Paganism degraded womanhood and robbed her of her native dignity with which the Creator had endowed her. Mary's advent into the world, bringing the Saviour of mankind, changed all that. She is "our tainted nature's solitary boast." But, alas, the new days of paganism are with us. This time again, the sad opportunity is afforded women to step down. A changing world in the guise of emancipation offers womankind an opportunity to lower her standards, to degrade her dignity, to debase her prerogatives for childbearing and motherhood.
The Church has through the centuries watched over and guided the noble prerogatives of womankind, not because the Church bestowed these sacred rights, but because she preserves what has been restored through Our Lady and the Redemption. When woman is an ideal, man is, strictly speaking, a builder of the spirit. He builds within himself the great edifice of a spiritual character where the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple. When woman is an ideal, men build homes, and children are received as the hope of a better world. The both is looked up to so that he will carry on and build again as did his father, and the girl is cherished as the sweet daught4er and mirror of the wife whose inward beauty grows more graceful with the passing years.
But the new paganism is threatening again! It is, of course, always in the name of freedom that freedom is abused. In the name of emancipation women are to be freed from the very duties that make them beautiful with a lasting beauty -- motherhood and sharing in creation!
Women are meant to be builders, too, in the strictest sense of the term. They are the heart of the home. It is through them that men learn to live and to love great ideals and to build character. It is through the mother, definitely closer to the child than any other living human, that young habits and fine characters are formed. Women are the cornerstone of civilization in this respect. They are the hope of the world! "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Anyone who calls himself a Christan and a follower of Christ must think often of the Mother of our Blessed Saviour who was closest to Him through the years that led up to Calvary. Anyone who respects women must know that it was Mary's role in Christian history to place women on the high pedestal they now enjoy. Anyone who has forebodings regarding the changes in our modern world will go to Mary and fervently pray that the rights, spiritual rights, of women be preserved, that they become modern Bethlehems in which Christ comes to dwell and not worldly inns that refuse children's birth.
None of us can live through a social revolution and come out of it unchanged ourselves. The world changing simply means that men and women of our day are changing. We must hold fast to Christian ideals, particularly the ideal of womankind as it comes to us from our Saviour and from his Blessed Mother. If we lose this ideal, if women degrade themselves, they are not meeting, as we would have them meet, the challenge of a pagan world. They are succumbing! They are delivering themselves to the enemies of Christian civilization. They are undoing the work of Redemption. They are despising our Lady. That is unthinkable! Women are the builders of a better and a more secure world, where men may live as brothers because they have a common Father and a Blessed Mother.
* December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Our Lady of the hills and the valleys, look down from your throne in heaven and intercede with God in our behalf. As we live in a vale of tears preparing for the day when we may ascend the hill of heaven, pray for us, O Mary, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.
Intercede with God, that we may in imitation of you, follow Jesus along the way, though it be sorrowful -- via dolorous -- out to the clear blue of the day, all the way up the hill, like you, to Calvary. We are sinners, like Magdalene. Accept us into your company. Few of us are like John, the beloved disciple None of us is like You. Teach us to love Calvary and to see the sweet wood of the cross upon which hangs the Redeemer and our hope for eternal life.
|Pope Leo XIII discussed women's role in society in his encyclical : Rerum Novarum, 1891; Women's rights are directly addressed by Pope Pius XI encyclical, Casti Cannubii, 1930; and he speaks to women in the workplace yet again in Quadragesimo Anno in 1931.|