Endow Women: An Antidote for Our Culture of Loneliness

To better understand how women can improve their wellness, health, and happiness, Everyday Health conducted a study that found “a third of women are more afraid of loneliness than a cancer diagnosis.”[1] Although quite an arresting conclusion, sadly, the experience of loneliness is not an irrational fear in postmodern society. We live in a culture of loneliness. The most recent U.S. Census data confirms that an increasing number of Americans live alone. “Over 35 million (14% of all U.S. adults) live alone. It is not uncommon for that number to be as high as 25% in large cities. This is a huge cultural shift from 1965 when less than 8% of adults lived alone.”[2] Beyond living alone, even those who live with others subconsciously yet effectively isolate themselves by scrolling through a curated feed, interacting with others through a screen, and working from home. We are a people longing for one another but do not know how to truly be with one another.

Women with a devoted prayer life may look at these statistics and presume they can escape the epidemic of loneliness through their faith. These women understand that improving their wellness, health, and happiness necessitates an intimate relationship with God. By His grace, God may provide comfort that a phone screen never can. However, even the most intimate prayer life cannot be substituted for meaningful human friendships and relationships. The wholeness of womanhood is not simply religiosity. Pope St. John Paul II firmly believed that:

Ordinary women reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day, women fulfill their deepest vocation. Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person because they see persons with their hearts” (Letter to Women 12).

Thus, women need others to come fully alive in their femininity. In the historical moment of her Fiat (Lk 1:38), Mary, the paradigm of femininity, fulfilled her vocation as woman. Yet, the Eternal Mother of God continues to fulfill her vocation as woman through her continual “loving self-giving as mother and her dedication to the task of motherhood.”[3] Even the Perfect Woman, Mary, does not continuously fulfill her feminine vocation in a vacuum alone with God the Father.[4] She is not only the Mother of God but also the Mother of us all. So too, women need both God and others to live their femininity in abundance.

My Womanhood Needs Your Womanhood

Although it is clear that all women are in desperate need of human relationships, it is quite challenging to avoid the plague of isolation. A recent Pew Research survey revealed that “45% of adults admit they find it hard to make new friends. In fact, the average adult hasn’t made a new friend in the last five years.”[5] Nowadays, many women’s closest friends live on opposite sides of the country. While it is a blessing that we can communicate with long-distance friends, it is deeply essential for women to be surrounded by a community of women and not just two long-distant besties who can call every so often. Women need to be “doing life” with other women for their femininity to flourish. Married women, single women, working women, every woman are all in need other women. Edith Stein, found a unique beauty in the gift of receiving female friendship. She determined that women have feminine elements to their souls, which make them particularly apt for friendship with one another:

“Woman naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.” Essays on Woman

The natural yearning every human has for maternal care, sensitivity, and warmth can only be fulfilled by feminine love. Thus, every woman needs holy love from other women! My womanhood needs your womanhood. Yet our busy lives and modern culture make it difficult to foster female friendships.

Endow as the Antidote

Women of the Church will not be reminded of their true identity as daughters of God if they have not made a new friend in the last five years. Catholic women will not feel the wholeness of their personhood without attending to their spiritual, social, and intellectual needs. Women need other women to be a mirror of themselves and a window into the reality of the mystery of women.

“Women’s health” is one of the fastest growing industries promising skincare routines, regimes to improve physical health, and routines to improve women’s mental health. Yet, there are very few places women can turn to that seek to embrace the whole person. This furthers the cycle of women feeling more alone and not recognized for their wholeness. Furthermore, very few women-targeted companies, brands, and organizations actually bring women closer to other women.

Endow is different. Endow calls women together to study the important documents of the Catholic Church. The heart of Endow is not a product, a nugget of wisdom, or a self-improvement tool. The heart of Endow is women— women coming together to grow and flourish as faithful daughters of God. When women are engaging their whole self, mind, body, and soul with other women seeking to grow in their relationship with God, the “magic” of the feminine genius comes alive. The plague of loneliness attacking women today can be cured when the wholeness of women is received by another woman. In an Endow group, women embrace their intellectual genius, their spiritual genius, and their entire feminine genius. Studying the truth of the faith with other women reveals the mission each woman is called to and slowly cures the lie that women are alone in the world.

When you join or start an Endow group, you are not just signing up for spiritual nourishment. While there is plenty of spiritual growth, you are truly signing up to be received in whole by other women. If you are lonely, have hope because there is a cure for this plague. Coming together with other women to grow spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally will combat your loneliness and draw you deeper into your feminine vocation.

Pope John Paul II once said, “The worst prison would be a closed heart.” We, especially as women, are called to open our hearts in service to others. When we close our hearts, we become lonely and incapable of carrying out our vocation as women. Edith Stein urged women to understand that “our neighbor’s spiritual need transcends every commandment. Everything else we do is a means to an end. But love is an end already since God is love.” When we extend friendship to the women around us, we participate in God’s eternal love. If you are feeling lonely, be the woman to open her heart to the women around you! Say yes to authentic friendship and be of service to the Church by opening your heart to other women. Your small yes to starting or joining an Endow group will create a ripple effect in our culture to participate not in a culture of loneliness but in God’s eternal love.

[1] Thomson, Helen. “A Third Of Women Are More Afraid Of Loneliness Than A Cancer Diagnosis.” Forbes, Dec 18, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/helenthomson/2017/12/18/a-third-of-women-are-more-afraid-of-loneliness-than-a-cancer-diagnosis/?sh=46711e877509 Accessed July 10, 2023.

[2] Self, Monty “Why we Need to Change Our Culture of Loneliness.” Good Faith Media, Apr 29, 2021. https://goodfaithmedia.org/why-we-need-to-change-our-culture-of-loneliness/ Accessed July 10, 2023.

[3] Edith Stein, “Finite and Eternal Being,” VIII, iii, p. 516

[4] Edith Stein, “The Ethos of Women’s Professions,” p. 45

[5] Renner, Ben. “Survey: Average American hasn’t made a new friend — In 5 years!” Study Finds. Oct 9, 2019.  https://studyfinds.org/survey-average-american-hasnt-made-new-friend-in-5-years/ Accessed July 10, 2023

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Julia O'Neil is the Marketing and Development Manager for Endow. She is uniquely equipped to serve Endow through her experiences with many Catholic apostolates, including Annunciation Heights, FOCUS, Life Teen, and Renewal Ministries. Her experience as a Catholic Worldview Fellow sparked her interest in the relationship between beauty and culture. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion from Hillsdale College. Julia is passionate about epistemological issues and the need to provide sound philosophical formation to effectively prepare young Catholics for catechesis. Her studies also focused on classical education and literature. Julia currently writes from Denver, Colorado, where she enjoys beautiful views of the Front Range from her home. She enjoys Denver's outdoor opportunities with her fiancé.

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