Quotes from the book Promise and Challenge: Catholic Women Reflect on Feminism, Complementarity and The Church – Chapter 1 Even our Feminism Must Be Service written by Helen M. Alvare, JD
Women never achieved in the worlds of work, politics, media, entertainment, and business the sort of humanizing, person-centered influence that some secular feminists claimed women would achieve.
That’s because when given the chance, rather than using feminine influence in the workplace to humanize it, they set out to prove they could be just as tough, ruthless, cutthroat and competitive as un-virtuous men. They had no faith that the gifts that are unique to womanhood have a power all their own to change things for the better for humanity.
But should the Church start down this path of integrating women into more fields of action, it will not only -according to its own theology-make God more visible in the world, but offer a revolutionary model for the world to follow. I won’t go into the details here, of course, but it is easy to imagine that such a commitment will require the Church-women and men together-to figure out how many women can answer their vocational calls to serve the Church while doing what women have continued to desire even over the last fifty years of feminism: assure themselves first that justice is being done at home, to their husbands and children.
I would like to think that first, the Church would need to stress the importance of how women prioritizing their family IS answering their vocation to serve the Church. How could nurturing the bodies, minds and spirits of the ones who make up the Body of Christ be anything but that? In fact, this hidden vocation in the home can potentially have just as, if not more, far reaching effect in service to the Church if we have eyes to see it. It may not give the immediate affirmation as having a paper published, or casting a vote on a Council, or giving legal advice to a board, but it is such a necessary and foundational service, that if the family falls, then everything falls. I would say we are in danger of that happening right now.
It is a good thing that more and more women are holding positions in the institutional Church as their voices should be expressed and heard, but for the individual woman she must get the message that her prioritization of the family, of which she is truly the heart, is invaluable all on it’s own. From there, if there are highly educated and qualified women who feel called by God to offer their service to the institutional Church at any level, then the Church, being an employer of these women, should take the lead in finding a way in which they can can serve but not to the detriment of their families.
If the Church can find an acceptable way to model this then perhaps the secular world would catch on as well. This is with the understanding that the message is made clear that this is not about finding a way that all married women with children should be coerced into the workforce because it’s been made easier or more possible but that for those who must work or those who have a secondary calling to their primary vocation of wife and mother, can contribute the talents and gifts she believes God is calling her to give.
Overall, the vocation of motherhood (and fatherhood) should be held up in the workplace and in the Church, as primary to all other work.