An Assumption Day Announcement: Celebrating the Feminine Genius — an Anniversary!

Well, the bras have been burned and the ashes long-since scattered. The glass ceilings have been shattered, the girly magazines have become ho-hum, and the only unacceptable word in some circles is "virginity." We've come a long way, baby — how's the landscape?

Whatever was cutting edge in the sexual revolution in the 1960's is beyond mainstream now, and yet the free-love express has proven a rocky ride. All that Pope Paul VI predicted in Humanae Vitae in 1968 has come to pass and yet there have been no apologies. Educators want more sex education, entertainers want more sexy entertainment, and the romantics don't get it — more sex doesn't mean more romance, only more heartache, loneliness, and lies.

Women in particular have paid a very high toll — women who are hard-wired for commitment, protection, and a gift of self, instead have suffered abandonment and abuse. And what does the Church offer them? Twenty years ago, John Paul II wrote them an extraordinary letter praising their feminine genius, their capacity for heroic sacrifice, and their essential place in the divine plan. Mulieris Dignitatem ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women") was penned from the heart of a man who discerned in God's plan the fact that civilization itself hinged on whether women were faithful.

This is the God who "in many and various ways spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb 1:1-2). The sending of this Son, one in substance with the Father, as a man "born of woman", constitutes the culminating and definitive point of God's self-revelation to humanity (MD, 3).

All of salvation history depended on the fidelity of a young girl in Nazareth, and through the centuries, the Church has stood by women as equal participants in the plan of God:

Everything that has been said so far about Christ's attitude to women confirms and clarifies, in the Holy Spirit, the truth about the equality of man and woman. One must speak of an essential "equality," since both of them — the woman as much as the man — are created in the image and likeness of God. Both of them are equally capable of receiving the outpouring of divine truth and love in the Holy Spirit. Both receive his salvific and sanctifying "visits" (MD, 16).

 Of course this equality doesn't imply that men and women are the same, and Mulieris Dignitatem points out the essential and fruitful differences that are to be acknowledged and respected. Part of the distinction is a remarkable statement that John Paul II makes, after many examples of Jesus' esteem for women.

In God's eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root. The order of love belongs to the intimate life of God himself, the life of the Trinity. In the intimate life of God, the Holy Spirit is the personal hypostasis of love. Through the Spirit, Uncreated Gift, love becomes a gift for created persons (MD, 29).

First in the order of love? What a privilege, what a responsibility! Love gone wild has nearly taken our culture over a steep precipice, and yet Karol Wojtyla, who participated very actively in the Second Vatican Council knew of that body's closing statement to women:

The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.

With this in mind, we bring our readers to the joyful announcement that the Vatican will honor the twentieth anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem in 2008. The lay faithful everywhere are invited to study the document, meditate on it, create initiatives, and to give thanks for the beauty of God's plan for women revealed therein. Women in North America in particular are asked to consider it in light of one overarching theme: The dignity of woman in a technological and consumeristic society.

To help this observance move forward around the country, a comprehensive web site has been created with resources and initiatives, so that women everywhere can tap into study groups, days of reflections and conferences. This year will be what we make of it — and now is the time to take seriously the vocation to which God has called us, His cherished daughters. We know the sexual revolution has left ensuing generations a disaster beyond measure, but we do have a response — the very feminine genius about which John Paul II wrote. This is the antidote to the poison we've ingested for so long.

Kindly visit, pray about the needs of your parish or larger community, and consider creating an initiative of your own in the coming year. Women can see that they've not won respect and esteem by pursuing androgyny or utilitarian sex. If we spread the news about the precious gift of authentic femininity, the landscape has every chance of bearing rich fruit and providing a home worthy of God's children.

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  • Guest

    "First in the order of love? What a privilege, what a responsibility! Love gone wild has nearly taken our culture over a steep precipice"

    I get a lot of recoil from women when I blame them for the culture marass that we're in right now. The defensive posture is understandable because certainly this is not the doing of one sex. However I take this position because if we were to pose the question of which group alone, men or women, could pull us back from the steep precipice and onto safe ground; the answer would be – women. God's greatest attribute, that of mercy flows out of His love which is SUBstatiated by His omnipotence. Look at the order. The modern woman has traded her gold medal for bronze and is sold on the notion that it's more valuble.

