Women: Living Up to Their Calling ~ Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman


by Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world.

This is proved by innumerable testimonies. A French writer by the name of Vinet wrote that “the value of a people is to be gauged by the value of its women” (” un peuple vaut ce que patent ses femmes “).

Strong men are often cowed by women, particularly by their wives. In his life of Gandhi, Louis Fisher writes, “Gandhi feared neither man nor government, neither prison, nor poverty nor death. But he did fear his wife.”

 In the same book, referring to the conflict that developed between India and Pakistan, he writes, “Moslem women are the real force behind their men.”

The fear that wives can inspire in their husbands is also stressed in Michael Scammell’s life of Solzhenitsyn. He writes, “Seemingly all-powerful in his confrontation with the Soviet government…he was yet helpless when faced with the wrath of a discarded woman.”

 She also cites the words of Confucius, “Where the woman is faithful, no evil can befall. The woman is the root and the man the tree. The tree grows only as high as the root is strong,” and further, “The strongest thing on earth is a woman….”

Obviously the strength that these men note in women refers not to exterior accomplishments but to the moral power that a woman can possess.

These accolades indicate clearly that the “weakness” of the female sex, as far as accomplishments and productivity are concerned, can be more than compensated by her moral strength when she lives up to her calling. That is, when she loves.

The influence that she can exercise over her male partner is great indeed when it manifests itself not by issuing commands but by example and gentle persuasion.

On the other hand, when she betrays her mission, she can indeed be man’s downfall. Her role is a key one. Kierkegaard wrote that “woman is the conscience of man.” But her conscience must be illumined by faith and enlivened by true love; it must not be a conscience distorted by self-centered relativism.

But feminists — blinded by secularism — do what, in fact, will lead to a worsening of women’s situation. Feminists are women’s great enemy. Not only will they not succeed in trying to become like men, but they will also inevitably jeopardize the sublime mission confided to them.

Kierkegaard writes, “I hate all talk about the emancipation of woman. God forbid that it may ever come to pass. I cannot tell you with what pain this thought is able to pierce my heart, nor what passionate exasperation, what hate I feel toward everyone who gives vent to such talk.

“It is my comfort that those who proclaim such wisdom are not as wise as serpents but are for the most part blockheads whose nonsense can do no harm…. no base seducer could think out a more dangerous doctrine for woman, for once he has made her believe this she is entirely in his power, at the mercy of his will, she can be nothing for him except a prey to his whims, whereas as woman, she can be everything for him.”

Nietzsche perceived clearly that the emancipation of women is a symptom that their feminine instincts are weakening. He stresses that this “emancipation” in fact means the “masculinization” of women.

The whole tragedy of contemporary feminism — which Cardinal Josef Ratzinger considers one of the greatest threats menacing the Church—stems from a lack of faith and a loss of the sense of the supernatural.

Feminism is inconceivable in a world rooted in Judeo-Christian values. But it is in the New Testament that the full glory of the female mission and vocation shines in the person of the Holy Virgin of Nazareth who accepted to become the mother of the Redeemer while remaining a virgin (as prophesied by Isaiah).

Once spiritual eyesight, severely distorted by original sin, has been corrected by the lenses of faith, we are in a position to understand God’s creation as He meant it to be and to reject with horror the view offered by the deforming lenses of secularism.

Yet we live in a world so deeply steeped in secularism that many of us are not even aware that we are influenced by its disastrous ideology.

There are some devout and faithful Christians who would be offended if accused of being tainted by the spirit of the time (or Zeitgeist), but nevertheless—in certain concrete situations —their attitude betrays that the fumes of secularism have penetrated into their spiritual lungs and, rising to their brains, have colored their judgment.

It is only by being aware of the danger of the Zeitgeist, and daily purging ourselves of its disastrous influence, that we can hope to be freed from its subtle poison.

In his Memoirs, my husband repeatedly underlines the fact that many faithful, sincere Catholics were infected by the poison of Nazism without being aware of it.

One further deplorable consequence of this secularistic view is the claim that “service is degrading. ” It is viewed as antidemocratic. It is humiliating.

Humility is a virtue that finds little favor in the secularistic world. It is only puzzled and confused by the words of Psalm 118:71: “It is good for me that I was humbled that I might learn your statutes.”

Once again, this error inevitably leads to a denigration of women whose mission traditionally has been to serve following thereby our Lord who said, “I have not come to be served but to serve.” How can anyone meditating on these words come to the conclusion that to serve, which is a form of love, is degrading?

