Women of Today - Who or What Are you?
Human nature, not female nature, must be the starting and sole reference point for a basic understanding of who you are. The absoluteness of the individual and the autonomy of the false "I" are possible only if one begins with female nature, not with human nature.
Attempts to discover yourself - standing alone or in competition with a male being - serves no useful purpose. That is the Oprah mode for misleading women. She and the modern media do not and cannot tell you who you are. They see you as a "what" only. You are, however, a "who," meant to know and love the WHOLE truth of your ENTIRE being.
Who can tell you who you are? God can! He made you! And, he made you in his own image and likeness. Thus, since he is a Person, you are a person - a who! Genesis states: "God created man; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them."
The anthropology of human beings follows: (1) there is only one human nature: they are an "image and likeness of God"; and, (2) imaged persons are complementary elements of human nature: "male and female."
For women, who are divine images, their DIGNITY comes from their state of being as a person, not according to their femininity. Their VOCATION comes from their state of becoming a mature person according to their female nature.
Human nature is an integrated whole, composed of "body, soul and spirit" (2Th 5:23): "God fashioned man [human nature] from the dust of the earth. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life [spirit], and thus man became a living being" (Gn 2:7).
A woman is an integrated whole being, the invisible part of which is the "breath of life" or the spirit within. Spirit becomes visible through the physical (body): "It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer" (Jn 6:63).
Every woman, then, is a spirit-filled being: "What is born of flesh is flesh [plants and animals]; what is born of the Spirit is spirit [human beings]" (Jn 3:6).
Spiritual existence is the true identity of every person, from which the dignity and vocation of women emerges: "The spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty keeps me alive" (Jb 33:4).
Spiritual existence means that a woman, as with a man, lives in and through human faculties. Unlike plants and animals, human faculties constitute the very essence of what it means to be a spirit-filled human being. Human faculties are four in number:
(a) Intelligence: the power to encounter the visible and the invisible worlds;
(b) Free will: the power to act with rightful autonomy (to choose);
(c) Heart: the power to be loved and to love; and,
(d) Language: the power to hear, to speak, and to understand.
Omitting for now any mention of the human heart, which teaching will follow later, the characteristics of intelligence, free will, and language are described:
Thought comes first, then words, since our words express openly the interior conclusions of the mind. Finally, after thoughts and words, comes action, for our deeds carry out what the mind has conceived. So, when one of these results in our acting or speaking or thinking, we must make sure that all our thoughts, words, and deeds harmonize with God. For then, our thoughts, words, and deeds will not fall short of the nobility of their implications. (Saint Gregory of Nyssa)
Then, there is the very serious subject of PERSONAL FREEDOM. Without personal freedom, there is no such thing as love: divine or human.
Freedom!!! Freedom is a personal gift from God. It makes a woman a love-being, and it gives her the potential to become a tremendous lover - like God: "You give freedom to my heart" (Ps 119:32). Without personal freedom, there is no genuine love in the life of a woman. And, without genuine love, really, a woman does not exist. As Saint Paul says, without love, "I am nothing" (1 Co 13:2).
Personal freedom is absolutely necessary if spiritual existence is to be enlivened by liberating truth: "Freedom is there so that each one of us can shape their own life and, along with [her] own inner self, a [woman] can, in the end, follow the path that best corresponds to her essential being. Freedom means that, of my own free will, I take upon myself the potential of my being. (Pope Benedict XVI)
In other words, a woman is a rational decision-maker, who is responsible for taking "on the potential of her own being" (Pope Benedict XVI). Taking on the potential of her own BEING means BECOMING responsible for her free-willed acts: Responsibility would then mean living her existence as a response - as a response to what she is in truth. This is the ONE TRUTH OF HUMAN NATURE, in which the good of all and freedom are indissolubly related to each other. (Pope Benedict XVI)
[NOTE: This ends the presentations on "The Dignity and Vocation of Women." Necessarily, next week, we will continue with a series of presentations, under the title, "The Vocation of Love." Thank you for your attention and patience. It is hoped that you will READ ON!]
John D. Meehan has been involved in the lay apostolate of the Catholic Church since the close of the Second Vatican Council. He resides in New Hampshire with his lovely wife Elizabeth.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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