Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

5/12/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling that human person to grow inside of her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic when they are open to accepting the other person.

God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/12/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Mother's Day, Catholic, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - I cannot help but wonder at two opposing visions of women on Mother's Day: the postmodern feminist vision and the Catholic vision. In my first article, I explored a feminist vision of women. In this article, I will explore a Catholic vision using two sources written by Blessed John Paul II: The Gospel of Life and On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, which was written 25-years-ago come this August.

In The Gospel of Life, John Paul II says man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence. This supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence.

Human existence is a process of divinization made possible in and through Christ. It reaches its full realization only in eternity. This means that human life is a sacred reality to be preserved and brought to perfection in love as a gift of ourselves to God and to each other.

Women, Pope John Paul II tells us, are called in a special way to bear witness to this sacred reality through genuine love and to reconcile people with life. Women are specially suited to this task because the experience of motherhood makes them acutely aware of another person. Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life as it develops in the mother's womb.

This unique contact with a new human being developing within them gives rise to an attitude towards all human beings, which profoundly marks the woman's personality. In other words, a mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling the human person to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic when they are open to accepting the other person.

John Paul II develops the Catholic vision of women in more detail in his Apostolic Letter, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. He begins with these words from Vatican II:

"The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can so much to aid humanity in not falling."

The Church also recognizes that the relationship between men and women has been disturbed by sin. Where there was unity, now there is a division and a certain degree of conflict. And this rift is more serious for women. It has hurt and disadvantaged them more, and resulted in certain inequalities.

But John Paul II cautions women that even rightful opposition to this inequality must not "lead to the masculinization of women. . . . Women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine originality. There is a well founded fear that if they take this path, women will not reach fulfillment, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness." After cautioning women against, what I understand as the postmodern feminist position, he offers the following alternative:

Human beings are the only creatures created by God for their own sake; however, because they are created in the image of God they can only find themselves through the sincere gift of self. Although we image God as individuals and in various associations, we most fully image Him in the union of man and woman. Consequently, the dignity of women is closely connected with the love given to them and also with the love they give in return.

The love to be given to women is described in Ephesians, chapter five. It says that Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Blessed John Paul II says this kind of love affirms women as persons on a fundamental level and makes it possible for the female personality to develop fully and be enriched.

Women return this love in a profound sense by being open to motherhood. Women are naturally (physically and psychologically) constituted in their femininity or disposed to motherhood, that is, conception, pregnancy and giving birth resulting from marital union. So "Motherhood is linked to the personal structure of women and to the personal dimension of the gift [of love]."

John Paul II further explains that the mutual gift of self in marriage opens to the gift of life. By its very nature, motherhood entails a unique openness to a new person. He says this is precisely the woman's part--conception, and by being open to it, she finds herself through the sincere gift of self.

Moreover, women find their dignity and strength in the fact that God entrusts the human being to them in a special way as a direct result of their femininity. Those women who are aware of this dignity and the vocation they derive from it become "an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people." Such women are owed much by their families and sometimes by their nations.

Whether the vocation of motherhood is lived out spiritually or temporally, it involves a special communion with the whole mystery of life, that is, the mystery of creation, redemption and the Church. Because Mary was "full of grace," she entered into this mystery more fully than any other human being in history, and her status as the Mother of God signifies the perfection of what is characteristic of women and femininity.

Mary was so completely open to life that he who is eternal life came to humanity through her. She carried him in her womb and nursed him. But she did something else, something that, I believe, the men and women living in this age need to reflect on. She urged her son, Jesus, the second person in the Trinity, to begin his public ministry at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:3).

If Mary's perfection is characteristic of women and femininity, then rather than minimize the differences between men and women as feminists want to do, it would seem that holy women need to fully embrace the dignity, beauty and mystery that naturally belongs to their femininity. Then they need to urge men to embrace their masculinity and to act, to begin their public ministry, so to speak.

The beautiful writings of John Paul II have always inspired me and given me hope. These short excerpts have given me the following hope: When men and women begin to see their differences as complementarities and as sources of strength to be shared rather than sources of conflict and inequalities, I believe they will set the world on fire and unleash goodness and freedom throughout the world.
 

 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Unusual book of prophetic warnings mysteriously appears at Philidelphia residents' doors Watch

Image of 'The Great Controversy' sent to 700,000 residents free-of-charge and unsolicited.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Costing them nothing, Philadelphia residents have received their own copies of "The Great Controversy," a Christian book analyzing the prophetic warnings of the Biblical end of times. The Christian book company was reportedly in ties with another company to print and ... continue reading


Viral video shows 5-year-old boy's heartwarming reaction to mother's pregnancy Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A five-year-old boy living in Scunthorpe, UK expressed an adorable reaction when his mother, Sarah Bromby, told him he would be a big brother soon.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) -The Blaze reports that the enthusiastic little boy asked his mother, "Is ... continue reading


Adorable twin baby girls caught hilariously pretending to sleep when mother speaks over baby monitor Watch

Image of Both girls lie prone in attempt to fool their mother.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Video footage of adorable twin girls pretending to be asleep after hearing their mother made its rounds via social media, gaining nearly 14 million views since its initial Facebook upload. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The video shows twin baby girls Miya ... continue reading


5 ways to find happiness in life through the darkness Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Life has taught us that living is not easy. Even our great Bible heroes experienced struggles and suffered. With God's love, darkness is not endless; it is a part of life that makes us stronger and encourages us to live brighter lives.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Family of deceased teen claim she was 'screaming for help' from inside her tomb Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

16-year-old Neysi Perez was buried earlier this month after suffering the effects of what her family believed was a demonic possession. After her burial, muffled cries for help could be heard from her grave site in the Honduras. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Body of a 25-year-old woman stolen from funeral home in San Antonio Watch

Image of Julie died peacefully on August 8 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Julie Mott's body was reported stolen from her casket after her funeral service on Saturday and was discovered missing the following day. There were no signs of forced entry and it wasn't until the funeral home staff was preparing for her transfer to the crematorium ... continue reading


'WE MUST DO BETTER BY OUR DAUGHTERS': Georgian mother responds to how Anna Duggar handled husband, Josh Duggar's latest scandals Watch

Image of Mother with the viral Facebook post, Jessica Kirkland and her two daughters. [PHOTO BY: Jessica Kirkland/ Bethany Deschamps]

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Leaked information from the extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison put a spotlight on thousands of men who sought partners outside their marriages, celebrities included. Alarmed at the outdated view of a woman's roles in society, Jessica Krammes Kirkland posted a ... continue reading


6 wonderful inspiring tips for couples who want to pray together Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Award-winning author and founder of the Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries, Janet Thompson, now understands what to tell couples when seeing them pray. By experience with her husband Dave, Thompson finds it enlightening, rewarding and binding to ... continue reading


Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai scores high in school - three years after being shot in head for standing up for education Watch

Image of Malala has overcome great obstacles.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Malala Yousafzai was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for girls' rights in Pakistan where she was shot in the head during a failed assassination by the Taliban. Yousafzai has shown her remarkable intelligence, aside from her courageousness, by achieving a ... continue reading


'This is a dangerous sign for America': Israeli author calls out Americans and urges repentance Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jonathan Cahn, author of the book "The Harbinger," issued a video attempting to answer some questions and concerns about the end of the Shemitah year this Sept. 13. According to the WND report, the messianic Jewish rabbi explained that since he cannot answer all the ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2015 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter