Authentically Feminine

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I saw a picture recently on Facebook that included this quote: “When a culture of ladies arises, a culture of gentlemen will follow.” – Jason Evert.  While I do believe there is so much truth in this comment, I can’t help but be saddened by it as well. As a mom of three boys, I can’t help but ponder how my boys will fare as men in this culture that does not encourage them to be gentlemen. Could we reverse Jason Evert’s quote? “When a culture of gentlemen arises, a culture of ladies will follow.” Or is chivalry dead because feminists killed it?

It has been disheartening, to say the least, that I have had to talk to my older boys, ages 16 and 12 years old, about a certain movie being released on February 14th. The preview for “Fifty Shades of Grey” was shown at the theatre when they went to see “The Hobbit” a few months ago. As their young minds are still being formed, and they are still coming to understand what it means to have dignity, be treated with dignity and to treat others, especially women, with dignity. The hype around this book and film, sends a message that is contrary to what I am teaching my boys, contrary to the men I hope they will one day become.

My hope then is that if they at least understand what authentic feminism is, their behavior and demeanor around women will inspire lady-like behavior from the women God places in their path. What is authentic feminism?

Pope Saint John Paul II said it best in his letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatem and the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi put it together beautifully in a song titled, “Reasons to Live.”

In order to appreciate authentic feminism we have to appreciate the author of authentic feminism. God, Our Creator, designed man and woman. He created us in his image and likeness. This fact alone, gives each human person a dignity that surpasses all other creatures He ever created. God gave man and woman rational thought and free will. He created us equal, but different. Those difference were not meant to make one superior to the other, they were meant to complement each other, to complete the other.

Being created in His image and likeness also means that we were created to love, to serve, to know Him and make Him known. While we know God as Father, through scripture, and the action of having His son born of a woman, we also know God possesses both male and female characteristics. God can create life on His own, yet when He created human beings in his image, he intentionally creates them so that one needs the other in order to procreate. Man is not complete without woman and vice versa.

Through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, we are left with a distorted reality. We live in a fallen world, and so human dignity, rational thought and free will have been twisted. Throughout history we see how this has affected the way human beings treated each other, and how the dignity of women was not upheld or respected.

There are some benefits to the Feminist Movement that include, the right to vote, the right to choose to work in or outside of the home, the right to equal pay for equal work, employers including family leave and flexible hours to be conducive of working mothers, the right for women to actively stand up for the oppressed or marginalized in society. Since the face of poverty and abuse victims are still predominantly women and their children, being active in defending the rights of women against physical and financial abuse is an important and necessary cause.  In this way we see that Catholic social-doctrine and the Feminist movement share many similarities.

However, authentic feminism is opposed to some of the views of secular feminism, especially when it comes to sexuality, reproductive rights and roles within family and society. Here we see how the pendulum has swung way too far in the opposite direction.

The false notion that artificial contraceptives have given women sexual liberation is one of the most mind boggling notions of the feminist belief. A woman’s body is designed to go through a natural cycle in preparation for reproduction. Instead of recognizing the beauty of this cycle and empowering women to learn about their bodies, society encourages women to suppress their God given gift to reproduce despite the fact that she will face many dangerous and unnecessary consequences. Consequences such as cancer, strokes, heart attacks, fertility issues and in some cases death. Listening to Janet Smith’s talk on “Contraception, Why Not?” I learned that the pill was originally created by a man. Why? So he could use woman as an object for pleasure without having to deal with the responsibilities of becoming a father. That doesn’t sound like it’s in line with protecting the rights of women.

If we take a closer look at abortion. Feminists use statements like, “My body, my choice.” Truly this sounds noble enough. However, abortion damages the woman’s body, along with her emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. Abortion kills female babies in the womb and at times, kills the woman as well.  If we truly care about female rights, we would fight to end abortion in order to protect women. Former secular feminist and Director of Planned Parenthood shares her experience with this first hand. I implore you to get to know Abby Johnson.

A woman who embraces her authentic feminism embraces her role in the family and in society. Her role to bring her feminine genius to the workplace, to politics, the courtroom, and to her home.  She lives at the service of others, bringing her ingenuity, compassion and nurturing spirit to everyone she meets. She may do this on a large scale by initiating change to improve benefits for the impoverished in her community, she might work to educate those who may not otherwise receive an education. She may choose to use her feminine genius to build up her husband and educate her children at home.

