St. Mary of the Angels is celebrating a Year of the Family, we are considering topics that can support Christian marriages and families, which would mean supporting wives and mothers (as well as husbands and fathers, but on that we’ll write later).
Because women—I am addressing this to you—often feel judged by people (and thus perhaps inadequate at times) on your appearance and how attractive you are, or on how well you keep the house, or how well behaved are your children… femininity can be reduced to this. Some women do everything in their power to maintain their external beauty—even starve themselves. Others become controlling commander-in-chiefs, maintaining the house, children, and even their husbands under strict control. But is this feminine? Is this effective?
True femininity is not to be a know-it-all or a controlling commander-in-chief or a fashion model… but to be a motivator. This is your great power.
Look at the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-12), what does the Virgin Mary do? First, she notices that the newlywed couple is running out of wine at their wedding celebration—this is very feminine: to notice the needs of others and then to make those needs one’s own. The Virgin Mary feels a great embarrassment and hole in her heart because the guests are going to be disappointed at the lack of wine.
So, what does Our Lady do? She tells Jesus they lack wine. Notice here that she doesn’t tell Jesus what to do—she doesn’t tell Jesus, “Why don’t you go over to the neighboring village and pick up a six-pack of wine… six large jugs of wine should do?” No, she doesn’t. The Virgin Mary knows that men—and children too—don’t like to be told what to do. So, she avoids doing that.
Instead, she simply puts before Jesus a problem—“they have no wine.” She also knows that men are natural problem-solvers. Give a guy a problem and he puts on his problem solving hat, and comes up with a solution.
Now Jesus doesn’t seem to want to do anything about this problem: “What is this to me and to you, Woman, my hour has not yet come,” in other words, “This is not our problem but their problem.” Does Mary argue with him? No. Does Mary try to convince him that it should be their problem? No. Does Mary blame Jesus for the problem? No, certainly not, but she could have: “Son, if you wouldn’t have brought your disciples to this wedding there would have been plenty of wine.” No, she doesn’t say this.
What the Virgin Mary does is to turn to the servants and tell them, “Do whatever he tells you… I believe in him and he will do what is best for this couple.” This faith in her man moves Jesus to work his first miracle! What power Mary exerts, the power of her feminine genius.
What the family needs today is more women—girls too—who will exert their feminine genius by inspiring and motivating their husbands and children—their fathers and siblings—to do great things for God and others, beginning with their families. Just follow Our Lady’s example: she does not nag, control, or manipulate Jesus or others, but motivates him and us through her great faith in her man and in us, her children, along with her smile, joy, and great affection.