Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

5/12/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Couple married 73 years die 28 hours apart Watch

Image of Inseparable for seven decades, death proved no match for their remarkable bond.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Helen and Joe Auer had been married in 1941. Joe was a proud World War II veteran. Helen bore her husband 10 children. After it was all said and done, they had seen the births of 16 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Helen ... continue reading


Marriage rates at an all-time low in the U.S. Watch

Image of Marriage rates among young people in the U.S. are at an all-time low.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While homosexual marriage remains very much in the news, with homosexuals and lesbians protesting their right to enter marriage, another related trend isn't garnering much attention. Marriage rates among young people in the U.S. are at an all-time low. Many ... continue reading


Holy, Healthy Marriages Thrive on Communication

Image of Communication is key to the success of any marriage.

By Teresa Allen, M.S. Candidate, Clinical Psychology, Institute for the Psychological Sciences

Presently, October 5-19, Pope Francis is leading a Synod of Bishops in an Extraordinary General Assembly in Vatican City to discuss pastoral approaches to matters of family, marriage and evangelization. The theme of the event, "The pastoral challenges of the family in ... continue reading


Lesbians win discrimination case by discriminating against Christian family Watch

Image of Jenifer McCarthy and Melissa Erwin successfully sued Liberty Ridge Farms for discrimination after the Giffords refused to host their same-sex wedding ceremony on their property.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Owners of a family farm in New York who were sued because they refused to host a gay wedding on their private property, are asking the courts to reconsider a punitive decision against them. They are asking that their First Amendment rights and their right to religious ... continue reading


Victory for life in Texas as abortion advocates lose their minds over latest defeat Watch

Image of Texas women celebrate a victory for life.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major pro-life victory for the unborn will see the number of abortion mills in Texas reduced from 40 to just 10. And while that number is still 10 too many, the latest appeals court ruling in Texas represents a small victory for life. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Catholic teacher sues diocese after she was fired for... Watch

Image of In vitro fertilization requires the conception of several children in a test-tube to maximize the outcome of success, but then the unwanted children are destroyed before being implanted into their mother's womb.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Roman Catholic schoolteacher who says she was fired for trying to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) will have her case heard in court following a favorable ruling by a U.S. District Court judge. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Former Roman ... continue reading


REPORT: One in 10 girls worldwide sexually abused Watch

Image of The study revealed that about six out of 10 children aged between two and 14 were subjected to physical punishment from their parents or guardians on a regular basis.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world has a long way to go in regards to respecting its female inhabitants, according to a new United Nations reports. The grim statistics compiled by officials have found that 120 million girls, or slightly more than one in 10 are raped or sexually abused ... continue reading


STUDY: For children, there is NO 'amicable divorce' Watch

Image of Parents who remain amicable during a divorce do their children no favors, according to a new study.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Amicable divorce," which usually refers to the dissolution of a marriage without bad feelings or upheavals on the part of the parents still do the children no favors. That's the findings of a major study conducted across the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


LARGELY FATHERLESS: 36 percent of those turning 21 this year grew up without dads Watch

Image of It must be noted that there are a lot of individuals, through courage, perseverance and hard work, overcome the disadvantage of being born into a single-parent household.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Approximately 36 percent of the American generation, more than a third, born from 1993 through 2012, due to turn 21 this year, were born to unmarried mothers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 40 percent of the babies born in each of the ... continue reading


Remember the Alamo - Texas' abortion law now challenged in court Watch

Image of Abortion rights activists protest on August 4, 2014, outside a U.S. federal court in Austin, Texas, where a hearing started for a case by the Center for Reproductive Rights against a new set of restrictions on abortion clinics in the state that go into effect in September

By Lisa Anderson, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Abortion rights groups challenged Texas' sweeping anti-abortion law in federal court on Monday, as a federal judge in Alabama ruled that the state's similar restrictions on abortion were unconstitutional. NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In its second challenge ... 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, Exodus 22:20-26
20 'You will not molest or oppress aliens, for you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
2 Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 1:5-10
5 because our gospel came to you not only in words, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2014 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman Martyrology and in ... 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