St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The feminine genius

Please come support our basketball team of DC priests and seminarians, DC 'Hood, this Friday night as we take on a team of adults and teens from Mother Seton parish in Germantown. Game is at 7 pm, April 7, Martin Luther King middle school (13737 Wisteria Dr., Germantown). All are invited!!
We recently had an exchange on this site about women and the Church. At the end of the exchange, I made the point that the Church is the greatest promoter of the dignity of women of any organization in the world. While some people might question the significance of this, I present a small taste of the Church's insights about not only the true dignity of women, but also the genius and devotion that is characteristic of women.

Pope John Paul II exhorted women especially in many ways during his pontificate. He wrote about the dignity of women in his apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (1988). In this letter, the Holy Father wrote about "the distinctively 'feminine' response of faith...about the things of God" (15) and how "women show to Christ... a special sensitivity which is characteristic of their femininity" (16). Also, he points out that at the Cross, "the women proved stronger than the Apostles" (15) and "the women are first at the tomb" (16).

In an Angelus reflection in 1995, he referred to the feminine genius:
"Woman has a genius all her own, which is vitally essential to both society and the Church…[She]is endowed with a particular capacity for accepting the human being in his concrete form. Even this singular feature which prepares her for motherhood, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually, is inherent in the plan of God who entrusted the human being to woman in an altogether special way".

Mary Ellen Bork, a Catholic writer, has commented on the Holy Father's writings and teachings about women. In his teachings, she writes, John Paul II "envisions femininity, renewed by spiritual life, as a dynamic active gift essential to family, society and the Church. What the pope calls 'the feminine genius' is a gift of openness to another person, the opposite of a self-centered focus on 'my rights'".

Mrs. Bork puts the Holy Father's insights in a more general framework. "As Pope John Paul II has taught, women have a key role in returning dignity to the sacrament of marriage and in preserving a culture that is worthy of the human person. These enormously important cultural tasks can be better served by women who are well formed in Christian values and well informed about the cultural battles in the policy arena.
It is as if women hold in their hands the threads that form the basic fabric of society and their efforts to weave these together in a unity will result in a stronger fabric that can resist the centrifugal pull of the culture".

In probably every talk or letter, John Paul II turned to the greatest Christian example of all time, the Blessed Virgin Mary. "Let us look at the Blessed Virgin's example... This is the "genius" of the woman! May Mary's thoughtful sensitivity, totally feminine and maternal, be the ideal mirror of all true femininity and motherhood!" (1995)


  • Wonderful comments about woman and the church. As for me....I am proud to be a woman of faith, a wife of faith, a mother of faith, a daughter of faith, a worker of faith etc. etc. It is true that woman have been given many unique and special gifts by God. Gifts that I don't think even us women realize or use to their potential. God has given us a level of compassion, understanding, intuitiveness that men don't necessarily posses or utilize as easily as woman do. What a wonderful balance when combined with those special male qualities. It isn't that one genders qualities are any better than the others.
    Which brings me to an issue in the church which many women struggle with....why can't women be priests? My question to ask those who question this is....Why do we need to be priests? When we can go out and do most everything that a priest can do (other than performing some of the sacraments). Sometimes it seems to me that the driving force behind the desire for woman priests is simply a case of EGO on womens parts. When we, as woman, can go out and serve God and others in so many many many different ways, why do we battle with the church over ordaining woman, and get angry with the church? To me this appears to be all EGO centered. and when something is done out of EGO and PRIDE then it is not useful to God. It isn't God's way.
    I know this topic didn't come up specifically, but I thought this might be a place to discuss it.

    By Anonymous Seeker of Truth, at 7:29 PM  

  • EGO maybe what drives some women to want to be priests, but I would not generalize. Although, I do not particulary care if women are allowed to become priests, because like you,Seeker of Truth, I believe we can serve in so many other ways. However, the Catholic Church will benefit from letting women in. Everything that goes behind the scenes in our Church would become more transparent. I sometimes think the men in the Catholic Church are the ones who have an EGO problem. What is stopping them from allowing women in the Church? What are they afraid of? I could be wrong, but I do not think the Bible has ever said that only men could be priests. Are they afraid to loose their positions in society? Frankly, I do not understand it. I do not understand either why can they let nuns play a bigger role in the Catholic Church?
    Time will tell...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 AM  

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 AM  

  • This comment is only remotely related to the discussion of women and the Church in that pornography is arguably a form of violence against women, but this is where it fits best.

    I'm a guy. I used to log on to my home computer and, after checking my e-mail, go to the porn sites and surf around for an hour or two. Now, after checking my e-mail, I go to Deacon Greg's blogsite. Sometimes, I never go on to the porn sites at all, but when I do, I don't stay there as long as I used to. I even canceled my one and only subscription to a porn site.

    On reflection, I don't think this is the result of good old fashion Catholic guilt; I think it is because the stimulation of open discussion among Catholics is so interesting.

