We’re all called to evangelize by virtue of our baptism, but what’s the most effective way to do that? During the Advent-Christmas season, or any time for that matter, how can we evangelize without having a co-worker, or even family member, turn us into the local chapter of the ACLU? More importantly, how can we not appear so overzealous that folks don’t take our message seriously and lose interest?
Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, the craziness occurring in our culture right now, is actually handing us one opportunity after another to actually bring God into the conversation. Whether folks realize it, Church teachings, especially in the areas of the dignity of women and the overall issue of sexuality, are being re-affirmed practically daily.
One example is a feature story making headlines. It’s the annual choice of Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. The word for 2017 happens to be “feminism,” because it was the most looked up word in their online dictionary, and generated 70 percent more searches from last year. It spiked in January after the infamous “Women’s March” on Washington, and again about a month later when Counselor to the President, KellyAnne Conway, a strong Catholic and pro-life activist, said that she had a hard time calling herself a feminist because of what the word had come to mean and to represent: only those women who supported abortion on demand, as well as other issues contrary to Catholic teaching.
Given all the discussion based on what feminism is and isn’t, and all the concern generated through the #metoo campaign, stemming from the ever- growing list of personalities accused of sexual misconduct against women, why not start a buzz about what the Catholic Church has identified as “New Feminism,” which is really true feminism at its best.
You could discuss how new feminism helps women embrace their unique qualities as well as build on those qualities. This is as opposed to forcing women into a limited category or description, and forcing them to act against their nature. You could casually toss out names such as Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta, of course) a brilliant educator, philosopher, and speaker who addressed women’s rights in Nazi Occupied Europe. She was a woman who eventually lost her life at the concentration camps because of her beliefs. And most folks, even those who don’t consider themselves religious, are familiar with and might even have a fondness for the very popular Pope St. John Paul the Second; the man who came up with the phrase in the first place.
Depending on the audience, you’re not going to exactly talk deep theology or hand out copies of Church documents at your office party. But we simply have to start getting up more courage to talk about the beautiful way the Church promotes, protects, and dignifies all of us, especially women.
Given the fact that the word “feminism” was the most looked up word this year through the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, it’s obvious people are searching for answers. What a gift it could be for them this Christmas if that search could help lead them to a better understanding of the true dignity of women, and ultimately the real reason for this beautiful season. Merry Christmas!
Need some resources to help you learn about the New Feminism?
WINE: Women in the New Evangelization – Kelly Wahlquist
Women of Grace – Johnnette Benkovic & Susan Brinkmann
Letter to Women, Pope St. John Paul II
Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity and Vocation of Women), Pope St. John Paul II
Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), Pope St. John Paul II
The Pope’s New Feminism, Mary Ann Glendon
Ruth Institute – Jennifer Roback Morse
Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement – Sue Ellen Browder
Authors to read online:
Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
Dr. Pia de Solenni, Moral Theologian and Chancellor of the Diocese of Orange, CA
Dr. Janet E. Smith, Professor of Moral Theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan
Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard law professor and former ambassador to the Holy See