I have a new page up now on the website featuring the writings of others who also have an interest in John Paul's take on 'woman.' As I mentioned in my last blog post, Sr. Bernadette OCD, a gifted writer and friend from England, has written a piece for me to share with you here. If you feel so moved, feel free to contact her via their site at: www.carmelitesbirkenhead.org.uk.

Please keep me in your prayers as I have recently started a new job back into junior high teaching. I find it exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!

Also,  keep Nov. 9th-12th in mind - the National Council for Catholic Women will be holding their annual convention in Chicago where I will be presenting a session on 'Authentic Womanhood.' Hope to see you there!
 
 
Picture
The cliffs along the coast of Cornwall, England
I recently spent a few weeks back in my old stomping grounds of England. I was there mainly to attend a friend's wedding but also to catch up with lots of good friends.
During the long train ride from the Southwestern coast all the way up north to York (an 8 hr journey!), I took the opportunity to read again Stasi and John Eldredge's book, Captivating. It has been a few years since my last read of it, but well worth re-visiting. I would highly recommend it to you! The subtitle of the book is 'Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul', which should tell you my interest in it.
I think the book brings many of John Paul's insights into femininity down to brass tacks, so to speak. It makes it clear why God had to create in his image and likeness a man and a woman. One being just wouldn't cut it. Both tell something of who God is. In the hopes of getting you to read this book, I will leave it at that and hope you decide to pursue it yourself!
Speaking of Captivating reminds me of my good friend Sr Bernadette, a Carmelite nun in Birkenhead, near Liverpool. We had lots of time to catch up, especially since she too has an abiding interest in 'woman' and we had a great time hashing out Captivating. Sr. Bernadette has written a piece about John Paul's reflections on what it means to be a consecrated nun and I will eventually publish it on this site, (please be patient!) but in the meantime you can find out more about the Carmelites listed on the 'Links' page.

 
 
(Part 9 in this series) The following is the text, in its entirety, of one of John Paul's "Angelus reflections": the Angelus being the prayer of the Church to honor the Incarnation, Christ becoming man by Mary's consent. These particular addresses were given on Sundays to pilgrims in Rome, delivered in 1995 in preparation for the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, which John Paul saw as a ripe opportunity to speak out on women's behalf. They are fairly short, usually between 3-6 paragraphs.

Equal Opportunity in the World of Work (August 20,1995)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Doubtless one of the great social changes of our time is the increasing role played by women, also in an executive capacity, in labor and the economy. This process is gradually changing the face of society, and it is legitimate to hope that it will gradually succeed in changing that of the economy itself, giving it a new human inspiration and removing it from the recurring temptation of dull efficiency marked only by the laws of profit. How can we fail to see that, in order deal satisfactorily with the many problems emerging today, special recourse to the feminine genius is essential? Among other things, I am thinking of the problems of education, leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, the elderly, drugs, health care, ecology. "In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable," and "it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favors the processes of humanization which mark the 'civilization of love'" (Letter to Women, no. 4).

2. Nevertheless, it is clear that increasing the role of women in the frequently harsh and demanding structures of economic activity must take into account their temperament and particular needs. Above all, it is necessary to respect the right and duty of woman as mother to carry out her specific tasks in the family, without being forced by need to take an additional job. What would society truly gain - even at the economic level - if a short-sighted labor policy were to prejudice the family's endurance and functions?

The safeguarding of this basic good, however, cannot be an alibi with regard to the principle of equal opportunity for man and women also in work outside the family. Flexible and balanced solutions should be found which can harmonize the different needs. In fact - as I wrote in my recent Letter to Women - "Much remains to be done to prevent discrimination against those who have chosen to be wives and mothers. As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights, and duties of citizens in a democratic state" (no. 4).

3. Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust this great challenge of our era to the Blessed Virgin's intercession! Her home in Nazareth was a place of work. Mary, like any good housewife, was busy with domestic tasks while Joseph, with Jesus beside him, worked as a carpenter. May working women look to the hard-working and holy family of Nazareth, and may society be able to find suitable ways to increase their role to the full.