Building Community: Women and the Primacy of Love
As we have been considering ways to evangelize millennials and to respond to Renew My Church, instead of focusing on blame—blaming the culture—we have focused on the need to fall in love with Jesus Christ—to become one of his disciples—and then to build up a community of love. This will counteract their loneliness and draw them into the loving community of Christ’s disciples. In this women have a special role to play.
Women play a special role in building community due to their role in the primacy of love. Love is what attracted people to Christ. Christ called his disciples to “Love one another even as I have loved you… by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Although all are called to witness to this, women have a special charism to do so, as Pope St. John Paul II says:
[There is] “a special kind of ‘prophetism’ that belongs to women in their femininity… [While] every human being—man and woman—is loved by God in Christ… it is precisely the woman—the bride—who manifests this truth to everyone. This ‘prophetic’ character of women in their femininity finds its highest expression in the Virgin Mother of God. She emphasizes… the intimate linking of the order of love” (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women—Mulieris Dignitatem 29).
The Church would be dead without love and it is women who have the mission to reveal the truth of love and to transmit it to every human being. Pope Francis puts it this way: “Without women, there is no harmony in the world… It is she who brings that harmony that teaches us to caress, to love with tenderness; and who makes the world a beautiful place… A woman is harmony, is poetry, is beauty. Without her the world would not be so beautiful, it would not be harmonious” (Homily at Mass in Santa Marta, February 9, 2017).
Everyone is called to sow love, harmony, and beauty in the world, but women are called to do so in a special way and with a special vocation. The world in which we live is too masculine, too harsh, too objectivizing—objectivizing women and children like it does things—ruling with the power of force and money. Instead, our world needs to rediscover the gentle strength of love, of harmony, of beauty. As St. Josemaría wrote: “The fraternity of the children of God… is the great solution for the world’s problems, to draw people out of their shell of selfishness” (Letter, March 11, 1940, 16).
It is not the power of force and money that will win over the disenchanted young and not so young adults, but the gentle strength of love, harmony, and beauty, and it is women in the Church who enable us to do so. It is not by women being “submissive” that will draw people to Christ—but nor is it by women being objects of masculine desires, nor by amassing masculine power, force, and wealth… No, it will be with their gentle strength of love, harmony, and beauty that will powerfully motivate true conversion of heart and discipleship to follow Christ wherever he goes.
So let’s prayerfully encourage women to exercise their charism, as John Paul II put it: “the dignity of women is measured by the order of love, which is essentially the order of justice and charity,” because “the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return… within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons” (Mulieris Dignitatem 29).
Fr. John R. Waiss
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