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feminine genius

    Modern Catholic Women

    The Surprisingly Catholic Feminism of Wonder Woman

    The Surprisingly Catholic Feminism of Wonder Woman -- FemCatholic.com

    Warning: Some Wonder Woman movie spoilers below.

    I know I’m a bit late to the game. A lot of the hype around Wonder Woman seems to have died down. But the mark of a good story is that it endures. It’s not just fun and new, but it’s also compelling because it speaks truths to us. It draws you back again and again, and it’s always relevant.

    Just a little background and recap before I dive right in: Diana, princess and warrior of the Amazon women, has been training (and dreaming) for the day when she would fight Ares, the god of war. Ares has made it his mission to corrupt mankind, sowing discord and hatred. One day, an American soldier named Steve Trevor essentially crashlands off the coast of her home, bringing news of the Great War (World War I) that has been raging for the past several years. Diana realizes that this Great War must be the work of Ares, and she sets off with Steve, intent on defeating Ares once and for all.

    Now, Diana has been raised by women her whole life. Not only that, she had never even met a man until Steve shows up. So when he brings her to London, to the war, it’s quite a culture shock for her – and not just because the clothing is different, or because she’s never tried ice cream before, or because people don’t carry swords. She is thrown into a society that is dominated by men. Dominated politically, yes, but in so many other subtle ways that even the most self-aware feminists are still trying to discern.

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    Modern Catholic Women

    Not Just Pretty Men: An Appeal for Distinctively Female Characters

    Not just pretty men: An appeal for distinctively female characters -- FemCatholic.com

    Outrage rang loudly through the internet with the announcement that the classic film “Ghostbusters” would be remade with all-female leads. While many of those complaints could be dismissed as sexist, there is a valid reason to complain when remakes put women in roles formerly held by men: it’s lazy writing at best, and more concerning, it is a huge disservice to women.

    As Catholics, we know that men and women are distinct – and in certain ways, that makes us different. When we take a well-known movie and just switch out a man for a woman, we are acting like men and women are merely interchangeable. Rather than developing a strong female character based on the unique traits of women, we are acting as though there is nothing distinctive about being a woman. Though equal in dignity, men and women have different strengths, weaknesses, and traits that make them uniquely masculine or feminine.  A strong female character should emphasize these gifts; she shouldn’t just be a pretty man.

    When we take a well-known movie and just switch out a man for a woman, we are acting like men and women are merely interchangeable.

    Though many movies fail to even pass the infamous feminist “Bechdel test” -let alone present strong female leads- there are also movies that present strong women who draw their strength from their femininity, not in spite of it. What do specifically feminine strengths look like? Inspired by these four Feminine Gifts scholars say were identified by Pope Saint John Paul II, I sought out movies that presented strong women – as women. Here’s what I found.

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    Modern Catholic Women

    Women on the Battlefield of Mercy: You, Me, and Wonder Woman

    Catholic women reflect on mercy and Wonder Woman -- FemCatholic.com

    As I read the news about the shooting in Las Vegas I was completely stunned and overwhelmed. My heart ached for the families that had lost loved ones, for individuals who could have had no idea their earthly lives would end that night. I felt outrage that justice could not be enacted and that we may never know what motivation was behind such an act of violence.

    Two weeks later I scrolled through my newsfeed shocked and heartbroken by countless #metoo posts. I came face to face with the acute reminder that acts of violence, and the deep pain and suffering that follow, are daily affecting people I know and love.

    In the midst of the now seemingly constant barrage of news about acts of violence it is all too easy to be completely overcome with emotion. We can hardly know what to think or even feel: outrage, anger, sadness, fear, pity, confusion, heartbreak. Even more overwhelming is the piercing desire to do or say something to make the madness stop, to keep one more innocent life from being lost, another family from being broken. What can be done in the face of such hatred and destruction? How do you and I, as women throughout the world, respond and make the change we so desperately long to make in the world? These questions are weighing on many of our hearts, so it’s no surprise how many people resonated with a character on screen asking these same things. Read more

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #2 – Julie

    I'm not maternal: Catholic women respond -- FemCatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Dear anonymous,

    One of the beautiful revelations for me of reading St. John Paul II’s Letter to Women, was discovering the Catholic church upheld women working. Up unto then, I thought the only way to be a true woman was to be a SAHM. Being present in the workplace as a woman balances the workplace environment.

    God perhaps has withheld imparting the desire for biological maternity to spare you the agony of wanting something that is not yet attainable in your life because you are single. You can live what is called spiritual motherhood.

    Spiritual motherhood is a beautiful gift. I witnessed this in a profound way on a mission trip to Haiti. I was with a group of college students, priests, and consecrated women. We were ministering in the wound clinic. The wounds were severe and very painful. A consecrated woman knelt down at the feet of a woman with a severe toe wound. Very lovingly, gently and so Christ like she soothed the women as the consecrated debrided her foot – without pain meds. This consecrated woman was ministering Christ present in the Haitian woman. Such a profound beauty of spiritual motherhood. Also on the trip, I witnessed these consecrated women rock babies, feed babies, and lovingly hold them. Again, another way to care for others in our femininity in lieu of biological motherhood.