    Understandably, I'm not going to give my name here, but you can tell people that "St Francis Q&A" is literally better than porn! (Do you think the Cardinal will use that as a slogan?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 AM  

  • hey i wanted to comment on the women not being able to be priests, and if that is right or wrong. while many women believe that it is sexest to not allow women to be priests i disagree. I am a woman and i believe that this is how God intended things to be. i know that Mary, along with many other wonderful women that where in the bible, are great role modles for women, but there is a difference in their role in the bible and Jesus'. Jesus' role in the Bible was to teach the people of his time to beleive in him and God, and he was the one in the synagogue teaching the people, not Mary. The priest's job is to be a Jesus-like person to us since we cant see Jesus. while Mary did give birth to Jesus she was not the one teaching in the synagogue. I do not beleive that if Mary didnt teach even though she was a wonderful, sinless woman, us woman now-a-days should try to push our way into the priest-hood, for it should be souly for men. there are plenty of great things women can do to show God that we love him. it shouldnt matter to anyone if the whole world sees you doing good deads for God, one should be happy serving God in any oppertunity that arises, and not push for more.
    well i hope that i made since, my main point is that its great that women want to do everything they can for God, but sometime, like in this case, we need to remember that every rule and regulation is made for a perpose, even if we dont agree or understand it. unstead of trying to fight rules we should try to figure out why that was made and what it is trying to show.
    btw i also think that some of the desire for women wanting to be priests is it seems as if women are trying to take over the world or something:),and dont want men to do anything that they cant. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 PM  

  • To the anon guy who wrote about the porno sites...I guess we'll have to write more to keep you here rather than at the unsavory websites. :) Good for you for giving up some of those websites. I'll pray for you that this new habit continues.

    As to women in the Church...ya know, God gave women an incredible gift that is theirs alone that man can never do. Why would God not do the same for man? I speak of the gift of motherhood, the gift of growing life within the womb (and as a mother, I can tell you there is no greater joy than to feel that first flutter kick). In like, God has given man a unique gift of fatherhood, that is the priesthood, to grow (spiritual) life within others. Both gifts can be shared, and sharing does not mean doing it yourself.

    By Blogger Magnificat wannabe, at 11:26 PM  

  • I do not understand why some of us think that the "rule" or "regulation" for having only male priests in the Church came from God? Remember those rules and regulations were made by the Church which although represents God is made of imperfect humans. Furthermore, JESUS is the son of God, and He represents the love HE has for men and women. Why cannot women also represent Jesus? God has no gender, otherwise, if we assume HE has a gender are we also to assume HE prefers more men than women since HE came as a man? It does not makes sense to me. I do not understand the arguments against women being priests.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 PM  

  • I love the comment made by Magnificat Wannabe regarding the special gift given to women ...
    the gift of carrying & birthing physical life; and the special gift given to men.......
    of being priests and birthing the spiritual life in all of us through the sacraments. Interesting way to look at that. I like it.

    By Anonymous Seeker of Truth, at 8:07 PM  

  • About women in the Priesthood, the Church has no authority to ordain women. This is supported by all three "legs" of truth in the Church.
    In Scripture

    and in Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium

    Ironically enough, many Protestants are in agreement as they reject both a Priesthood with worldly authority and visible signs such as Sacraments (the duties that are the Priest's alone). IOW, women in many Protestants Churches Churches have no more authority in their sects than women in the Catholic Church (most Prot Churches don't even claim to have doctrine). Some may think the arguments are semantical, but if "I" believed that, than from my perspective, my Faith in the RC Church is rather pointless. Take for instance the Sacrament of Marriage, I'm not sure if there is another Christian sect, besides the Orthodox that consider this a Sacrament (maybe the Anglicans?). The role their clerics play are no different than the role the Justice of the Peace plays in the secular world.

    By Blogger Magnificat wannabe, at 12:57 PM  

  • I agree with anonymous on two counts:

    First - "I do not understand why some of us think that the 'rule' or 'regulation' for having only male priests in the Church came from God? Remember those rules and regulations were made by the Church which although represents God is made of imperfect humans."

    I'm still waiting to read that Gospel where Christ says, "After I'm gone, find a bunch of septuagenarian Italian celibates to make up a bunch of inane rules to keep everyone in line"

    Second - " God has no gender"

    If God were a "he," there would have to be a female counterpart. Then "He" wouldn't be omnipotnet because He would need a "She" to create life. The problem is that people can't bring themselves to refer to God as an "It." Do we need a new pronoun to express the concept of God?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:11 PM  

  • If Jesus' Church has no earthly authority, then the sex of that authority is non-sequitur.

    Good point on God being neither male or female and needing no other. As we are made "in his image" as male and female, we do need eachother. Our roles in God's plan are therefore complementary, i.e., each is needed for completion. Like how a lock and key complement eachother, serving different roles in completing the same act.

    By Blogger Magnificat wannabe, at 10:10 AM  

  • Lock and key? I think the symbolism is a little risque for this website. Maybe yeast and flour would be more appropriate, because togehter they create something greater than sum of the parts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 PM  

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