If you ask someone to choose an illustration of “Catholic femininity” what do you think they might describe?
An aproned Mother in a kitchen surrounded by a small army of well-behaved children?
A traditionally habited nun, eyes downcast in prayer?
A modest school girl with a plaid skirt covering her knees?
An elderly lady kneeling in a pew, clutching her rosary?
A statue of the Blessed Mother?
There’s nothing wrong with any of those images, and if you’ve been reading all month you’ll already be familiar with what the Church teaches about women’s gifts, and about the many ways there are to embody Catholic femininity.
But it’s my turn today to share what images come to my mind when I contemplate Catholic femininity. And what I see is STRENGTH.
I see Mary being receptive and obedient, yes, but also being brave and STRONG–facing disapproval and misunderstanding, making the hard trip to care for her cousin, riding 80 miles on a donkey while heavily pregnant, supporting her son’s ministry and watching him die.
I see so many great saints, founders of orders like St. Scholastica and St. Clare and St Teresa of Avila, who blazed trails and moved mountains and dared to challenge men during times when women had very little power.
I see young women who speak and write and demonstrate, advocating for causes that are often unpopular in the secular world.
I see so many women through the generations who organize committees, plan celebrations, raise money, and work behind the scenes, who feed the hungry and visit the sick and further the mission of the Church, often while raising families and well into their retirement years.
I see migrant mothers at the border who have walked many miles through the harshest of conditions to protect the lives of their children.
I see the Church, our Mother, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.