Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Making of a #Catholic Woman: Grace

Since I've been focusing on women and the desire of some Catholic women to become priests, I thought it would be worthwhile to explore the positive and life-giving traits of Catholic women. I am just now coming into an understanding of what it means for me. As I've read and observed the Catholic Church for two years, I've been touched on more than one occasion by Catholic women.

In June 2008, I wrote an entry entitled "What I Love About Catholicism: Catholic Women." Unbeknownst to me, it was featured for a few days on Pew Sitter. (Which is an excellent site, by the way. A great way to keep updated with Catholic news.) When I returned to the Church, the women stood in stark contrast to those I had previously known over the years within non-denominational churches. I especially saw distinctions with women who attended the Traditional Latin Mass. Part of why I prefer the TLM, is because of the women.

Catholic women overall are gracious. This may seem a small thing but it isn't to me. Let's look at that word, gracious. It's from the Latin word, gratiosus, which means enjoying favor, agreeable, from gratia - grace. I now believe that this is because Catholic women have a role model: The Blessed Virgin Mary. "Hail Mary, full of grace..." Grace is a gift from God and Mary was chock-full of God's gift.

I'll never forget a funny incident that happened to me when I was attending the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. I had befriended a woman, attracted to her because I could tell she had some spiritual maturity and prophetic gifting. As we were talking, she said "There is a certain grace about you." When I thanked her, she immediately snapped, "Don't say 'thank you.' It doesn't come from you. It is something that has been given you by God." I sat astounded, not just because few people are so blunt, but because instantly I knew she was right. Grace is not something we can manufacture. It isn't something we can "work toward" as though we're trying to diet and get in shape. It's not something we can put on our task list and after bite-size attempts to complete it, it's done.

Could it be that I had this grace given to me by my Catholic heritage? Could it be that even though at that time I had rejected the Catholic Church, there was still a small deposit of grace that stayed with me? Maybe.

When a woman walks in grace, the world notices.

It's not "worldly" though, to walk in grace. The world admires a woman who is "empowered." A woman who takes what she feels has been denied to her. And while I'm here, I'll reiterate a point I've made before about the schizophrenic personality of leftists: Why some feminists have gravitated toward converting to Islam is beyond my understanding. Supposedly, these women consider themselves intellectual, enlightened, and (the old standby) empowered. When I saw the video I saw below, I was amazed.

Watch this video and then think about the word, "gracious." Think about the meaning of the word: marked by kindness and courtesy, graceful, marked by tact and delicacy, characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and good breeding. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary) This video features one of my absolutely favorite people, David Horowitz. Horowitz was raised by communist parents and became one himself. Then he had a revelation, renounced it, and runs a conservative site Front Page Magazine that focuses on exposing communist, marxist, and radical islamofascist attacks on Western civilization.

It is evident that this woman is not a recent immigrant from some Muslim country. And from her condescending tone of voice, I'd say she is a hard-core feminist. How someone like her can align herself with a political system that kills women for things such as not being sufficiently covered by their clothing or talking to a man who is not related to her -- is beyond me.

Was there any graciousness to this woman? Any wisdom? I'm sure many would say she was smart but that's not the same thing as wisdom. She comes across as arrogant, elite, and chillingly hateful and evil as she finally admits that she supports Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to killing Jews.

There is no life in the world. The world is in darkness. When a woman walks in grace, she is a vessel of life and power, which comes from God. Only He can pour His grace upon us. When it is poured on a woman, there is beauty, love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and restraint. These are the traits that men of old fought for to earn such a woman's love, and still do today. These are the traits that have brought life and light to the world. And these are the traits of our Blessed Mother Mary and are available to all women, if they humble themselves before God as she did.

Today I read of an amazing group of nuns who are on the path toward sainthood. During World War II, these brave nuns harbored more than 60 refugee Jews in the heart of Rome. Read the article, which features Piero Piperno, who was a teenager when he sought refuge with the Bridgettines, speaking about Mother Riccarda. The 80-year-old is now one of the only people who was old enough at the time of the war to recall what happened. He recounted those harrowing days of avoiding discovery from the Nazi soldiers. She "was dubbed "mammina" (little mother) by the refugees. "[Mother Riccarda] was all sweetness and sympathy," he recalled. "She was always around, and everybody went to her when they had any kind of problem. She was very comforting."

Grace comforts. Grace brings hope. Grace is what Catholic women have and many don't even know it.

When I was in the non-denominational churches, some women had an understanding of grace. But there never seemed to be bible studies on Mary. It seemed as though studies on the traits of a godly woman would focus on Esther or Mary and her sister Martha. It was as though non-denominational (Protestant) churches deliberated avoided examining Mary. And yet it was she who was chosen to bear God's son because she was already "full of grace."

I think this is going to be an interesting study for me, personally. Since my return, I've cautiously approached Mary. I'm not used to thinking of her and balk at the title "co-redemptrix." (Which I still do because Jesus alone was the mediator between God and man, paying the price for mankind's sin by dying on the cross.) But I'm open to viewing Mary with new eyes. For instance, I read Dr. Scott Hahn's book about her and realized I never thought of her as being the new "Ark of the Covenant." Because I love the Old Testament so much, I immediately got it. The Ark was holy because it was built to contain holiness. And so it is with Mary. She is holy because she contained that which was the most holy and sacred -- Jesus Christ. You don't treat holy objects, or holy people the same way you treat the ordinary. Mary was and is, holy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. What helps you become a woman full of grace? As a man, what positive traits do you see in Catholic women? As Catholic women, we have the greatest role model ever -- a young Jewish girl named Mary who was called to lay down her own life to be a mother to the world's Messiah. We are so very, very blessed.


kkollwitz said...

Well, not on topic, but when I read this, "There is a certain grace about you," I was reminded of how a woman once commented to me on my son's service at the altar: "He has a modesty of motion."

Kind of the same, but in a different context.

I'd say on topic that my wife's Catholic grace comes from her natural confidence in being a wife and mother, understanding that these vocations make her a real woman, not how she looks or what labels are on her clothes.

kkollwitz said...

"Why some feminists have gravitated toward converting to Islam is beyond my understanding."

It's just another way to defeat the Christian West.