by Rev. Father M. Benedict Hughes, CMRI
(This article originally appeared as “The Feminization of the Conciliar Church in “The Reign of Mary”)
As a young priest I was assigned to travel on lecture tours throughout the United States, speaking about the situation in the Church and the message of Fatima. The goal was to alert Catholics to what was happening in their churches. In the course of these travels I met with many Catholics who were alarmed at what had taken place with the Novus Ordo. What particularly struck me – it was in the early 1980s – was that so many older Catholics were quite incensed about the altar girls!
You would think that their main complaints would be about the “guitar Masses” or Communion in the hand, or the handshake of peace, or whatever, but no, it was the girls in the sanctuary. That particularly bothered older Catholics at the time, even more than other abuses. Their Catholic sense told them that the practice was entirely wrong and un-Catholic. For many, that was the last straw. After putting up with so many abuses, they had finally had it and left their local parishes.
Fast forward 40 years, and the use of altar girls pales when compared to the women lectors, women “Eucharistic ministers,” and women in just about every other position. Many Conciliar parishes now even have a female religious running the parish, due to the lack of priests in the Novus Ordo Church. And, of course, the more left-leaning elements are constantly agitating for women priests. Even though the Vatican has resisted so far, you have to believe that the “ordination” of women will become a reality in the post-Vatican II Church in the not-too-distant future. As we consider this feminization of the Conciliar Church, it would be good for us to review the proper role of women in the Church, in the home and in society, lest we be swayed by the false ideology that is part of our modern 21st century culture. Even though we are faithful Catholics who adhere to the pre-Vatican II doctrines, liturgy and disciplines of the Church, we can nevertheless unsuspectingly imbibe false ideas from the culture that surrounds us. It is difficult for us to not be affected, over time, by the culture in which we live. In order to safeguard our Catholic sense, let us examine the proper role of women in God’s plan.
God’s Plan for Women
Very often we hear about the importance of “equality” for women. Recall, for example, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Approved by both houses of Congress in the early 1970s, the proposed amendment was then sent to the state legislatures for ratification. By 1977 the amendment had garnered ratification in 35 of the 38 states needed for it to be incorporated into the Constitution of the United States. The amendment seemed destined for approval—until the late Phyllis Schlafly stepped up and mobilized conservative women against it. She argued that the amendment would harm women by forcing them out of the home and making them subject to military drafts along with men, among other things.
The Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified, but for all practical purposes, the feminist movement has permanently altered the role of women. We are forever hearing about the importance of “equality.” The media constantly trumpet the “successes” of women in taking their places alongside men in the various professions. We are told that only when there is an equal representation of women in all the various careers (police, firemen, politicians, lawyers, doctors, etc.)—only then will they have achieved “equality.” But that is a false narrative. The role of men and women, as ordained by God, are entirely different. You cannot speak of equality or lack thereof, when the subjects of the discussion have completely different roles.
To comprehend the role of women in the divine plan, let’s go back to the beginning. After Adam and Eve had sinned they were punished by God. Adam was told that he would have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, but Eve was given a different punishment. She had been the first to eat of the forbidden fruit, and so God told Eve: “I will make great your distress in child-bearing; in pain shall you bring forth children; for your husband shall be your longing, though he have dominion over you” (Genesis, 3:16, Confraternity version). These last words are rendered as follows in the Douay-Rheims version: “Thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.”
The New Testament is replete with this idea of women being subject to their husbands. But I have purposely given the Confraternity translation of Genesis 3:16 since it adds slightly to the meaning of the Douay-Rheims, by saying that a woman’s longing shall be for her husband. This indicates the nature of women. By nature women seek a husband in marriage to whom they will be loyal—for whom they shall “long.” No modern ideology can change the nature of women, as created by God.
The idea of the dominion of men in the family can be seen in the New Testament, particularly in the writings of Saint Paul. But let us recall that it is not really Saint Paul who is speaking, but rather the Holy Ghost through him. We read, then, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (11:3): “But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (11:3). Again, a few verses later we read: “For man is not from woman, but woman from man. For man was not created for woman, but woman for man” (I Corinthians, 11:8-9).
Everyone is especially familiar with Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, since it is read at nuptial Masses. In that epistle Saint Paul wrote: “Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because a husband is head of the wife. Just as Christ is head of the Church, being Himself savior of the body. But just as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things… Let each one of you also love his wife just as he loves himself; and let the wife respect her husband” (5:22 ff).
Saint Peter expresses a similar sentiment in his first epistle: “In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands; so that even if any do not believe the word, they may without word be won through the behavior of their wives, observing reverently your chaste behavior. Let not theirs be the outward adornment of braiding the hair, or of wearing gold, or of putting on robes; but let it be the inner life of the heart, in the imperishableness of a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great price in the sight of God. For after this manner in old times the holy women also who hoped in God adorned themselves, while being subject to their husbands…. Husbands, in like manner dwell with your wives considerately, paying honor to the woman as to the weaker vessel, and as co-heir of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered” (I Peter, chapter 3).
