Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), “Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII”
The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary help us to see the ultimate completion and destiny of this humanity we all share.
I got involved in an interesting discussion the other day with some fellow Catholics about the effects of sanctity in one’s life and how it touches human sexuality.
The saints are individuals who, by the grace of God, have been purified in this life. They are sanctified completely and have become perfect. That is to say, they have become whole. They are all that God created them to be. In psychological terms they are “totally self actualized”. In Catholic speak: “grace has perfected nature.”
If this is so, then you would expect the area of their sexual identity to be whole as well. The psychologist Carl Jung uses the language of anima and animus— Animabeing the female aspect of human personality and animus the male. Each of us have within us both anima and animus. This would make sense as we are, both male and female, created in God’s image, and although we relate to God as masculine Father, he must have within himself all the feminine attributes as well.
This is not to say that God is feminine, but that God’s “masculinity” is complete, and therefore the feminine is integrated within and through the full “masculinity”. We would expect, therefore in Jesus, to see a full integration and wholeness of masculinity, and that would include some strengths normally thought of as “feminine”. And so we see that he is able to weep freely. He weeps over Jerusalem and “would gather them under his wings as a mother hen her chicks.” He is able to relate emotionally. He is able to love the little children and not reject them. He understands women just as well as he understands men.
If this theory of mine is true, then we should see a similar fulfillment of the animawithin male saints and a fulfillment of the animus within the growth of the female saints. My friends immediately pointed out the toughness of St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila, St Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St Therese of Lisieux and proposed with me that the same would be true of all female saints in their own way, and that the beauty of this sanctification is not that the females became “masculine” but that through the process of sanctification the integration and blossoming of theanimus in their lives completed and fulfilled their femininity.
If this theory is true, then Catholic spirituality and the lives of the saints has some pretty trenchant things to say about feminist ideology. Radical feminism seeks not a subtle and naturally grace filled integration of the animus with femininity, but a destruction of femininity by an exaltation of the animus. In other words, we find women degrading and destroying their femininity in order to become more like men.
This also shows up another aspect of contemporary sexual imagery: what I call the Barbie doll female. The woman who is so giggly and girly and vain is not yet fully female. She is a shallow typecast female exhibiting everything female, but without the depth and completion of the animus.
There are similar observations, therefore to be made for the male saints. My friends observed the full blossoming and integration of the anima within male saints: St Dominic who wept freely when celebrating Mass, and dealt with his brothers with tenderness of heart and soft compassion; St Benedict who treats his charges with similar tenderness and sensitivity; even the most manly of saints like Ignatius Loyola and Thomas More and Gregory the Great and Thomas Aquinas display a tenderness of heart, compassion and sensitivity that shows the proper flowering of the animawithin the male soul. Again, this is not to say that they were effeminate; instead their masculinity is fulfilled and completed with a beautiful integration of the animarather than a rejection of it.
As the female saints shed light on the feminist movement, so the male saints shed light on the homosexualist movement. This complex maladjustment of the masculine soul is a false feminization which mocks both true masculinity and true femininity.
As the Barbie Doll female is a shallow travesty of true fulfilled femininity, so the “macho man” is a shallow and immature realization of the masculine. You will find no male saints who are meatheads. Instead male saints show us true masculinity which is completed by a fearless acceptance and integration of the anima in the correct way.
Finally, this work is not something that can be accomplished by analysis or therapy or self help or “behavior modification”. It is something that can only be accomplished by the supernatural work of grace in a person’s life. Only through a life of prayer and discipline and humility and self sacrifice can one hope to attain this supreme gift.
I think the Holy Rosary helps this integration to happen because as we meditate on the mysteries of the gospel we must become both tough and tender. The Joyful Mysteries help us to celebrate the mysterious power of birth and motherhood. The Luminous Mysteries give us a masculine dose of reality while the Sorrowful Mysteries give us extra tough compassion in the face of suffering. The Glorious Mysteries help us to see the ultimate completion and destiny of this humanity we all share.