25 October 2014
Women within the Church have seen almost change in the roles they have filled throughout history until the present, and their roles are constantly changing in a positive light. She has gone from an equal counterpart to man, as seen in the case with Adam and Eve, to a subordinate servant to men, as can be read in 1 Corinthians 14:341, to once again being seen as an equal to man in both spirituality and in dignity. “The dignity and vocation of women (has been) a subject of constant human and Christian reflection.”2 Each and every vocation that a woman pursues is equally as fruitful as the next as long as she is pursuing that vocation in a way that reflects her dignity as a woman.
“Something is badly wrong with the notion that for Christian women there is one way and only one way to fill a role.”3 There are so many ways for a woman to live out her vocation. In the past women did not have as many options as we do in today’s world, for today we have the opportunity to be women of business or lead domestic lives or even a mixture of both. We also have the opportunity to live a life of professed religious life. There are so many different options for women today that the possibilities are endless.
Women in the Old Testament
To get a better understanding of where women started out in the Church it is important to go back to the first record we have of women, the Old Testament. From the very beginning in the book of Genesis, the original sin that is committed at the very start of man’s existence plagues and weighs on the whole human race.4 It was this first sin that led to the misunderstanding of the woman. Some speculate that because Eve fell into the temptation of sin that she, as well as other women, could not be trusted because they were unclean and impure. The attitudes toward women in the Old Testament were not conducive to a society in which equality of men and women would flourish. In fact the equality of women to men was completely nonexistent; as can be read in Colossians 3:185, or in 1 Timothy 2:126. The role that women had was to be subservient to the man and keep her opinions and thoughts to herself. The woman was rarely seen talking to a man in a public setting. It is also noted that throughout the Old Testament women were excluded from centers of power and influence but they were not seen as entirely useless; their sexual, maternal, and domestic services were highly valued.7 “They were excluded by virtue of their sex from many culture acts8, in part because women’s biological functions of menstruation and childbirth were thought to render her ritually unclean.”9 The lack of medical knowledge only helped to build a case against women and their inability to serve in the church or be a figure of influence.
It was not only their gender that was working against them but a lack of knowledge that made it very hard for them to have any respect. In many cases the subordination of women to men often led to the man’s desire for control and their movements toward dominion over the women.10 The threat of being dominated by a man is more serious for the woman since the genuineness of being a sincere gift to one another is stripped from the relationship. However it is not just the woman who suffers from being dominated by the man, the man himself also suffers because there is a violation in the equality of the relationship and the true dignity of the man is diminished as well.11
Many like to think we can do everything we set out to do on our own, but the truth is that we need help in doing so. God knows all and he created Eve to help Adam. “Man has been created by God in His image and likeness. He is a social being-so much so that God places a helper at his side: woman.”12 God saw that man could not watch over everything on earth alone so he created Eve from Adam. God created Adam as superior to all living things on the earth but that does not include Eve. Adam and Eve were created from the same and they were equal. One could not exist without the other. Eve, the woman, was created to “help” man. This was not the kind of help in the “material sense” but rather to help him in the “ontological13 sense.”14 Femininity and masculinity are mutually complimentary15 and this can be seen in the beginning of time, when both Adam and Eve shared the responsibility for caring for the land and the animals. They could not do it alone and each had different tasks they could do better than the other. This is in no way stating that men are better than women or vice versa, it is only to prove that men and women are mutually complimentary with each other and need one another for each person’s survival.16
“Men and women do not live on islands; they live for one another.”17 It is because both men and women were created in God’s image that they are both equal yet different in their own ways.Unfortunately women, in the past, had been overlooked as equals and they were often put down or pushed aside because they were not considered to be equal. There was an early association of women with sexuality and men with spiritualty. Women were seen as a temptation and men were seen as ones who could take part in the celebrations of the sacred. “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. These words, addressed directly to man, show the fundamental truth of his responsibility vis-a-vis woman: her dignity, her motherhood, her vocation.”18 Just as a man should not look at a woman lustfully, a woman should not view a man in a lustful manner. Christianity, later on, opposed this way of thinking. It acknowledged that that men and women possessed a spiritual equality and that one could not be deemed greater or holier than the other based upon gender alone.19 Gender should not be a determining factor in the holiness of a being. This goes back to the mutuality of the relationship between men and women. Neither one can exist without the other, and neither one is better than the other, they are uniquely different and mutually compatible.
