St John's 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)


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