Thursday, March 8, 2018

Shields of Christ: Lady Day Reflections

The news is abuzz today because International Women's Day is being celebrated.

International Women's Day is actually one of Russia's errors that has spread throughout the world. It was first celebrated in Russia after 1917 when women gained suffrage, and was kept as a holiday in Socialist countries until 1975 when it was spread internationally by the United Nations. It is widely regarded as a feminist holiday (Wikipedia).

It came to the forefront of my attention a year ago when feminists decided to have "A Day without Women Strike" on International Women's Day 2017 to protest the supposed inequalities in the workplace for women.

In response, several Catholic women started a counter measure: Lady Day.

Held on the same day, it celebrates true femininity. Many ladies celebrate by going to tea, learning about great women saints, or doing other traditional feminine activities. (click here for more info about Lady Day!)

But what is true femininity?

In a Catholic sense, it is focusing on the interior. The home is often the first calling of a daughter. We are tasked with keeping the house in order, keeping clothes on the backs, and food upon the table. All the little details of living are given to us - as we have the wonderful God-given ability to multi-task.

Women are the helpmate of the man - they assist them in everything from little daily tasks to attaining salvation of their soul. Women are also the civilizers of society - champions of the arts and deportment. They are also strong and practical - they place themselves willingly in the breach when the chips are down (The biggest proof of such would be during wars on the home front).

Wikimedia Commons

I'm not of the opinion that a woman should not break a sweat, be petted in idle luxury, or be a damsel in distress. As a matter of fact, I get extremely annoyed when people portray or advocate women to behave in such a fragile statuesque way - to be put on a pedestal and adored. 

Women are equal in dignity to men, but complimentary in role. Like men, we are soldiers for Christ. We are weapons for Christ, and we must do our part in the battlefield. I view it this way:

Men are the swords of Christ. They are the outward weapon, the one that gives the most impact on the enemy. They do the most work in the battlefield.

Women, on the other hand, are the shields of Christ. 

The role of the shield is to protect and defend the soldier. So too, a woman stands as a shield in the face of evil as it tries to invade the home. 

Shields must be strong to withstand the buffets of the enemy's swords. It must deflect the sharp blows that rain upon the soldier. In the same way, the woman must guard her family from scandal and harsh words.

Shields often splinter and give part of themselves in the battle. So too, the sacrificing woman gives part of herself into her children and house. Her body sacrifices it's youthful slimness and softness in the bearing of those children.

Shields can be used as blunt, crushing weapon and as a battering ram as necessary.  The tears of St. Monica acted as a battering ram onto the gates of Heaven with great reward - the conversion of her husband and son, Augustine. Persistence is a woman's trademark.

The shield is often the forgotten weapon, as it is a defensive measure. But, to borrow a masculine sports phrase: defense wins championships. The glory often goes to the sword, but every soldier is indebted to his shield - whether he realizes it or not.

Anybody that doesn't believe that a shield is not an effective weapon really needs to go watch Captain America. His signature weapon is not a gun, nor his fists. It's the circular shield that he carries. And he can do a lot of damage with that particular shield. To give you an idea - check out the first minute of this video....(if that's a steel shield, I really hate to see what kind of damage the vibranium can do!) 

To get back to the point of this post, is it unfeminine to work outside of the home?

I believe that women do have a place in the workforce, in contrast to a lot of traditionally-minded women. While I do believe that married woman need to stay at home unless it's dire, single and widowed women can take outside employment. The food, clothing, education, and nursing industries are well suited to women's talents. Women also do well in people-related industries such as counseling.

It is possible for women to have a vocation to the single life - it certainly isn't as common as the married or religious life for women. I believe single women should take employment when: they have large debts to pay off (college education being the biggest), the home is being taken care of by mother and sisters (especially in a large family), and to prepare for their own vocation of either marriage or single life.

Let me explain that last one a little. As my dear friend Emma pointed out in this post, a workplace can cultivate the virtues of patience, obedience, and sacrifice. These are virtues that are in much demand as a wife and mother. Sometimes a home life isn't enough to teach those virtues - it certainly wasn't in my case.

Image result for farm women painting
Wikimedia Commons

And there is the economic advantage too - if she has worked for a few years, a young bride can reduce or even clear her own debts and possibly bring in a small sum in order to set up housekeeping. I certainly would like to reduce my current college debt before I enter into any marriage - because how fair is it that my husband pays for previous debts that I've incurred before I'm married?

Sometimes a daughter's salary is the only support a family has. A dear friend of mine's dad went unemployed for almost a year - as the breadwinner of a family of 8, it was not a good situation to be in. An older daughter's salary at a fast food place was how they managed to keep shampoo in the showers and food on the table. I'm not kidding. 

Now, is working outside the home enjoyable? Not always. I don't particularly like to work outside the home in principle. There is always something else that I'd rather be doing - a book to read, a project to work on, blog posts to write....but my duty lies in giving my talents to others.

At the moment, I'm in the wings, waiting for a response from a stable that I interviewed at. In the meantime, I'm trying to fulfill my new domestic duties here at home, and preparing for a vocation of marriage the best that I can.

And now, to go get a cup of tea and my drop spindle and hold my own little Lady Day celebration by listening to Rosalina's sister's talk on St. Margaret of Scotland, which you can view here

Old-fashionably yours,