“Man is the highpoint of the whole order of creation in the visible world;…woman, crowns the whole work of creation; both men and women are human beings to an equal degree, both are created in God’s image”20 thus making them mutually compatible and almost as one with one another. From the very beginning men and women were created as equals. They were each made in the image and likeness of God, thus being called to exist not only together, but for one another as well.
Jesus and Women
Jesus went against the societal norm of his time and not only acknowledged the presence of women in public but spoke to them as well. A prime example of this can be seen in the bible passage of the woman at the well. When Jesus goes to ask her for a drink, he is not only acknowledging her presence but speaking to her in a public setting, as she is at the well. He spoke to them in a way that was personal and not general. He referred to them as daughters of Jerusalem and treating them in a way that today would be considered pioneering. This was not a very popular idea at first, “because this behavior differed from that of his contemporaries”21 but eventually women began to get more respect and people started to listen to what they had to say.22 When Jesus spoke to the women he did so with an attitude of understanding. When the women spoke to him about the faith there was an honest response to what he was saying and “Jesus expresses appreciation and admiration for this distinctly feminine response.”23 The dignity of the woman and her femininity helped them to understand what Jesus was saying in a way that men did not.
Women have a sensitivity about them that is a natural characteristic of their femininity24. For example in John 12:1-325, when Jesus went to the house of Lazarus, it was Mary who anointed his feet with costly oil and dried them with her hair. While many looked on at her and thought of her as only a sinner, Jesus made it very clear that she had done more for him than any of the men that had invited to him to dinner had done. She took the time to wash his feet when no one had even offered to take off his sandals for him.
Women also have a special place in history as the followers of Christ. They are mentioned throughout the bible as being faithful followers. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Lord after he had been crucified and she was the first to proclaim the good news to the rest of the apostles that Jesus Christ had indeed risen and was alive, thus earning her the title “apostle of the apostles.”26 In the words of a vocation, it is now comprehended that what was “personally feminine” had breached a new element. The woman had become a “living subject and an irreplaceable witness.”27 She had been the first one to see the Risen Lord and proclaim his resurrection, earning her that title of irreplaceable witness. She went forth and proclaimed the Good News when no one else knew about it, she was risking the disbelief of many when she went forth but she most certainly did not let that stop her.
Mary as a Role Model
“Mary is the archetype that reveals how, on a path of faith, grace, and fullness of life, the strength of a woman is of utmost importance to society as a whole.”28 It is with this faith and grace that Mary had the courage to say yes and bring the Savior of all humanity into the world. When Mary said yes to God she was doing more than being faithful to God, she was saying yes to carrying and birthing the savior of the world. Because of her yes, Mary now has a special relationship with God. One that many other women could only dream of having. And because Mary said yes, the human race is now able to have a privileged relationship with God, one that could never have been reached before.
“Mary, whose gifts for listening, comforting, her fidelity and humanity all light the path for humanity, and offer a special example for women.”29 This example can also be offered to men, but these qualities are more often associated with women than they are with men. Mary had attained a union with God that had surpassed all other expectations of all of Israel, particularly those of the daughters who had hoped that one day they might become the mother of the Messiah.30 Eve is considered to be the mother of all living things and Mary is the mother of the Messiah who is the redeemer of all living things. Together Mary and Eve share the common name of woman and mother.
