Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, often called The Matriarchs of the Faith, provide a remarkable insight into God's commitment to women and His interest in how women play an integral part in His plan for mankind. These women teach us about the roots of our faith but also how our faith has unfolded so that we, as Christian women today, can live more fully for Christ. We learn from these women how to be better in all aspects of our life because we understand that His promises to us are unshakable.
Sarah was a woman whose life's goal was to have a child. The Talmud teaches that Sarah, along with her husband Abraham, was a great converter of people to the monotheistic religion of Judaism. She is credited with saving many souls as she converted innumerable people from their pagan beliefs to monotheism. Additionally, Sarah's own faith was such that she accompanied Abraham as he answered God's call to leave Ur and journey to the Promised Land. Abraham heard directly from God but Sarah relied on faith alone to make the journey and thus won great favor from God. Her faith was an admirable and necessary quality as she was to be the woman to whom countless generations would be born. Ultimately Sarah, at the remarkable age of ninety, does give birth to a son, Isaac.
Sarah's beloved son Isaac grows into a young man who marries Rebekah. We see, quite pointedly in Scripture, that Isaac's marriage to Rebekah occurs very near to the time of Sarah's death. Rebekah is meant to carry Sarah's mantle and continue the line of the Matriarchs. Rebekah is a devoted wife and hers is a marriage filled with loving kindness. Through Sarah's marriage to Abraham and Rebekah's marriage to Isaac, we are shown the great value God puts upon the union of a man and a woman and how they are meant to work, as partners, toward His goals.
Rebekah gives birth to twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob falls in love with Rachel but is tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah. Although Jacob eventually marries Rachel as well, it is Leah whom God continually blesses as she gives birth to more than half of the men from whom the tribes of Israel will issue. The Talmud teaches that each sister, Rachel and Leah, brings a particular aspect of the divine feminine into the lineage of God's people. It is Rachel who cries out from the heavens, generations later, as Pharaoh slaughters infant Hebrew baby boys in Egypt while it is Leah who steadfastly becomes the mother of many of the tribes of Israel.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of John Paul's Apostolic letter, On the Dignity of Women, these remarkable women, along with Noah's wife, Lot's wife, the Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah, Zipporah, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene will be studied in a ten week course that begins January 7th, 2008 and is titled, "Renewing Your Christian Self in a Secular World." Intended for women of all ages, this Catholic Exchange woman's study focuses on the inherent worth of women and how Christian women today share in the promises of God as they, too, work for His kingdom. The study includes the book of the same name, access to Catholic Exchange online moderated discussions, and CE weekly podcasts. The podcasts introduce the specific chapters and give foundational information on the women while the online discussions enhance each participant's knowledge through the sharing of insights and ideas. The podcasts feature the music of Teresa Smith and can be accessed, like the online discussions, at the participant's convenience. We at Catholic Exchange encourage you to invite a mother, sister, daughter, or friend and enjoy the ten week woman's study as you embrace your life as a Christian woman today.