Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 28 November |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Gregory III
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

What Is It About the Virgin Mary that Enrages Feminists?


Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ - published on 02/12/15

Motherhood is also a hard sell these days, as Jonathan Last reminds us in his disturbing book, “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting.” In most environments self-identified as Catholic, one will not hear any mention of “generous parenthood” or “heroic parenthood.” In most diocesan marriage preparation programs that I am aware of, there is little or no discussion of the “grave reasons” justifying the spacing of children or decision to have no more children, through natural family planning. And many surveys have indicated that self-identified Catholics contracept and abort at the same rates as their non-Catholic counterparts. Fertility in general, and female fertility in particular, is treated as a kind of disease, or at least an unfortunate condition that must be prevented and perhaps even ultimately blocked.

This should not be surprising. A culture that does not value the interior freedom of virginity is not likely to honor the lavish generosity made necessary by fruitful motherhood. In rejecting both virginity and motherhood, both the pseudo-Catholic culture and the secular culture reject woman’s deep and vivid charism, which is a capacity for self-donation, that feminine genius of “the gift of self” that Saint John Paul extolled throughout Mulieris Dignitatem. Spurning Mary as the Icon-of-the-Virgin and Mary as the Icon-of-the-Mother, is it any wonder that our culture is filled with so many unhappy women?  What can be done?

John Senior, in his sublime “The Restoration of Christian Culture,” says that we must relearn from the Virgin Mother “the language of love.” It is a language rooted in the freedom of the Virgin and comes to fullest expression in the fruitfulness of the Mother. Its premier articulation is Mary’s “Fiat!” to her God-given identity as a woman. How shall we as Catholics re-center God’s wisdom revealed through Mary, the most blessed among women? A detailed answer to that question would be vast, but I think we can confidently identify a few starting points.

Luke 2:19 depicts Mary “pondering these things in her heart.” We would do well to ponder as she pondered and what she pondered by refreshing our commitment to the Rosary. We would also do well to review again and pray along with great Marian art—especially paintings from the medieval and renaissance masters, as well as the icons of the Byzantine Church. Finally, we would surely be wise to re-immerse ourselves in the Church’s theological reflections about Mary, so as to come to love her ourselves as the Church has always loved her. Father Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory” would be a simple and sound place to start.

The human vocation is to love as God loves — so says Saint Ignatius Loyola in his famed “Contemplatio.” Human unhappiness is but a symptom of the human failure to love. The feminine genius of self-gift, so frequently lauded by Saint John Paul, finds its perfect expression in Mary, who is Virgin-and-Mother — the woman who is most free and most fruitful. The restoration to women of the happiness intended for them by God can only be found in imitation of Mary.

When I write next, I will speak of Lent—its promise and its peril. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.

Father Robert McTeigue, a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. A professor of philosophy and theology, he has long experience in spiritual direction, retreat ministry, and religious formation. He teaches philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and is known for his classes in both Rhetoric and in Medical Ethics.

  • 1
  • 2
SexualityVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things we can be grateful for this Thanksg...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with the early Church and to di...
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
Bret Thoman, OFS
Two earthquakes couldn't stop these Italian n...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.