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The Joy of Being a Woman of God

1/30/2004 - 5:00 AM PST

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Ronda Chervin on a Divine Plan for Happiness

HEBBRONVILLE, Texas, JAN. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Ronda Chervin, a retired philosophy professor, author and convert to the Church, has felt compelled in her speaking and writing to share her joy about being a woman of God.

Chervin explores the depth of Christian women's joy in her contribution to "God's Call to Women: Twelve Spiritual Memoirs" - Servant Books, a compilation of 12 women's journeys to Christ and the Church, edited by Christine Anne Mugridge.

She shared insights on the fullness of joy God that gives women when they commit themselves to Christ and their vocations.

Q: What is God's special call to women? How did he call you?

Chervin: Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter on "The Dignity and Vocation of Women" expresses this so beautifully.

Women are called both to bring their distinctly feminine traits created and graced by God as a gift to all those they come into relation with. But they are also to respond to an individual call as were the women Jesus encountered in the Gospels. Mary Magdalene had a different call than Mary, Mother of Jesus, for example.

Jesus called me in the 20th year of my life from an atheistic background. Back then, in 1958, I had three main images of women: Scarlett O'Hara of "Gone with the Wind," representing the flamboyant "femme fatale"; the character named Melanie from the same movie, representing the traditional, sweet, good, meek female; and Katharine Hepburn, the actress, representing the free-spirited, witty, more intellectual woman.

When I met the Catholic women surrounding the great philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand, and then when I read about the women saints, I was amazed that some holy women could be as exciting as Scarlett transfigured by grace, as sweet as Melanie without being weak, and as famous and interesting as Katherine Hepburn without being acerbic.

When I became a Catholic I was not sure what kind of woman I would become, but I knew it would be something marvelously better than being just a bundle of cells hitched up to a Freudian ego, superego and id as most atheists thought was the limited nature of all humans.

Q: What was the theme for your spiritual memoir in this book? Why did you feel compelled to write about the joy of being a woman of God?

Chervin: My contribution is entitled "The Joy of Being a Woman of God." I felt compelled to express my joy because so many Catholic women baptized as children lacked the contrast between the bleakness of atheistic womanhood and the richness of the Catholic feminine vocation.

Chervin: My contribution is entitled "The Joy of Being a Woman of God." I felt compelled to express my joy because I met many Catholic women who took their God-given femininity for granted, I think because they lacked the contrast between the bleakness of atheistic womanhood and the richness of the Catholic feminine vocation.

After a shot at trying to be like Katharine Hepburn in the form of studying philosophy, and trying unsuccessfully to be a Scarlett O'Hara in the form of troubling love affairs, I was ready to commit suicide.

Even though there are a sizable number of Catholic young women who are in despair now due to tragic childhood experiences, there were so many in my day brought up with the sense that being a woman would mean a chance to be fulfilled by love: love of God, love of the needy and love of family in the call to religious life, married life, motherhood or single life.

Even though my own married and family life included some terrible tragedies, I was so happy to fall in love with the soul as well as the body of my husband-to-be. I was so happy to appreciate the unique individuality of each of my children, even though I found raising them to be very difficult. After all, how good are philosophers -- who are used to dealing all day with ideas -- at teaching little tots how to tie their shoelaces?

Even though there were problems with being a woman professor in the largely male field of philosophy, it was such a joy for me to teach in a basically feminine way -- integrating head and heart, with lots of attention to the needs of individual students.

Most of all the joy of being a woman of God is to be the beloved of a perfect divine lover as experienced daily in holy Communion.

Q: In a world filled with stress and struggle, how much happiness can a Christian woman expect to have this side of heaven?

Chervin: No one, woman or man, can be happy on earth if they have unrealistic goals. If your goal is to eliminate on earth or in your own life all stress and struggle you will never be happy at all.

If your goal is to use God's gifts to you to love each person God sends you each day by giving them ...

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