A personal reflection on changes in Theology during my life as a Cenacle Nun
: mysticism and narcissism

  • Kathleen Lyons

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Belief in the Christian mystery of Pentecost prompts me to analyse sixty-five years of life lived in a women’s religious community, the Cenacle, where the tension between mysticism and narcissism is daily enacted. The move from medievalism to modernity/postmodernism during these years called for changes in the consecrated life. My thesis claims that the Incarnation is not realised until the fullness of humanity, ‘mysticism’, is claimed by all, especially women. My original contribution to knowledge is the application of a theory of psychoanalysis that is a source for relational theology and Incarnational Christianity.
    I employ narrative theology expressed heuristically to illustrate the relationship of religious women to the Church. Vatican II is the mid reference point to contrast the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of this event of epic proportions. Women’s experience is the principle tool which I use to argue that ‘feminism’ is not an optional extra for the Christian but is rather integral to the gospel. I examine biblical material and find evidence of androcentric, patriarchal and sexist attitudes requiring me to use a hermeneutic of suspicion. I am influenced by recent French psychoanalytic theory and draw on it to stress the origins of human becoming as relational. It has become increasingly clear that the patriarchy of the Catholic Church is inimical to the symbolic Pentecostal event where Mary gives birth to the Church in the first Cenacle. Acts.2.1-4 With the interface of theology and the psychoanalytic I make a significant discovery, one that reveals a radical notion of divinity as matrixial rather than phallic!
    Date of Award29 Jan 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Winchester
    SupervisorLisa Isherwood (Supervisor) & Angus Paddison (Supervisor)

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