Mary is truly a great role model for women because she epitomizes what it means to be a woman. She has an undivided attention for others and humility and strength that many women can only hope to emulate. Mary is the new beginning that women needed. She helped set the world straight in their interpretation of how a woman should be treated and regarded. It is through Mary that women can truly discover the “nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity.”31 In this discovery women need to look in their own hearts and model themselves after Mary and try and shape their lives and vocations that they are called to as closely to Mary as possible.32
Vocation of Motherhood
One such vocation that Mary lived out was motherhood. Motherhood is a role that only women can fill because it is only they who can carry the child. Being that it is only the woman who carries the child, they are the only ones who know the wonder and joy at the new life developing within their wombs and they begin to understand with intuition what is happening inside her. Because of what is happening inside the woman, a new life is developing; this gives way to an attitude of compassion from the woman. This attitude of compassion is shown not only towards her child but to every human being, and this greatly determines the woman’s nature.33
“It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man- even with all his sharing in parenthood- always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood from the mother.”34
“The woman who is mother, in whose womb a new life can grow and who becomes a guide to support, and a point of reference for her child as he matures.”35 Being a mother is also a very important vocation. “The unity between the man and the woman corresponds to God’s plan, as it is He who gives them the task of procreation, of safeguarding family life, and at the same time, of setting historical precedence.”36 Men and women must work together to safeguard the family life.
Vocation of Marriage
Thanks to Martin Luther marriage was seen in a whole new light. It used to be that marriage was a way to control women because it meant that the woman the man married was now his wife and would stay in his house and not go out without him. He now had a say in what she did now that she was married to him. It also served as a way for women to make sure they were cared for. Without a man to provide for them they really had no way to make money. Thanks to the Protestant Reformation a new view on marriage was brought about. Gone were the days of the chief purpose of marriage being about appeasing male lust and childbearing. It was Martin Luther’s theory that all Christians, whether they be farmers, housewives, priests, or town officials, had a vocation that they were called to and in which they might demonstrate Christian virtues. This meant that married women could proudly assert that their lives had sacred significance equal to and even beyond that of Catholic nuns.37 The viewpoint that one would take on Luther’s stress on marriage as being a vocation could either be a bad thing or a good thing depending upon who you were at the time and how you viewed marriage.38 For example the women who believed that living a life of chastity probably did not look kindly on Luther’s assertion that marriage was a vocation that reflected Christian values. Luther was on to something very big and that his realization that marriage is a vocation that can bring one closer to God just as a vocation to the professed religious life can and neither one as better than other for they are both good and have their own positive outcomes.
The marriage of Martin Luther to Katherine von Bora was an enlightening moment for many generations to come, especially in Germany. The households of ministers and their wives “became cultural, intellectual, and social centers for their communities.”39 It was a new thing for the husband and wife to be partners within the household like this.
“Although the minister’s wives were hardly the independent professional women we admire today, they were the first of the non-aristocratic women to have an acknowledged position in a secular life. It is true that they held that position by virtue of their relationships with their husbands; nonetheless, their role required some fundamental change in the traditional notion of a wife as having a purely domestic status.”40
Marriage and motherhood are not the only vocations for women. The call to professed religious life and a life of celibacy is also a role that women can choose to follow. This is a vocation in which women understand their womanhood in a way that is different from marriage. In a way the vocation of professed religious life is similar to marriage; instead of being married to a spouse the women who choose to remain celibate and profess their lives to Jesus are in a way a spouse to Christ. These women recognize the personal value of their femininity and chose to become a “sincere gift” for Jesus. They have chosen to give themselves up completely to God. And just because these women have chosen to remain celibate does not mean they are void from motherhood. They just experience motherhood in a different way. Their motherhood is that of a spiritual quality rather than that of a personal quality that those mothers who give birth to their children experience. “Therefore the spiritual motherhood which makes itself felt in this vocation is also profoundly personal.”41 This particular call to vocation is admirable because it takes an attitude of sincere love for Jesus to give oneself up completely for Jesus and live your life for him and for him alone. 42
Then there were those women who found the route of celibacy to be much more enticing. They chose the life of being a virgin and they found themselves freed from the cycle of childbearing and it was even seen a better choice because it was a higher way of living. These women “raised themselves above the level of the ordinary woman.”43 Virginity was viewed as a higher way of living because it required more personal fortitude than marriage did, but marriage also had its own goods. Marriage was not looked down upon or viewed as a dirty way to live or anything like that at all.
