This Pope Francis is no different than the Popes that preceded him. He sees the greatness in women of the world. This month, he asks us to pray for the safety and respect of all women.
Many who read this may find it easy to forget the struggles that women in the world live through and sometimes die from…We are blessed to be living in a world where this behavior is unlawful and is punished.
Here is his message for us.
As I continue to participate in the Heal My Voice project on Feminine Leadership lead by Andrea Hylen, what I expected to write about is 180 degrees different from what I am writing about out of my soul. She warned us about this!
Moving toward a new way of working with Catholic women brought with it the realization of actually preparing for leadership. Not getting lessons, webinars, newsletters, and articles ready. Not marketing strategies.
Inside preparation. Soul readiness. It’s WAY harder. Painful, deep…Purging. Realizing patterns of thinking and behavior that serve only to keep me stuck in a place where Christ cannot be effective through my work and my passion.
It is a surprising place to be after committing to a much deeper connection to God over the past year. We usually expect to be in a more wonderful “happy place” as a result of this daily dedication. Don’t get me wrong. Life has certainly been the beneficiary of many, many gifts of blessings and joy. BUT (and my husband will laugh at this…), “I did not want this!”
This place of purging IS a gift. It feels grown up and responsible and capable of being the woman God sent me here to be in this time in our Earthly history. It feels like it is a completion of years of nagging little pains, memories, behaviors, and false beliefs. It feels like the strongbox holding all of this is exploding open instead of its contents oozing out into my consciousness like a poison to my soul.
My poisons are being revealed. The antidote is Christ. The balm is his blessed mother, Mary.
I speak with many women who are experiencing the pain of not being able to share their faith life with their husbands. It is a difficult experience. We always want to share the most wonderful experiences in our lives with the most wonderful person in our life.
I had this experience in the first years of my marriage. In fact, as he will tell you, my husband told me he was an agnostic during our dating times. This was NOT good. The first thing on the top of my list for qualities in a husband was “believes in God”. But there were so many wonderful things about him…we ended up married…happily. Somehow I knew in my heart that he did believe. He is also very intelligent, which seems to be an extra obstacle to belief for some people.
I spent the years of our dating and early years of our marriage trying to share (or maybe force) God on him. We had children from my first marriage and two of our own and I tried to use this as leverage. Sharing a beautiful gift became a point of contention between us. It got in the way of deepening our relationship due to my resentment.
It was then that a very wise woman, my mother-in-law, Rita, who is like a mother to me and someone who I am very comfortable sharing with, gave me the piece of advice that changed everything! She told me to be quiet. To leave him alone. To have my own faith life and be a model. To LET GOD DO GOD’s JOB!
My repeated pleas for him to join the team with me pushed him farther away from being able to travel his own road. It clogged up his ability to hear from God because I was so loud and annoying!
I followed her advice. It was actually quite refreshing. I lifted from myself the responsibility for his path and focused on my own, which needed a lot of help too! I grew into a relationship with the Lord that was all my own and in doing so realized that that is the only way it can be. While God is very present in our marriage relationship, we each love God differently.
Once I stepped away, he found his way to our prayer group, a Cursillo, a men’s group and on to the Deaconate. What wonders God has in store if we let God do it God’s way! The gifts are far better than we could ever imagine! And in many cases, like ours, God uses my husband’s relationship with God not only to lift up our marriage, but the faith lives of hundreds more!
Many years ago,when I was in seventh or eighth grade, my friend Cathy Miller, who lived next door to me gave me the book Two from Galilee, by Marjorie Holmes as a Christmas present. Since that time, I have read that book probably twenty times, always when Advent begins.
It was a turning point in my spiritual growth, because it made me realize that the story of Christ was not something that happened in another “more Heavenly” dimension, but a real piece of spiritual history. It made Mary stand out as a real woman, probably my own age when she was given to Joseph and became pregnant with Jesus. Her struggles and joys are shared in a way that draws me into the story every time.
I highly recommend it!
Here is the Amazon link if you would like to purchase it
Two from Galilee
Okay, I have to admit I was inspired by my husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, to add this to my own blog. (Of course, I was the one who inspired him to even write a blog!)
But, I really do mean this:
‘I welcome comments on any of my posts. Feel free to add your own insights, even if they disagree with mine. I won’t be offended. I am a fellow seeker, and I don’t have anything approaching a monopoly on inspiration.’ Deacon Gary Dumer 10-12-13
You will probably hear a lot about Gary here…it really is a big love fest between the two of us…even during our very occasional disagreements! That’s him on our recent trip for his 50th birthday to the Grand Canyon!
The picture here is entitled “The Annunciation”. I found it about ten years ago when I was writing my Master’s thesis for the Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola University in Maryland while searching for pictures to match each of my chapters. It is by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859 – 1937), the first African-American to gain international acclaim for his painting talent. I love it because it is so non-traditional, more like I imagine the actual happening of the visit to Mary by the angel Gabriel.
The theme of “yes” will be visited more than once in my writings. While such a simple word, it carries wonderful delights and weighty responsibilities.
The first time I pondered Mary’s “yes” was when I was given a gift by my best friend, my next door neighbor, Cathy, when we were in our freshman year of high school. It was the book “Two from Galilee” by Marjorie Holmes. Ms. Holmes tells the story of Mary and Joseph outside of what we read in the Bible, filling in the blanks and helping us to understand what it must have really been like for them. I read it during Advent almost every year and have passed it along to many.
Why did Mary say “yes”? We are led to believe it was an automatic response from the soul. Did she know what it would bring to her? Shame, divorce, possible stoning for adultery? I have to think that she did. That she knew and it didn’t matter. That she knew the possibilities and trusted in her God so fully that she knew that God would bring her through anything. That the deep agape love that had developed between she and God allowed her to respond without thought of herself and only for others.
It was her intimate relationship with God that compels me to want to know more about her. How can I have the courage and depth of love for God that allows me to put myself fully into a place where I can be used without any thought of myself?
I invite you to share your own thoughts and stories about “yes”…