Women and Men are Equal in Nature and in Grace

There has been a lot of discussion in the online world of “Catholic Twitter,” podcasts, and in the blogosphere about men and women — their complementarity, whether or not they are equal, and how they are different. Podcaster Timothy Gordon stated on The Matt Fradd Show that the Church has taught against married women working, and he said that the New Testament and natural law point to the idea that “men and women are utterly unequal,” though equal in dignity. He did not, however, go on to explain how they are “utterly unequal,” except to state that men are “bigger, stronger” and have a “different forebrain.” He holds that natural law proves, and Christian tradition supports, that a husband is the boss of his wife. Yet, the only argument he gave for this is that in all of human history this has been the case, and only since the feminist movements has the trend of men having authority over women and of men being seen as higher than women been questioned.

The problem with these statements about the inequality of men and women is that they overlook that, since they are human beings, members of the same species, men and women have all of the same powers. Thus, one cannot say that they are “utterly unequal.”

Women and men are first of all rational animals, human beings, made in the image of God. All humans have an intellectual power to reason, learn, understand and know God. Both men and women have wills where they can freely choose good or evil. They have passions and appetites that influence these choices and must be ruled over by reason. These abilities to do things are called their powers. Men and women have the power to love God, love others, see, speak, eat, walk, have conversations, make plans, teach others, use and create tools, and so many other things. They are the same in all of these things.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

3 Doctors of the Church on the Virtue of Modesty in Dress

Summer is here with its longer, hotter days, and right on cue is the annual discussion of modest dress. In Mass or at the pool, we are all called to dress modestly, in a way appropriate to the circumstances and our state in life.

I have heard about modesty from the time I was able to dress myself. I heard many “chastity” talks throughout my teenage years which emphasized covering my body for the sake of protecting myself and young men who would see me, which always left me feeling alarmed and put out by my unintentional, lust-inducing abilities. Only when I learned about modesty as a virtue did I find a reasonable, satisfactory answer as to what it really means to dress modestly.

To understand modesty in dress as a virtue, as opposed to other forms of modesty, I turned to three Doctors of the Church — St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus Liguori. They helped me see that the moral act of dressing oneself should not be guided by fear of being objectified but by well-formed reason. The way to evaluate the moral act of dressing oneself, as in all moral theology, is to look at the act itself, the person’s intention and the circumstances surrounding the act.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Always Carrying About in the Body the Dying of Jesus

Two weeks ago I hobbled into my functional medicine practitioner’s office on crutches to discuss my gut healing that we had been working on. I left the office with a probable diagnosis of Lyme disease. The symptoms started the Sunday eight days previous before I even noticed a bite—my legs seized up at dinner several hours after walking slightly off a trail at near the Mississippi River. In the week that followed I had neck stiffness, leg swelling, headaches, blurred vision. It was not until midweek that I noticed large raised bug bite on my ankle. It did not hurt at all, nor look funny, but my ankle joint pain was getting worse.
I woke up in the middle of the night early Friday morning with shooting leg pain, and spent a half an hour Googling symptoms. I could not figure it out. By the next evening I could not walk around the house without help. I decided to go into urgent care on Saturday—because clearly I was injured. At urgent care I got an x-ray and a few blood draws, but their best explanation was a sprain or bursitis, though I had not had an injuring event. So, when I went to my appointment on Monday, it all came together.

I had always been terrified of someone in our family getting Lyme—I knew it was bad—and now we are living it.

The first week of treatment had me just getting worse—as the bacteria started to die off, they released toxins into my body, which increased my symptoms. I could not even get up to go to the bathroom without extreme leg pain, which then led to my legs throbbing for almost an hour after I made it back to the bed or couch. But I had to drink fluids to promote healing, which would lead to another painful hour of recovering from getting up.

The professor took care, still is taking care, of all my needs. He makes me breakfast in bed, lunch on the couch, dinner on the couch. He helps me pick out clothes. He helps me run the bath and shower since I do not have the strength to stand in the shower. He brings me my medicines and fluids. He takes care of all the kids needs. He preps the dinners and washes all the dishes. And I can’t do a thing to help him, because I am too sick and too tired.

A sweet friend arranged a meal delivery sign-up as soon as she heard of my illness, and we have been supported by so many meals all accommodating my extreme dietary restrictions. THANK YOU FRIENDS! You are the best!

Last Friday, our pastor came over and I received three Sacraments: Holy Eucharist, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick. It was so beautiful to experience a Sacrament specifically praying for my bodily health—my health so that I can serve the Church again. As Father left, he said that he felt that my whole motherhood was under attack because of the way I have been limited from doing my normal tasks of motherhood for my children and for my family. Which is true.

But all along as I have not been able to walk and have been in pain, I have been thinking about how an illness in one part of the body affects the whole body. I have been praying for the whole Body of Christ throughout my suffering, because our Catholic Church so needs it.

But while we are afflicted in every way, we will not be destroyed, because Jesus rose.

This summer since we got home has been a ridiculous one. I had a bad case of mastitis (which they thought was cancer for about 5 days), and then have been being treated for candida (an overgrowth of yeast) in my gut, and now this. But the Lord is giving me the great gift of uniting my suffering, my fatigue, my fears, with Him.

I do not know how long I will be ill. Some people take years to recover from Lyme. For most, if it is caught early, the first four week round or so of antibiotics is enough. It would be nice if the professor could actually use his sabbatical to write his book, and if I could have the strength to home school the kids each day soon.
I am walking mostly pain free now–still limping, so still using a crutch. Today, while I was in less pain, I barely had energy to sit up and eat. Eating has been a trial–I struggle to get through each meal and feel triumphant and relieved when the last bite is in. Yet, I am steadily getting better.

So, please pray for my complete recovery, and I will continue to offer this all for the Church, that healing will happen, the truth will be made clear, and that justice will be done.

NCRegister Blog: Art, Body Image, and Gratitude

Madonna in the Meadow by Raphael

When we decided to study the history of art with our children as part of their homeschooling I did not realize that the course of this study would show me just how deeply I had been influenced by the secular media to disvalue my physical appearance. There is a stark contrast between what modern media presents as a beautiful, attractive woman and what neoclassical, baroque, romantic, realist, etc. art portrays as beautiful. Through looking at these paintings I have learned to value the beauty of women and to truly be thankful for the way that God made me.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…