Letter to Women – Week 6
Week Six: The Blessed Virgin Mary
In the Holy Father’s own words:
The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the “feminine genius” and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God’s service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic “reign”. It is not by chance that she is invoked as “Queen of heaven and earth”. The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their “Queen”. For her, “to reign” is to serve! Her service is “to reign!”
John Paul II, in calling Mary the “highest expression of the ‘feminine genius,’” echos St. Jerome when he wrote “By a woman the whole world was saved.” She said yes, ‘fiat’ (Let it be in Latin), and when we imitate her and say our own fiat to God we become little Marys—participating, as she did, in the work of restoration according to our own unique genius.
Emily Stimpson Chapman writes in Chapter 6, “Mary’s total trust in God enabled her to look away from herself and look at how God’s hand was moving in a particular situation. Rather than focusing on herself—rather than being distracted by worries, fears, offenses, and insecurities—Mary focused on others. She saw what others missed, and understood what others failed to understand. That seeing and understanding enabled her, as John Paul II wrote in the passage above, to lovingly serve others.”
In reading and studying Chapter 6, I was struck by the idea that total obedience to God is not only an expression of the feminine genius in its receptivity but also the highest expression of freedom. Mary was neither offensive or defensive. Those are attitudes of insecurity. Because she was completely secure in her daughterly identity, her freedom to receive more grace than she was able to give allowed her to give all the more!
While we’re at it, Kate Bryan from 1 Girl Revolution just released a short documentary (10 minutes) “The Girl Inside” about women in prison.
Billy Newton’s review of the film is spot on:
We get to be a fly on the wall at a class held inside a women’s prison in Chicago, in which the professor and the participants open up and embrace one another, writing and talking about who they were as young girls, and who they still are as women today. It humanizes these women in a way that causes the viewer to remember that they are our sisters – in need of reform, yes, but also in need of love and support rather than generalization and dismissal.
Pray on it: Do I see everyone and everything as a gift? Click here to pray a Litany of Feminine Maturity written by Sr. Karolyn Nunes from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George.