"The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the wold an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. This is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling." (Pope Paul VI, Address to Women at the Closing of the Second Vatican Council)
Three of our Holy Fathers since Vatican II have made mention of the particular vocation of women, and even a 'theology of women'. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in 1988 wrote an Apostolic Letter, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Mulieris Dignitatem.
Since we began The Feminine Gift, we have been wanting to focus on this document in some way because it is an important part of the foundation of who and what TFG is. John Paul writes, within this theological framework, what we hope to demonstrate in our daily lives, whatever our state in life may be. The question always was, "When, and how will we do it?"
Feeling the time is right, we've decided to take the plunge. With Lent approaching, we thought it a perfect season to undertake a period of study, quiet reflection, and hopefully some discussion based on Mulieris Dignitatem.
The document itself is available online from the Vatican's website, or can be purchased from Catholic booksellers. We will be posting sections of the letter each week, followed by commentary, or questions, or reflections. If you'd like to follow along, we'll be taking supplemental information from two books:
On the Dignity and vocation of women, anniversary edition with commentary by Genevieve Kineke , from Pauline Books & Media (ISBN 0819854557)
The Dignity and Vocation of women study guide, by Together! Inc. (ISBN 1933463100)
Both were available from Amazon, though a good Catholic book store might be able to order it for you.
It may at times seem daunting to keep up with the reading, but don't be discouraged! I believe any time you can spend with this Apostolic Letter will be greatly blessed. Seeds will be planted in your heart that will come to life later, just when you need them.
Why read a 25 year old document? Because, as the Holy Father writes in the conclusion, it seeks "to recognize, within the 'gift of God' what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a 'sincere gift of self' to others, thereby finding themselves."
Two things can happen when you look at what is happening in the world around you. You might feel overwhelmed by the appalling state of things and feel that it is too much, too bad, too big for the few of us who are trying to be steadfast to do anything about. Or, you might get to thinking that while most people no longer live the way we choose to, we can all get along, and there really isn't much to this notion of gender-specific gifts and obligations anyway. Reading Mulieris Dignitatem will help to fine tune your perspective and give you the boost you need to dig deeper in your resolve to find fulfillment as a woman of God in the modern world.
We're looking forward to undertaking this journey with you.
February 13, 2014