Endow Weekly

Letter to Women – Week 5

Week Five: The Feminine Genius

In the Holy Father’s own words:

Progress usually tends to be measured according to the criteria of science and technology. Nor from this point of view has the contribution of women been negligible. Even so, this is not the only measure of progress, nor in fact is it the principal one. Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the “genius of women.”

John Paul II affirms the idea that the feminine genius has not only made contributions in the sciences but also—and more importantly—in the realm of human relationships through the healing and crafting of culture. As it has often been said, science can tell us what is or what can be done, morality demands the question of whether what can be done ought to be done.

Emily Stimpson Chapman writes in Chapter 5, “In the end, material and scientific advancements only qualify as true progress if they serve the moral and spiritual progress of the human person. As Pope Benedict XVI once said, ‘The only thing that lasts forever is the human soul, the human person created by God for all eternity.’”

In reading and studying Chapter 5, I am struck by the fact that John Paul II is proposing that the feminine genius not only has characteristics which prioritize being over doing but the very presence of a woman is itself a provocation for a recalibration of progress toward the spiritual. Wow. 

While we’re at it, we recently celebrated the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, one of the only four female doctors of the Church. She was both a scientist and a mystic, among other things. Click here to read more about her by our very own Endow writer Teresa Hodgins. This Thursday, October 1st, we celebrate another great female doctor of the Church: St. Therese of Lisieux. The Festival of Friendship 2020 is celebrating this feast by proposing a virtual event entitled, Four Saint Teresas: Boss Women Who Changed the World. I’ll be speaking on the portion dedicated to St. Teresa Benedicta a Cruce (Edith Stein).

Pray on it: What is the running narrative by which I live my day? What is my motivational drive? Do I have my priorities in line with my spiritual values?