Before the beginning of convents, women who chose to live the celibate life had to find their own way of supporting themselves and had to find places of residence all on their own, a small price to pay for their freedom of choice of what to do with their own bodies. In the fourth century woman began to gather in convents and live in community with other women who had also chosen to live a life of celibacy. As these convents developed in the medieval period, they found themselves often becoming influential forces within the Christian society. It would seem that these women were no longer feared and they were actually respected. It seemed as though the old way of thinking that women were something to be feared or controlled were starting to become a less and less prominent way of thinking. Some of the abbesses actually exerted the power they had far beyond what was permitted of a married woman in that day and age. They extended their control to the surrounding towns and territories that were in the “environs” of their convents.44 The convents served as a place that women and men if they wanted to could go to and talk with the nuns. It was here that many conversations took place and many people learned more about their faith than they had before.45
Today’s Catholic Woman
It was during the 19th century that women were beginning to hold professional jobs like lawyers, physicians, scientists, and other professions that had previously been viewed as a man’s job. They also began to win educational opportunities that had not previously been awarded to them. Another huge achievement for women of the 19th century was the right for married women to hold and own property in their own name. Married women were now also allowed to initiate divorce proceedings as well.46 I agree that women should be allowed to own property in their own name even if they are married and the fact that women could now receive an education is a great achievement. And the fact that they now have the ability to hold professions that were previously unavailable to them is a big step toward the right direction in the equality and men’s and women’s rights. However what I do not agree upon is the right for women to initiate divorce proceedings. I do not agree with that at all and I don’t believe that men should be allowed to initiate those proceedings either. There are some cases where an annulment is granted and those are the cases in which I can agree that the marriage is better off not being in existence.
In the middle to the late 19th century contraception was being improved and this was giving women more control over their reproductive systems. I do not agree with this at all. Contraception is something that the Catholic Church does not accept and I do not see this as a step in the right direction of the dignity of a woman. Women should not be seen as an object to be used for sexual desires and sex is not something that is to be used just for fun. The purpose of relational acts is for the procreation of children. There is a certain beauty in knowing that we have the power to bring new life into the world and it is not up to us to decide whether or not we want to do so.
“Thousands of women now expect, as a matter of course, that they will develop nonsexual friendships with men, cooperate with other women in a sisterly spirit, have careers whether or not they choose to marry or bear children, control their own reproductive faculties and determine their own sexual preferences,…, and at all times to think of themselves as intellectual and spiritual equals with men: these notions surely do mark the progress over former times.”47
It is often hard to distinguish what brings about a social change. Even looking back it is not always easy to see what spurred the change that was brought about. The Second Vatican Council is looked at as one possible facilitator that encouraged the emergence of the feminist movement seen in Catholic women. Religious women were especially educated and ready to implement the changes in the liturgy that would better include women in the mass. Imagine the surprise and disappointment of the women who had been eagerly awaiting the changes that were being talked about in the Second Vatican Council when they realized that the changes discussed in the Council were not readily being implemented. When the language of the mass was changed to the vernacular, women began to realize that when they were talked about in Scripture, females were often marginalized, cast aside, and even demonized in the readings.48 Scripture was largely based on a patriarchal view of society.
Women were not allowed to be lectors or acolytes and the female deaconate along with female ordination was not ever going to happen.49 Thanks to the changes that were finally implemented after the Council women are now allowed to take on a more full and active role in the mass and this change is one that should be celebrated because now everyone in the mass has the opportunity to participate in an more full and active way.
The period of time after the Second Vatican Council there was an emergence of interest in the feminine aspect of culture. “A renewed consideration of the role and characteristics of the woman brought about great changes in society and in the family.”50 Education was one of the key factors that helped free women and open doors for them. Now that they had educations they found themselves able to pursue careers outside the home and they had a newfound admission to the many cultures of the world. Once women found that they could provide for themselves, they discovered that they did not need to depend on men as much as they had in the past. John Paul II can be credited with making the dignity of the woman more known and how her immersion in civil and social life is indeed important and actually needed.
