I have truly put my entire heart and soul into this blog post and it is a topic I am very passionate about; I am writing about this because it has been something I have been struggling with for months, for years. Satan once told the Curé d’Ars (Saint John Vianney) that “If there were three such priests as you, my kingdom would be ruined.” When I first created this blog back in 2016 I published a post called “The Beauty of Manhood”, but for some weeks now it has been on my mind to put my fingers to the keyboard and write about the role God has predestined for the woman. I do, however, have a confession to make. For years now – before and after my formation in Carmel – I have always secretly wished that Our Lord would have made me a man! As such, I could be a priest, remain celibate and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; I have always been jealous of these men chosen by God who are able to offer to the Father the highest sacrifice to be found on earth. Every time I hear “you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” from the book of Hebrews during ordinations, I am overcome with joy at how much glory just one faithful priest can give God’s Kingdom. The key word is “faithful” because although we have many Catholic priests, many are no friends of Our Lord and as Our Lady of Fatima said “we must pray for priests, they fall like leaves into hell.”
During my times of absolute poverty of the heart when I have felt I had nothing and I mean absolutely nothing to offer Our Lord, I have been tempted to ask Him “why did You make me a woman? What do I really have to offer?” I must say from the get-go that I have never, not once, entertained the idea that women should be allowed to become priests and I pray that such a concept never occurs; I do not believe that is the role God predestined women to fulfill, but hear me out- this doesn’t make men better, it just means women have their own personal call to sanctification, equally as important. I am not some anti-feminist, but in a very real sense feminism at its core is my personal pet peeve because what it really reveals is the insecurity of women in how they don’t believe they are enough, so they have to prove they can do whatever man can. Since the fall of Adam and Eve it seems to be engraved into women that they are not enough so they feel as though they constantly have to prove to the world (and God) that they are worthy.
I have often doubted my value in the presence of God by questioning what exact worth does a precious daughter of His actually possess before His eyes? When I posed this question to my previous Carmelite Confessor recently, his response was so kind but it did not stop him from being as honest as a Father can be when he countered “do you really believe you have nothing to offer?” I have been afraid to ask such a question in this world full of radical feminists; feminism- as I mentioned- is nothing more than a movement which directs women in our current society to equally achieve all that men can do, all the while relinquishing and disregarding their own undeniably precious role. I say this with all due respect to differing opinions and the love I have in my heart; I am in no way trying to offend anyone. Either way I am sure I will. Unfortunately the truth is that women, especially in our time, (also from my own experience) will never be satisfied until they see that their value does not come from proving themselves to the world that they can do all that men can, they will only be satisfied when they take a deep look within themselves and realize that by being a woman…they are destined to follow the greatest Woman Our Lord has ever had the pleasure of creating- Our Lady.
