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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christian Dignity of Women

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The following are some writings from Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand - one of the great minds of the modern Church. No blog composition on the Chapel Veil would be complete without giving proper attention to the Christian dignity of women...
(Priests4Life) - My dear young friend:

I know that young girls like secrets, and I am going to share one with you. God has chosen your sex for you; He made you to be a girl. You know that girls today are often told by feminists that the Church is "sexist" and has "discriminated" against them from the very beginning. She is accused of having treated them as "inferior", less talented, less gifted, made to be man’s servants. She has denied them power in the Church, and prohibited them from receiving the highest honor, to be ordained to the priesthood and so on.

No doubt, you have heard this siren song, because the media are good when it comes to spreading this negative message. And this is why, to rebut these false claims, I would like to make you realize that women – far from being discriminated against – have been granted a unique place by God in the work of redemption. The beauty of their mission is already hinted at in the Old Testament, but it finds its fulfillment only in the New, that is in the sweet Mother of our Savior; in Mary, the gentle Maid of Nazareth who was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer.

Let us take off our "secular" eyeglasses, and then we shall be able to see that women, far from being "discriminated" against, are in many ways privileged. And this is the "secret" I wish to share with you. The body of every little girl born into this world is mysteriously sealed by what is properly called the "veil of virginity". That is to say, a "secret" is entrusted to her body, and a secret is always "veiled". According to Christian teaching, this veil closes the entrance to a mysterious garden which belongs to God in a special way, and for this reason cannot be entered into except with His express permission, the permission that God grants spouses in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Any little girl aware of this "mystery" will feel that her body is to be modestly clothed, so that its secret will be hidden from lewd looks.

Little girls, of course, grow up. How beautiful when a bride can say to her husband on their wedding night, "I have kept this garden virginal for you, and now, with God’s permission I am giving you its key, knowing that you will enter into it with reverence".

Moreover, when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child’s soul in her body, (as you certainly know, neither husband nor wife can produce the human soul; God alone can create it.) In other words, there is a personal "contact" between God and the woman which, once again, gives to the female body a note of sacredness. Don’t forget that He whom the whole universe cannot contain, was "hidden" in the womb of the Holy Virgin for nine months. Once you realize this, you will be awe-filled for the double mystery that God has confided to you: to conceive a human being made to God’s image and likeness, and to give birth to it in pain and anguish. Do not forget that it was also in pain and anguish that Christ re-opened for us the gates of paradise – which had been shut by sin. To women has been granted the awesome privilege of nobly suffering so that a new human being, made to God’s image and likeness, might come into the world. Meditate upon this for a moment, and you will feel a deep reverence for your body. It belongs to God, and is not a "play thing" that you can dispose of as you please.

If you ever study pagan art, you will discover that it pays tribute to the male reproductive organ, representing it in various sculptures and paintings as a symbol of strength, virility, creativity, power. But from the very moment that the Catholic Church became a recognized religion, she fought relentlessly against this pagan cult. But the Church introduced a prayer uttered millions of times every single day in which the female organ par excellence, the "womb" is mentioned. "Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus". I am sure, my dear young friend, that if you meditate on this, you will understand that it is a privilege to be born a woman, and will respect the mystery that God has put in the female body.

Thank God that He has made you to be born a woman; I am sure now that you understand that it is a great privilege.

Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand



(Casorosendi) - Woman’s religious mission

But let me turn to the question of feminism which has been one of my great concerns. Feminism started as a sort of revolt against sometimes very unfair and unjust treatment of women and one of my delights at City University, day after day, was how stupid my colleagues considered me. For a long time I was the only woman in the Department. And they used to say "A woman, how can you teach philosophy?" It’s very tragic, but what can you do? There is a history of male accomplishments.

If you read the Gospel, women play a very secondary role. Even the Holy Virgin is mentioned very rarely and speaks very little. The very moment that you put on supernatural lenses you are going to come to the strange conclusion that it is a privilege to be a woman. It is a privilege precisely because, to be in the background, from a secularistic point of view, to be humiliated, which often happens, is a tremendous supernatural advantage.

This is something St. Teresa understood so profoundly. It is not true that to be humiliated is to be inferior. It is not true that to be subject to one’s husband is to be inferior. If you read the Gospel of St. Luke when Christ was found in the Temple in Jerusalem and then went back to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, it is said "He was subject to them".

Would you like to be in the situation of St. Joseph or in the situation of Mary? St. Joseph had original sin and was a creature. Mary had no original sin and was a creature. And the Child Jesus was God. And Who was subject to whom? God was subject to these creatures. It’s not a comfortable position to give orders to someone who is Divine. Therefore to be subject does not mean to be inferior, but it means simply the supernatural outlook that to accept humiliation is to come very close to God, because that is our way to Paradise. It’s a blessing. But I claim that women have a particularly religious mission.

Why a religious mission?

Because women, by their very nature are more receptive than men. You see this in the mystery of the sexual sphere. The woman is receptive, which doesn’t mean passive. That was one of the dreadful confusions made by Aristotle, that he identified passivity and receptivity and then declared the male superior to the female, which is a pagan nonsense.

The woman has a great advantage over the human male, she is receptive and religiously speaking, receptivity is a crucial virtue. The Holy Virgin taught us that when she said at the Annunciation "Be it done to me according to Thy Word". She wasn’t doing, she said "be it done". In other words she was receptive and her receptivity enabled the Holy Spirit to fecundate her and at that very moment the Son of God was made incarnate in her womb.

