The Age of Woman

Yesterday, the Daily Blog featured a commentary inspired by Sunday’s Proverbs 31 Mass reading about the priceless value of a good woman.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the papal household preacher, offered some comments about the same Bible passage in this commentary published by Zenit.

Here’s what Father Cantalamessa had to say in praise of the feminine genius and what it offers contemporary society:

“The first reading invites us to reflect on a particular talent that is both natural and spiritual: the talent of femininity, the talent of being a woman. This reading contains the famous praise of women that begins with the words: ‘A perfect woman, who can find her?’ This praise, which is so beautiful, has one defect, which does not come from the inspiration but from the epoch in which it was written and the culture that it reflects. If we pay attention, we see that the praise has entirely to do with what the woman does for the man. Its implicit conclusion: Blessed is the man who has such a woman. She makes him nice clothes, brings honor to his house, allows him to hold his head high among his friends. I do not think women today would be enthusiastic about this laud.

“Putting this limitation aside, I would like to underscore the relevance of this praise of women. Everywhere there is the demand to make more room for women, to value the feminine genius. We do not believe that ‘the eternal feminine will save us.’ Daily experience shows that women can lift themselves up, but also that they can let themselves down. They also need Christ’s salvation. But it is certain that, once she is redeemed and ‘liberated’ by him, on the human level, from ancient subjections, she can help to save our society from some inveterate evils that threaten it: violence, will to power, spiritual aridity, scorn for life, etc.”

Concludes Father Cantalamessa, “After so many ages that took their name from man — from the ages of ‘homo erectus’ and ‘homo faber,’ to the age of ‘homo sapiens’ today, we might hope that there will finally come, for humanity, the age of woman: the age of the heart, of tenderness, of compassion. It was devotion to the Virgin that, in past centuries, inspired respect for women and their idealization in literature and art. The woman of today, too, can look to her as a model, friend and ally in defending the dignity and the talent of being a woman.”

— Tom McFeely