Woman, like flowers, to an infinitely greater degree, reflect the beauty of God in creation!
What is Femininity?
Surely femininity in itself possesses distinct and admirable qualities, rather than solely being “not masculine.” But as the lines blur for our society and ourselves, what do I teach my sons and daughters about true femininity? How do I present it as gift rather than burden? Why is it good to be woman? Gift to be woman? Good to be me?
St. John Paul II describes the scene of the first man beholding the first woman as “admiration and enchantment.” Adam recognizes (in a very pure and beautiful way), that Eve is different from him, yet a completion of him as well. Wow, if every man had that same respect for femininity, as a gift to complete him.
When I think of my own femininity, I try to recall the element of admiration and enchantment as well. In my body and in my soul, I am made to foster these mysteries in those who behold me. Forget giving the devil a chance to work through my own self-conscious trappings, this is what I want my daughter to know about her femininity. She is a great mystery to behold, one that reveals to others a part of who God is, and who we are in him.
Woman are gifted in body and soul with the ability to bear and give life to children, the progeneration of society, and the uniquely special reflection of God’s generation and care for each of us. In this way, all woman, either physically or spiritually, are called to maternal fulfillment. A great care of souls is entrusted to the maternal heart of a mother, even to those who are not biologically her own, much like the good Samaritan.
Just as flowers need sun and water, a woman cannot accomplish the will of motherhood, or even discover it, without God’s love and mercy. Mary, as mother of God and full of grace, is the sweetest and most complete rose in the garden of woman. Her fragrant scent of holiness draws each of us longingly for such a complete transformation of our own feminine nature.
Like St. Therese, the little flower, many of us woman might more appropriately find ourselves small and withered in the garden of our Lord, especially in comparison to his most holy mother. But fret not women! St. Therese herself has an encouraging message for us:
“If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.”
~Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul
The Feminine Spirit in Action
We are not called to be men or to adopt male characteristics contrary to our feminine origin. The richness of any given nature is in its perfection rather than its distortion. In this way, the feminine genius takes many forms throughout the various roles of woman.
Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.
Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.
Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.
Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.
Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God’s love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a “spousal” relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
~Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women