By ANNE RAMPA
I WAS recently struck once again about the irony that it is women who are at the forefront of arguing for a right to abort their children, when abortion is such a brutal attack on a woman’s feminine integrity.
In an abortion, a woman’s own child is killed … inside her body. The wombs of women are the killing fields of abortion. How can this be healthy for our bodies, minds and souls?
In her book about women’s abortion grief, Melinda Tankard Reist quotes writer Esther Harding: “The roots of the maternal instinct reach back into the deepest layers of a woman’s nature, touching forces of which she may be profoundly unconscious. When a woman becomes pregnant these ancient powers stir within her, whether she knows it or not, and she disregards them only at her peril.”
Where in our faith do we find a way to understand this feminine power, and find an articulation of the deep sanctity of our femininity? I find it in the story and presence of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
We could remember in this time of Advent, when we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, that it is also the time when the Body of Christ dwelled in the body of a young woman.
Rather than come into the world as an adult, Jesus, true God and true man, came into the world through her body. It is because of this great mystery of the Incarnation that we hold Mary in the highest esteem, and call her blessed in every generation.
Thomas Merton wrote that because the Church conceives of the Incarnation as God’s great gift of Himself to His creatures, she also believes that the one who was closest to Him in this great mystery was the one who participated most perfectly in the gift. All people, he wrote, receive through her obedience whatever supernatural life and joy is granted to us.
Our daughters and female friends urgently need us to help them integrate this theology, as the female body is under assault on so many fronts.
Women, especially young women, are these days widely encouraged to accept pornography, promiscuity and abortion, and to see themselves as inspirers of lust, and lustful, rather than temples of the Holy Spirit. Of course, this is degrading for men and boys too, but female sexuality is receptive, and the internal nature of it makes a woman more vulnerable to destruction if it is abused and misused.
We may ask what can Our Lady, who was ever virgin, and yet a mother, convey to us about our sexuality? But I think it is the great dignity God bestowed on womanhood, by choosing her as the tabernacle of His Son, which we can ponder and divine how precious and beautiful our femininity is.
A friend who is soon to be married, and is nervous about the idea of having children, recently asked me how I found it. I replied that I loved allowing life to flow through me, and that I experienced it as a privilege and a grace.
I want so much for all women who become pregnant to experience this too.
Our Lady and Heavenly Mother, pray for us.
Anne Rampa, a mother of seven, is a Catholic pro-life and peace activist.