10 Quotes from St. Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Women”

Today, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Pope John Paul II. Like many young Catholics, my first experiences with the papacy included this dearly beloved saint. Though I was not Catholic during John Paul’s pontificate, I did appreciate the impact he had on the world around him. Now as a Catholic, I have admired his Letter to Womenpublished on June 29, 1995, prior to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

For those who argue that the Church is behind the times in matters of gender and sexuality, they would be hard-pressed to find any signs of the oppression of women in this historical document. Rather, the Letter to Women is a vibrant celebration of women from all walks and stations of life. In honor of St. Pope John Paul II, here are ten great quotes from his monumental letter (bold text mine):

  1. “Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.
  2. “Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a womanThrough the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.”
  3. “Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance and tenderness. In this way he honoured the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love. As we look to Christ at the end of this Second Millennium, it is natural to ask ourselves: how much of his message has been heard and acted upon?”
  4. “We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes its very survival to this gift.”
  5. “The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the “human” as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.”
  6. “Were I would like to express particular appreciation to those women who are involved in the various areas of education extending well beyond the family: nurseries, schools, universities, social service agencies, parishes, associations and movements. Wherever the work of education is called for, we can note that women are ever ready and willing to give themselves generously to others, especially in serving the weakest and most defenceless.”
  7. “It is thus my hope, dear sisters, that you will reflect carefully on what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women‘, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church.”
  8. “The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the “feminine genius” and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth.”
  9. “…from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history.”
  10. “Necessary emphasis should be placed on the “genius of women”, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives.”

St. Pope John Paul II, pray for us.

Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

One Hour

Image result for eucharistic adoration
integratedcatholiclife.org

When I was a girl, my family regularly attended church three times a week. Here was the schedule: Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. For my childhood and into young adulthood, this was the rhythm of my life. My weeks were punctuated with prayer services and youth group.

Though it was worthy and notable to attend worship as much as possible, I didn’t always see it as such. Sunday night prayer service interrupted my peaceful Sunday afternoons. I’d have to wake up from a nap, put on my church clothes (again!), and return to church to sit for an hour. I didn’t have much regard for Wednesday nights, either. For years, my parents led our small youth group, and I enjoyed the time spent with my friends. Other than that, I could have cared less to go to church on a Wednesday night. Even though my mother explained Wednesday night prayer service as the mid-week fuel in our spiritual gas tanks, she hadn’t convinced me. For me, church on anything but Sunday morning was a nuisance.

I tell you that story to tell you this story: One Hour of Eucharistic Adoration.

Catholic teaching affirms that Jesus is “literally and wholly present- body, blood, soul, and divinity – under the appearance of bread and wine” (1 Cor. 10:16–17, 11:23–29; John 6:32–71, Catholic Answers). Catholics call this “The Real Presence.” When a Catholic attends Eucharist Adoration, she understands that she kneels and prays before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As you can imagine, to spend time with the Lord is truly a gift.

I consider myself so very blessed to attend a parish that has one of the few perpetual adoration chapels in our rural diocese. At any time of the day or night, I can access the chapel, and sit before the Lord with my thoughts and prayers. In addition to chapel access, my parish also has formal adoration hours with a benediction on Wednesdays. The typical time that one spends in Eucharistic Adoration is one hour, though it can be more or less. However, I will argue below that an hour is an ideal amount of time to spend before the Sacrament.

In the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 26), Jesus is depicted suffering with agony in the Garden of Gethsemane before His betrayal and crucifixion. He asks his disciples to sit and watch while He prays alone. After praying, Jesus returns to His friends, only to find them sleeping.

He asks Peter:

“So you could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (26: 40-41, NAB)

Ouch.

How often are we like Peter? How often do we shirk our responsibilities to the Lord? It’s easy on Wednesdays, when I’ve had a terrible week, to go into my house and not leave again until work the next morning. But, ultimately, what would be better for me? Hiding and “sleeping,” or keeping watch for one hour with the Lord in the chapel? Our spirits are willing and excited about spiritual growth, but when the rubber hits the road, often it’s much easier to break down and remain stagnant. And believe me, those weeks I don’t attend Adoration, I see the effects of it.

If you’re a Catholic, and you haven’t been to adoration before, consider visiting your local parish or nearest adoration chapel. If you’re a Catholic who hasn’t been in a while, today is the perfect day to visit the Lord and to revamp your devotion. Finally, another beautiful gift of adoration is that you don’t even have to be Catholic to participate. The Lord may truly surprise you in ways you can’t imagine.

So, do you have one hour?