Let me clarify the fact that men and women are equal – Saint Paul touches on this. However, both males and females have two very different and distinct parts to play; these roles are equally important and if they are not united in perfect harmony, both sexes suffer. If the woman is trying so hard to prove she can fill the man’s shoes, has she forgotten her own shoe? Each woman is called in a very beautiful and unique way to imitate most especially the great Mother of God. We as women are called to fill our shoes in four different ways and the outcome of performing these roles with the best of our ability will only result in experiencing that “perfect fit” that Cinderella felt when she put her foot in that proverbial “glass slipper”. No one else could fit into that shoe but she (even if we may ask “how on earth out of all the maidens could that slipper only fit one woman when there are countless size sixes?”). Nonetheless, the souls of women will never rest until they stop trying to be something they are not, each shoe no matter how much they may resemble another size 6, still has a distinct difference if we look a little closer. If that shoe is not properly filled by each individual woman, men will suffer the effects of this too but the females will be the ones to go through the most unnecessary suffering. That’s right – unnecessary; not redemptive. Trust me…
Our holy Carmelite Mother Teresa of Jesus said somewhere in her writings, that one single prayer alone uttered by a faithful ( there’s that word again!) bride of Christ has more of an influence before Christ the King then a thousand prayers said by another soul. In fact, Saint Louis de Montfort said all the devils in hell go in an uproar simply when Mary sighs over a soul She loves and is pleased with; Mary aggravates Satan JUST by breathing. Why? My journey began to take a turn as my eyes have become adjusted little by little; the veil slowing being lifted. The revelation has been this deep and unfathomable mystery of just how much power a woman can have before the Divine Creator – not unholy selfish or lustful power either. How much God loves the woman who embraces the role she has been given; that she has been chosen for. Three notable women changed my mind on this subject: the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Benedicta of the Cross and the great Carmelite who’s feast we celebrate today and whom I just spoke of, Teresa of Jesus. What are those four different ways that we as women, can slip into the shoe of Our Queen – of Mary? Picture a row of shoes placed by the door, the ones closest to the door belong to Our Lady. It is up to us to make sure that our own pair of shoes are always found to be next to this good Mother’s. If you put them on, it will be to follow Her wherever She may lead you, oh precious daughter of Hers! Although Our Blessed Virgin Mother lived all the roles I am listing below, the rest of us will not be able to perform all of them. I believe God the Father wanted Mary to be the perfect model of each and every one so that ALL of Her daughters could turn to Her in times of despair, during times of uncertainty when perhaps we begin to doubt our value of being:
1.) Virgin, single or betrothed.
3.) Wife or bride of Christ.
While Our Lady was not always simultaneously in the state of being single, betrothed, married or widowed, She was however, always Mother (being predestined) to God and to us. She was always Virgin (before and after Our Lord’s birth) and this being said, there is not one role as women that we have attempted to play that has not already been carried out by Mary. John of the Cross touches on the fact that when a soul has reached transforming union with God, Our Lord sees their prayer request as a command rather than a request because having reached perfection “they are no longer two…” Did you read that? A command. The saints (primarily Saint Louis de Montfort) always allude to God having a weak spot – it’s Mary; He can deny Her nothing. Why is that? I think the answer is pretty straightforward: because She is always perfectly in line with the Divine Will; She wants what He wants and so She always knows exactly what we need. When I had asked the question in the very beginning of “What do I have to offer as a woman?” to God the Father, the answer came through quite clear when I remembered the best way Mary performed Her role. She said “fiat”, not just to being the Mother of God, but in Her everyday simple life in Nazareth. She didn’t just say “yes”; She surrendered with Her whole Immaculate Heart. The difference with Mary’s answer and ours is most likely the way we say “fiat”. How many of us say “yes” or “fine” with a bad attitude? We can rest assured this was never the case with Mary.
Can it really be that simple, that straightforward? All I have to do is offer to God my faithful “yes” to one or more of those roles listed above? Yes, it is that simple because God is simple; He is unpretentious. But let’s face it, since the devil can’t create anything new he simple distorts and perverts what God created; the idea of Satan starting from scratch is almost laughable. If we look around, how many “living copies of Mary” do we see in today’s society? The sad truth is – not many. Saint Louis de Montfort said that God desires “living copies of Mary”. Both men and women can imitate Our Lady in virtue, but who can best imitate Her role in regard to being a Mother or Virgin Bride? ONLY a woman. Yes, I see many women rising famously in financial, professional, affluent and celebrity terms as a result of perhaps greed and sin, but I do not see Mary in them. I can’t even imagine the words “My soul doth magnify the Lord” coming out of their mouths; in fact, I hear anything but those words in this culture of death. So like Satan, who knows the final battle will be between him and the Woman, he seems to be raising women, “his seed” (as predicted in Genesis) who utter the words he, himself told God: “No. I will not serve”. As the devil is building an army of corrupt and unfaithful women, Our Lady is building an army of virtuous and faithful ones who seek to imitate Her, breathe Her. Lucifer obviously already has this knowledge in regards to the power of Mary and Her victory over him; this is evidenced with Her words which proclaimed “in the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph”. Her triumph is indeed reserved for the end, and so is Satan’s defeat. As the battle began with the temptation and fall of Eve, it will end with the fidelity and sovereign victory of Mary – Our Queen in Heaven!
