Happy Thursday in the Octave of Easter, and the feast of St. Vincent Ferrar! Alleluia!
This lovely April afternoon, I find myself mulling over the topic of feminine gentleness . . . and, by the way, the above picture (taken at Easter) is meant to eloquently convey how an adorable Godson never fails to draw doting gentleness out of his Godmother 😉 Babies are the best!
Just now, I’d been casually investigating if there were any articles on the main principles of Catholic courtship. There were several excellent ones! While not necessarily endorsing the sites (since I’m mostly ignorant of them), I thought I would still link to the articles for anyone who was interested:
However, the main reason I wanted to post here is that I’m still pondering a long rant I stumbled across in my article search. Written by a Catholic young woman (who will remain nameless, out of fairness to her), the article seemed intent on excoriating, at length, an article written by another Catholic woman, who was asserting her own, detailed, guidelinesfor Catholic courtship.
While I think this original article about courtship (which was being excoriated) could be a little better grounded in prudent pliancy in regards to its minute details (although the author’s context may have intended this), and some of the author’s other articles are written in a forceful style that might not be ideal . . . the former woman’s reaction to this article was incredibly strident, to the point of being totally mesmerizing to me (out of shock and disappointment).
This article/rant (from at least a nominally Catholic site) was replete with cutting sarcasm: sarcastic words, sarcastic memes, sarcastic GIFs, even references to profanity. It all was written in a passionate defense of Catholics who date, and of Catholic dating in general (which, by the way, courtship does not attack, but rather presents improvement upon): but this woman’s methods of defense were, largely, unkindness and a staggering (though probably unconscious) lack of feminine gentleness.
It isn’t intended as an offense to men when I say that, at first, I honestly thought a man had written the piece. Men have God-given capabilities for physical and verbal battle that are quite necessary (though virtue should always guide their usage 😉 ). Rather, this roughness and outrage that the author displayed at the assertion that Catholic courtship was superior, in form and function, to dating: it carried a distinctly masculine force behind it. It was painful to slowly realize that the author was a woman.
And yet it made sense, too, because the piece was, quite femininely, emotional: it was choked with inordinate emotional smoke, to where it barely had any reason in it. I would have been much more willing to consider her concerns about the potential flaws of courtship, or her perceived slights against Catholics who dated, if she had expressed them sincerely and soberly, gently, instead of with cutting roughness and a bent of sarcastically belittling the author against whom she was writing. It was really sad. Gentleness and reason would have been much more persuasive.
The arguments of the articles themselves don’t matter very much, since this particular post isn’t about courtship. The only reason these articles are being mentioned is that, from my reading of them, both authors revealed a lack of feminine gentleness. One lacked it much more so than the other, obviously, and yet both women were most likely unconscious of the absence of gentleness in their pieces . . . and ignorant of how much better off their articles would have been if they had exercised their innate gift of feminine gentleness more. We know that our culture is not concerned with forming gentle women. If these two writers are lacking in this area, much of it isn’t their fault. But still, the lack is tragic.
We are all imperfect and must all strive towards the attainment of all the virtues, that is, sanctified perfection. We must pray for grace to grow in holiness, and not be discouraged! However, the women and mothers I am closest to, the ones I admire the most, are the ones who exhibit authentic feminine gentleness. They are intelligent and wise; they are firm and steadfast in their convictions; they are not doormats and they are not afraid to confront evil, especially when it comes to helping their husbands protect their homes and children from pernicious influences. And yet they are gentle. They are ladies.
Gentleness is truly a precious feminine virtue, in constant need of cultivating. Depending on her temperament, a woman can find it easier or more difficult to be gentle. And yet, authentic gentleness of spirit, which doesn’t negate the need for a sober kind of strength (particularly moral strength) and a hard work ethic, is such a hallmark of true femininity. Gentleness is something I pray I will grow in daily for the rest of my life!
When considering the feminine manner, pay attention to the differences between femininity and masculinity. Think of lightness, softness, delicateness and the associated actions that go with these terms.
Your conversation should reflect gentleness and kindness. You should show tenderness and sympathy when speaking of someone in unfortunate circumstances. If you think an unkind remark, keep it to yourself. Avoid talking about people in a bad way. Think of something nice to say. Don’t get sucked into heated arguments. Be quick to show tenderness and love, especially to children. Make kind remarks the rule rather than the exception.
-Helen Andelin, “Fascinating Womanhood” (a book I haven’t read but which seems lovely in many ways!)