Tag Archives: Feminism

Humility

For one of my classes, we were asked to read selections from “Glory of the Lord Volume 1: Seeing the Form” by the great Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Being a major fan of the great theology of this man, I quickly embraced the opportunity to not only read what was asked, but to re-read some areas I read in the past and wanted to read again.  I had taken the concept of humility and receptivity to be at the center of his theology (summarized under the concept of obedience), and this was affirmed in my class on Thursday.

Why do I bring up this great theologian?  Because what he promotes is a fundamental humility and receptivity towards the whole created order. For Balthasar, to be humble, to be open, to receive is the fundamental condition of humanity.  Only sin has distorted this into a mastering-over which expresses itself in technique and technology – signs that man depends on his own power but not on the freely given grace of God.

If this is man’s fundamental condition, then it must be how he approaches both reality and God.  For, by approaching reality and letting reality be-itself-to-you, you are able to sing the glories of what there is.  By letting reality “be itself” and to accept it as it is to you, you have the openness necessary to grow in knowledge.

For Balthasar, then, skepticism has no place in the search for knowledge, nor can one have a “certainty” that they know all they need to know.  Knowledge grows from letting all that is be itself to you, and, thereby, passing judgment upon reality.  It involves questioning, but not in the realm of “is this true” but rather “what is the mystery contained here?”.  Knowledge, fundamentally, must be based in complete and total awe towards all that is.

By doing so, we not only have the openness to reality, but to the God Who involves Himself in this reality in the Incarnation.  In short: if we want to know the Person of Jesus, we need to have an openness and obedience towards all that is in the world and, by doing so, we have a searching heart and can have the openness to encountering the Gospel.  Openness, obedience, receptivity, humility: these are man’s fundamental dispositions that help him grow to know all that is in all its mystery, splendor, and grandeur.

Where do we get a concrete example of this?  Who else but the Mother of Jesus who was so open to the Word that He took flesh in her womb?  Who else but she who said with conviction and boldness: fiat!  Who else but she who pondered all that God was doing in her heart?  Who else but she who trusted wholeheartedly in the God Who was the center of her life?

In our day to day lives, furthermore, this Marian character is revealed to us in women.  Those who think the Church is against women, or hates women, has never encountered the true beauty the Church sees in women.  Women, really, reveal to us what it means to be human!  That receptivity, that openness, is the true humility everyone – male and female – is called to.  Women carry that receptivity ever more clearly as stamped in their bodies and reveal to us the glory of humanity: to have an openness and receptivity to the God Who loves us and also wants to take flesh in our humanity so that He may bring His saving love to others.

I have realized, myself, that this is not only true in my life, but it has to become an ever increasing character of my life.  I know that with my conversion – and I know not why – there was a moment of openness and it was in that openness that God broke into my life.  I know, too, that I need to continue to re-live and re-discover that fundamental openness I had 8 years ago now.

What, though, if we are not open?  We cannot judge the person who is not open.  However, we must pray, fast, and do penance for those who are not open.  Not only for the sake of them hearing the gentle love of Christ for their lives, but also so that they can, in a more fundamental way, see the beauty of reality!  Openness is so fundamental: not cold skepticism.  To put ourselves above all that is is contrary to our dignity as human persons and puts us at war with the world we live in.  Until we can realize that we are not greater than the totality of things, until we acknowledge that we are of dust and it is to dust that we shall return, we will continue to be at war with our own humanity.  Let us look to Mary, let us look to women and see the true attitude towards reality: humble acceptance of all there is in its splendor.  Let us have wonder and awe at all there is!

in Christ

-Harrison

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Does Contraception Bring Freedom?

Today we have a guest post from The Practicing Mammal.  I encourage everyone to read it because it speaks well of her experience of moving from a contraceptive mentality to the freedom a life without contraception can bring.  I asked her to write this because it speaks of her experience of living these two realities and the freedom that is experienced in a non-contraceptive lifestyle.  Please keep the comments charitable.  I don’t post this to be antagonistic, but to offer the personal side of something Catholics hold dear and the freedom it brings.

