New Catholic Femininity?
There seems to be a commonly understood “new” Catholic femininity. This is exemplified in a new type of role model. For instance, Sarah Palin is seen as a woman who “has it all”; a large family, cares for one with disabilities, outspokenly pro-life, an influential government position etc. Catholic women cheer her on and tell their daughters to look up to this amazing example of new Catholic womanhood. Women cried in despair when she was not made Vice-President. Is not, however, the role model for all women Our Blessed Mother? Did not she “have it all?” Just sit a minute and compare the two types of womanhood. Not to throw a shadow on the one, but to see how much changed the understanding of ideal womanhood has become. How cheered the one is, and how misunderstood and unattainable the other is portrayed.
Let us look at these two ideals and I think we shall see some striking contrasts. It should also be noted that these contrasts could in many ways be adapted to even men because the Church encourages them to meditate on Our Lady and grow in devotion to her. It is women, however that are called on to have her maternal charism.
Today a woman is praised who speaks her mind and doesn’t hold back her opinion. That sounds very different from the woman who “pondered these things in her heart.” Again the modern woman is one who actively and aggressively works towards agendas and policies, many times very worthy ones, in the schools and work places she is involved in. Our Lady, however, seems to have perfectly used the naturally female abilities to be watchful, attentive and use her intuition to see and respond to the needs of persons, who have more intrinsic value, rather than policies or agendas. Today’s catholic woman think they should gain self confidence, again this seems pretty different than the mistrust of self that is spoken of by the saints and the humility expressed by Mary as she said “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Your will.” She had a mistrust of her own understanding but total confidence in God. Women today are very busy, are taught to be self reliant, and to “get out there”, but a beautiful Acronym that sums up Our Lady would be AVE, Available, Vulnerable and Expectant.
Available – she was and is ready to listen and respond to the persons around her, especially the Divine Persons. She would need to be home to be that way. Vulnerable – she was beautifully open and docile to The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost, so vulnerable that the mystery of the Incarnation could happen through her. She expresses this vulnerability in her obedience to St. Joseph as well. Expectant- she confidently awaited God’s grace, action and movement. She was hopeful!
This sounds like the ideal woman, the ideal mother! This world desperately needs motherly hearts like this. What grace could flood this world, how blessed and refreshed would be families if women would follow this model and block out the droning voice and model of the world. May women follow the call: “And be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is good and the perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
A Woman’s Place is in the home not because she isn’t good enough for the world but because she is too good for it. A woman’s precious gifts are squandered when she gives herself to the making of a dollar rather than a home. The world, its corporations, bureaucracies, and agencies are profane entities that are unworthy of a woman’s devotion and are unable to value the feminine charism. These profane entities coarsen, poison, and suck dry the maternal heart.
Three Marks of Manhood