The Gift of the Feminine Genius

For the month of March, the Holy Father’s general intention is that the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society. The liturgical calendar for this  month celebrates the courage and fidelity of women. In the first week, the Church celebrates the feast of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity and on March 26, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. During this month, our minds turn toward the great gift of what Blessed John Paul II in his letter Mulieris Dignitatem calls the feminine genius and its positive impact on the life of the Church and society.

In Mary, we have the model of what faith should be. Like us Mary was a human being who had to struggle and accept God’s word and to grasp the mysterious ways in which God works. She did so with such consummate fidelity that she is forever the example of what we mean by faith—true profound faith. Mary said, in effect, “Although I do not always understand the unfolding of God’s plan and God’s providential order, nonetheless, if God calls, I accept. If God challenges, I respond.”

We are blessed in our archdiocese that everywhere we look, we see the stamp of women who have responded faithfully to God’s call. First and foremost, in our mothers who nurture the faith of our children. The history of our archdiocese is marked by the many communities of religious women who have established a rich network of Catholic education and welcomed lay women to partner with them in continuing to serve our schools. We entrust our educational endeavors to the intercession of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, first American-born saint and Foundress of the Sisters of Charity and the first free Catholic school whose roots we share with the Archdiocese of Baltimore and her home in Emmitsburg.

As a Church we can take great pride in the fact that hospitals established by religious women remain the largest private provider of healthcare in the country. They continue to be staffed by religious and lay women who faithfully bring the healing love of Jesus to their professional work.

I feel privileged to have initiated the process of canonization of Servant of God, Mary Virginia Merrick, a woman who lived and worked in this archdiocese, who did not let a disability keep her from answering God’s call to serve the most needy of our city through the Christ Child Society. She is a model for women across so many professions who hear and respond to the cry of the poor and most vulnerable.

In joining my prayer to Our Holy Father’s, I pray in thanksgiving for women who have loved and labored in the name of the Risen Christ. In the face of a culture that is increasingly deaf to the Good News of the Gospel message, I pray for you that in your homes and in all fields of work in which your labor, you seek the intercession of Mary, the first and most perfect disciple, in courageously giving witness to how rich your life is for your relationship with Our Lord.

I look forward to gathering with the women of the Archdiocese at our first diocesan conference on March 24 at St. Mark in Hyattsville.

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10 Responses to “The Gift of the Feminine Genius”

  1. Katherine G ERT says:

    Thank you for continuing to post regularly on the blog. I would love to do the retreat but I am working that weekend. God Bless You!

  2. Kathy Yaklic says:

    Thank you for your encouraging words and your prayers.

  3. Flo Alvarez says:

    We had a very fruitful discussion about Mary in “Why Catholic – Creed” yesterday. Sorry that I cannot attend your retreat. I wrote some thoughts in a letter last Friday. God bless.

  4. Peter Wolczuk says:

    It’s always encouraging to be reminded of Mary’s instant readiness to instantly do God’s will, like a young girl leaping into her Father’s arms, when called, in supreme faith that He will catch her.

  5. Danna Thomas-Palmer says:

    What a wonderful example of a woman in Mary. She reminds all of us that each woman has a gift that comes from God alone and a friend who is just a prayer away.

  6. This is so beautiful, Cardinal. Thank you for your recognition of the beautiful genius of women, and for your particular encouragement!

  7. Dave says:

    And what great fruits come from the devotion and perseverance of a mother like Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine! Mother Frances Forbes writes about her here:

  8. Mary Clare McAlee says:

    You are and always will be the best! Thanks for this blog.

  9. Let’s not forget that the Holy Father is preparing to honor another of the Church’s great women later this year. In October, he will formally canonize and declare Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church! A Benedictine abbess and visionary of the twelfth century, Hildegard was one of the most remarkable and original theologians of the Middle Ages, and her accomplishments in music and art remain extraordinary.

  10. Benjamin Orsatti says:

    We could all do well to remember the Theotokos — Mother of our Lord, most chaste spouse to Joseph, and daughter to St. Anne!