  • Guest

    One could make the argument that the cultural disaster we're in is more to be laid at the feet of irresponsible men.  I know so many women who are struggling to raise children alone because men have abandoned them.  It's so easy for men to say, "well, they wanted to be equal…" I say bring back Christian chivalry, as in Mel Gibson's excellent movie, "Forever Young."  There was no perfect time–in those days women were belittled and denigrated too.  But this, too, can be laid at the feet of men, really–the feminist revolution said–enough–we are people of dignity–stop treating us so badly.

     Concupiscence.  Both sexes to blame.  But didn't God hold Adam responsible for Eve's sin, or am I mis-remembering?


    This is why I'm glad I'm Catholic….Mary!  R-E-S-P-E-C-T!




  • Guest

    And another thing…that Scripture about women being subservient?  So convenient for men to forget the complimentary passage about men protecting women as Christ gave Himself for the Church…in other words, being willing to die.  Sort of puts it into a different perspective, doesn't it?

    I guess you could call me a traditional Catholic feminist…your comment got my blood boiling!

  • Guest

    Where women lead, men will follow!  We women are a very powerful force in the world today and always have been.  We are responsible for allowing ourselves to be treated in the manner to which man has become accustomed.  May I suggest to all women reading this that you go to and check out Johnette Benkovic's wonderful foundational study,Full of Grace.  We have the power to turn things around, we just need to tap into that power.

  • Guest

    Mstone55, you read me correctly. May the force be with you!

  • Guest

    Donna – the Scripture nowhere says women are to be subservient to men. It does say that wives are to be subordinate or submissive to husbands.  If you don't get married, you don't have to worry about it.

  • Guest

    Narwen–Thank you for the correction; however, I'm afraid you completely missed my point, or perhaps reinforced it–it's *not* merely about the women's role–and so many people just stop there when reading the Bible and don't see the man's responsiblity.  Both men and women acting in submission to Christ, according to their God-given differences.

    And msstone55, I am a great "fan" of Johnette Benkovic.  However, I don't think it's necessary for we women to "blame the victim", and too often it seems that people are saying women are responsible for how they are treated; my point is that this is unnecessarily harsh.  Of course, it's both men and women, but the point I'm making is that it's *primarily* the God-given role and *privilege of men to lead the way.  It's time to say to men– step up to the plate and assume Christian leadership in humility; when this happens, women will follow–in a sense, Biblically, we are meant to obey our husbands in Christian humility.  I guess I react strongly because, due to the fall, all over the world women are treated so terribly.  It was Christianity that caused men to treat women with respect.  Johnette expresses it so much better–women have a special grace.  Anyway, I'm not trying to make an argument–both men and women are fallen and both need to be humble.  But having grown up in the 50s and 60s, I just hate to see an attitude creeping back that, oh if these women wouldn't dress so provocatively, etc., etc., all would be well.  Nonsense–a man can't excuse his sin by blaming the woman.

  • Guest

    Luvadoxi, I've been dying to use this quote and you gave me the opprtunity. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much". 12:00 am posting??

  • Guest

    No, goral–I hear you, but it's just that I'm not expressing myself very well–I know I have a valid point, but it seems it's not coming across, and that's frustrating.  I think it's the medium of internet–face-to-face people can have a conversation, and I think you'd "get" what I'm trying to say.  That's all.  We're all sinners, men and women, in need of His mercy.  Recently, reading about all the violence against girl babies in India made me uncharacteristically emotional–not unreasonably, but uncharacteristically.  I do think as a result of the fall, women are mistreated *and* mistreat ourselves.   

  • Guest

    On a better day I would take your argument and run with it. On that fateful day I 'unfortunatly' chose this one and I'm sticking with it. To dig a deeper hole for myself I will dare to criticize your unorthodox use of the astrix. *shalom*

  • Guest

    (WARNING ! This post contains material unsuited for reading by children !)

    Of course, with today's technologies, women don't need any direct contact with a male to have a child. All a woman needs is an internet connection, a credit card, and a syringe.

    Furthermore, scientists are now working on modifying bone marrow cells so that they can fertilize ova. With these 'synthetic sperm', lesbian couples would be able to have baby girls who would be genetically theirs- girls who would really have 'two mommies'- or, rather, a mommy and a 'daddy' who happens to be female. (This technique would also have another 'advantage' – that synthetic sperm from a female source would carry no Y chromosomes, and produce only female children. )

    Fortunately, most women are still sane enough to want their children to have a father- but, barring the Lord's return,  I wouldn't be surprised to see 'male-free' communities of self-reproducing women springing up in my lifetime, or by the end of this century at the latest. Frown



  • Guest

    I found this beautifully written article about Christian manhood. May God forgive and bless us and return our society to sanity.