Protectors of life, the family, friendships and each other

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No-one could fail to be inspired by Pope Francis’ homily at this morning’s inaugural Mass. He calls for tenderness, and describes how authentic power comes with service, reminding us of our duty to protect one another.

We must never be afraid of goodness, of tenderness which is a great sign of strength. A tender heart is indicative of a capacity for concern, compassion, and a genuine openness to others for love.

Just as these are the qualities shown by St Joseph in his role of loving protector towards Mary, Jesus and over the whole church, these are also the qualities inherent in motherhood, whether that be of a spiritual or physical nature. Like St Joseph all of us must watch over and protect Christ’s mystical body, but his homily was a potent reminder of why we must be protectors of life, at whatever stage, from its conception to it’s final moments.

It reinforced the message of Christ to me as a woman, wife and mother, reminding me of my duty to nurture and protect my husband and children, as well as reaching out to fellow women in their moments of danger and crisis.

Last night, following a germ of idea in which I thought it would be a great to have an online space where faithful Catholic women can witness to their faith, I set up a new website, catholicwomenrising.wordpress.com in which women can stand up and be counted for their faith and offer their love, gratitude and prayers for Pope Francis as well as register their unqualified support for Church teaching.

Please could those who commented in the comms box here, go and register their support over there, spread the word and pray. My hope is that this could be a real gift and blessing, not only to Pope Francis, but to the Catholic Church as a whole, countering the repeated negative media cliche that the Catholic Church is not representative of well over 50% of its members.

I’d like women to stand up and be counted for their faith, to show the world that they embrace the freedom and love that comes with adhering to God’s plan for the world. Far from being oppressive, the New Feminism is all about empowerment and recognising the inherent dignity of all women as created beings of God, free of cultural and society’s expectations to become sexual objects and to limit and crush our innate fertility and restrict our ability to love. The culture of death pressurises us to murder our unborn children, put limits on our resources to love and to reject our elderly, in favour of our own selfish needs.

The culture of life and love recognises our abilities and strengths as women, it does not expect us to be subjugated to male desire, it allows for us to fulfil our potential, whether we are married, single, mothers, childless, whether we are working or seeking work, whether we are homemakers, businesswomen, volunteers or a combination of all of the above. It does not seek to put a lid on the female achievement in whatever a woman’s chosen area.

Catholic teaching allows for us to love Christ, to love ourselves and thus reach out to and love and protect for one another. It is freedom, dignity and empowerment.

Please could you pass on the website and urge every Catholic woman you know who agrees to sign. It would be a simple act of faith, in this Year of Faith, but send an incredibly powerful message to the world, that here is a group of happy, fulfilled, empowered and spiritual nurtured women; a message of encouragement, not only to each other and to the rest of the Church, but also to those women who have become estranged from the faith.

The plan is to set up some separate posts and sensible forum debate, whereby women who do not agree with Church teaching (yet) can debate and discuss the issues in an atmosphere of openness and non-confrontation. Where those who might be struggling with some of the challenging issues such as IVF or contraception, can talk this through in a  non-judgemental way and receive gentle explanation, encouragement, support and resources in terms of alternatives.

But first and foremost, it would be amazing if we could muster as many women as possible to say “Yes, I love the Catholic Church, I follow her teachings, not because I am brainwashed or fearful, but with a heart and mind that is open to God”.

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