The most glorious title of the Holy Father was introduced by Gregory VII who called him servile servorunz Dei (the servant of the servants of God), for authority is given to the pope, not for his personal advantage, but for the benefit of those confided to his care. Woe to the pontiff who abuses this authority and basks in the power given him. Woe to him whose ambition has been the leitmotiv of his ascension to the pontifical throne. Those worthy of this honor are those who do not seek it, do not even desire it.

What characterizes holiness is this limitless readiness to serve others. In his book Saint Bernard, Ratisbonne writes, “the humble Bernard, remained inflexibly on the lowest step; nor would he ever exchange for any worldly advantage the privilege of being the servant of the least of his brethren.”

The new age philosophy of feminism, in waging war on femininity, is in fact waging war on Christianity. For in the divine plan both are intimately linked. Not socialism, as Simone de Beauvoir believed, but Christ is the great ally of women.

Modern ideology wages war on the Gospel which teaches humility and that those who lower themselves will be exalted. Indeed, there can be no reconciliation between an ideology that advocates power and success and the one whose core demonstrates that the way to God is the humble acceptance of one’s helplessness: “Come to my aid, 0 Lord, hasten to help me.”

Both the Old and the New Testaments condemn pride, arrogance, self-assurance, and the stupidity of those who believe that they do not need God. The cry of every Christian, echoing Saint Peter sinking in the sea of Galilee, is “Help me, 0 Lord, lest I perish.”

Christianity teaches that exterior feats (the invention of computers, of the atomic bomb, or landing on the moon) are dust and ashes in God’s sight. We shall be judged not according to our “performance” in the secular world, but according to our humility and charity. It is wise to remember that the world will perish by fire which will destroy all things.

It is quite conceivable that the mind-boggling technological progress of the last sixty years, if severed from wisdom, will bring about man’s downfall.

Plato wrote centuries ago, in the first book of The Laws, that man is his own worst enemy. It was true then; it is true today. Man can now destroy the world by his own mere “fiat”— his diabolical caricature of God’s creation.

One thing is certain: When the time has come, nothing which is man-made will subsist. One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes.

But every single child to whom a woman has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God’s image and likeness. In this light, the assertion of de Beauvoir that “women produce nothing” becomes particularly ludicrous.

When God blesses your home with human life, the fruit of love, your family becomes like the Holy Family. In the family life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are exemplified the proper relations that should exist between husband and wife, parents and children. By practicing the domestic virtues of charity, obedience, and mutual help, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph sanctified family life. ~Fr. Lovasik

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By Love Refined ~ Alice von Hildebrand

Available here.

“Because of human imperfections, difficulties crop up in marriage, even between people who love each other deeply. You’ll soon find that for this reason, although love is a gift, it must also be learned.”

So begins this remarkable book of letters to Julie, a young bride — letters that reveal the beauty and importance of high ideals in marriage while teaching you practical tips to help you live up to those ideals daily.

You’ll learn how to grow in wisdom and in love as you encounter the unglamorous, everyday problems that threaten all marriages. As the author says: “If someone were to give me many short bits of wool, most likely I would throw them away. A carpet weaver thinks differently. He knows the marvels we can achieve by using small things artfully and lovingly. Like the carpet weaver, the good wife must be an artist of love. She must remember her mission and never waste the little deeds that fill her day — the precious bits of wool she’s been given to weave the majestic tapestry of married love.”

Marriage ~ The Mystery of Faithful Love, Dietrich von Hildebrand

Available here.

How to have a stronger, happier marriage

These pages will give you what you need to make your marriage a source of profound happiness and lasting peace:

  • Knowledge: You’ll come to understand the nature of marriage and its superiority to “living together” and other temporary unions.
  • Love: You’ll learn to distinguish love from lust, infatuation, and other common counterfeits; and you’ll discover the healing role it can play in the best – and bleakest – of marriages.
  • Faith: You’ll come to see how the sacramental marriage of Christians is the fulfillment and perfection of marriage, giving husband and wife what every spouse secretly longs for.

Especially today, this beautiful book – which reveals the sublime vocation of Christian marriage – is a must for anyone who is eager to live worthily this great mystery of love.

Marriage will show you:

  • The one right motive for marrying – and the many wrong ones (some often accepted by Christians)
  • The difference between the meaning of marriage and its purpose (and the dangers of confusing the two)
  • The five ways in which married love differs from other loves
  • Six counterfeit loves: what sometimes passes for love isn’t
  • The key role of will in sustaining love
  • Your unhappy marriage: it may be a clear “call” from God
  • How difficulties and suffering can deepen your marriage – and make you and your spouse better persons
  • How marriage reveals God’s love and presence
  • How Christianity intensifies married love
  • The meaning of marriage as a sacrament: its promises, its demands, and how it is a source of strength and grace.

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