Discovering the beauty of woman through the eyes of God

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Editor’s Note: Today, we begin sharing a wonderful ten part series by my dear friend and wonderful Catholic musician Susan Bailey. Tune each Sunday for the newest installment in Susan’s sharings. LMH

Recently I gave a talk for a half day retreat in Henniker, NH. The topic was “What does it take to become a beautiful Godly woman?” I researched the topic by reading 2 books at once: The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke and The Prayer of Mary by Deacon Keith Fournier.  Fournier’s book in particular has had a transforming affect on my life as his book gently but firmly led me to the beginning of living a life of surrender to God. I am just starting to do this but already I can feel the difference. Fournier used Mary as the model and my love for her has grown exponentially as a result. Mary was the most beautiful woman this world has ever known and I hope can hope to achieve even a glimmer of her beauty as I learn to follow her path to Jesus.

It seems obvious to me that Mary should be the first focus as an example of a beautiful Godly woman and I’m seeing a lot of parallels in Kineke’s thesis that the Church as the Bride of Christ is the ultimate example that universally applies to all women: past, present and future, and the fact that Mary is the perfect example of the Church as the Bride.

Christopher West, known for his work the Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body wrote a wonderful preface to this book that contends two things:

  • To be human is to receive God’s love, conceive God’s love, and carry it forth to others – this is the Bride of Christ, the Church, and why woman is the model of the human race (see how Mary is the perfect example?)
  • Because of original sin and sin in the world, the view of God has been grossly distorted from that of loving and merciful Father to jealous and dominating tyrant.

Mary, to me, is the perfect example of how the creature and the Creator were meant to live together.

However, because of this distorted view of God (and of masculinity) as that of power and dominance over others, woman’s greatest blessing of receptivity to love and life is seen as a curse (Preface, The Authentic Catholic Woman, pg. IX). Her blessing places her under the domination of others in the eyes of the world.

I found as I read that I was flooded with thoughts of all the reading I’ve done lately about 19th century women in New England and how they were the property of their husbands, with no rights of their own. A woman in the 19th century (and obviously throughout history) lost all autonomy when she married. In society she had no right to vote or own property, and in her own personal life, had no voice regarding her own self and her body. This in a supposedly religious society. Even in the inner circle of the religious, the image of God and how He relates to human beings was so distorted. How else could men believe they could own their wives as property? And is it any wonder that women fought back?

I have felt contempt for current day feminists for a long while but now I feel compassion. While I see the error of their methods and the tragic outcome of their actions (most especially contraception and abortion, equaling a rejection of receptivity to new life), I do understand why they feel so passionately about their cause. Kineke and West both point out that feminists today, rather than embracing the Godly image of woman, toss it all in favor of obtaining power by becoming more masculine (Ibid). In other words, if one has no understanding of God as loving Father, one will not understand the unique role of women in His plan. Men will continue to dominate and women will continue to fight back. Mary will never be understood as the perfect role model.

Copyright 2011 Susan Bailey

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About Author

Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.

1 Comment

  1. It is funny how feminists want to be more masculine, including having high stress jobs that are high paying and not bearing children in order to maintain them (and the lifestyle of a nice car and large house). Motherhood is stressful, but I’d rather be a mom than work full-time, even if I made lots of money! (That is, unless the Lord were to call me to do so and/or if I had to work for my family’s essential needs to be met.) I am a stay-at-home mom (mostly–I work about a day per week). If I were not a stay-at-home mother, my husband and I would have at least double the income, since my hourly rate is higher than his. My boss has asked me several times to work more hours and tried to say how good a certain day care is. I say, “no thank you.” Sure, if I worked full-time, we could have a larger house. But I was blessed to already have lived in a larger house; the one I grew up in was at least twice the size of my current house. I also learned how hard it was to clean my childhood house and I don’t plan to live in one that large anytime soon! (My mom would have me clean the whole house before I could invite friends over.) No thank you. I’ll keep my smaller house. We have a roof over our heads and that’s enough.

    Sorry, this post is not exactly what you wrote about! (…And for any mom who needs/wants to work and has a special vocation from the Lord to work outside the home–wonderful, you are serving the Lord and your family.)

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