Some time ago I was at Mass, sitting in the same pew as a couple of nuns. After the service, the two of them huddled a bit in conversation, part of which, after a glance at me, was the question “Do you think we should mention it to her?”
I got the distinct feeling they thought I had done something wrong. Sure enough, they had a bone to pick with me.
They objected to the way I had prayed the Nicene Creed. They objected because I had recited it as written.
Apparently they protested one word: men.
That word, they said, should be deleted from the phrase “For us men and for our salvation” because, you know, it’s sexist.
Uh, no, it’s not. My dictionary lists “men” as the plural of “man,” and “man” is defined as “a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex.” Now I will admit that is the second definition, but it is a definition.
That word doesn’t exclude women any more than it does infants and children. When Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary during Eucharist Adoration and proclaimed “Behold this Heart which has so loved men!” she didn’t say, “Whoa! Time out, Lord! Your Heart loves only adult males? Why are you excluding women and children?”
In a Church that is 2,000 years old, you’re bound to come across some terminology that, by today’s political correctness, seems intolerant. Then again, since the word “worship” originally meant “homage paid to a person or thing,” you’re also bound to come across a term like “worshipping Mary” in a centuries-old text.
[SIDENOTE: See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15710a.htm for a more detailed definition of “worship” in ancient times.]
When Protestants point at such use of “worship” and claim that because of it we consider Mary a goddess, we object that it’s wrong to slap a 21st century definition on such an old term. The meaning of words, we say, changes through the years.
Yet, when it comes to “men” in the Nicene Creed, we want to do the same thing?
Now, I’ll admit that when singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” I cringe at the line “Brothers all are we.” I do prefer “We are family” instead. But that’s a more modern song, which means that from the beginning, it was supposed to have a more modern meaning to its words.
The Nicene Creed, since it was written in 325, obviously is different. It wasn’t meant to exclude women and children then, and it’s not meant to exclude women and children now. So . . . despite hearing even some priests leave out “men,” I’m going to continue praying it the way our ancient brothers and sisters did, using the definition of “men” to mean all of humanity.
If it was good enough for Jesus to say to St. Margaret Mary, it’s certainly good enough for me.