Brave, holy Catholic women have faced many hardships through the centuries. It was tough to be a Catholic woman with strong faith in Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages! The Church recounts the harrowing tales of hundreds of these female martyrs and leaders in the lives of the saints. While we don’t worry about being burned at the stake for our faith today, we do face discrimination in the popular culture for being women who adhere to Gospel values.
St. John Paul II shows respect for this struggle in his apostolic letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women:
“In every age and in every country we find many ‘perfect’ women who, despite persecution, difficulties, and discrimination, have shared in the Church’s mission…the witness and the achievements of Christian women have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society. Even in the face of serious social discrimination, holy women have acted ‘freely,’ strengthened by their union with Christ…Holy women are an incarnation of the feminine ideal; they are also a model for all Christians.” (#27)
The contentious U.S. election illuminated the prejudice and misunderstanding of what it means to be a Catholic woman of faith today. In so many stories, the secular media used unqualified statistics to put words in our mouths, political positions in our heads, and ballots in our hands. They asserted that no woman would agree with the Catholic Church about contraception, abortion, or gay marriage. So many stories focused on shattering the glass ceiling instead of shattering outdated and ineffective stereotypes of what really matters to women.
As faithful Catholic women, we represent a very different opinion. We can be true to our feminine selves and true to the Church and its teachings. We have the power to change this dynamic – to shift the narrative – and redefine the depiction of Catholic women in the public square. The most powerful form of evangelization is demonstrating that you ARE different from the inaccurate stereotype.
Women tend to be the caretakers, organizers, detail keepers, nurturers, worriers, and cheerleaders in our families and communities. We interact with lots of different people, so we have many potential encounters to defend and evangelize our faith. Every one of us is called to live our Catholic faith out loud, to share in growing the Kingdom of God, and to provide a personal and unapologetic witness in all of our relationships.
Be a brave and holy counter-cultural Catholic woman on the soccer sidelines, around the company water cooler, at holiday dinner tables, on social media, and everywhere you go. Voice your own opinion in your own words. Share your personal life experience and the story of your own faith in Christ Jesus.
Do you have a 10-second elevator speech to answer why you agree with the Church on women’s issues?
Do you know the Catholic perspective on hot topics? Can you speak to it from the heart?
Do your words represent the “incarnation of the feminine ideal?” Are your actions “a model for all Christians?”
Catholic women have a unique perspective on the faith. Will we let the secular media and pop-culture define the opinions of Catholic women or should we?!
Share your elevator speech in the comments. We can borrow ideas from each other!