by Jacqueline Hollcraft
“The life of the Church in the Third Millennium will certainly not be lacking in new and surprising manifestations of “the feminine genius.” (St. John Paul II, “Letter to Women”)
If you are like me online or on social media, you regularly seek out Catholic resources for inspiration and renewal. Right now, the resources available to Catholic women, by Catholic women, contain a contagious energy and spirit.
Maybe you listen to the Abiding Together podcast. Maybe you read the Blessed Is She blog or their daily devotions, or maybe you’ve studied the resources of Endow Ministries. Maybe you read the many inspirational books written by Catholic women. Or maybe you are a member of The Daughters of Mary and are currently in the middle of the Discovering Our Dignity or Opening Your Heart Bible studies from Walking with Purpose.
In all these resources, women are being called to get their hearts, identities, and souls in order, because the Church needs us. The Church-in-crisis, the wounded-Church, needs what women offer—what only women offer.
To learn more about what women can do for the Church, I decided to turn to St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem, or On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, the encyclical he wrote in 1987. In it, he points out that many of Christ’s most important conversations in the Gospels were with women, who he liberated with His word and revealed the truths of the Kingdom.
In the Old Testament, God addressed himself to men (Noah, Abraham, and Moses). Yet when God established his New Covenant, he addressed himself to Mary—the woman.
On the Dignity and Vocation of Women attests to the profound nature of Mary—the woman—in salvation history. During the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, and the fullness of the Trinity was manifested within her womb:
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High" - "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" - "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God... For with God nothing will be impossible." (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, cf. Lk 1: 31-37)
Mary is the archetype of the intimate dialogue between God and creation, most particularly between woman and the Trinity. She is the complete and fullest expression of union with God, which all people—men and women—seek to attain.
This is why we honor Mary. Many Catholics have faced the accusation that we worship Mary, or at least place too much emphasis on her in our religious practice. Yet, as Christians, isn’t our ultimate aim complete union with God, with the Most Holy Trinity? And if so, why would we not look to the example of the woman who was graced with that union?
In his 1995 “Letter to Women,” St. John Paul II encourages us to seek out Mary in our journey toward God:
“She who was, in all her being, a gift for her Son, has also become a gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, awakening profound trust in those who seek her guidance along the difficult paths of life on the way to their definitive and transcendent destiny.” (“Letter to Women”)
We seek out Mary to help us navigate our own paths toward our “transcendent destiny,” which is union with God. Before we can begin to restore the Church in whatever way we are called, we must restore ourselves and reorient ourselves towards intimate union with the Most Holy Trinity. It is in this spirit that we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary.
Beginning on Divine Mercy Sunday and ending on he Feast of the Visitation, The Daughters of Mary will participate in our fifth consecration to Jesus through Mary together. We invite you to join us from April 28th – May 31st, whether you are renewing your consecration or making your first one, as we grow closer to the woman who bears Christ to the world. We not only invite the women of The Daughters of Mary, but all people—men, women, and their families—both local and in the wider community.
More information can be found on our website on our Marian Consecration page. Keep your eyes on our social media pages, website, and blog in the upcoming weeks.
“May Mary, Queen of Love, watch over women and their mission in service of humanity, of peace, of the spread of God's Kingdom!” (“Letter to Women”)
Jacqueline Hollcraft lives in central California with her husband and seven vibrant children. She is a lecturer in the English department at Stanislaus State, and she and her husband serve in their parish’s hospital ministry. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking (especially in Yosemite), craft beer, and murder mysteries.