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50 Shades’ ain’t sexy… forget the movie — try a virtual marriage retreat during National Marriage Week

50 Shades of Grey, the movie version of the best-selling novel, is hitting theaters this weekend. Lots of commentary about the film’s negative attributes is floating around the blogosphere. Matt Fradd, author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity, has a video up at Covenant Eyes:

Fradd’s points would make good conversation fodder around the dinner table for parents and teens. So would this article. 

Certainly, from a spiritual standpoint, one might be very wary of the film  but even some secular reviewers have panned this movie, calling it 50 shades of Nay! (<– salty language alert) but kudos to those brave enough to call out the abuse of women this movie glorifies.

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Here’s an idea for married folks: Forget going to the movies for Valentine’s Day, this is National Marriage Week!  

Why not try a virtual marriage retreat with your spouse?

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Finally if you want to do a bit more reading, you might enjoy this excerpt about respecting human dignity, with a focus on the feminine genius. Fortunately, Jesus, in the Gospels, led the way. St John Paul II unpacks some of Jesus’ groundbreaking respect for women in Mulieris Dignitatem:

In all of Jesus’ teaching, as well as in his behaviour, one can find nothing which reflects the discrimination against women prevalent in his day. On the contrary, his words and works always express the respect and honour due to women. The woman with a stoop is called a “daughter of Abraham” (Lk 13:16), while in the whole Bible the title “son of Abraham” is used only of men. Walking the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha, Jesus will say to the women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me” (Lk 23:28). This way of speaking to and about women, as well as his manner of treating them, clearly constitutes an “innovation” with respect to the prevailing custom at that time.

This becomes even more explicit in regard to women whom popular opinion contemptuously labelled sinners, public sinners and adulteresses. There is the Samaritan woman, to whom Jesus himself says: “For you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband”. And she, realizing that he knows the secrets of her life, recognizes him as the Messiah and runs to tell her neighbours. The conversation leading up to this realization is one of the most beautiful in the Gospel (cf. Jn 4:7-27).

Then there is the public sinner who, in spite of her condemnation by common opinion, enters into the house of the Pharisee to anoint the feet of Jesus with perfumed oil. To his host, who is scandalized by this, he will say: “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (cf. Lk 7:37-47).

Finally, there is a situation which is perhaps the most eloquent: a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus. To the leading question “In the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?”, Jesus replies: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. The power of truth contained in this answer is so great that “they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest”. Only Jesus and the woman remain. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. “No one, Lord”. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again” (cf. Jn 8:3-11).

These episodes provide a very clear picture. Christ is the one who “knows what is in man” (cf. Jn 2:25) – in man and woman. He knows the dignity of man, his worth in God’s eyes. He himself, the Christ, is the definitive confirmation of this worth. Everything he says and does is definitively fulfilled in the Paschal Mystery of the Redemption. Jesus’ attitude to the women whom he meets in the course of his Messianic service reflects the eternal plan of God, who, in creating each one of them, chooses her and loves her in Christ (cf. Eph 1:1-5). Each woman therefore is “the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake”. Each of them from the “beginning” inherits as a woman the dignity of personhood. Jesus of Nazareth confirms this dignity, recalls it, renews it, and makes it a part of the Gospel and of the Redemption for which he is sent into the world. Every word and gesture of Christ about women must therefore be brought into the dimension of the Paschal Mystery. In this way everything is completely explained.

Read Mulieris Dignitatem for more.

 

Among Women 174: Contraception is Contra to Our Happiness

Among Women 174: Contraception is Contra to Our Happiness

166556This most recent edition of Among Women finds us talking in detail about the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception with a moral theologian, Angela Franks, PhD. Dr Franks recently authored Contraception and Catholicism, which I endorsed. She is a wife, mother, and professor at the Theological Institute of the New Evangelization at St John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston. Dr Franks’ expertise and advice on this important subject is both pastoral and consoling. Her teaching is based on the truth that God really does want us to be happy, and that the moral life is always possible for us — with God’s grace!

I’ll also be looking at the life of St Mary of Cerevellon, a 13th century native of Barcelona, Spain and her ministry among slaves and others, earning her the nickname, “Mary of Help.”

Listen to this episode of Among Women.

You might also enjoy a previous episode with Dr Franks from the Among Women archives:  AW 158.

 

 

This makes me think… about the wisdom and goodness of complimentarily between men and women

History might well remember John Paul as the pope of human love. His most profound contribution to the development of Catholic doctrine, the theology of the body, is an extensive meditation on the beauty of enfleshed loving communion, rooted in the male/female difference. As wonderful as the theology of the body is, it must be confessed that the collection of audience talks devoted directly to the topic is a doorstop of a book. We know from teaching it how important it is to dive into it in a classroom setting. Thankfully, in “Mulieris dignitatem,” Pope John Paul has provided a masterful precis of the theology of the body, presented through the lens of Mary.

He argues for the wisdom and the goodness of sexual difference, in an age in which the fashionable opinion is androgyny (the refusal to recognize the male/female difference as having intrinsic meaning). But doesn’t androgyny undermine the first condition for a robust and authentic feminism: the recognition that being female has intrinsic dignity and worth?

And so Pope John Paul helps us think things through from the beginning. And there are two fundamental coordinates. First, if we want to see the truth about female dignity, we have to recognize the dignity of every person as such: every single member of the human species images God. But because God is Trinity, we do so as male and female (Gen 1:26-28), as a “unity of the two” in one spirit of love. Without difference, there cannot be union. And this leads to the second basic coordinate: the difference between male and female cannot be understood apart from the primacy of love: to love is what being alive is all about.

Marriage is the nexus of these two coordinates, as St. Paul discusses in Ephesians 5:21-33. Here’s the punch line when it comes to sexual difference: “The Bridegroom is the one who loves. The Bride is loved: it is she who receives love, in order to love in return” (Mulieris, no. 29). Every man is to be a spiritual bridegroom (and father), and every woman is to be a spiritual bride (and mother). Without woman, love could not enter human history. Woman is the necessary and equal (but uniquely gifted) partner of man in the development of civilization. And without the marital love of man and woman, there would be no new life. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit wish to pour undying and invincible love into flesh and to bring that flesh into eternal life. (The consummation of that wish is what the last two mysteries of the Rosary are all about, what we celebrate in these days: the Assumption and Coronation of Our Lady)

At the center of human history, at the heart of humanity, is Mary, who lives out self-giving love with profound perfection. But this central position of hers is possible only because she is first the beneficiary of God’s generosity.

-Drs. David and Angela Franks, PhD Theology, “A Woman’s Heart Receives the Future”