St. Basil the Great on the Dignity of Women

armorofgodwoman

“And God made human being according to his image.” “The [masc.] human being,” says the woman, “What does that have to do with me? The man came to be, for it does not say the [fem.] human being,” she says, “but by setting forth the [masc.] human being, it implies the masculine.” But that nobody may ignorantly ascribe the name of human only to the man, it adds, “Male and female he created them” [Gen. 1:27]. The woman also possesses creation according to the image of God, as indeed does the man. The natures are alike in honor, the virtues are equal, the struggles equal, the judgement alike. Let her not say, “I am weak.” The weakness is in the flesh, in the soul is the power. Since indeed that which is according to God’s image is of equal honor, let the virtue be of equal honor, the showing forth of good works. There is no excuse for one who wishes to allege that the body is weak. And why is it simply delicate? But through compassion it is vigorous in patient endurance and earnest in vigils. When has the nature of man been able to match the nature of woman in patiently passing through her own life? When has man been able to imitate the vigor of women in fastings, the love of toil in prayers, the abundance in tears, the readiness for good works?

I have seen a woman secretly committing good thefts, doing good works apart from her husband for the sake of her husband, for the sake of the household’s growth, for the sake of the children’s long life. She gives and hides it from her husband’s knowledge, distributing alms for his sake and concealing it from him. For since the Creator sees the things that are hidden, she does not make public her well-doing.

The good woman has that which is according to the image. Do not cling to the outer human being, it is molded [like clay]. The soul is placed within, under the coverings and the delicate body. Soul indeed is equal in honor to soul; in the coverings is the difference.

Therefore you have become like God through kindness, through the endurance of evil, through communion, through love for one another and love for brethren, being a hater of evil, dominating the passions of sin, that to you may belong the rule.

-St. Basil the Great, part 18, On the origin of humanity, discourse 1

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The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement—however beneficial it may be—such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love

– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1723 

Believe Reflections: "My Daughter, My Precious, My Child"

A couple weeks ago, nearly 75 women came together at Two Talls Too to listen to Andrea L. Blair, DMHG, talk about her experiences with cancer and divorce. Her talk inspired a number of reflections from me, this being the second.

“My Daughter, My Precious, My Child”

Mrs. Blair shared with us a moving story of a time when she heard the voice of God. She heard a voice outside of her self call her, “My daughter, My precious, My child.” Her voice cracked and tears fell as she told us about this experience. This was a life changing moment for her. This experience led to her suffix, DMHG, Daughter of the Most High God.

This makes me ask two questions, the first of which I’ll ask this week.

Why can’t we consider ourselves God’s daughters?

We know God loves us (John 3:16). We know we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Why is it so hard to claim that for ourselves personally? I can think of only three answers: sin, self-esteem, and suffering.

Sin

One meaning of the word “sin” is to “miss the mark.” Now, who has never made a mistake? I don’t think such a person exists. And God will always take us back. He rejoices in taking us back (Luke 15:7). As Catholics, we have a very tangible tool in which we can come back to God. We can talk to the priest, acting in the place of Christ, and receive absolution. We can even feel his hands on our head, if we choose to confess face to face with the priest. Here are a couple short videos from a great website, Busted Halo, that discuss issues with going to confession and how to do it:

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Self-esteem

We are told by the media all of the time: “You are not pretty enough,” “You are not smart enough,” “You are not rich enough.” It’s hard to keep in mind what God says: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) This video made the rounds on social media a couple months ago, but it might be worth another visit. This is a video of real women being photoshopped and their surprising reactions:

Suffering

Sometimes I just don’t feel like a beloved daughter of God. I don’t think I’m alone. Things happen in life and we wonder, “Where was God?” I can’t give you a magical answer. It’s one of those questions each and every believer has to answer for themselves. My answer won’t necessarily work for you. Your answer probably won’t work for me.

All I can do is offer examples. A quote I take comfort in is: “God has a will in everything, but not everything is His will.” A lot of the world’s suffering boils down to somebody’s mistake or somebody’s sin. My suffering is not God’s fault, but God can be present with me in my suffering.

Another example I’ve heard a lot over the years, even though I don’t find much comfort in it personally, isn’t really an answer at all. It’s advice to lift up our suffering to the Lord. Some people find a lot of comfort in uniting their suffering with the suffering Christ endured on the cross.

Our speaker, Mrs. Blair, I think would take comfort in the opposite of my quote above. Some people can definitely take comfort in the belief that everything happens for a reason and God is ultimately in control.

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All readers: You are welcome to join us for the next Ladies Night Out, Food and Faith! Stay tuned. We have them every other month on a Monday evening. I’ll be posting the details once we have them.