The Dignity of True Femininity
By Anne Marie McDonnell, Ph. D.
For a woman to live according to Catholic teaching in today’s society she needs heroic virtue. Every form of media, including television, movies, magazines, books, computers, music, and theater all assault women’s human dignity, often portraying her in a pornographic manner as an object of lust. There was a time when at least some degree of shame prevented displaying such vile filth and undignified behavior in a public venue. This is no longer true.
Simply standing in the checkout line at the supermarket assaults one with a host of risqué pictures. It seems as if any sense of modesty is completely absent. People and Cosmopolitan apparently require their models bare all! After years of radical feminists aggressively promoting a woman’s right to choose abortion and other “equal rights”, women are viewed as sex objects now more than ever before.
Do we block our ears, cover our eyes, and retreat to our chapels of adoration to pray? Well, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament and frequent reception of the sacraments are key elements to the conversion of our hearts and souls. Still, we cannot completely withdraw from this world. Perhaps just trying to live our lives as faith-filled women in the midst of a pagan environment is the most difficult form of persecution that Catholic women experience in today’s culture. While we may not be thrown into a lions’ den or decapitated like many of the Early Church martyrs, we still face a constant onslaught of sounds and sights that are completely at odds with our Catholicism.
At times, we may suffer ridicule for shunning the popular vulgar expressions or situation comedies that the vast majority of people seem to find perfectly acceptable. These situations offer us ample opportunity to offer God these humiliations in the form of a prayer for the Poor souls in Purgatory.
A woman does not need to travel to the mission fields of a Third World Country to evangelize. Indeed, the need for evangelization is perhaps the greatest right here in the United States of America!
To be true witnesses to Christ, we need to examine and treasure our true gift of femininity, as reflected in the life of purity that the Blessed Virgin Mary always led. In order to truly live a life enriched by an authentically Catholic feminist perspective, we must have a conscience that is both informed and well formed. This means reading good Catholic literature, starting with the Catechism and the Bible, first and foremost. After building a foundation of catechetical understanding and daily Scriptural reflection, one can move on to reading various works that fill our hearts with joyful praise and our minds with lofty reflections.
While there is a vast variety of journals and magazines in our pop culture that will titillate one’s senses, there is also fine Catholic literature in the fields of apologetics, theology, philosophy, and fiction. Good books can enlighten our feeble minds and tempted souls, satisfy our hungry hearts and spiritually enrich our earthly lives.
Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, is our model. She always reminds us that service to the Lord must be of paramount importance. We can only lead others to Jesus by following in Our Blessed Mother’s footsteps. Let us pray that we will always remain pure and committed to our faith by receiving the sacraments in a worthy manner, praying the rosary, and attending mass frequently. By following Mary’s example and relying upon her intercession, great miracles can happen in our midst.
Our prayerful thoughts, charitable actions, and kind words can break through the barrier of spiritual blindness that engulfs our present society to shine Christ’s light on a world lost in sin and paganism. It’s a noble calling that recognizes our dignity as Catholic women.