Women are not just like “one of the guys” and that is our strength. Forces within our culture belittle the beauty of our creation and have brainwashed many to deny who God made us to be. Jesus told us that the greatest among us would serve the rest (Matthew 23:11), yet society has come to undervalue the powerful ways that women nurture and serve their families and communities.
The poem, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World,” published in 1865, celebrated women through their love and service to their families as the real power in the world. But what is it like to be a woman in the era of Pinterest and Facebook and to live amid the competing camps of feminism vs true femininity?
There is overwhelming pressure to achieve. Many feel they don’t measure up. Some struggle with wounds from broken families and past regrets and the impression that others are happier and more successful is forever before our eyes.
Where can we find peace and comfort? With God. In adoration and prayer. With the Blessed Mother, the epitome of femininity and goodness. And through friendships with other good Catholic women, seeking higher ground while understanding the trials of each day.
I greatly value my friendships with women who reflect the Gospel. The difference is extreme: Forgive … love them … I will pray for you …what does God call us to do? As opposed to: I have some juicy gossip for you … leave the jerk … she deserves it … you don’t owe them anything….
A friend of mine, Julie Alexander, a mother of seven in San Antonio, Texas, through her own experience of such friendships and her deepening relationship with the Blessed Mother, just recently created an online community of women to support one another. She and her husband Greg started the Alexander House to help couples through marriage enrichment and personal coaching. Seven years ago, Julie casually began a texting group of women. They agreed to pray for one another, especially for their husbands.
A few years later, while in Adoration, Julie looked into the eyes of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and asked her for a sign of her presence in her life. “Afterwards, I suddenly kept seeing the number 11 everywhere,” she said. “It became bizarre. The last straw was when I got a call in the middle of the night from a woman in California, crying her eyes out, asking if I could help her with her marriage. I looked at my clock. It was 1:11 a.m.”
Finding this unnerving, Julie went to God. “What’s going on here?” she asked him. “That’s when I heard Mary’s voice internally: ‘When you see an 11, say a Hail Mary for strength, courage, leadership, and protection of your husband. And then offer the rest to me to give to men who have no one to pray for them.’”
Julie shared this experience with her texting group, who agreed to do the same. Coincidentally, there were 11 of them because that is the maximum number her phone would allow in a group.
This past Lent, Julie looked over past texts and realized the power of their prayers together. Even miracles were reported such as prayers for a relative scheduled for an amputation following an accident, who suddenly no longer needed it — to the amazement of his doctor. It was then that Julie was inspired to begin an online community of women called Club 11. This community of women just launched April 11 provides an opportunity for women to support each other through prayer and, with the help of the Blessed Mother, become the women God intended them to be.
“Imagine … Thousands of other women gathering together to pray for their husbands, how different would our world be?” the Club 11 website says. “We pray with other women who want to see the heart of their homes transform. Become inspired to become who God created you to be. If you are tired, let’s lift each other up.”
Why the number 11? Could be because we are in the eleventh hour, or maybe the Blessed Mother makes 12, so the original group represents the number of apostles? Julie said she is not sure why but followed the inspiration, believing firmly that our world needs a spiritual revolution ignited through the hearts and prayers of women.
There is an $11 monthly membership fee to belong to Club 11. Members receive podcasts, resources, prayers, and access to the the #IamWoman section of the website, which includes women sharing their testimonies of how Mary played a part in their lives. Julie will also chat with special guests in our faith, sharing their hearts and knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. She will even throw in a few health and beauty tips from time to time.
“We have to go to the Blessed Mother now and learn how to be the heart and love like we’ve never loved before,” Julie said. “As women, we have to change our hearts. We need to say ‘yes” to God, every single day and say yes to being a wife, mother, and friend.”
Copyright 2018 Patti Maguire Armstrong