Today I’ll be discussing Pope John Paul II’s Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris Dignitatem) with Dina Marie Hale of KBVM Radio in Portland Oregon. This is part of a year long celebration of the 20th anniversary of this crucial Apostolic Letter written in the Marian Year of 1988.
How important this message is to women in the current moment when women, on the way to “modern” life imagined by radical feminists, have lost too much of what it means to — first-– be WOMAN.
The feminine nature was created to be receptive. This receptivity is literally built into the feminine body as a physical reality, a sign and function of our inward being-ness. Women are not only receptive in biological and reproductive terms, but we are receptive in our means of relating to other persons, and to the world socially and culturally. In its simplest application, this receptivity means the feminine mode of being is relational. We see events and circumstances through a prism of relationships. We consider other values in life such as competition, productivity and efficiency as secondary to the impact on relationships.
But what does that really mean?
Jesus instructs the religious leaders of the time on the meaning of the relationship between men and women by reminding them that their current social construction which permitted divorce was in error. Jesus is forthright: “in the beginning it was not so.” The first relationship that Man had with Woman was “bone of my bone” and not subject to the sundering of divorce.
This teaching is underscored in Mulieris. The point is that Man was alone. He lived in the glorious world untainted by sin, he named the animals and lived in harmony with nature…and yet, something was lacking. Man had no relationship with “one like him.”
Eve, the Woman, was created for Adam as a gift to satisfy is heart’s deep desire for a relationship with one like him, but not him: “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,” but utterly and delightfully different.
Eve never experienced the lonely life of Adam. Despite all his experiences in Eden, despite possession of all that he saw, Adam was unsatisfied, a deep need was unmet. Eve did not share this first life in loneliness. She was created expressly for relationship.
Every social innovation that ignores that primary feminine reality is sure to fail–and cause immense heartache in that failure.
The very nature of the human person is under attack today in every arena of life–social, cultural, political…this means that the distinctive nature of men and women as human beings with separate modes of being is also under assault.
It is women who must re-learn the truth about the feminine nature and to then insist that our social structures respect that truth. A world where the true feminine is marginalized or even erased (transgenderism, androgyny) is a world where human beings are thrown back into a lonely existence devoid of authentic relationships. There is no loneliness on earth worse that the alienation of being surrounded by many bodies, even having “encounters” with other bodies, an yet, having no relationship.
This modern alienation is cataloged in art, sociology, psychology and philosophy. It is why nihilism is rampant in our times. it is why our young cut and pierce themselves so that they can “feel alive”, the pain is preferable to being overlooked, of not belonging.
The Woman is the key to recovery of the culture gone cold from the loss of an authentic femininity.
Women must speak in favor of natural families, true marriage, and against all de-humanizing trends such a s human cloning, homosexual “marriages” and euthanasia.
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On the battles we face, I am encouraged each day by the words of St. Catherine of Siena:
“We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.”
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