Following the Council women began to claim “equal opportunity and treatment”51 in a society that celebrates the successes of human beings. There was still a mistrust and prejudice against women but it was not nearly as strong as it had been in the past. Women have always worked hard and now they were beginning to get the recognition for they had been doing. Before they held domestic jobs and had little to no education, but now they had the opportunity to educate themselves and be more independent. Women were also being valued for more than their physical appearance; they were now being valued for their “competence and intelligence.”52
“The most significant characteristic in the woman’s relation to society is certainly her so-called “capacity for the other,” which is thoroughly united to her ability to bear life which goes beyond biological procreation, because motherhood (as well as fatherhood) goes beyond mere physical endearing. The woman’s role is fundamental wherever there is a human relationship, wherever there is a need to take care of another, to look after another person. Thus, women should take an active part in the working world and in the family, because she can offer all her capabilities and experience of dedication and care for others. Self-giving is a trait of the human race as a whole, and it is one that women incarnate in their gift of self and in their care for others.”53
“But it’s a lot easier to talk in the classrooms without embarrassment, to say things that you wouldn’t say before boys.”54 Why is it that it’s easier for girls to talk in the classroom when there isn’t the fear of embarrassing yourself in front of boys? Is it because there is an ingrained fear in women to talk in front of men because for so long they had been put down and criticized by men for speaking their minds? I don’t think that’s the case at all. I firmly believe that the reason for this fear is due to puberty and the fact that girls are now starting to care what the boys think about them and they try so hard to impress them. What these girls need to know, and what people need to know in general, is that when you live your life for God and do what he is calling you to do there is no need to feel embarrassed because you are doing what you were meant to do. This is much easier said than done. I have often times found myself questioning what it is that I am called to do and I have many times felt lost and alone in my journey of self-discovery. Luckily for me and for anyone else who may find themselves struggling with similar problems there are people we can talk to. For us women it is those we feel closest too and we feel the most connected too. Often times this would be our mothers or a teacher who has influenced us or a sister who we look up to. The point being is that women play a very important role in helping shape and guide those who seek them out. The role of the woman in society is an irreplaceable role and one that can only be filled by a woman, because of her nature to be naturally caring and readily form relationships with those she may not be close to.
The Second Vatican Council had many good things come from it. Women were now allowed to participate in the liturgy as an acolyte or lector and the language of the mass had been translated to the vernacular. With the opportunities that women now have there has been a decrease in the number of women in religious orders. Women no longer had to join a religious order to be a part of the Church’s leadership. With the Council’s help the Church was now open to lay leadership. The Council had its pros but there were also cons to the result of the Council and the diminishing number of women religious was one of them.55
I have no interest in defending the case for female ordination and the female deaconate is something that was alluded to in the past but I also have no real interest in defending or refuting the case for the female deaconate. I do however believe that women should be allowed to lector and girls should be allowed to be altar servers. The universal call to holiness was not just for men, it was for all, hence the term universal. Being a lector is not inherently a male role, being a lector consists of proclaiming the word of God. Mary Magdalene was the first one to see the risen Lord and she was the first to proclaim the good news that He was alive, and she was a woman. Jesus was first seen by a woman. Therefore why should women be excluded from proclaiming the word of God? As far as being an acolyte, women were constantly following Jesus and assisting him. If the priest is supposed to be a representation of Christ during the mass then why were women being excluded from assisting him during the mass? Jesus did not discriminate against women; in fact he welcomed their presence and encouraged them to follow.
Western religious traditions can be seen as patriarchal.56 This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are definitely pitfalls to having a patriarchal society. Having a patriarchal society leads to attitudes of men being the superior gender and that isn’t the case, men and women are both created in the image of God, thus making each and every single one of us mutually equal. Due to the acceptance of the views and ways of thinking that can be found in a patriarchal society, there has been a rise in the feminist way of thinking.
