A Woman’s Role Within the Church

May is the month dedicated to Our Lady & to mothers.  Here’s a short article I wrote for Faith: West Tennessee about the unique, special place that women have in our Church.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

Since the dawn of human history, men and women have been pitted against each other in a battle of the sexes.  We see it in our own era of history, too, with the feminist movement of the 1960s and the #MeToo movement of recent memory.  These have only exacerbated the battle of each sex trying to gain respect and influence.

The reality is that this struggle has hindered humanity from flourishing as much as possible.  God created humanity male and female, with a complementarity that shows forth his image, his goodness and beauty.  Our faith tells us: “Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way” (CCC 2335).  Therefore, women are indispensable to the Church being able to show forth the image of God in this world.  We must work together, not against each other.

Equality of dignity, though, does not mean uniformity of function.  The contribution of women is indispensable to the Church, especially because it is distinct from the masculine contribution.  Women generally bring mercy and healing when men might typically on justice and building projects.  Beyond that, we have to recognize and celebrate the fact that, without women, we do not have the next generation of the Church.  They are the only ones who can gestate new life.

Another important perspective is that the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is female.  This means that every disciple is female in some respect.  Each disciple must learn the female mode and tendency to receive what her Bridegroom has to offer.  If all of us do not learn this, then the world and the Church will be a lot more “blah” without the special gifts, talents, and dispositions of the feminine genius.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one woman who stands with and above all disciples to teach us the ways of discipleship.  One woman brought to us the New and Everlasting Covenant, our Savior.  Thus, we cannot help but think highly of women, give them a place of prominence.  We ought to know clearly that the Church reveres, respects, and needs women because God’s perfect creature, the highest of all the saints, is a woman.  Growing in our devotion to the Blessed Mother will help all of us to understand this fact.

It is appropriate to close with St. Paul VI’s remarks about women at the close of Vatican II.  “The hour is coming, in fact has come,” he said, “when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved.  That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.”  The Church needs the feminine genius to help us navigate the modern world.  Women bring amazing dimensions to ministry and mission that we cannot do without!

**For more reflections on this topic, see the writings of St. John Paul the Great, Letter to Women and Mulieris Dignitatem.**

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