I have a lot of email to answer, but I am still feeling very tired in the wake of my cold. I feel very tempted to nap. I think this may because of the Polish cookies I had for breakfast, though. Sugar is bad. Very, very bad.
The central point of my lectures, I now realize, is that women are called to love of God and of service to neighbour, not to being found sexually attractive. If women think the point of our existence is to be found sexually attractive, by men or women, then the older we get, the more meaningless our lives will seem and the more frightened we will be of growing old. And we will also buy into a hierarchy in which the most worthwhile women in the world are models, actresses and high-class hookers. Wouldn't it be amazing if there were glossy magazines that outlined not how to get Beyonce's "look" but Mother Teresa's active compassion, or Saint Edith Stein's intellect, or Blessed Natalia Tułasiewicz's courage?
I mention Mother T, Saint E and Blessed N because none of them relied on, or used, any merely human male to give their lives meaning. They were all deeply committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, a commitment that inspired them and helped them to serve others, under even the most atrocious and dangerous conditions. Mother T was never a pretty little thing. Saint Edith, who grew up wealthy, was handsome, but never glam. Blessed Natalia, like the great majority of Poles of her generation, got engaged in her early 20s, but never married the man because, as much as she loved him, he was a Commie and and atheist. She never looked back, and she never wanted to do anything else but love and serve God as a woman in the world. Was she pretty? I can just see a Polish female pal shrugging and saying, "Average for Poland. Maybe below." And why should we care anyway? Saints should be above all that--thank heavens.
Thank heavens for our wonderful woman saints! They are never canonized because they were pretty, or because legions of men found them attractive. They are a glorious army of women of all sizes, ages, conditions, compared to whom top models and screen icons are a pitiful gang.
A woman who is deeply convinced of her worth as a child of God and a soldier of Christ is less likely to be tempted to seek and use men for validation. When I was a child and teen, girls sought to charm boys for whom they had no real affection. It made them feel powerful, perhaps, and pretty. Nineteenth century novels featured women about whom legions of men flocked, and these young heroines collected marriage proposals like trophies. When I was in high school I honestly believed multiple boys calling a girl up on the phone to make dates, all rivals for her smiles, was the status quo because books I read about high school life hinted that it was. What nonsense. And the garden party scene in Gone with the Wind was probably worse for American and Canadian girls than "Some Day My Prince Will Come."
Aaaaactually, no. Snow White's trilling has got to be The Worst. The only Prince any of us can expect with all our hearts is the Prince of Peace. Husbands are usually just nice, ordinary chaps you fall in love with and then you're stuck, and he's stuck with you, and if you're both lucky, grown-ups and good, it's all great fun. Otherwise, it's a slog. Look at old photos of poor young Diana, Princess of Wales, and compare her sad, sulky face with that of wrinkled, satisfied old Duchess Camilla, who, I was reliably told by an ancient (and usually uncharitable) fellow deb, was once the most glamorous creature. Obviously poor Di was not really cut out to be Princess Charles, whereas glammy Camilla actually was. And Diana Spenser might have made a splendid kindergarten teacher and done many good works had she stayed unmarried or waited until she was grown up before she got married. And now poor Di is entirely defined by the fact she got married. I mean, she wasn't assigned the title "Princess of Wales" at birth. Her future career was not determined by anything stemming from her education or resume. Her status was entirely based on her marriage, her looks, her PR and the uniquely British obsession with their Royal Family. And by 1996, her love affairs were turning her into a kind of tabloid joke. Only sudden death could save her, and it did.
Mother Teresa died a few days after Diana, and so the most famous women in the world suddenly departed the world. And when you get down to it, they shared something more than fame. Mother Teresa was a spiritual mother, and Diana, Princess of Wales was a physical mother. The legacy Diana left to the world, besides a deplorable new tendency of emotional diarrhea among the English, was two little boys who believed that, no matter how crazy or unhappy Mummy was, she loved them. That's nice. That's good. She would have made a great kindergarten teacher.