Bright Maidens: Feminine Genius: The Interior: Peace Within

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!


Today’s Topic: The Feminine Genius: The Interior


Elizabeth at Startling the Day
Julie at The Corner With A View – “Made in the Image of God?”
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Peace Within

Peace within makes beauty without.
English Proverb
The two Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal who traveled with my World Youth Day group were awe inspiring.  When we were tired, they raised our spirits.  When we were cranky, they taught us songs.  When our feet ached, they prayed with us and kept our minds off our hurting toes.  Trust me, they had hard jobs, but at every opportunity they succeeded, offering us joy, hope, solace, friendship, and love.  They continually pointed us back to Jesus, even when we didn’t want to be oriented to Him due to laziness, foul moods, hunger, or thirst.  I never heard them complain of the heat (and boy, was it hot) or bemoan the food (which, at times, was gross) or gripe about lack of sleep (of which there really was little).  Through it all, they remained truly beautiful and truly peaceful.  Their faces radiated with the joy they so often spoke of finding in the Lord. 
Sister E.’s Big Smile
Their beauty and peace was very attractive.  Two of the married/engaged women of our group looked at the Sisters carefully, wondering how to attain that level of peace and joy that emanated from the Sisters, in their married lives.  Can it be done?  they wondered.  There are many religious Saints and priest Saints, but not many married Saints.  Can holiness be found as readily in marriage?  Is the peace and beauty the Sisters possessed something granted to religious only?
The more I pondered these questions, the more convinced I was this could not be true.  “Holiness is not the luxury of a few people, but a simple duty for you and me,” Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said.  The Church promotes the universal call to holiness and that holiness can be achieved in every person, vocation, and station in life.  It’s my deep belief that although there are a handful of happily married Saints officially canonized, there are thousands more unknown but to God, the communion of Saints, and their families and friends.
What made religious life such an attractive vocation when witnessed by the Sisters?  Was it just their vocation lived out so beautifully or were they pointing to a deeper vocation, one found in the heart of every woman?  “Woman can only hand herself by giving love to others. The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way,” Pope John Paul II wrote in Mulieris Dignitatem, the Papal Encyclical on the Dignity and Vocation of Women. 
Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Of course,” he further explained, “God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation… This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation.”
The Sisters loved us at every moment.  They were living their vocation as women, as religious, faithfully, totally, and constantly, and I think that’s why our hearts all skipped a beat when we watched them.  We were attracted to the beauty and peace that surrounded them as a result of their total yes to God, and our hearts longed for the same thing.  Thankfully, God wants all women to have this peace and beauty, too.  It is a natural result of holiness, and as we live the universal vocation of women – to receive and give love in our feminine way- they will grow in us as well. 

I will let God’s peace infuse every part of today.  As the chaos swirls and life’s demands pull at me 
on all sides,  I will breathe in God’s peace that surpasses all understanding.   
He has promised that He would set within me a peace too deeply planted 
to be affected by unexpected or exhausting demands.
Calm me, O Lord, as you still the storm,
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease,
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace.
Celtic traditional

Bright Maidens: Dresses & the Apostolate of Beauty

  Feminine Genius: The Dress
red and apples by le_479
Photo credit: red and apples
During my high school orientation, the Dean of Students explained that school was taken seriously, and just as the teachers had a uniform (suits and ties for the men; dresses, skirts, or slacks for the women), students were required to wear the same.  We had the same job, whether teacher or student, and our uniform set a professional tone.
In the same way, dresses can set the tone for femininity.   I feel different in a dress.  Prettier.   More confident.   My smile stretches just a little bit wider.  I beam at the world and chime hello to animals, children, nature, men, and women –  everyone and everything.   Life is just too sweet to keep to myself, and people seem to respond.  Kids smile back.  Gentlemen hold doors.  Strangers share jokes on the elevator. 
  
I’m not saying wearing a dress brings femme fatale powers – just that when you feel beautiful, you act beautiful, and you are beautiful!  And that beauty is important to the world!  Fulton Sheen once spoke of the Apostolate of Beauty in a very positive way.  “The Apostolate of Beauty.  Do not be ashamed to think of that,” he instructed.   “You are young, attractive, but the mere fact that you are young, you are vivacious – do you realize that when beauty is virtuous, it is far more appealing than anything else?  You recognize that I have power the good Lord has given me, the power of word, but he has given to you this other power.  And it’s more powerful, really, because as a wise old Greek said, “Everyone loves beauty.”
 
The world aches for God’s beauty.  So find whatever makes you feel beautiful – cherry lipstick, dresses, curly hair, sparkly earrings, sans make up, flattering jeans, a bright smile, whatever it is –  and embrace it as another way God lets his love shine.



Itching for Tuesday’s "Feminine Genius: The Dress"

 
 
I just read this quote while researching the feminine genius and can’t wait til Tuesday’s “Feminine Genius: The Dress” topic to post it!  Impatience, thy name is Trista.
 
Without further ado…
 
“In this vast domain of service, the Church’s two-thousand-year history, for all its historical conditioning, has truly experienced the “genius of woman”; from the heart of the Church there have emerged women of the highest calibre who have left an impressive and beneficial mark in history. I think of the great line of woman martyrs, saints and famous mystics. In a particular way I think of Saint Catherine of Siena and of Saint Teresa of Avila, whom Pope Paul VI of happy memory granted the title of Doctors of the Church. 
 
And how can we overlook the many women, inspired by faith, who were responsible for initiatives of extraordinary social importance, especially in serving the poorest of the poor? 
 
The life of the Church in the Third Millennium will certainly not be lacking in new and surprising manifestations of “the feminine genius”.



 Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women, 1995.