This excellent article is written by my friend (through the cyber-world), Donal Graeme. I have found his insight valuable on my site and am grateful to him for his input.
His website is here.
Praise Her in the Gates by Donal Graeme
Sadly, many young women of the Faith nowadays give the vocation of wife and mother a low priority in their lives. They give a greater amount of concern and preparation to following their hobbies or receiving an education or pursuing a career. Unsurprisingly, this has accompanied a trend in the secular culture over the last few decades to reject femininity and nearly everything associated with it. For men such as myself, this is terribly disheartening. It is also perplexing, because we cannot fathom how this denigration of being a wife, of being a mother, of being feminine, of being a woman, could have happened. For there is a nobility and glory that comes with being a woman, especially a wife, and even more especially a mother, that is all its own.
Yet these roles are treated as nothing important these days, even by many Catholics. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the world around us no longer recognizes, or even actively rejects, the value of the feminine. The world, and its ruler, tries to entice women with lies. For decades women have been told that God’s plan for femininity is degrading and that being a wife and mother is not fulfilling. That it is a waste of women’s talents and abilities. The word “more” is whispered incessantly into women’s ears: that they should do more, that they should learn more, that they should earn more, that they should travel more, and so forth. In essence, the world calls on women to become like men. But we are all of us called to conform to God, not the world. Women should understand that these are empty words. God sees what mankind does not see; God values what mankind does not value. And God certainly recognizes the value of the feminine.
In the example of our Blessed Mother we can see the true value and glory of femininity brought forth in fulfillment of God’s plan. Now, by the standards of the modern world Mary would be judged as insignificant. She wasn’t educated. Nor did she have an important or influential job, at least in the view of the world. It is doubtful that she was “well-traveled.” Most nowadays would likely dismiss her as a homemaker or “stay-at-home mother.” Yet the Faithful venerate her and hold her in higher esteem than any other human being. We venerate her because she is the Theotokos, the Mother of God. We esteem her because Mary said “Yes” to God. The Blessed Virgin Mary embraced the role that God had set in place for her. She did not insist on her own way, on the world’s way. Instead she said: “behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Before she was a simple handmaid, but now she is the Queen Mother of Heaven. Now all generations call her blessed.
Ladies, embrace the role that God set aside for you. Remember that you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Your femininity is precious, and in many ways, irreplaceable. Consider the fact that Adam, the first Human God created, was not the one who possessed the means to bring new life into the world. It was woman who was given that special gift. She received her name Eve because “she was the mother of all living.” How many Catholics ever stop to think about that fact? I imagine it is precious few these days.
This was no mistake on God’s part. He knew what He was doing. Woman was created to be a suitable helper to man, someone who would not replace him or duplicate him, but rather complement him. For “in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.” He created us as we are to remind us that “all things are from God.” Whatever a man achieves in life, he is never complete by himself. No man can replace a woman’s role as a mother or fulfill her duties as a wife.
To woman has been given the honor of bringing forth the next generation. Yes, it is difficult, awkward and even painful at times. Our Savior acknowledged as much. Yet He also reminded us that when a mother finally gives birth “she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” There is a cost, but it is a worthwhile one. Children are a blessing from God, and He grants that blessing through women.
Likewise, the role of mother is indispensable. Children need both a mother and a father to ensure a healthy childhood so that they might reach their fullest potential. Those who do not have both in their daily lives must struggle to overcome that deficiency. However great a father a man might be, he cannot replace the nurturing and loving attention that a mother can give her child. Few things can better teach a child how to love God and others than to see his or her devoted mother in action. No amount of schooling can ever achieve that which is imparted by her Godly feminine presence and life. So know that there is great worth to be found in being a mother, and great reward as well to a pious woman who raises her children “in faith and love and holiness.”
Though I will try my best, I do not think I can give adequate justice to just how vital the role of wife and helpmeet is. Most men do not possess St. Paul’s gift. We feel a strong desire for a feminine presence in our life. This desire is not simply about passion, although there is certainly that pull as well, and that need is one only a wife can fulfill. Men are also drawn to the uniquely comforting presence that only a woman can provide. A wife can offer her husband relief from the hardships of the world, and solace in times of trial, which is what the worthy Rebekah provided for her husband Isaac. A pious wife can also reinforce her husband’s spiritual fortitude, helping him in his quest to do battle with the evils of this world. St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, has explained that since she “shares his table, his bed, and his embraces, his words and secrets, his comings in and goings out,” no one can exceed a wife’s influence on her husband’s spiritual life. This is a grave responsibility, and one that God entrusted to women.
Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that there is another noble vocation that women can devote themselves to, and that is the religious life. Those women who consecrate themselves to Christ can have a profound and positive influence on their brothers and sisters of the Faith. This is something I speak from personal experience. When I was younger my own faith was shaped to a large extent by the dedication and service of nuns. In a way they were all motherly figures to the countless young Catholics whom they educated and mentored over the years. Some of them have already gone on to their rest, and I am sure they are enjoying the reward due for their lives full of love and service to others. I imagine they are now in the company of noble women like Saints Joanna, Susanna and Mary Magdalene, who accompanied Jesus during his ministries and provided to him through their own resources.
Ladies, do not run from your femininity. It is a great and noble calling that has been given unto you as women. The world may call you powerless, but you are not. As a wife and mother you can shape the world not only through your own influences and actions but those of your husband and children. Do not be tempted by fleeting promises of power and treasure in this world, but seek instead the glorious crown that awaits you in the next as the reward befitting a virtuous wife and mother.