty. Living a hidden life of contemplation, with very few known writings in existence; she has been a source of inspiration to many to seek a more intimate relationship with God.
The Order she confounded with Francis still exists, now known as the Poor Clares.
The Catholic blogosphere is abuzz with the news from the Vatican, that Pope Francis has appointed a commission of academics to study whether the ordination of women to the Permanent Diaconate is theologically possible. The commission is made up of six clergymen, and six women, two of whom are religious nuns. One of the women theologians is Phyllis Zagano, who is an author, and columnist for the National Catholic Reporter newspaper. She has been a long advocate for bringing women into the diaconate.
I personally would like to see women being able to be ordained as deacons. A vast number of Catholic women are already involved in the service of charity; serving the poor and homeless. Many Catholic women are already involved in the service of Word, through being religious educators; being lectors at Mass; and by the example of their own lives. Many Catholic women are already involved in service to the Altar, through being extraordinary Eucharistic ministers at the celebration at Mass; and by bringing communion to the homebound. And I am sure that many of these women, like the men, feel called to deepen this sense of service by becoming deacons.
Now, people should not fool themselves, or have high expectations on how soon this will come about, if at all. We have just made the very first small step, with a long road ahead for those advocating for women deacons. But, it is a beginning; may the Holy Spirit guide us!