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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Girl Talk


I'm trying to catch up on all the questions we've had recently. Forgive me for being so pokey with such urgent matters. To try to get the job done, I'm putting questions that are similar together. Today, two patron saint matchings.

Hello Sister!
I know you love saint matchmaking, and I'm in need of your help! I really need a patron saint of feminism. You'll probably think it sounds easy, but I'm looking for a specific saint who fought for the rights of women(but I'm not talking about the radical feminism being delivered these days...all that sexual liberation rubbish and whatnot. I mean feminism the way JPII defines it). I know that the female doctors of the church were amazing, but I thought they only wrote on prayer and the church in general. Could you please help me? (Even better if the saint is male:) ) Happy New Year Sister!

Oh Posh. I've had it up to here with fighting other women about the proper role of women. Here's the way I see it. If there's a job to do, do it. If someone else is better at a job because they have stronger muscles, let them do it and go find something else worthwhile to do. If there is a paycheck involved, the job should pay the same thing to anyone who does it.

The end.

Do we ever hear about masculinists? No, we don't. That's because there was no need for anyone to point out that men are worthwhile in all their endeavors and that their thoughts are relevant. Obviously, that was not the case for women or they would never have been a movement called "feminism".

It's too bad that people had to be reminded about the importance and relevance of women. I can tell you that the world of women in which I grew up was quite different than the one in which I now live. I remember my mother watching game shows on TV, for example, and saying, "I think those women should let the men win." That sort of thinking was the tip of the iceberg. The big hunk of ice beneath were things like a man's legal right to beat his wife. Police actually responding to a 'domestic dispute' is a relatively recent phenomena.

I know we're all upset about the sexual revolution. There is an upside to it. Think of it this way. If the feminist movement was in part about a woman 'owning' her sexuality, a girl should be much less likely to be pressured into having sex to keep or please a man.

Here's a good read, by the way, to get a grip on seeing a job that needs doing and doing it. The book is called, "Sisters: Catholic Nuns and the Making of America" and is an amazing trip from Europe to America by young women who were sent alone into the wilderness (when it really was wilderness) to build schools and hospitals and orphanages from nothing. There is a very entertaining story about a nun who befriended Billy the Kid because she was the only person who would give medical attention to one of his buddies who had been shot. She saved the man's life. Billy the Kid visited her whenever he was in town and had his horse do tricks for her.

I'm not sure why you would especially want a male saint for this job. That has a little bit of a "nyah-nyah" tone.....We want the best saint for the job, the end, do we not? A good match, like picking a doctor. We simply want the best one for the problem.



I strongly suggest St. Catherine of Sienna, Doctor of the Church (one of three women to earn that title) who single handed, through her tireless writing, held the Church together during a dark time when we had two popes. One in France and one in Rome. She urged that someone step down. Finally, it was decided that neither man would be Pope and a third Pope was appointed. Still the other two popes remained. Three Popes. What a mess! She took a verbal ruler to the whole problem.

On top of that, St. Catherine was a wonderful teacher and a fantastically strong person. She accomplished all of that before the tender age of thirty three, because like Jesus, she was dead by then. Unlike Jesus, she did not rise from the dead. But she certainly earned a very special place in heaven, like all women who have to work for the salvation of their own souls while wrangling everyone else into some semblance of a path to salvation. As most women (and pastors) can tell you, it's like herding cats.

I also think St. Catherine is a wonderful patron saint for dieters, as she subsisted only on the Host a lot of the time. She also slept only three hours a night. Sound familiar anyone? She didn't even have an infant or a teething baby or a husband with a cold.

Here's a tough one:
On the No Question Left Behind blog we tackled a question on cutting and self harm. In response, someone emailed me and asked if there is a patron saint of self harm. One of the teen members of the blog suggested perhaps a saint who was into self mortification. I'm not so sure -- there is a difference between wearing a hair shirt to increase spirituality and a teen who suffers through cutting or bulimia. So, I come to you for your opinion. Teens these days really need patron saints! Thanks for all you do! www.noquestionleftbehind.blogspot.com



This is a tough one. It's my understanding that young people (the majority being girls) do this because they are punishing themselves and at the same time they are emotionally numb.

So I suggest, although I have to do some more thinking on this, St. Teresa of Avila, who was also a Doctor of the Church. Clearly these people need a doctor. But that's not why I suggest her.

St. Teresa always felt inadequate. She was wracked with guilt over what she perceived as her imperfections, which often were very simple things like enjoying a bottle of perfume. And romance novels. She really liked romance novels and felt terrible about it. She didn't cut herself. But she did have visions of where, exactly, she would end up, which was under a staircase in hell. She didn't even merit a room in hell. She had to sit under the stairs.

Which brings to mind the other St. Teresa....well, not technically a saint yet...Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who suffered her dark night of the soul most of her working life. It's a big problem.

Maybe it calls for two Teresas.

14 comments:

Janelle said...

St. Catherine of Siena certainly seems like a patron saint of feminism to me. Thanks for another wonderful read!

Janelle said...

