Thursday, March 24, 2011

Woman of God

     Apparently the month of March is International Woman's Month. On Monday, March 21, a group of women from the Department of Labor in Cagayan de Oro came to Camiguin Island for a sort of retreat. They asked Fr. Joe to say some words about women. Fr. Joe instead assigned the job of giving a talk to them about Christian women. I was both excited and nervous, excited because this is a topic close to my heart and nervous because it was to be my first teaching in front of a crowd. As I began to prepare the words, I realized how very short I myself fall of these ideals. I recently heard a sermon in which were quoted these words, “It is a noble thing to be virtuous, and an even nobler one to teach others to be virtuous—and easier.”
     In theory, to be a woman of God is beautiful, but in reality not always so easy. I can only keep crying out, “Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”
     In the beginning, God created human beings, male and female, each to reflect His Own image and to share in His Own life. The Catechism teaches that Adam and Eve were made in an original state of holiness and justice. However, through Original sin that perfect holiness and image of God was distorted and each are now subject to temptations contrary to this holiness. We now live in a world that stresses the importance of a woman's physical appearance, and there are many pressures for women to look beautiful on the outside.
Women often go to great lengths to accomplish this. However, as daughters of God, we are called to something much more. “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” And again in First Timothy, “Women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but, rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds.”It goes on to say a few verses later, “But
she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”These Scriptures teach us that to please God as women we must first be modest, which entails not attracting attention to oneself unnecessarily, either in the way we dress or the way we behave. We must wear clothes that adequately cover the body, so as not to cause others to sin. Clothing styles have become less and less modest. Shirts are often too low-cut and skirts too short; jeans and other pants, as well as some tops, are often too tight. As godly women, we must fight the temptation to buy into these inappropriate fashions.
     Secondly, we must never stop doing good deeds of charity, seeking out or not turning away those whom we could help in any way—not looking out only for ourselves and our own desires and interests,
but of those around us as well. Often this means our own family members—our husbands and children first of all, and then our neighbors. Next, God calls us to keep practicing our faith, which means growing ever closer to Him through prayer and the sacraments, as well as following closely the teachings of our Catholic
Church. We must also persevere in love and holiness—never giving up striving to be saints by following God's law of love, which, by virtue, is patient, kind, not jealous, not prideful, not angry but forgiving. (1 Corinthians 13) Lastly, if we are married, we must say “yes” to life by not practicing artificial birth control. The Scriptures teach that women can be saved through motherhood, which is a wonderful vocation to practice sacrificing your life and your body for another human being, which Jesus tells us is the greatest kind of love, “To lay down your life for your friends.” In all these things, we must take our Mother Mary for our Model, as she is the true and perfect image of womanhood as God planned in the beginning. She is modest and humble, never attracting attention to herself, but to her Son, as she herself says, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”(Luke 1:46) Other people should be able to see God in us. She also practiced good deeds of charity towards her neighbors, such as when she visited her cousin Elizabeth to help her in her pregnancy, and when she asked Jesus to help the bride and groom who had run out of wine at the wedding feast at Cana. She exercised
perfect faith in God by believing at every moment of her life that He was in control and could do the impossible.
     And, lastly, she was and is a mother, who, through her “yes” to life, gave the world the greatest Man Who is our Redeemer and our God, the One Who gave His life so that what was lost in the beginning through Original Sin might be restored-- so that we could again be holy as God is holy and share in His Divine Life. Let His work on the Cross not be in vain! Let us pray together to Mary for help to be the kind of women God made us to be. Hail Mary, full of grace....

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