If the Catholic Church ever took out an ad that listed its most winning attributes, most people might be surprised to find, “Haven for women seeking earnest, genuine friendships with other women.” Which is a shame really, because for me, in recent years, that’s exactly what the Church has done: it has provided a wellspring of fun, down to earth, Faith filled women of all ages, near and far, that I would never have know otherwise.
Dare I even say it? In the Church, as a woman, I’ve found a sisterhood of sorts with other lay Catholic women.
While I would never suggest that the sisterhood I speak of is on the same level as consecrated religious sisters, there are some striking similarities between the lives of “Sr.” sisters and us, lay woman “sisters.”
Number one: like nuns, we lay women pray. We pray daily. We pretty much need to pray or else we’ll die. The Holy Rosary is frequently our prayer of choice. We pray for the members of our ‘community’ whether that means other women in our parish, social circles, families or those whom we’ve met online. After mass today, for instance, I was asking a few Catholic moms to pray for a special intention.
Try going out into secular society and stringing the words “pray” and “special” and “intention” together in one sentence and see how that goes. In contrast, amongst my Catholic lay sisters, such a request is received as naturally as if you were asking for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (In fact, asking for a sandwich would be a little more weird, you know, because who actually goes around doing that?)
Number two: we adore Jesus before all others, both figuratively and literally. And truly, if any of us is being honest, we’re slightly envious that consecrated religious sisters get the spouse who probably would never forget when it’s trash night.
It’s Jesus who we live with when our husbands are away, Jesus to whom we turn when we can’t turn to anyone else and Jesus in the Holy Eucharist who we need just to function. Tell me that it’s not this lay woman that feels this way!
Number three: Our ‘sisterhood’ can be as widespread as any religious order thanks to newer technologies.
Blogosphere sisterhood is a rather recent invention, and perhaps a stretch for the imagination for some, but believe me, it exists.
Like when one blogger’s child is injured and everyone links to her page on the internet. It doesn’t just end there, you see. My whole family will take the time to pray for hers as often as we can. Or when another blogger publishes a book it’s such a strengthening moment for our ‘community’ of lay women everywhere.
I personally also find it incredibly consoling when a lay women writes about the experience of being a lay woman. Is there anything more freeing for a woman than knowing that her sister’s crosses are nearly identical to her own? Doubt it! It’s saved my life to be sure.
Because I have the experiences of other women to bounce off of, I know that for any sort of difficulty I’m having, there’s someone who has ‘been there.’ Heck, she’s probably ‘been there’ several times over and is a bit battle scorched and salty, but hey, that’s the toll that has come from her faithful perseverance.
And I challenge anyone to find a woman more beautiful than she, who is running the race, taking time to wipe butts, feed mouths, drop the kids off at a million practices, and smooch her spouse all the darn way through.
If I am being very honest, I kind of need her if I am ever to be her to other lay women who, at the end of the day, find themselves thirsting for what all women need on such a basic, primordial level: a friend. Nay, a sister.
But let it not all be about pain and sacrifice, for, mercifully, Catholic lay women are also ridiculous, crazy fun. This is the last similarity between ourselves and religious that I’ll mention: we too know how to have a good time!
I once shunned the company of women at my parish convinced that I’d be a hypocrite if I approached them because there I was, such a mess and still attending mass. But now, having gotten to know many of the gals at the parish, and realizing that we’re all a mess in our own ways, it’s been awesome!
I’ve never laughed so hard or so genuinely as with my Catholic sisters. It’s made me a better person because I’m not staying stuck in my own mind, as is my tendency. Nor do I have to fear them judging me if I do something crazy like regularly attend spiritual direction, participate in a Walk for Life or have a baby.
It was always a challenge making friendships in the secular world as I went about half hoping that no one would notice how much I loved God and His Church. But such a concern has evaporated now that I know there is a community that I can truly be myself with. The only way to describe it is a sisterhood of lay Catholic women, all adhering to their Faith, the rock upon which they are building their lives.
Here’s to all my sistahs: thank you for your witness! I feel blessed to be here with you and as one of you. I’d also love to hear some of your experiences with a ‘sisterhood’ amongst your lay Catholic friends. Do leave a message in the combox if you have anything to share!
Copyright 2013 Marissa Nichols