April 17, 2010
Oh, if only we had all of the time in the world to think about the philosophical and theological meaning of masculinity and femininity. I think we Magdalene Sisters and our readers have done a fine job thinking it through amidst our busy lives, and I'm sure there is more to come.
I've been trying to mull over these things during the busy school days as I watch young women who are about to graduate and go off to college. My "mother bear" instincts kick in, and I want to protect them from the trials they will no doubt encounter, but I also realize that my heartaches and growing pains only helped me to understand my Lord and His call for me even better. Those years between 18 and 22 were incredibly formative for me. I entered an adolescent and came out a woman (a young woman at that, but still, much different than when I had started).
My lofty hope in my job is to contribute to the transformation of our culture by instilling in young women during their adolescence a clearer idea of femininity. This is my response to John Paul II"s call for women to transform the world through our work.
However, as I am continuing to learn, great books, beautiful artwork and film, and fruitful philosophical discussions are really only about a quarter of the things that impress teenage girls in the classroom (a quarter seems to be generous in fact). My life, my example, carries more weight in their education than I had ever really considered. I do not say this out of pride, but rather out of awe, I think. I often forget that as a teenager my female teachers (well, the one that was rather young) had an impression on me not in the classroom per se, but in our discussions outside of class and in all that I learned about the way that she carried herself in relation to others.
While I consider the importance of my example in addition to the discussions we've had on men "manning up" in our culture, I'm becoming particularly intentional about "womaning" up in my own life. I should not expect from men what I myself am not willing to work on -- be it my manners, what I say and how I say it, etc. Whatever I am asking of men, they also should be asking of me (with regard to manners and virtue, not necessarily that which pertains to masculinity or femininity in themselves). In short, I'm inspired and intentional. In fact, I am working with three other women in an apostolate of a similar nature.
I have been re-reading The Privilege of Being a Woman for my book club (which, by the way, it all centered on femininity and the feminine soul) and have been meditating on the following:
God has indeed created women to be beautiful. Their charm, loveableness, and beauty exercise a powerful attraction...
Let us "woman up" and use this power only to draw people to a greater knowledge of the One who made us to be so.