I’m so tired of hearing how the Church doesn’t respect women, how the Church oppresses women, how the Church doesn’t want women in important roles, and so forth. It’s there anytime I open a newspaper, turn on the TV, or read online news sources about the Church. Time after time after time.
Give. Me. A. Break!
Seriously, where are they getting this stuff? The Church loves women! The Church celebrates women!
Now, if you are reading this website, you know this already. You can commiserate with me in this treatment of us as women by the mainstream media. Who’s really bashing women here? It ain’t the Church. Am I right, ladies (and gentlemen, too)?
I wish I could list all the ways the Church celebrates us as women in our vocations, supports our roles in the Church, and respects our innate dignity as women. The list would be long, I’m certain of it!
So let’s go for it! I’ll start ….
#1 The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Women don’t get important roles in the Church? Hello! THE most important role ever in the Church is Mother of God. We wouldn’t have a Church if it wasn’t for Mary. And her role didn’t end with bringing Jesus into the world. No siree! Mary is honored in so many ways with churches named after her, many feast days in her honor, countless devotions to her and much more. Above any other human being in the Church, Mary receives the highest praise and recognition.
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.’” (Luke 1:46-48)
And as a humble woman, Mary is a role model for the rest of us in our vocations, whatever that vocation is: motherhood, wife, religious sister.
The Church bestows its greatest honor on a woman–Jesus’ own mother.
#2 Equal in Marriage
One of the things I love about weddings in the Catholic Church is that the bride is not “given away” as is done in many other faiths. The father, or someone in his place, can still walk her down the aisle if the couple so chooses to do things that way, but you won’t hear a Catholic priest ask, “Who gives this woman to this man?” Marriage is a free choice between the man and the woman. We, as women, are equal partners in marriage with our husbands. The Church’s view on marriage is beautiful and completely respects the dignity of women.
“The woman, ‘flesh of his flesh,’ his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a ‘helpmate’; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1605)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. … however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-28, 33)
“According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church.” (CCC #1623)
#3 The Dignity of the Female Body
No, the Church doesn’t expect us to have as many children as we physically can and to be barefoot and pregnant throughout all of our fertile years.
Yes, the Church does expect us to not use artificial means of contraception.
Will we ever get the secular world to understand why we are granted great dignity by not using contraceptives?
That’s right, great dignity. I like that I don’t feel compelled to put artificial hormones in my body so that it will work contrary to its intended purpose. I like that the Church recognizes that fact. I like that my husband respects me enough to not want me putting those drugs into my body.
But not only that–heck, that’s just the tip of the iceberg–pregnancy is not a disease. Drugs are for curing diseases. Our fertility as women is a natural function of the our bodies. We can learn the patterns of our bodies so that we can avoid pregnancy when we discern that to be a necessity, but otherwise, we should be open to life. A life we create with our husbands in conjunction with God.
I could go on and on in regard to this point. But I won’t. [You’re welcome.] Instead, if you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it in a long time, I encourage you to read Humanae Vitae. By the way, this coming Wednesday is HV’s 44th anniversary. So it’s a good time to give it another look.
#4 The Vocations of Womanhood
One of the unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement is the false idea that men and women have absolutely no differences and that whatever a man can do so can a woman. Deep down, whether people want to admit it or not, everyone knows that men and women are different. That’s not a bad thing. We are different people and we have different roles.Does not having a female priesthood make us lesser individuals in the eyes of the Church? Absolutely not! We have important roles to play too. In our vocations as women, we can assist in the preparation of Mass and serve the Church in volunteer roles. In our vocations as mothers, we can nurture a culture of vocations within our Domestic Church whereby we bring up children who may choose to enter the holy priesthood or religious life. In our vocation as religious sisters, we can serve the Church in ministry, pray for the Church, and be spiritual mothers to all the lay faithful. Regardless of our vocational call, we should always be praying for the Church, for the priesthood, and for the future generations of Catholic faithful.
Now can anyone say that any of these roles aren’t important? Of course not. Let’s celebrate our roles in the Church and support the roles of the men in our lives.
In all four of the points above I see nothing but joyful respect for the dignity of all women as equal parts in the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church indeed does celebrate women and rejoices in all that we do for Holy Mother Church. But this list is only a beginning.
What would you add to the list? How do you feel the Church celebrates women?
Kerri Baunach is a Catholic wife and mother of three boys (plus three in heaven). She and her family live in beautiful central Kentucky where she is active in her church, a member of Cursillo, and a Benedictine Oblate. Kerri often writes on her Catholic faith, pregnancy loss, her kids, and pro-life issues. Kerri is a former music librarian (16 years) now stay-at-home mom, was a musician for over 20 years, loves taking her kids to the library (and loves that they love it), is passionately pro-life, can’t cook, and has lived in six states. In additional to writing at Catholic Sistas you can also find Kerri on her own blog at Journal of a Nobody.