I think that JPII would want the same thing for men and women: to light up (in a spiritual sense). If one thinks of feminism as related to the question of human dignity, then JPII can be counted a feminist. Perhaps it's not a female priesthood, but there are nuns who shine brightly.... Mother Teresa and Sister Wendy made quite the names for themselves. (And, of course, SMM.)

Maureen said...

Thank you Sister!

Smiley said...

You opened the feminism can of worms now.
Isnt it odd that of the 2 female doctor saints 2 are Theresas

distracted by shiny objects said...

Mother Teresa as a saint is one I could to. Her example, given what she has written about her dark night of the soul, provides a guide to continuing on despite the huge probability of futility.

Feisty Irish Wench said...

Thanks for sharing. And I completely agree about the paycheck thing, and sexual pressure stance.

Jez said...

I thank you so much for your help Sister (However, I hate to admit this, but a lot of views on sexual "liberation" mean the exact opposite of what we want. Most of the time, the idea is that since we have complete control over our sexuality, we should be allowed to sleep with whomever we want, whenever..but I don't think a lot of people are connecting this ideal with the increasing amount of depression facing women nowadays, especially young ones...)
I will definitely look into that book!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

"If the feminist movement was in part about a woman 'owning' her sexuality, a girl should be much less likely to be pressured into having sex to keep or please a man."

But it didn't work this way, Sister. Girls these days prostitute themselves much more, in the name of sexual freedom, instead of less. That's the irony of it. In theory, yes - girls should "own" their sexuality and not give it away just to make a guy happy. So why hasn't that happened?

Mimi said...

Ha, you remind me of stories about the nuns who taught the Catholic school that my mother & her 8 siblilngs attended.

If we get out of line, is there a ruler to the knuckles??

Neuropoet said...

I'm not sure how it happened - but I can tell you from experience - mine, my friends, and even my younger sisters now... If a girl today "owns" her sexuality and doesn't "sleep around" she is rejected not just by the guys (because there are plenty of girls who will "put out") but by the girls as well. And now, instead of guys feeling "responsible" if they get a girl "in trouble" - it's completely her problem... We definitely got the wrong end of the deal - however it happened - and companies like Planned Parenthood make plenty of money off of us...

Annie said...

Right on!

Neuropoet, I am a young woman. I "own my sexuality." I don't "sleep around." I have *not* been "rejected" by any guy or girl in my entire life because of this. Nor have any of my friends, though I have seen girls get gossiped about for the opposite - "putting out" too much. I'm aware that what you describe sometimes happens, but it's really become more of a myth to terrify people into extremism.

I have a master's degree. I live 1000 miles away from where I grew up in my own apartment. I am 24 and unmarried. I have been to Europe and I know four languages. If I had been born even just 50 years ago, these accomplishments would have been difficult if not impossible.

It's true that young women have it very rough today, especially if they find themselves pregnant. Fewer and fewer guys seem willing to stick around and help, but blaming this phenomenon on feminism is the wrong way to go. At least these days an unwed mother is less likely to be cast out by her family and publicly shunned by her community. Women who want educations, careers, and equal pay are not to blame for males who run away. It seems like a case like that is a failure of feminism not a case of the typical fruits of feminism.

I taught middle school at an inner-city all girls school two years ago, and what I saw was that the more you truly empower women and help them feel confident in their worth and abilities, the less likely they are to be tempted to throw it all away with an early sexual relationship which could result in a pregnancy. I hate to see people in the Church bash feminism, because if we could only learn to harness it correctly I think it could help our girls so much in the schools.

Turning the clock back 100 years won't make anyone happier.

Cynthia said...

Here's a thought for patron saint of feminism (and in interest of equal opportunity): St. Thomas More.

He favored education for women, even against the opinion of his valued friend Erasmus. He took a lot of heat for educating his daughters. His eldest child became one of the leading scholars of Europe -- Margaret (More) Roper.

Patron saint of self-harm: By any modern definition, I think Catherine of Siena fits the bill for what we would call anorexic today (which probably means we don't understand about anorexia).

Paul said...

St Catherine of Siena is a good patron for feminism, but so is St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (a.k.a. Edith Stein), who actually was a feminist lecturer and an educator of female teachers. One of the volumes of her collected works is made up of her writings on what used to be called "the woman question".

Kell B. said...

Definitely Sts. Thomas More and Catherine!

Some more candidates:

St. Theresa Benedicta (another Theresa!), aka. St. Edith Stein. Get to know this Lady's all I got to say. May soon be a Doctor of the Church as well (her work greatly influenced the Muliaris Dignatatem, and His Holiness JP II helped ensure her recent canonization.)

Also St. Canera (6th Century).

Re. cutting (God bless you!), also see St. Dymphna, the patron of both "nervous" and mental disorders. There's likely a neurological component to cutting, similar to that in OCD. St. Dymphna's got all that covered, as a sort of "bridge" patron between the physcial and psychological aspects (in this basilar migraineur's opinion, anyway. :)

And, of course, our Blessed Mother. Feminism (at its best -- it's a tool like anything else) is certainly about kicking Satan's scaly butt, and other forms of spiritual mothering.