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At the risk of sounding trite, I have been there.

I have stood firmly against the idea of a God at all, and I have stood firmly not caring if there was a God.  What possible impact could that have on my life?

I am a convert from the Dark Abyss.

I have walked the secular walk and laughed at the God fearing men and women beneath me whose lives were upheld by the crutch of religion.  I have viewed my own body as a useful tool.  I have had mountains of fun and have wielded my feminine power.    It was a lot of fun. Sort of.

For a while.

What would convict a young woman, the world her oyster to give up the life of freedom and fun?  I’m smart.  Smart enough to know that I wanted my life to have meaning.  Because smart women know there is so much more.

One day it occurred to me that I was worth so much more than this.  I actually remember the moment that everything changed.  I was young, travelling, in a bad marriage and, moments earlier, found out I was pregnant with an unplanned child.

I was euphoric.  Over the moon.  Exalted.  It was my first true experience of a profound joy.

In a bad situation, yes.  I realized that, but I also remembered who I was and how I had been raised.  And it was the first time ever that I considered that there must be a God.  This was too big.  Too big a gift.

This gift of a baby.  An opportunity for redemption.  Sound familiar?  Nobody knows the power of a baby like God does.

I grew up with a father who would have been called sexist.  He’s also the man a hundred women would have married.  Why?  He opens doors, he brings the first pussy willows every spring to my mom.  Never forgets anniversaries and birthdays.  He thanked my mom every night of my childhood for making him dinner. Nothing she ever did, no small menial task, was trivialized. He would have been ashamed to have his wife working.  Not because he didn’t think women had a place in the workforce.  But because he thinks that womanhood, motherhood is so valuable that you wouldn’t entrust in to anyone else.

He asked my mom to marry him and that meant, I love you and my love means that I will care for you and for the fruit of our love, our children.  I will make your life as pleasant for you as I am able, because you have a hard and profoundly important task.  And I should support and uphold and care for such an important vocation. Because it matters.  More than anything.

We are equal.  But not the same.  You are the life giver.

What woman doesn’t want to be upheld like this by a man?  What woman doesn’t want a dragonslayer?

As a young woman, I was honoured.  I saw my mom honoured.  No one had to ever tell me to fight for equality.  Equality did not come to me because I could get grades, pay scale or respect equal to a man’s.  The honour bestowed on me transcended equality.  Why would I settle for equality?

Let me give just one powerful example of how our culture is duped by the message of equality.   Contraception.

You cannot tell me that relinquishing the one profound thing that a woman can do that a man CANNOT do, carry and nurture a human infant, makes women equal to men.

It makes me a slave.  A slave because I am now making myself available to a man, or many men, without responsibility.  I am slave to a pill.  I am slave to the success of that pill.  I make myself lesser to be equal?

Not me.  No way.

Even as a non Christian woman, one using contraception, I thought this isn’t right.  I’m not broken.  My fertility means I’m working.  I’m healthy.  So now I am taking a pill which will take my perfectly healthy reproductive system and render it useless.  And maybe even cause it damage?

You see, we think the pill is going to give us freedom.  Freedom to get the career I want, freedom to earn what a man earns, freedom to choose my sexual partner, freedom of choice.  After choosing that life, I found I was not free.  I was enslaved and unhappy.

I chose again.  True freedom this time.

This is freedom; to marry a man, for life who will care for me and respect me and love me because I have intrinsic value.  This is freedom.  Freedom to educate myself, or choose a career, or work at something because I want to, not because I have something to prove or equality to attain. To love him and share union with him and have babies with him.  And not every worry about another pill, another unhappy chapter in the book of non committal relationships.

I have lived the last twenty years of my life without fear.  Of pregnancy, of contraceptive failure, of being dissatisfied with my life.

Hardship, yes I have experienced that.  What life doesn’t?  But fear enslaves us, hardship does not.

 

 

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