There are different types of feminism and they each have their flaws and each have their own positives. The major types of feminism are liberal feminism, radical feminism, socialist feminism, cultural feminism, and eco-feminism. To varying degrees they all feed off of each other and they all have one similar goal, to fight for the equal rights of women. They each have different ways of approaching the issue to make a change in the way women are treated. In the Church we fought for the inclusion of women in the celebration of mass and we also fought for lay women to be included in positions of leadership within the Church.
Liberal feminism works within the mainstream of society to integrate women into the structure of society57. This particular form of feminism focuses on a woman’s ability to show and maintain their equality to men through their own actions and choices.58The roots of liberal feminism can be traced all the way back to the social contract theory of government59 which dates all the way back to the time of Socrates but became prominent in the United States during the time of the American Revolution.60 Before women used to be subjective to men, it was almost as if they were not allowed to have their own opinions. This was not exactly the case. They were allowed to have their own opinions but if they were not in agreement with the man of the house thought, then they were not allowed to express them. The man of the house was the spokesperson and the woman was there to stand behind him and support him in any way. Advocating for women’s rights to be lectors and acolytes can be viewed as liberal feminism within the confines of the Church.
Radical feminism “provides an important foundation for the rest of the feminist flavors.”61 Radical feminism emphasizes the theory that a patriarchal system of power organizes society into complex relationships based on the assertion that the male supremacy oppresses women.62 For many people, radical feminism is the undesirable element of feminism. It is the type of feminism that many people have a hard time with because they have and the goals that they pursue are so harsh and out of the norm that we are used to. However what many don’t realize is that radical feminism is actually the starting point for many ideas that arise in feminism. From about 1967-1975 radical feminism was the cutting edge in the feminist movement. Today, however, this form of feminism is not as widely accepted as it once was.63 Radical feminists would be all for female ordination to the priesthood and to the deaconate. I have no desire to argue for or against either of those in this paper.
The type of feminism that is actually a result of two types of feminism merging together would be socialist feminism. Socialist feminism is the result of Marxist feminism and radical feminism merging together. This new breed of feminism recognized that women were oppressed and attributes this feminism to the capitalist/private property system.64 Socialist feminism focuses on both the private and public aspects of a woman’s life and they argue that freedom can only be reached by working to end the oppression of women by economic and cultural sources.65 Marxist feminists believe the only way to end the oppression of women is to overthrow the capitalist system.66
As radical feminism began to lose popularity and started to die out, cultural feminism started to take on popularity. Unlike radical feminism, which looked to transform the society in which women lived, cultural feminism instead works to build the culture of the woman herself. “Notions that women are inherently kinder and gentler is one of the foundations of cultural feminism” and to this day still remains to be a huge part of it. The cultural feminist movement, unlike other more severe feminist movements, brought about positive changes in society. One of these changes is the development of rape crisis centers.67
Finally probably one of the least common and rarely talked about types of feminism is eco-feminism. This form of feminism is more spiritual than political. The basis of their belief is that the patriarchal society in which we live in will exploit the resources we have with absolutely no regard to the long term consequences that will follow the exploitation of our resources. 68
At its very root, feminism is not a bad thing. By definition feminism is “the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”69 It is just like anything else, where too much is a bad thing and the idea can be stretched and taken to extremes. In this paper I am not trying to argue that women should have a more prominent role within the church and I am most certainly not trying to say that the traditional structure of families is flawed. I do believe that over time we have certainly evolved from what a traditional family looks like. It used to be that women would stay home and cook and clean and take care of the family while the men went out and worked. Now women hold jobs outside the house and that has changed. Sure there are still families that have that stay-at-home mom, but there are also families that have stay-at-home dads. Some families even have both parents working and they have to send their kids to the sitters or hire a nanny.
