Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
by Father Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s
Women Around the Cross
From the vantage point of the cross He looked over the world to see who really loved Him. Among all those faces that He saw snarling up at Him and spitting upon Him the venom of their hatred, His gaze rested on the young face of St. John, the brave, tearless face of His mother, the sorrowing faces of the holy women and, pressed against the foot of His cross, the agonized face of Magdalen who had been the sinner.
One man, and the rest faithful women, daring the fury of a mob to be near Him as He died.
No wonder that, when Easter dawned, immemorial legend tells us He first appeared to a woman, His mother, and the Gospels tell us that He showed Himself to the holy women who had been with Him on Calvary and to Magdalen weeping near His tomb.
Women had shared His ignominy; He made them the first to share His glory.
His Love Goes On
This, then, is the attitude toward women of the historic Christ. There have been heroes who won the love and loyalty of women. But even great heroes have often been cruel to the women who loved them, as Napoleon was to Josephine or Caesar to the women whose loves dotted his career.
There have been pure knights like Galahad and brave knights like Bayard, but women meant almost nothing to them. Philosophers sometimes talked rather beautifully of women, but they went home to quarrel furiously with their wives or they left their lofty lectures to soil women with impure lusts.
Women have envied Clare the sympathy and comradeship of Francis of Assisi as they envied Scholastica her brother Benedict and Queen Blanche her son St. Louis.
But before the coming of Jesus Christ, no man ever meant to womankind what He did. No man save the God-Man ever was at once so heroic and so tender. No man ever looked upon women with such gentle eyes, yet lifted her with such strong, pure hands. No man ever gave more to women and asked less from them.
Fortunately for womankind the historic Christ lives on in His Church, and His attitude toward women remains unchanged. We are inclined to be almost astonished at the wonderful tenderness and affection He has shown to the women saints, almost as though He found in their devotion a love that made up, at least in part, for the love denied Him by a selfish world.
The mystic espousals in which Christ placed on the finger of St. Catherine His wedding ring were a symbol of the union that has joined Him to the souls of all religious women from the days of Rome’s first consecrated virgins to the days of the last young novice pronouncing her vows.
The stigmata that He pressed upon the hands and hearts of women saints are just the continued sharing of His Passion with women as He first shared it with the Mater Dolorosa and the women who stood near the cross.
So often in history He has entrusted some mission of special importance to women. His bride St. Catherine walked to Avignon and brought back His Popes from their Babylonian captivity.
St. Brigid of Ireland shared with St. Patrick the glory of making the isle Catholic.
The revelation of Lourdes was made to a little girl kneeling in prayer.
St. Joan of Arc, St. Theresa, St. Scholastica, the great women founders of religious orders, seem specially commissioned by Him for great, noble purposes. Certainly no hero in all the world has won such loyalty and faithful service as women have given to Christ.
In His name and for His love they have served the poor, taught little children, nursed the sick, made their houses like the Holy House of Nazareth, taken penitents in their protecting arms, kept devotion to Him flaming high in convents and in private homes.
Modern history is lighted by the glowing lives of women kindled with a spark of the love of Christ.
The Revelation of Love
Then, when the greatest revelation of modern times, the revelation of the love of the Sacred Heart, was to be made to the world, we can hardly fail to see a significance in the fact that though one of His priests, Claude de la Colombiere, was commissioned to preach the devotion, the actual revelation, with its vision of the thorn-circled, flaming heart which has become the very symbol of Christ’s love for mankind, was made, not to a man, but to a woman, St. Margaret Mary, kneeling in her Visitation convent.
Once more a work of love and a special mark of love was given by Christ to a woman.
He Is Unchanged
The heart of woman can be as lonely now as it was when Christ first looked over the desolate ancient world. Her heart still needs strength with security, understanding without presumption, gentleness that is unselfish.
If, then, the women of the present age looked back twenty centuries and saw how the women of one small nation during a few years had the blessed privilege of knowing this perfect Man and feeling His sympathy, if they thought that His kindliness was restricted after that to a few unusual souls blooming in occasional convents or pious villages, they would be justified in feeling a quite natural twinge of discontent.
Surely women need Him today as much as ever they did. Surely their hearts cry out for all that He can mean to women as truly as did women’s hearts in Jerusalem or Siena or Assisi or Paray le Monial.
Because this is true, Christ, the perfect man, still offers womankind a friendship, loving yet trustworthy, gentle yet strong, sympathetic yet infinitely holy.
Christ, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, looks down with infinite understanding upon the world of women and every day in the year fills the loneliness of women’s hearts.
The Madonnas of the world bring Him their little ones and He blesses them and their children approvingly.
The Magdalens deep in despair kneel before Him; He touches their souls with gentle, healing tenderness, and lifts them from sin to sanctity, from darkness to light.
The widow raises her eyes to plead for her son long dead in sin, and Christ touches the boy and gives him back to his mother.
The little bride, fearing that the joy of her marriage feast is fast slipping into hopeless ruin, flies to Him, and He calms her fears and gives her once more the joy of her wedding day.
The modern Mary and Martha offer Him, exiled in a world that denies the very fact of the Eucharist, the hospitality of their warm, loving hearts, and He comes to dwell with them in Holy Communion as once He dwelt in the little house of Bethany.
No wonder, then, that our Catholic churches are always filled by the girls and women who day and night flock to Christ in the tabernacle.
Girls slip away from their offices, and wives from their homes, and mothers from their nurseries, and teachers from their classrooms, to find the sympathy and understanding offered to their hearts by this perfect Man.
For Christ in the tabernacle, as Christ walking the earth, knows best a woman’s joys and sorrows. He is the only one who really understands.
“Happiness in marriage must be earned. It is something you must work out for yourself, chiefly by forgetting yourself and serving others. No marriage is a success unless less you make it so, and that takes persistent effort and, still more, a constant and humble reliance on God.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2rsThRU (afflink)
Beautiful Blessed Mother Wire Wrapped Rosary! Lovely, Durable… Each link is handmade and wrapped around itself to ensure quality. Available here.
Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.
Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.
Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, the renowned author of The Hidden Power of Kindness, gives faithful Catholics all the essential ingredients of a stable and loving Catholic marriage and family — ingredients that are in danger of being lost in our turbulent age.
Using Scripture and Church teachings in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, Fr. Lovasik helps you understand the proper role of the Catholic father and mother and the blessings of family. He shows you how you can secure happiness in marriage, develop the virtues necessary for a successful marriage, raise children in a truly Catholic way, and much more.
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Thank you very much, that was a much needed reading today. :’)
Beautiful post. Thank you.
Mrs M said:
Thank you so much, Leane! Was so excited to see you continuing this series on “Christ and Woman”. Worth printing and keeping for my girls. Just beautiful and pointedly helpful. 💖