by Father Eric Flood
(not for publication without approval)
When we consider men and women, we know God created them equal as being human, but with differences to fulfill Divine roles.God endowed each gender with necessary capabilities, and for women, this meant gifting them with a womb to bear children.
We can even consider the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as the day the womb of St. Anne reached its perfection, and the Annunciation as the day the womb of Our Lady reached its grandeur. At the very foundation of every female’s dignity is her capability of being a mother, and from this stems her honor, her value, and why she deserves respect, care, and protection
Let’s take a fruit tree, and examine when does an apple tree reach its full excellence? As it is growing? in the springtime, when it has blossoms? Is it not when the tree is full of ripe fruit?
So too a girl. When does a female reach her fulfillment: as she is growing as a child? when she enters the springtime of adolescence? Is it not when she bears fruit and brings a child into the world.
This marvelous ability confided to women, bringing life into the world, requires a body designed by God to not only feed her child, but with the emotional life which is more caring and compassionate.
When a girl grows in her understanding of this honor, her behavior changes, her self-esteem is lifted up, and she places great value upon herself. It could be said that possibly everything how women are to act and behave differently than men is rooted in their ability to bear children.
As a result, any attempt to downplay the great role of motherhood, any act to thwart her bringing forth life, injures her dignity. It replaces her exalted ability and her exalted place in society with lesser goals: pleasure, or the pursuit of worldly achievements or recognition.
So all women, whether mothers or not, deserve to be treated in accord with this dignity, and to encourage this attitude towards are females, we will use the assistance of the image of a garden as a fitting analogy to the womb.
There are grand botanical gardens and arboretums throughout the world, displaying beautiful landscapes and plant life. The myriad of flowers, plants, and trees arranged to radiate with beauty, splendor, and life. What could have been a simple plot of land – is made pleasing to the eyes after great labor.
Soil needs great care, diligence, and protection to become an elegant garden, and the womb needs great attention and labor to use the fertile ground to yield the great flowers of children.
Each woman, from her childhood, devotes abundant labor into preparing and preserving her garden. Plowing, cultivating, and removing stones, making sure the weeds of any secular thought of pleasure over purpose do not take root.
Her heart, too, is greatly involves as it learns that love is beyond a good feeling, but is to be genuinely valued for who she is. There is an aqueduct between the heart and womb, so what the woman perceives about herself – the degree she rightly loves herself and knows she is loved by God – supplies the womb with the nutrition of charity.
In understanding her true worth, she builds a fence around the garden, enclosing it so animals cannot enter and trample the garden. This wall is what Catholic spiritual writers call modesty. Extending beyond clothing, as it encompasses behavior, eyes, words, and demeanor.
We find in the original Garden of Eden, the mention of only 3 persons: Adam, Eve, and God. So too, in this garden of the woman, the only persons the woman allows are God and the husband. God, because He has dominion over all He created.
The husband who is given the keys to the gate of the garden on their wedding day, who has the duty to treasure it rightly as a gardener would show towards a beautiful garden. On her wedding day, it was as if the bride told him: “I have preserved my garden, it is precious to me, it is committed to your care, it is a place we can now walk together.
We especially implore, the Immaculate Virgin, to have continuous motherly care over our daughters, so that Our Lady, who preserved her integrity to the perfect degree, will inspire all females here the desire to preserve integrity.
For Our Lady, her garden was immaculate, and now the Gardener would not be any man, but God Himself. His power overshadowed her (Lk. 1:35), and her womb could not be a less beautiful garden than the original Garden of Paradise.
For women, God does not grant such a noble ability of childbearing without expecting it to be treasured. So He makes it natural for a girl to esteem her ability to bring life into the world, that from the first instance of recognizing the potential within her, a young girl begins to make a comfortable “home” for her children.
There was a boy who gave a hard boiled egg to a 2-year-old girl thinking she would drop it, then he would peel it. But what was her reaction: She carefully held the egg, making sure it would not be injured or broken. A boy probably wouldn’t do this, he would throw it, to see what would happen, but the girl, it is already within her to protect the precious.
