Fermenting Impasse: Women's Critical Communities and Ecclesial Transformation

Kathleen McManus, University of Portland

New Blackfriars, 2013, Volume 94, Issue 1052, 425-439.

© 2013 The Author, & The Dominican Council

Linked version is the final published version.


My reflections are rooted in the spiritual suffering of impasse experienced by women in today's Church. Against the background of Constance Fitzgerald's seminal article, “Impasse and Dark Night,”1 I will engage Edward Schillebeeckx's category of negative contrast experience in conjunction with what Beverly Lanzetta has named the via feminina2 to begin to envision what may be fermenting in this dark night. Then, moving from individual to communal contemplation, I will discuss the role of Critical Christian communities in Schillebeeckx's theology, with attention to his analysis of the cross-grained nature of Church history in which genuine tradition includes “breaks.” Finally, drawing on the experiences of “Circles of Women Seeking Wisdom” with which I am involved, I will examine how critical communities of women in the Church constitute a mysticism of resistance with potential for ecclesial transformation.