Before the big push for the equal rights of women to men, women were looked at and portrayed as property for men to acquire and do with whatever they desired. It was alright for the men to have their ways with women and they did not need to remain a virgin until they married unlike the women. For a woman to have relations outside the marriage was gravely looked down upon and often times the woman would be punished for her actions whereas a man would not be. It was quite the double standard of living.70 In fact “more attention was paid to what women did with their bodies than how they used their minds.”71 This was partly because female sexuality was something that was misunderstood and therefore viewed as dangerous and something that needed to be controlled. But there is an important distinction that must be made between men and women and the differences in their gender. These differences are not something to discriminate against and they do not create any distance or division between men and women, instead these differences are seen as a way of uniting the two.72
Now that we women have this new found freedom to be who we want and to do what we want, we tend to pay less attention to the little things. We have become so goal oriented and so driven that we forget to have fun.73 If we have families it is important for us to let them know how much they mean to us and how much we love and appreciate them because everything else could only be temporary, but a family is forever. The vocation of a mother is one of the most important vocations because we are nurturing the next generation. It is our lessons and morals and values that we instill in our children that will be carried on. Those women who have chosen to profess themselves to the religious life are also mothers to us in a way, it is just different than that of our biological mothers. They are there to help us nurture our spiritual lives. Through the examples of their lives we learn how to have a fruitful relationship with our Father in Heaven. They are there to remind us to take time and reflect on our lives and what we have been doing and what we are thankful for or if there is something that is troubling us, God is always there to listen to us. So often we get caught up in all the hustle and bustle that we forget to take time to reflect and pray.74
Unfortunately in today’s society holy women do not get as much respect as they once did. Women religious could be seen teaching in schools and running hospitals and other centers that offered help to the community. Now the nuns and sisters are becoming somewhat of a rarity. We no longer see them teaching in schools like they used to and they might be seen at hospitals but it is often times a sight that is few and far between. “In our own days the Church is being constantly enriched by the witness of the many women who fulfill their vocation to holiness. Holy women are the incarnation of the feminine ideal.” We need to make it known that the call to professed holy life is one that is very noble and should be pursued. The problem is that it is not looked at as a glorious way to live your life out. This is not true at all and it is indeed a vocation that is very fruitful. The successes these women have had on the Church have greatly impacted the life of the Church. “Even in the face of serious social discrimination” the women who have been called to a life with Christ have acted in the way they see fit and have strengthened their bond with Jesus.75
With the new found freedom of “liberation from male domination”76 it is important that women do not liken themselves to the characteristics found in the male that are contrary to their own femininity. Women need to keep in mind that they are female and that there are certain characteristics that set them apart from males and these characteristics should be celebrated and are something to be proud of. For example women are often viewed as being more sensitive and nurturing than men. While I am not saying men cannot be sensitive and nurturing, I am saying that women are commonly viewed as being more so than men. It is the sensitivity and nurturing attitude that women have that make them seem softer and more approachable and this is something that women should embrace and be proud of.77 “There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path they will not reach fulfillment, but instead they will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness.”78 It is inherently important that women do not become man like. It is important that women retain their feminine identity and embrace it.
Cateura, Linda Brandi. Catholics USA: Makers of the Modern Church. New York: William
Morrow and Company, 1989. Print.
Clark, Elizabeth and Herbert Richardson. Women and Religion: A Feminist Sourcebook of
Christian Thought. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1977.
Dossier, Fides. “The Role of Women in the Life of the Church.” Catholic Culture. Np. 22
Friend, Celeste. “Social Contract Theory.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Np. Nd. Web.
20 Nov. 2014.
“Kinds of Feminism.” Kinds of Feminism. N.p. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Oxford Dictionary.com. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Pope John Paul II. "Mulieris Dignitatem." Letter. 15 Aug. 1988. Vatican: The
Holy See. N.p. Web. 26 Oct. 2014
Sack, Kevin. “Nuns, a ‘Dying Breed’, Fade From Leadership Roles at Catholic Hospitals.” The
New York Times. 20 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 Sept. 2014.
Senter, Ruth. Have We Really Come a Long Way? Regaining What Feminism Has Stolen From
Christian Women. Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1997. Print.
Seppala, Emma. “Are Women More Compassionate Than Men?” Mind & Body. 26 Jun. 2013.
Web. http://greatergood.berkley.edu. 11 Dec. 2014.
Schneiders, Sandra M. With Oil in Their Lamps: Faith, Feminism, and the Future. New York:
Paulist Press, 2000. Print.