Living at the service of others, does not mean she degrades her own dignity to help someone else. An authentic feminist knows her boundaries and holds true to her convictions. While she recognizes the needs of others, she would not go against her conscience or undermine herself in the name of serving others. This would be contrary to what God designed her to do. Only by treating others with dignity can we transform society, one heart at a time. A woman who embraces her authentic feminism will serve others by building up their dignity and not by engaging in behaviors that are physically damaging, illicit or immoral.

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Vampires, Witches and Zombies: Part 2

hos-jesus-hell

Scripture tells us that Christ became sin to free us from the bonds of sin and open the doors to heaven for us. Before Christ’s death and resurrection all those who died were not allowed into heaven. As we recite in the creed, “he descended into hell,” which means He went to hell out of love for those souls who earned a place in heaven but passed away before he opened the gates of heaven.

He loves us too much to leave us alone while we feed the demon and pet the serpent. However, since he is the perfect gentlemen he is not going to intervene unless we ask him to. We must be ready to stop feeding the demon.

When we watch horror movies, we make Jesus watch them too. Jesus who has a clear conscience, who knew no sin, chose to take on sin, not only sin itself but the consequence of sin. When we sin, we cause him to do the act with us. He chose this, because he loves us.

Worse still these images do not bring us closer to him. Most movies will easily show the supernatural evil but will leave out the supernatural good. The evil will be overcome by mere human effort, or by someone who has a similar power as the evil entity but use it for good. They deliberately leave out that only with God can we face and overcome evil. God doesn’t want us to choose to face the evil. Like the words of Mufasa, in the movie, “Lion King,”

“Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble.”

To add insult to injury we are making Christ accompany us as we watch a story that deliberately omits him, even though he is the one true victor over evil.

When we are dealing with zombies and vampires we are watching images that mock the Eucharist. In fact it is anti-Eucharist. Christ gave up his life, and allows his body to become our supernatural food which gives us eternal life. We have him accompany us as we watch media that says, ‘give me your body as food, and I will give you a decayed, dead, demonically possessed body.’

PassionSatanWhen we watch images that are meant to be fearful and disgusting, we ignore what is happening spiritually. We allow ourselves to become desensitized to the fearful and disgusting images. We think its safe to laugh in the face of evil. Unfortunately, I think Satan is the one having a laugh at our naïvety.

We ask our Guardian Angel to stop guarding, guiding and ruling, we ask Mother Mary to look away and we mock Jesus for the time it takes to watch a horror movie and allow ourselves to be spiritually slimed. That demon we fed during the movie in now ruling our conscience. When we go out into the world, what was once black and white is now grey. We have numbed our conscience, our perception of good and evil is skewed. Accepting immorality will come easier. In this way we endanger our faith, giving way to self-sufficiency, complacency and pride.

Death is not pretty and the images of skeletons and decaying flesh should serve to remind us that our physical bodies are temporary and will decay one day. This should motivate us to nurture our faith, to actively nourish our relationship with our Guardian Angel, with Mary and especially with Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. We can’t avoid the fact that our physical body will decay, but the good news is we can choose to nurture our spirit, instead of causing its decay.

The Good News is that God’s mercy is endless. All we have to do is ask for it and he readily gives it to us. We must work on journeying towards God, and turn away from anything that hinders that journey. In the words of Matthew Kelly, “Every journey towards something, is a journey away from something.” We can’t be afraid to take the steps necessary to cut off our attraction to images that draw us away from God. He will give us the grace we need to turn away and continue the journey to our eternal home with him.

I leave you with this quote from Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdelen, O.C.D. from Divine Intimacy, ” We want to become saints, but in the easiest way possible, without effort, without fatigue…we should like to practice virtue, but only to a certain point, only when it does not ask for great sacrifice, or go too much against the grain…Our progress in holiness depends precisely upon these acts which we hesitate to make, without them we shall lead a mediocre life, we shall always remain on the same level, if indeed we do not lose ground. Let us beg the saints whom we honor today to help us overcome our laziness, lassitude, our cowardice”

Read the first part here.