Although the comments of Saint Paul to the Ephesians regarding the relationship of husband and wife in marriage are better known, the statement of Saint Peter contains additional thoughts. For that reason, I would like to return to this Epistle of Saint Peter later, but before that, let us look at how this traditional concept of the role of women has been distorted and almost entirely lost in our modern times.
In the early 1900s the suffrage movement demanded for women the right to vote. Although the movement for granting women the right to vote in the United States originated in the mid-nineteenth century, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was not fully ratified until 1920. Nowadays, it would seem to most of us a “no-brainer” that women should be allowed to vote, but did you know that the United States bishops opposed it? Why? Because they knew that it would bring women out of the home. Women, who are designed by the Creator as mothers to rear the children whom they bear, would now have to become involved in politics, that they might know for whom to cast a vote. In other words, they would be pulled away for their God-given responsibility in the home.
Another problem with women voting was that it could cause a division in a marriage—the husband voting for one candidate, while his wife voted for another. But God intends that they shall be two in one flesh, which implies not only a physical union, but a union of hearts and minds. Women are to support their husbands. Political differences can be something that divides a marriage, leading to further division down the road.
The next major historical shift came about during World War II. Since so many men were drafted to fight the war, women were needed in the factories to produce the war implements. For the first time in our history, a large percentage of women entered the work place. It seems a bit strange to us now, but before World War II, it was rare to find women working. Those who did work (primarily as teachers, secretaries and nurses) were often single, unmarried women. After the war women continued to work, and our society has reached such a point that it is considered essential for women to have a career (as though being a mother is not adequate). One of the many tragic consequences of this trend of women in the workplace (not to mention having others raise their children) is the rampant use of contraceptives. Since women have jobs and “need” to be there (for their self-fulfillment?), having children is looked upon as a burden that holds these women back from advancing in their careers. So birth control has become the norm—something gravely offensive to God. Truly, by abandoning God’s plan for women, a host of evils has descended upon society.
The Different Natures of Men and Women
Since God has destined men and women for different roles in the family and in society, you can be sure that He has equipped them for these varied roles. Man, as the breadwinner of the family is stronger by nature, not only physically but also in an emotional sense. Men tend to be more decisive. On the other hand woman is the “weaker vessel” as Saint Peter says. Not only is her muscular structure different, but she is vastly different emotionally. This quality of women is ideally suited for motherhood. Mothers are much more compassionate, sympathetic and understanding than men—just what a young child needs. A mother’s tender love draws the child along with a trustful reliance upon its mother.
Thus we can see God’s wisdom in His plan for the family. Everything revolves around the children, for “of such is the kingdom of God.” When children are properly nurtured and trained, they are set on the path of virtue for life, for as the Bible states: “A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs, 22:6). But if the mother is absent, who is going to give the child that essential formation in virtue? No one else can adequately fulfill the role that the child’s own mother would provide.
Indeed, the mother is fitted by nature for this role. The cliché is true: a man’s home is the world; a woman’s world is her home. By nature women are homemakers. It is a woman’s touch that makes a house into a home. The home is her world, where she reigns as queen. It is that mother’s touch that provides us all with the happy memories we have of our early home life—the mother’s cooking, the beauty of the home, the family customs, etc.
But the modern person, adversely influenced by our culture, might surmise that we are saying the mother is somehow less important than the father, who goes out into the world to earn a living and provide for his family. On the contrary, the influence of women (and mothers in particular) upon society cannot be overstated. Saint Peter, in the scripture cited above, says that pious women who have non-believing (or non-virtuous husbands) will influence them for good, so that they may “be won through the behavior of their wives, observing reverently your chaste behavior.” The lives of the saints abound with examples of all the Monica’s and Rita’s who won their husbands and children to a better life by their patient forbearance, their good example, and especially their earnest prayers.
In fact, devout women have often changed the course of history. Clovis, king of the Franks, had the good fortune of being married to Saint Clotilda. She converted him, and when he was baptized by Saint Remigius at Rheims in 496, he brought 3,000 of his nobles with him into the church. The example of their king and nobles led the entire nation of the Franks into the fold of Christ, thus meriting for their nation the title of “eldest daughter of the Church.” Spain was also brought to the true Faith through the graces won by the martyrdom of Saint Hermenegild, who had the good fortune to be married to the Catholic princess Ungunda. And who could forget the excellent child-rearing of Blanche of Castile, who taught her son Louis to fear sin so much that he became the greatest of kings?
