Week One: Women and their Relationship to the Church
"How It Feels to be Catholic Me" by Julie Robison
"Grandmother Kaleidoscope" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
"A Relation of Love" by Trista at Not a Minx
This is the first post of a Lenten blog post series called "Bright Maidens". We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!
Also, today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day! May we all rejoice in our feminine vocation, and properly appreciate the males in our life too.
I was born a poor black child. No, wait; that was Steve Martin. I was born a Catholic girl, which is kind of like the same thing.
Don’t believe me? Think about it: I’m oppressed by celibate white men who make rules about my body, say I can’t hold leadership in my Church because I happened to be born female, and tell me to accept my place in this world as a child-bearer.
At least, that’s how the World-at-Large phrases it. I am here to refute commonly misconstrued claims about Catholicism as a Catholic woman who not only adheres to the traditions and teachings of the Church, but freely follows the Pope, reads Scripture (and thus delights in dogma), and rejoices in her feminine vocation.
The modern world is full of choices and possibility, and today’s women are indiscriminately exposed to birth control ads and unrealistic expectations, like the need to be sexually desirable in both body and dress. Intellectual development is checked off the To-Do List once a woman graduates school. Morals are now synonymous with personal decisions.
Women are not more or less than men. They are equal, but their equality does not lie in a power tug-of-war or numbers game. If so, then it is not equality women seek, but liberation from their very femininity. A woman rejects that she is equal, compatible and complementary to man when she relinquishes the only power woman has over man: the ability to create life.
A Catholic woman has three possible vocations: religious, single or married life. All three are great and noble; all three have different limits and aims. A religious woman gives her life to serve God; a single woman serves those around her; a married woman serves her family. The modern woman seeks a fourth option- to serve herself- and, as a Catholic and a woman, I reject that.
The Catholic Church has protected the dignity of women since it was founded over 2,000 years ago. The Church, the Bride of Christ, encourages a sacramental life of beauty, truth and goodness to help women, not hinder them, in their pursuits. It was Pope John Paul II that said the problem with pornography isn’t that it shows too much—it is that it shows too little.
A Catholic woman can think, read, laugh, run, study, dance, play, talk, and drink alcohol, just like a Catholic man. Catholic women cannot divorce, use birth control, have sex outside marriage, have abortions or curse-- and neither can Catholic men. Now do they? Of course. Catholics are human and therefore fallen. But that doesn’t make it right or okay. Catholicism is not a democratic institution, and neither is truth.
What binds a Catholic woman may seem harsh, but in practice, it is liberating. It is not easy to be defined by beauty of body and soul. The Church provides life guidelines and supports true feminism. When a woman respects herself first, so will others. A Catholic woman is not perfect. She suffers and bears hardships; she appreciates good things; she serves those around her; and, most importantly, she remains constant in her faith and trusts the Church, even in turbulence.
It has been said that the Catholic Church has benched women to the back pew. I say, if a Catholic woman is sitting in the back pew, it is only because the view is so much better!