St. Teresa of Avila and St. Peter Alcantara say that many more women than men receive extraordinary mystical graces, and if you study the history of mysticism you will be amazed how many more women than men were mystics. Why? They are more receptive and you see, towards God we are all females. A saint becomes a male saint because he learned to be receptive to God’s grace. "Give it to me, O Lord, I cannot do it by myself".

The mystery of femininity

The woman is in a very particular way the guardian of purity and in the world in which we live, the world of sexual perversions and disaster, maybe it can be said this is because women have failed in their mission to stand for purity.

And why do I say she stands for purity and for virginity?

There’s something very interesting. If you look at the liturgy there are special Masses for popes, for apostles, martyrs, non-martyrs, confessors, non-confessors and when you turn to women, you have only two categories, virgin/non-virgin, martyr/non-martyr. This is something extremely interesting. There is no Mass for celibates, none, but there is a Mass for virgins.

This indicates very plainly that there is something extraordinarily great and mysterious about femininity. And why do I say it is so great and so mysterious? Because you all know that every little girl that is born, is born with a seal, so to speak, protecting the mystery of her femininity, which is the womb. There is a seal and if you understand, a seal always indicates something which is sacred. The seal, which doesn’t exist in the male body, is profoundly symbolic and says this belongs to God in a special way. This is a sphere which is so beautiful and so profound that it cannot be touched upon, except with God’s permission, in a Catholic marriage.

When a girl or young woman is permitted to give the keys of this mysterious domain, this closed garden, to her husband-to-be, she says: "Up until now I have kept this garden virginal, now God has given me the keys and is allowing me to give them to you and I know that you will penetrate into it, with trembling reverence and gratitude". The moment that a woman is embraced by her husband and a few hours afterwards she conceives, in this very moment, something absolutely amazing happens which once again illuminates the greatness of femininity. Neither husband nor wife can create a human soul. God alone can.

Of course there is the male seed and there is the female egg. These are material realities that God has put into the bodies and when they are united, an amazing thing happens. God creates a new human soul, totally new, which never existed before. Where? In the mystery of the female body. This is where the soul is conceived. It has nothing to do with the husband. The husband is out of the game at this point and the very moment that God creates a soul he implies that there is a special contact between God and the female body, so to speak, touching it in creating it. Once again, what an extraordinary privilege.

Sacred veiling

And this is why the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. When Moses came down form Mount Sinai, he veiled his face. Why did he veil his face? Because he had spoken to God and at that very moment there was a sacredness that called for veiling.

Now the stupid feminists after Vatican II suddenly "discovered" that when women go to Church veiled, it is a sign of their inferiority. The man takes off his hat and the woman puts on a veil. My goodness, how they have lost the sense of the supernatural. Veiling indicates sacredness and it is a special privilege of the woman that she enters church veiled.

You see the Church recognises things so profoundly that in some way you can say she has always recognised the special dignity granted to women. You cannot be a Christian and not recognise the privilege that it is to be a woman, because the most perfect of all creatures, the only creature born without original sin, is a woman and therefore once again you understand the extraordinary privilege of being one and having this image of the Holy Virgin, who was both Virgin and Mother and the two go beautifully together.

Virginity and maternity

It’s not so that if you remain a virgin you are going to have no children. The women who have most children are virgins. Mother Teresa of Calcutta had millions of children. You know in the best of cases women can have 18 or 20. Today they no longer do that, but it used to be the case. But if you are a virgin and you give yourself completely and totally, you become a mother to millions of people, begging for your help and begging for love because basically, what is maternity? Maternity is so holy, because it is to accept to suffer that someone may be born and therefore there is a beautiful parallel between maternity and the sacrifice of the Cross.

Christ accepted to die that we may be re-born to Eternal Life. In some way you can see this charism of women. Either virginity which can be combined with maternity or maternity without virginity are so sublime and are so beautiful that these two charisms are incompatible with the priesthood. They just don’t go together. The moment that you realise you have a maternal vocation, the moment that you realise you are called to virginity, it excludes the priesthood. They don’t go together. You cannot have all the charisms and what a blessing that men have the priesthood, because otherwise they could develop complexes of inferiority which would be a catastrophe because they don’t like it. As a matter of fact I think they would be very disturbed suddenly to realise the greatness of femininity.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said "A woman cannot become a priest. There was only one creature on earth who could say with truth ‘This is My Body, This is My Blood’, the Holy Virgin and she was not chosen to be a priest." Therefore let us accept and realise to be a priest as St. Paul says quite explicitly, God chooses who is going to be a priest and he happens to have chosen the male sex. However, some stupid women would like to sell the privilege of their femininity, the mystery of their femininity, the sacredness of their femininity, their maternal vocation, to become priests and to steal it from men who have received it from God Himself. The Church has always honoured women in an extraordinary way.
Overcoming the evil of feminism

If you study pagan art, you will see that the pagans glorified the male genitals. The male organ was considered to be the symbol of strength and power. If you go to Pompeii or to Athens, to pagan countries, the male organ was always the one that was honored.

When the Church took over, she waged war on this pagan cult. She eliminated it, she fought against it. Sometimes you find remnants in pagan cultures, but the very moment the Church came it was officially eliminated and what did she do? She replaced it by a prayer, prayed by millions of people, day after day, century after century, which makes an explicit reference to the female organ par excellence, the womb: "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus". That is the place that the Church gives to women in the Church.

Therefore let us realize the tremendous greatness of the mission women have received and make them realize that they have to wake up to the greatness of this mission, to fight for it and to overcome the catastrophe and evil of feminism.

I have not chosen to be a woman, but the more I meditate on the Christian message, I am grateful I am one.

Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand

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