These are a few examples of Catholic kings, who owed their greatness to their Catholic wives and/or mothers, thus earning abundant blessings for their people. But there is another kind of royalty which pious mothers have brought about—and here I am referring to the clergy. Who has not heard the story of the great mothers of Pope Saint Pius X, of Saint John Bosco, and of so many others that could be mentioned? It is owing to the outstanding upbringing by their mothers that most of the saints owe their sanctity, and thus their influence upon souls. Truly, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Women have a more hidden, but not less significant, role than men. Of course, there have been exceptions. Saint Isabella of Spain, for example, was an outstanding monarch who supported Christopher Columbus in his expedition, ousted the Moors, and strengthened the Church in Spain. Saint Teresa of Avila was a great saint, called by God to reform the Carmelite Order in the 16th century. Other great women who fulfilled a more prominent role in society could be cited, but they are the exception, rather than the rule. On the contrary, the vast majority of women perform a vital role for society by fulfilling their God-given role as mothers. Can we not trace the cause of so much crime in society today back to the home? The breakdown of the home, with its absent mothers who are out making a career for themselves, is certainly a major reason why so many youths go down the wrong path in life.
The Church Guides Us
We can also clearly see the divine plan for women in the guidance and direction of Holy Mother Church, the faithful interpreter of Sacred Scripture. The quotation from Saint Peter refers to women as the “weaker vessel” in comparison to men. The Church echoes this fact in her prayers. For example, the collect for the Mass of a virgin martyr reads: “O God, among the wonders of Thy power Thou hast granted even to the weaker sex the triumph of martyrdom: mercifully grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birthday of blessed N., Thy virgin and martyr, may, through her example, advance nearer to Thee, through our Lord….”
The Church also enforces the direction of Saint Paul that women are to cover their heads in church. In the 11th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul says: “If a woman is not covered, let her be shaven. But if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head… Judge for yourselves: does it become a woman to pray to God uncovered?” The Church reiterates this teaching of Saint Paul in her Canon Law. In Canon 1262, after stating that men should assist at divine services with heads uncovered, she declares that “women should assist in modest dress and with heads covered, especially when they approach the Table of the Lord” (Canon 1262).
Again, we see Saint Paul teaching the proper roles for men and women when he says: “Let women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted them to speak, but let them be submissive, as the Law also says. But if they wish to learn anything let them ask their husbands at home, for it is unseemly for a woman to speak in church” (I Corinthians, 14:34-35). You can be sure that the modern “liberated” feminists in the Conciliar Church don’t like that quote! In one stroke of the pen Saint Paul destroys the entire movement since Vatican II to feminize the Church.
The lives of the saints abound with examples of all the Monica’s and Rita’s who won their husbands and children to a better life by their patient forbearance, their good example, and especially their earnest prayers.
No, it is not the role of women to give sermons or even lead the prayers in the church in mixed settings. Of course, in convents, girls’ schools and colleges, and other female institutions, it is proper for a female religious or teacher to lead the prayers—but not when men are present. In fact, women were not even permitted to sing in choirs, other than in all-female institutions. For example, in his outstanding motu proprio on Church music (1903), Pope Saint Pius X declared: “It follows that singers in church have a real liturgical office, and that therefore women, being incapable of exercising such office, cannot be admitted to form part of the choir. Whenever, then, it is desired to employ the acute voices of sopranos and contraltos, these parts must be taken by boys, according to the most ancient usage of the Church.” It was only more recently, during the reign of Pope Pius XII that the Church relaxed her legislation and allowed women to be part of parish choirs.
So we see that women do not have a role of leadership in the Church. Rather, their role is a hidden role, according to God’s all-wise plan. Let women, then, reject the insidious suggestions of the Father of Lies. He appealed to Eve’s pride by telling her that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would be like God. Similarly, today the tempter tells women that they must be like men—taking on the role of men in church and society, if they would reach their full potential. How cunning is the Prince of this World! Ask these women, who have followed his suggestion and neglected or abandoned the role of mothers in order to become important in the world—ask them if they are happy and satisfied with their choice. They may reply affirmatively, but I have to think that in their hearts they must confess the emptiness in their lives. Rather, let women imitate the example par excellence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady was certainly far superior to the apostles in holiness, but she did not preach a sermon, or offer Mass, or go on a missionary journey. That was not her role. Instead she remained in quiet seclusion, supporting the work of the apostles by her prayers, encouragement and example, and earning graces for the spread of the Church. Women would do well to cultivate that “inner life of the heart, in the imperishableness of a quiet and gentle spirit” as Saint Peter counsels. The women traipsing all over the sanctuary in the Conciliar Church are sadly misguided. Their usurpation of the role of the priests is just one more proof that this modern Conciliar Church is not the same church as that founded by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind.
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