Embracing the Feminine Genius
My journey of faith over the last couple of years has been an exciting one to say the least. From joining the Catholic Church, to deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ, to becoming open to life, to participating in women’s groups, to being baptized in the Holy Spirit, to seeking God’s will in my life, to learning about the Saints, to growing in my devotion to Mary, and a hundred other steps in between, I am being more and more anchored in the faith. And so it was about a year ago when I first heard of the term “feminine genius”. While I was learning what it means to be a Catholic woman, it was this particular theology that tied it all together.
Up until this point, I didn’t really know what my role was as a woman. As a daughter, friend, wife, and mother, I didn’t understand how I was to relate to others in the fullest sense. Sure, I had been holding onto current feminist ideologies that were tempered with pro-life views, but there had to be a deeper calling to being a woman. And I am so thankful to have found that meaning.
I discovered the beauty of the feminine genius (a big thank you to Endow for introducing me to Pope Saint John Paul II’s “Letter to Women”). And my eyes and heart have been opened to a greater understanding of my own nature and dignity as a woman. I am able to see myself and my role in the Church and the world in a new light. And this shift of perspective has led to a change in my thoughts, words, and actions. The Holy Spirit is breathing life into my feminine genius.
If you aren’t familiar with the term “feminine genius”, a simple explanation is that by nature of being a woman, God has endowed us with certain talents or gifts, and that there are many qualities that strengthen our femininity. The theology goes much deeper, explaining how the talents, gifts, and qualities of womanhood can serve the Church and the world through love. Saint Pope John Paul II believed that the feminine genius is the answer to our culture of death.
There is specific role for womanhood, and while different from that of the role of manhood, it is equal in dignity. But the thing is that in order to fully embrace your own feminine genius, you have to live it out in your daily life. For me personally, growing up with the desire to be a strong, independent woman, there are many things I considered weaknesses that I now recognize as great assets to family and Church life, and therefore to the world.
As a result of this new mindset, I can better become the person I was meant to be. I can live my life placing great value on the human person. After all, we are all created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and therefore each of us has great dignity. I can freely be open and receptive to each person, regardless of their situation. I can strive to be empathetic and compassionate, realizing that it is not a weakness to extend mercy. God has gifted me with many blessings of which I am called to be a good steward of, and being a good steward means sharing them with others.
As I recognize my own uniqueness, I realize that God has granted each of us different talents and gifts. And rather than compare myself with others, I can appreciate and support the gifts of fellow women. I am no longer in competition with them, but rather in communion with them. Where there was once division, the Holy Spirit has given unity. I can uplift others by giving of myself as well as by accepting others gift of self as well.
I now recognize the role of service in my call, as a wife, mother, friend, and woman. Embracing the vocation to love draws me closer to Jesus and allows me to meet others with love. No longer does sanctity frighten me, rather it is what I long for. And as I walk this journey, one of my roles is to be a spiritual mother. All it takes is a simple “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s working in my life. And I am not alone on this path. I can draw inspiration from the Blessed Mother, as she is the truest expression of the feminine genius.
Today, I no longer question what my role is. It is to embrace each person, to love others through service, and to draw strength from my own feminine genius, letting the light of Christ shine. After all, as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross once said: “The world doesn’t need what women have; it needs what women are.”