Today is May 1st, the beginning of the Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This month, we recall the purity, devotion and love of the Blessed Virgin as she expressed throughout her life, especially towards her Son in His most vulnerable times, and throughout history at her apparitions. Her entire life has been a window to God, an expression of complete surrender and love towards Him who became her Son: "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:47 RSVCE) Because her response was always Yes to God, opening herself spiritually, mentally and physically to His saving power and life, "henceforth all generations will call me blessed" (Luke 1:48 RSVCE). Throughout history, the Church has resounded this pronouncement everywhere she went, always petitioning the Mother of God for aid, strength and solace through the intercessory closeness she has eternally with her Son, Jesus Christ.
The clearest and most commonly heard expression of the Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Hail Mary prayer, recited countless times in history as Catholics prayed alone and together, particularly in the Rosary. One of the most significant lines of this great prayer is "blessed art thou among women". Connecting this with her statement in the aforementioned Magnificat, "all generations will call me blessed", her blessedness is directly tied to her womanhood. It is not only her obedience to God, but her obedience as a woman, exercising the unique and powerful capacities for service exclusive to women. By accepting the Christ-Child into herself, the motherhood of woman became ennobled even beyond its innate dignity as God specifically chose to enter into His Creation, indeed, to save humanity and all the world, through the motherhood of a woman. She continued to exemplify this uniquely feminine role of mother as she raised Jesus, teaching Him, guiding Him, consoling Him as He suffered the pains of this world, remaining ever at His side through His Passion and Crucifixion. At the Cross, Christ even extended her motherhood to include all humanity, as represented by the giving of sonship to St. John the Apostle.
By attending Christ in His most vulnerable and distressing times, she not only exerted the motherly aspects of her womanhood, but also the true fidelity of a wife to her husband, St. Joseph. Above all, she showed what is perhaps the highest power and dignity of women, a gift they often have with greater power than men: the ability to lead others to God. This is most clearly exemplified in the Wedding at Cana, where she told those in attendance, "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5 RSVCE) They came to her; even at this point, all knew that they could trust her, both in her own integrity and in the power of her service. However, by her words she revealed an even higher aspect of her service: the power of her intercession to her Son. She knows Him more closely and more intimately than anyone else, having been one flesh with Him at His most vulnerable time, as an unborn child.
The elevation of the dignity of women by the Blessed Virgin was recognized and applied by the early Church. Christians were known throughout ancient Rome for the respect they showed to women, not reducing them to mere slaves or sex objects but treating them as human beings equal in value and dignity to women. This became an established part of Catholic Europe, leading to the culture of chivalry that predominated in the High Middle Ages. But the honor that the Church showed to women was not when they tried to be like men, to be hard and tough and mean and sexual. No, they honored women as women, in their own innate feminine qualities themselves. And in this culture, women believed in their own dignity, treating themselves with respect. They did not view themselves as mere toys for the sexual gratification of men, a cheap trinket to be traded to the first bidder. This status of honor and dignity forced men to restrain themselves, to exert discipline over their sexual natures, to respect women as individual human beings and with the unique value they held as women. By withholding sex until marriage, women forced men to prove their dedication and love to them as people, not as dehumanized objects of gratification and distraction.
Over time, this status declined, especially as Western society became less and less Catholic. By the 1960's, men so dominated society that they demanded women to act, dress, talk, and think like men. They no longer respected women as women; they respected only the manly attributes of strength, success and sex drive. To live in a world that no longer valued them as they were, women began to acquiesce to men's demands, asserting their independence, strength, aggressiveness, and equal propensity for sexual promiscuity as men. The so-called "advancement of women", begun by the early feminists of the 60's and still continuing today, was primarily an effort to masculinize women, to make them more aggressive and promiscuous. This truth was wrapped in the ideals of freedom, equality and dignity, while all the while these were trampled upon as womanhood was abandoned and replaced by a mock-masculinity. Today, many of the most successful women in society, those considered to be the idealistic fulfillment of the feminist dream, act very little like women. They dress, talk, act and live like men, sometimes even to the point of undergoing transgender surgery to make their disguise as complete and convincing as possible, to be as little a woman as they can be. In this way, womanhood has been trampled upon, and its greatest fruits are the developments of abortion, contraception and an increase in divorce, all propitiated by the abandonment of womanhood in favor of the masculine vices of promiscuity and a lust for power and irresponsibility.
Truly, I do not primarily blame women for this sad state. The blame should duly rest on men who have, for decades now even before the 60's, wished for women to be like themselves, ridiculing them when they showed any sign of vulnerability, tenderness or even compassion, and pressuring them to give up their bodies for the pleasure of men, convincing them that true womanhood is weak, immature and the lie of an antiquated, tyrannical society, particularly that of Christianity.
I sincerely hope and pray that during this Month of Mary and indeed from now on, we may rediscover the true power and dignity of women in their own, natural state, without reducing them to the pornographic fantasies of men or the confused deceits of so-called "feminists". I hope that women may see themselves in the light of the Blessed Virgin Mary, blessed among women in her motherhood, her womanhood, and above all in her fidelity to God. God bless.