40 Days, 40 Prayers

Day 7, or The Destiny of Woman

 

Breaking slightly from what my meditations have been like for the first week of Lent, there is something very relevant to today that I feel called upon to consider, as it’s also indisputably very relevant to the Church.

If you turn on the news or go on the internet today, as you undoubtedly have, you will hear that today has been proclaimed “International Women’s Day.” While my feelings about many of the ideas, attitudes, and displays being propagated because of this event are not at all favorable, this hailstorm of misapprehension has nevertheless cast my thoughts onto the subject of woman’s purpose in the world. And while that is a broad and complex subject, my view of it comes from a place of unpolluted earnestness.

As a little girl grows up, she comes to know, whether she’s taught it or not, that there is something decidedly special about being a girl. There is a value to the uniqueness of both genders equally, but the way a girl is treated is something she can’t fail to notice as she experiences life. Girls will always be smiled at a little more. Girls will always be protected a little more. Girls will always be nurtured a little longer. A girl will soon learn that boys should be expected to play less rough with her, to let her go first, to hold the door open for her. Fortunate girls, anyway. Many girls are not fortunate.

But there is a dignity, a grace, a beauty that radiates from a woman from conception. Why does a moral society cherish, value, and protect women? Because of the life she has the ability to carry. Because of the strength she possesses to bring forth a life. Because of the virtue, gentleness, and wisdom she’s been given that enable her to be a mother.

A woman does not need to have children to have these qualities. She is born with them, and they are seen in everything a woman does, when she continually cultivates them. And the world cannot help but love her, because at her core, a woman is born for creation and love.

But when she does not cultivate these gifts? Or even ignores and desecrates them? What is left to cherish? Why should she be protected?

“Why can’t a woman be like a man?” Professor Henry Higgins sings in My Fair Lady. And of course, he comes to realise that it’s because if a woman becomes like a man, she ceases to be a woman. Men would not be happy with this, and women, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves and the world, are not happy this way. Women are not born to imitate and conform to a man’s way of life. A woman is like a flower in a garden, all of them beautiful and sweet, yet each surprisingly different from the next.

There are times, these days, that I’m reminded of another glorious garden, and a woman through whom sin and death entered the world. She had been created as the crowning glory of all creation, and lived in paradise, until a serpent whispered in her ear and told her she should not be content, she had not been given enough. And because of her arrogance and selfishness, she cast all mankind into shame.

Then I think of a woman who, when given the choice between being defiant and hard-hearted or being humble and loving, chose to be obedient and give of herself for the salvation of the world. And she is the woman I try to be like. Because in her we find the ultimate example of charity, faith, joy, humility, purity, and grace. In her we find what woman is meant to be.

 

“The level of any civilization is always its level of its womanhood. In as much as woman is loved, it follows that the nobler a woman is, the nobler man will have to be to be deserving of that love. That is why the level of any civilization is always its level of its womanhood.” –Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

My prayer for today:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

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