Last week I talked about the gift of masculinity. Today then I will focus on woman and the gift of femininity – specifically our gift of receptivity.
In terms of living according to genuine masculinity and femininity, today’s men and women are further disadvantaged by the rise of radical feminism that does merely encourage the “equality” of the sexes, but does so in a way that pressures women to effectively become more masculine, to compete with men and pursue manly things while at the same time discouraging men from their own active masculine nature. This is true not only in the world of education, business and even war, but in the everyday interactions between men and women, especially in relationships. More and more women are becoming the aggressor in this particular area – making the ‘first move’ in their pursuit of male companionship and more.
But this is not who women are meant to be for men. Quoting again from Fr. Loya at Catholic Exchange:
A woman’s body has an “open space” within her very center. It is called a womb. An open space by its nature seeks to be filled. Therefore, the “language” of a woman’s body speaks of her fundamental desire of wanting to be relationally “ful-filled.” We can say that in the order of nature man is the one who loves and woman is the one who is loved, who has been designed with the special “genius” which is her gift of receptivity.
In a recently discovered batch of undelivered talks on the Theology of the Body, we discover John Paul II’s reflections on the Song of Songs. In ch. 4 of this erotic love poem that is at once about two lovers and at the same time a description of God’s love for His people or Christ’s love for the Church, the bride-groom describes his bride as “a garden locked, a fountain sealed.” This metaphor, says JP II, “expresses the whole personal dignity of the sex.” It indicates the woman’s “personal structure of self possession.”
The bride presents herself to the eyes of the man as the master of her own mystery.
The woman holds the key to her own “garden”; a garden which remains locked until she alone wills to open it. Yet, this obviously empowered woman does not go out herself in pursuit of a lover worthy of such a gift, rather she allows herself to be pursued – to receive the gift of a worthy lover and to open herself up to that lover in return.
Also notice that the woman in the Song of Songs does not open herself up to just any man, but only the one who would vow to commit his entire life to her, to set her as a “seal upon his heart” and assure her that his love will be a “love as strong as death.” She does not settle for a man who lusts after her body, but one who is so captivated by her entire mystery as woman, who loves her genuinely, first as sister (for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ) and then wife and then offers himself as a free gift to her. This is the kind of Godly, loving man we should encourage all of our brothers to be! As CE columnist Jenny Senour put it,
There are boys who’ve yet to become men, largely thanks to the influence of the women in their lives who refuse to call them to greatness.
TOB columns –
The Language of the Female Body
Sex and the City (of God)
Alice von Hildebrand on Feminism and Femininity
Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body – an updated version of all of JPII’s TOB homilies, including his reflections on the Song of Songs and the book of Tobit
Heaven’s Song: Sexual Love as it was Meant to Be – Christopher West’s own reflections on the Pope’s previously hidden talks
The Privilege of Being a Woman – a must read for all women!
Other writings –
Mulieris Dignitatem – JP II’s letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women
Society and Church Needs Genius of Woman – JP II’s Angelus message, 7/23/95