We know that a baby girl is born with all the unfertilized eggs she will most likely ever have in life. Some speculate more may be made later, but it is a scientific fact that she is born with a tremendous number.
God gave her the eggs at birth, as well as the almost immediate instinctive care of them, like the 2 year old towards the hard boiled egg. This means, from her infancy, she has to protect them; shielding the garden from enemies, fertilizing the soil by a virtuous life.
Obvious, then, is the importance of appropriate instruction as she matures as to the great gift of childbearing confided to her. When a young lady understands that her value rests upon this, she more quickly acts and behaves in ways which display the awareness of her dignified position in the world. Her true feminine dignity shines in all she does in daily life.
From the way she conducts herself around others, to her external appearance, she knows what she does either adds or takes away from her grandeur. This should be cause for women to consider and meditate how their value, beauty, and honor is built upon, not by what in seen in the mirror, but the ability to be a mother.
Your mind, heart, and womb are so united that everything you do, can be seen in the light of bringing children into the world. This is why people can be more surprised when women use bad language, sit in a chair like men, are overly aggressive in competition. These forego a certain elegance of one of such tremendous dignity.
This analogy of the womb to a garden also gives a way mothers can teach daughters about the treasure they hold within. A little girl easily understand the fragility and preciousness of flowers, and the garden-analogy associates an image of something beautiful in the world to something beautiful within.
As she matures and develops this image of a lovely garden over years of your reiterating it, she will be reassured of keeping the garden beautiful for her future husband and children. It gives a concrete picture of the place her children will one day play, move, and enjoy living; bathing in the sunlight of motherly love.
It is good to also consider the possibility of the woman who has allowed weeds to grow in her garden? First, just because there are weeds, it doesn’t stop being a garden.
Second, it can become elegant again; it can still be cultivated into a beautiful garden, but much effort will be required. With the assistance of the all-powerful God beginning with confession, a vastly arrayed garden can soon flourish.
By His masterful workmanship, God turns the soil into a prosperous garden just as easily as when He took earth which “was void and empty” (Gen. 1:2), created many plants and animals, and the earth abounded with an abundance of life and beauty.
Our Lady was honored to provide a garden for Our Lord, and we extol the tremendous privilege confided to each woman here – whether God has blessed you with children or not.
Since your nobility, esteem, and value are rooted in the ability to have children, this is why it is such a sacrifice for women to become nuns and take a vow of chastity out of love for God. But they are remembered for it… for all eternity: for the Church has a special category for saintly women, but not a similar one for men, who made the sacrifice of not having children: Virgins.
And for those mothers whom God asks to bring children into the world, a tremendous sacrifice is required. Men know it, and sometimes, they don’t know what to say, but to make a joke, but it is not an easy 9 months, nor the months afterwards, nor the years following. Why stop there, it is the sacrifice of all your life… and your very life also.
Your children will always be your children. Your womb, mind, and heart were so united, that even after they leave the womb, they cannot leave the mind and heart. They are inseparable from you.
We conclude, then, with the obvious: men know we have to treat a pregnant woman differently: there is greater care, compassion, and a certain awe. The challenge before every man and boy is, since you know how to treat a woman when she is pregnant, then strive to treat every female (mother, sister, daughter) the same way you would as if she were pregnant. Show continual care, protection, and wonderment; hold her up in high esteem for the way God made her.
And not to leave all women and girls unchallenged, strive to view yourself at all times, whether pregnant or not, as having an elegant garden inside from which life comes forth, so that you live and breathe in accord with your exalted position, with grandeur, nobility, and tremendous value.
Even if not pregnant or elderly, you have a garden inside; giving the importance of behaving, dressing, and acting elegantly all the days of your life.
So that when the years of childbearing pass, the finer part of you, remains – your femininity. Let the world stand in awe of you. And when the end of the world arrives, you receive your body back, including your womb – your cherished garden – radiant, elegant, a treasure.
Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Thank God for His many blessings. Make the most of each and every day. Enjoy the journey. The world will keep whizzing by but we must take time to smell the roses (or make a snowman). Each day is a gift, each person in your life is special. Take nothing for granted.
Coloring Pages for your children…. (click on the picture for larger size)
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