Elizabeth Johnson: From Patronage to Companionship


“In the companionship model, rather than the main action being prayers of petition from client to patron, the chief practice is attending to the memory of the dead in a way that energizes hope. Johannes Baptist Metz’s theology of the dangerous memory reveals the power of this practice, for such remembering disrupts the tyranny of the present status quo, summons up a future worth struggling for and sets our feet on the path of their unfinished business. Commemorations of the martyrs of El Salvador that inspire us to action on behalf of justice for the poor and celebrations of Mary Magdalene, first witness of the resurrection, that encourage us to promote women’s participation in ministry are good contemporary examples. This is not to say that we no longer call upon saints to pray for us; but this prayer occurs in a context of mutual sharing in the project of the reign of God. Remembering their dangerous witness, we become partners in hope.”–Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ

Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., is the Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University in NYC. She’s the author of She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse,  Friends of God and Prophets: A Feminist Theological Reading of the Communion of Saints, and Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. This excerpt is from an speech she gave in May 2000 at the Fordham University Law School titled “Mary of Nazareth: Friend of God and Prophet” published in America magazine (June 17, 2000).

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