Book Review: The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand

In the arguments for the privilege of being a woman Dr. von Hildebrand claims that “in order to understand the greatness of a women’s mission, we must open our minds and hearts to the message of the supernatural.” In other words, we must understand the role of Mary’s humility and the Incarnation. With Mary’s humble assent to be the Mother of God, she rose above all. Clearly, this flies in the face of today’s culture and its infatuation with feminism. And while she emphasizes a variety of evidence supporting all of women’s privileges, she is careful to point out that in a woman’s weaknesses there is risk of using her “sensitivity, receptiveness and beauty” to fall into sins of “emotionalism, illusions and self-centeredness.”

Dr. von Hildebrand’s thesis? Women must be wrapped in the humility of the Incarnation to be effectively female. Women cannot be men – no matter how hard they try! The understanding of woman’s place in creation and God’s work is crucial in disproving the credo of feminism. St. Teresa of Avila writes that “more women than men receive extraordinary graces, that they are more receptive to God’s voice and particularly capable of heroic donation when their heart is purified.” Is virginity important? Indeed it is. And maternity raises women above men in their ability to nourish and maintain a soul and body within herself. Our Blessed Mother nourished the body of Christ with great humility and followed him to the cross – her gift given freely.

Read more

“Prevenient” grace

The One selected to become the Mother of God was given a unique kind of preservative so that She would not be in any way contaminated and thus unfit for Her divine maternity. This intervention of God, this reaching out into history to interrupt the normal flow of the ‘bug’ of original sin is given its precise theological name in the prayer that I will say after the Offertory; the name for it “prevenient grace.”

I dare say that the word ‘grace’ alone is a word that, while common enough in our language, is little understood by the majority of Catholic people. When one adds to that the rare word ‘prevenient’ many will not have a clue to the meaning. And while this usage of some uncommon terminology was one of the major criticisms of the new English text (it is supposed to be too lofty for the comprehension of the lay people), one cannot on that account omit or dismiss the realities such theological words signify.

‘Prevenient grace’ is a gift that God gives ‘before’ or ‘in anticipation of’ some benefit. In this case, God gave to Mary beforehand the gift of sanctifying grace which was not yet given to the rest of humanity until Christ’s redeeming death on the cross.

Read more

The 4th of July, Human Dignity, and the Catholic Church

So what does the 4th of July have to do with the teaching of the Catholic Church?

To answer this question, we must remember that the Catholic Church is the original Bible Church.  Its official teaching is no more than interpretation and application of God’s Word.

So when we ask how the Church reaffirms the inherent dignity of human beings, we have to start with the Bible.  The various religions that existed in biblical times had gods who were made in man’s image and likeness – the pagan gods had all the foibles and vices that can be viewed in a soap opera. They play favorites, scheme to destroy their enemies, cheat on their spouses, and hold grudges.

The Bible proclaims that human beings are made in God’s image and likeness.  And the God of the Bible is a community of persons who give themselves to each other eternally in love.  And this God of love is a sublime artist who creates the world in love as a masterpiece of beauty and nobility.  In creating man and woman in his image and likeness, he invites them to an intimate personal relationship with himself and offers them the incredible privilege of being co-creators with him.

Read more