retro women

In the first part of this series we discussed the general raising of the dignity of woman in and through Marian devotion with the coming of the Gospel. We also began to explain the “truly regal throne” first perfected by Mary in which every wife and mother has the privilege to participate.

In this part, we will discuss the deeper and more exalted realities in the spiritual life and family which make Marian devotion particularly the glory of femininity.

Marian Devotion and the Brides of Christ

We have already discussed in another place why heretics hate Mary. Our Lady by her nature as a creature humbles the proud even more than God Himself, since the proud must humble themselves before Mary, who is an equal by nature yet a superior according to grace. It has pleased the Lord to exalt Mary in order that we be spiritually bound to a human creature. In this way, we are bound to one another and to God in humility according to the Scripture: he who says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar (1 Jn. 4:20). This great power over the Devil is worked in her humility in the very act most feminine and most hated by feminists: giving birth. As such, God Himself has sanctified childbearing in a way unknown before, so that all of Christendom celebrates this glory of femininity.

But in the spiritual life, Mary gives gifts to feminine nature that are of inestimable worth. First, as a woman, she forms the icon of the Church as spouse, a mystical reality about which an entire book of the Holy Bible is dedicated. She is called “spouse of the Holy Ghost” by the saints. Through this, it is to women only that this most powerful spirituality can be given. Only a woman can become a consecrated virgin to the Lord. The monastic custom of a female novice wearing a wedding dress at her final vows is not just sentimentality. They are called brides of Christ because only they enter into the spousal devotion that Our Lady has with God. This intimacy is a unique and powerful witness to the love of God, which shines brightly and converts souls.

The first fruits of consecrated virgins following the example of Mary were the great virgin martyrs of Rome, who made a mockery of the Roman authorities in the power of their spousal love for Christ. As St. Ambrose relates concerning St. Agnes:

What threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she answered: “It would be an injury to my spouse to look on any one as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not.” She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his right hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared the peril of another, while the maiden feared not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom. [1]

This glorious martyrdom won St. Agnes and the other virgin martyrs a place in the Roman Canon. The glory of the consecrated virgin as spouse of Christ is a vocation so exalted that it triumphs over the powers of evil in an awesome imitation of her who is “more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.” Mary sits on a more glorious throne than every other saint, and the virgins follow after her.

The Exaltation of Humility

This brings us to the more common vocation of every woman: wife and mother. In Heaven, Mary holds a place above St. Joseph, her spouse on Earth. Why is this? One reason is because according to the Gospel, humility is the measure of greatness. As the Lord says, he who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Mt. 23:12), and again, whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave (Mt. 20:27).

Thus we have the marital hierarchy: wives, submit to your husbands (Eph. 5:22), and the head of every woman is a man (I Cor. 11:3). To the Marxist-feminist, this subordinates a woman’s dignity. But since, in Christianity, unlike in the Marxist-feminist system, power is not the source of greatness, but humility, headship is a challenge to the Christian husband, since he must use his power with humility.

Therefore, the Christian husband, in order to lead his wife, must imitate Christ by giving up his life for his wife and children. That is why St. Paul’s injunction to couples is more strict for the man than the woman: husbands love your wives as Christ did the Church and gave up his life for her (Eph. 5:25). Since the man carries the burden of leadership, he can match the humility called for in his wife only by dying for her. The glory of Mary as Spouse of the Holy Ghost creates such holiness in marriage.

Thus, the Christian marriage is not a Marxist-feminist contest of power, but a contest of humility. This is the type of holy zeal that has characterized the holy families that reared the saints. The saint was raised seeing his mother and father strive for humility, not superiority.

This humility of Mary wins over the hearts of women and men, and wives sanctify their husbands when they imitate her:

In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands: that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation of the wives. Considering your chaste conversation with fear. Whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. For after this manner heretofore the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: As Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, doing well, and not fearing any disturbance. (1 Pt. 3:1–6)

The holiness and humility of Mary shown in a Christian wife has the power to make men holy, just as many holy women have won over bad husbands to the faith. The Marxist-feminist considers the submissiveness of the wife to be beneath her dignity. But the Gospel exalting Mary over all says that the humble place is to the glory of her dignity.

Mary in the Intimacy of Every Christian Soul

As John Paul II correctly pointed out, if there was ever any human being worthy of divine honor, it was the Virgin Mary [2]. And yet Jesus Christ did not bestow on her His priesthood, since this would have obscured the power of her feminine maternity, which of itself becomes the mediatrix of all graces. The most powerful way in which Mary glorifies femininity is in the intimate conversation of every Christian soul. This is manifest in the devout prayers of the faithful that cry to her, praise her, take comfort in her, and rest in her arms. God has been pleased to set a mother over every Christian soul by His Incarnation:

Mother’s care displaying
Offer him thy praying
Who, when born our brother
Chose thee for his mother [3]

This is the maternity that the Protestant, feminist, and Marxist cannot bear. They cannot bear it because their ideologies are based in pride, which is inimical to the Virgin Mary. But a Christian soul that depends on the Virgin Mary cannot call femininity inferior or seek a prideful domination of women. Rather, the Virgin Mary, exalted as Queen of Heaven, humbles the soul to receive Jesus Christ born of a Virgin. In this way, Mary is the glory of femininity in the spiritual life of every Christian.

[1] St. Ambrose, De Virgin. I, 9

[2] John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1993), 3

[3] Ave Maris Stella, Neale translation

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