At the age of 25 I had it all: married to the love of my life and recently hired at the second-largest law firm in Brazil. I was the youngest lawyer in that position and my boss said I could be a partner before my 30th birthday. But just a couple of weeks after I got this “dream job” I started to feel terrible: I couldn’t wake up to go to work, and I experienced stomach pain and headaches, along with some strange chills when I got into my office. I saw the doctor, who said my health was fine, but I had symptoms of depression. Depressed, me?? But why? My life was perfect.
My symptoms were getting worse, so I requested a ten-day medical leave. “Miraculously” the symptoms disappeared the same day I didn’t have to go to work. After just a few therapy sessions it finally hit me: I wanted to be a mom! And I couldn’t picture myself being a mom in the lifestyle I was in. I worked from 8 AM to 8 PM, barely saw my husband, and during weekends I just needed to rest. So, after some prayers and sleepless nights, I decided to quit!
Everybody thought I was crazy, including my husband. He asked to wait until I got pregnant to quit, but I couldn’t. Suddenly everything was clear in my mind: I was born to be a mother, not a successful lawyer. That was my grandmother’s dream: to have many children and live for them. My mother was a teacher before I was born, then she stayed at home to take care of her four daughters. But she always taught us that we needed to have a career, be successful, and never depend on men for anything. So I was skipping the dream of my mom’s generation to live the dream of my grandmother’s generation and every generation before her.
This happened almost 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to understand what happened to the world, how women’s minds changed so much in just a few decades. Most of all, I am trying to teach my daughter the beauty of being a woman, to live the life God created us to live. As part of that search for understanding, I read The Anti-Mary Exposed by Carrie Gress (TAN Books).
The first thing I realized, reading the book, was how blessed I am to have understood the true role of women in our society and to have the strength (and my husband´s support) to live it, at such a young age. It was also the first time I’ve read the expression “Anti-Mary” meaning a spirit that animates an entire movement and the individuals engaged in it, trying to destroy what Mother Mary is and wants us to be.
In the first and second part of the book, Carrie Gress describes thoroughly how this spirit is working in our society. She shows how Mary is central in the battle between God and Satan how we all are in the middle of this battlefield.
The great battle between Mary and the devil plays out daily in our screens and the pages of magazines, in our marriages and bedrooms, in abortion clinics and doctors’ offices, in schools and shopping malls, and everywhere else women have to make choices about how they will live their lives and care (or not care) for those around them.
She also describes how an anti-Marian spirit might look like:
A woman in its grip would not value children. She would be bawdy, vulgar and angry. She would rage against the idea of anything resembling humble obedience or self-sacrifice for others. She would be petulant, shallow, catty, and overly sensuous. She would also be self-servingly ambitious. In short, she would be everything that Mary is not. She would bristle especially at the idea of being a virgin or a mother.
I was finally getting all the answer I longed for. The anti-Marian spirit is trying to destroy the true essence of the woman that is perfectly shaped in Mary: virginity and motherhood. The saddest part of all this is that it is using women to do that! Satan’s point of entry in the heart of the women leading this horrible movement is envy. It is very well explained in the book how woman nature’s work and how its vices can destroy men and the whole society.
The tactics invoked by anti-Marian women, tantrums and bullying, have done much to simultaneously keep men in check while also creating a deep poison and division between the sexes. Both are marks of the fallen angel who wants to destroy the natural icon of God found in men and women living in harmony with one another. This raises the likelihood that there is something significant for women concerning the complementarity of men: maybe women need men to balance them out, to reign in their inclinations to insatiability, irrationality, and envy. Perhaps the “all conquering female” doesn’t know when to quit, except when she has truly conquered everything, totally demolishing it and grinding it into a powder (to borrow a phrase from Lenin).
To understand all that truly made an impact in my mind. It made me realize that I am also in this battlefield and I need to pick my side, to choose to fight for God and His Kingdom, trying to be like Mary or to be at the other side (that we all know it will lose someday).
But this is just half of the book. After showing all the sad and bad things, the author show us the answer, the antidote for all the poison and toxic femininity: Mary and how modern woman can relate to her.
My favorites chapters were 11 and 12. In chapter 11, the author shows six ways to combat the Anti-Mary: become a spiritual adult, strive for a holy family, go deeper into motherhood and spiritual motherhood, fill up your spiritual tank, be aware of Satan’s entry points and kindness and tenderness. Reading this in detail filled my heart with hope and encouraged me to continue fighting against the Anti-Mary, but now knowing how to do it properly.
Chapter 12 is called: “helping the walking wounded” and it encourages us to help other women who have come under the anti-Marian spell. We can do that with a lot of prayer and fasting, inspired by the words of Our Lady spoken to St. Bridget:
There are no sinners on earth so unfortunate as to be beyond my mercy. For even if they receive nothing else through my intercession, at least they receive the grace of being less tempted by the devils than they would otherwise be.
Our mission is to show the love of Christ.
We cannot leave it to someone else to tell women where they can find true happiness, eve if they don’t yet have the ears to hear us. Somewhere, seeds of our example, our prayers, and the truth will sink in – if only because it is different from what everyone else says. And when it does, then the soul will be ready to face the God-Man, who fulfills the desire of every living thing.
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Copyright 2019 Flávia Ghelardi