Mary, Model of Femininity

I would just like to share with you a little bit about my Lenten journey that I am going on during this liturgical season. I mention it for two reasons: 
1. It will keep me accountable. I tend to get a little bit lazy as Lent goes on, but I don’t want that to happen this year. 
2. This message is important for all my sisters in Christ.
The days of giving up only television or sweets are over for me as far as Lent is concerned. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these penitential practices, but I feel like we can really use Lent to go even deeper than that. And so I am approaching Lent a little bit differently now. I am focusing on a theme, and one that I really need to dive deeper in.
Authentic Femininity.
That’s right, I’m becoming a feminist for Lent! But not in the sense that is typical of our society these days. I’m becoming a feminist in that I am going on a journey; to discover true and authentic femininity. I am a woman, and I don’t think I can truly live out my dignity as a woman to the fullest extent if I don’t take time to dive into what authentic femininity actually means. I refuse to accept the definition of woman that our society hurls at us. I am not liberated by my “independence” and “choices.” No, my only freedom – freedom to love – comes from the truth of Christ. The freedom to love and live according to the dignity of womanhood that God has given me. And that is the freedom that I claim today.
When I think of a woman who is truly feminine, I instantly think of the Blessed Mother. Mary is SUCH a BABE! But it occurred to me, she can TEACH us what true femininity is. There is truly no better model of what it means to be a true woman, why wouldn’t we try to learn from her?
And this, my friends, is where my Lenten journey comes in. I have embarked upon a journey to attempt to learn this true femininity from Mary. Through reflecting on the mysteries of Christ’s life from Mary’s perspective in the Rosary, I hope to learn a little bit more about what it means to truly live my dignity as a woman. To not settle for what society tells me about womanhood.  To learn what it means to be a daughter of Mary instead of a daughter of Eve. To radically choose a different path.
But the thing is, I think all internal changes involve the external as well. We are body and soul. I feel that my internal journey should have an external manifestation. So as I journey with Mary, I am going to daily express my femininity in ways such as wearing skirts or accessorizing. When wearing a skirt rather than a pair of jeans, you act differently.  If I am serious about this journey, I need to dive into it.
In the coming weeks, expect to hear little nuggets of truth or insights I gain from this journey.
Mother Mary, teach me what it means to truly be a woman. 

Jezu Ufam Tobie

Wow, I have not been very good about blogging this semester! It has been over a month now since my last post… But that doesn’t mean things have been less crazy over here in Austria, because things have been so busy! Let’s see, I have visited Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Poland. And next week I will be heading back to Italy and then Rome and Assisi! Time just flies.
I would however, like to share in a little bit more detail about the pilgrimage to Poland that I just returned from and what I learned while I was there.
First things first. I went on this trip as a pilgrim.  Rather than see Poland as a tourist, I carried intentions with me on this journey and so when I ran into uncomfortable situations I was able to offer my small sufferings up for those intentions. I carried those intentions with me every step of our journey. But I didn’t carry them alone. I had three companions to help me on my journey. Pay attention, I will mention them! J

Our journey included visiting the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Auschwitz and Birkenau, the city of Krakow, the shrine of Divine Mercy, and Wadowice.

Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa: so unbelievably beautiful. We were able to arrive in time for the unveiling of the image of the Black Madonna, and this was a sight to behold. Mary was so beautiful, as was the entire shrine. It only seemed fitting to me that our beautiful Mother would have such a beautiful shrine!

Auschwitz/Birkenau: To say that these places were difficult to walk through would be a complete understatement. Words do not describe. It was unbelievably numbing to walk through a place where so much death and horror had taken place, less than 100 years ago. But the thing is, God’s mercy is endless. Right in the heart of Auschwitz, right when it was getting to be way too much to handle, we were hit in the face with God’s hope and mercy. That is when we arrived at the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe. (If you are unfamiliar with him, he was a priest who gave up his life for another prisoner in Auschwitz, but there is so much more to his story, so look him up!) To have such a witness to hope, right in the middle of all that horror, just screamed to the world that love is SO much stronger than death. Love always conquers.

Shrine of Divine Mercy: How incredible it was to go from such a place of death to the complete source of life: God’s mercy. I felt like my soul was refreshed in the mercy of God. While we there, we were able to venerate the relics of and to ask for the intercession of St. Faustina (again, look her up if you haven’t heard of her!), who was such a witness to the power of God’s mercy! Death and destruction are present in this life, but God’s mercy can conquer all! It truly is endless!
Krakow/Wadowice: The best part about these two places was being able to walk in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II. Wadowice is his hometown and he was the bishop of Krakow for part of his life. He lived through the horror of the Holocaust. He knew how bad this world can get, how much it can seem that evil has won. But as he went through his ministry and his life, his proclamation to the world was clear: Be not afraid! This didn’t come from his being naive about the world and what’s going on. This came from seeing what the world is offering and recognizing that we are meant for so much more.

In conclusion,

God’s mercy is endless.

Love conquers all.

Jesus, I trust in You.

Our Lady of Czestochowa,

St. Maximilian Kolbe,
St. Faustina,
Blessed John Paul II,