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    Church Documents, Resources

    The Vatican Document all about Women

    The Vatican Document All About Women. FemCatholic.com

    In 1988, Pope John Paul II published the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, which means in Latin “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”

    Read it from the Vatican here.

    Or get this book version, which includes commentary.

    Some key points and thought-provoking quotes:

    • A woman, Mary, is at the center of human salvation because it was through her that Jesus came into the world
    • In her “fullness of grace” Mary signifies the fullness and perfection of what is feminine

    both man and woman are human beings to an equal degree, both are created in God’s image.”

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    Mary

    The Genius of Mary

    Do we really get Mary?

    We know God made her perfectly sinless. She needed to be perfect because Jesus would take His human nature from her. That’s why she was humble, meek, and so, so good.

    And that is where we get stuck.

    Everybody focuses on Mary’s goodness. Some see her as a model disciple and try to be like her. Some seek refuge in her caring maternal arms and ask for her help. Some even dismiss her all together as out of their league, preferring saints who were sinners first.

    Holy pictures feature a serene, dutiful Mary – definitely not a troublemaker here. In movies, she comes off as someone who’d make a great babysitter. You get the idea that filmmakers have way more fun with Peter or Judas than with the predictably good, frankly boring character of Mary.

    Hello? Perfect goodness Mary had. But perfect goodness was not ALL she had.

    Let us look at the only other perfect human beings God every created – Adam and Eve – and we will find out just what Mary had going for her.

    Adam and Eve were created smart. If tests had been invented, they wouldn’t have had to cram for them. They would remember everything they had learned. Nothing was hard for them. We get a glimpse of what this must have been like everytime a genius comes alone. Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare – all possessed a trickle of the run-off from our original state of perfection. They show us how talented man was originally created to be.

    That was Mary. Unlike Adam and Eve, she didn’t blow it. Beyond not being ignorant, she also did not have a weak will or the tendency to do stupid things called sins. This made her beyond smart; it made her wise.

    This means that if God had so willed to give her the job of Ruler of the Roman Empire, she would have done a bang up job. And we wouldn’t be forced to settle for Cleopatra or Hetsheptsut as examples of powerful women excelling in a man’s world.

    But God didn’t want that job for her. He gave her the job of bearing and raising a Child, and wiping the crumbs from the table and feeding the pigeons and making lots and lots of matza. We think of that job as pretty mediocre and so we portray Mary as mediocre. This only goes to show how mediocre WE are.

    Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t have a lot to say. And when she does talk, she seems confused. “Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you!” Nobody seems to notice the fact that she came up with the Magnificat right on the spot. God inspired it but did He write it? It is said that Mozart was inspired to write the Ave Verum while on a procession. Then he went home and sweated out the details. Mary didn’t have to bother with all of that.

    Or perhaps we think she was simple minded because of the question she asked the Angel Gabriel: “How can this be for I do not know man?” So let’s go there. In the first place she had no doubt about it. We know this because Zachariah asked a slightly different question of the same angel and was struck dumb for doubting. Was Mary simply bewildered and naïve so the angel didn’t hold it against her? There is a third possibility. Mary knew clearly that the Conception of Jesus would NOT happen in the usual way. She obviously had a solid grasp of what the usual way entailed – despite being very young and living in a very sheltered community, which just adds to my point about her not having to puzzle stuff out like the rest of us. She simply wanted to know how God was going to do it. The question starts with the word “How” not “Wait, this makes no sense!” So the angel explains it: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.” Mary then submits to the total awesomeness of what is about to happen.

    Back to films. I can think of one notable exception to Babysitter Mary, and that is the Mary of the film, The Passion of the Christ. THAT Mary is a Mary who indeed has all the usual qualities we associate with her – serenity, approachability, and not a lot of lines. But she is an intelligent Mary, a woman par excellence. She is the Mother of the Perfect Man and let me tell you, the apple does not fall far from the tree. You can take her seriously. You can respect her. She is someone you would go to for advice and she would never steer you wrong.

    This is the Mary people need to know. Or at least it’s a good start. Learn more about this fascinating and complex person by meditating on the Litany of Loretto, which lists some of her better known titles. Mother Most Banal is not one of them. Mother of Good Counsel is. So is Virgin Most Prudent and Seat of Wisdom. While it’s right that we appreciate the goodness of Mary, let’s not stop there. She was the smartest woman the world has ever known. Mother most Brilliant, pray for us.


    Susie Lloyd is the author of Bless Me, Father, for I Have Kids. Find more articles and books on susielloyd.com

    This article was first published in Catholic Digest.

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