I think that is a good enough reason for the devil to hate not only THE Woman, but women in general – “Her seed”. God’s love of His Mother and the daughters of Mary who choose to follow and please this great Queen have the ability to achieve greatness in this life for the glory of God. The women in our current time do just about everything BUT for God’s glory. My greatest discovery has been in how women truly have something to offer that men simply cannot: that of being brides (virgins) and mothers (something Our Lady knows a thing or two about). Both men and women (monks and nuns) take vows, but vows to a nun are simply not the same as they are to the monk. As much as holy monks may chew my head off for saying that, they cannot be brides of Christ, just as nuns can NEVER be priests. When Our Lord tells the parable of the virgins waiting for the Bridegroom, I think it is common sense when the image in one’s mind is we picture women waiting for Our Lord, not men.
So, if we allow the men and women to be who God created them to be and stop the competition, then we can all be restored to what Adam and Eve used to have – union with God! That is essentially the greatest battle we as Catholics face from the time of our baptism all the way to our deaths – a restoration of our souls in perfect union with the Beloved. While I already wrote about the role and beauty of manhood which is something I am also passionate about, I want to stick to the beauty of what is means to follow in the footsteps of Mary as women, as Her daughters. Remember this, you precious daughters of Mary: It is our role, our destiny to become one with Mary, to become one with Her heel and as Genesis prophesied, crush the head of the serpent. Our foot in union with Her heel… how can we do that you might ask? Let us go through some of those roles lived out by Our Lady and also embrace one (or more) of the four listed.
If you are a woman you surely fall into at least one of those aforementioned categories. Let me tell you a little secret: it is Satan’s greatest fear when he sees the soul of a woman embrace her vocation or calling by saying “yes” to it and imitating Our Lady as closely as she can in her current state. There is power in this – power that will lead to his doom; he knows this. Mark my words when I tell you the greatest temptation the woman will have to suffer is that she is not good enough, that she is nothing, that she has nothing to offer and ultimately believing the lie that she has no real value or influence in God’s Kingdom. The devil is clever that way, but as Our Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus said “when the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!” Turn to Mary and thank God you have been chosen to imitate Her in the way that only you can do as a daughter of God. Decide which one or more categories you fall under and ask yourself making a fervent examination of how you are carrying out being a virgin, single, betrothed, wife, mother, widow or bride of Christ (religious). Take those one or more selections and apply it to Mary and how She remained faithful and I promise you with absolute certainty that although you may face temptations and you may suffer persecution from friends and even your own family, you will be free from the bondage of Satan and you will find yourself in the arms of the Blessed Trinity!
Do you remember my last post when I relayed the really difficult decision of dropping out of college to enter the convent? It became radically clear that I was unhappy; I was restless because I was running from my own path and from the will of God. I saw how Satan has the whole world fooled, especially the role of women under the influence of today’s feminist movement that make the woman believe she has to be everything to everyone in order to have a proper place in society. THAT is truly what I consider being “chained” because I found by simply being obedient to the will of God and being who He made me to be, I was more free than I had ever been before as I was released from that unholy slavery. The devil is so clever when he makes the daughter of God believe she is not enough; when I dropped out of school, I saw just how precious the role of the woman really is to God. She is already everything; the words of Edith Stein never resonated more true in that THE WORLD needs what women are, not what they have.
A few years ago when I was about to enter Carmel, I had a comical conversation with a good friend of mine who recently founded a community of Carmelite Monks and was also ordained a priest. The first time I met him, I can still recall the first impression he made on me when he pulled the Carmelite hood of his habit back over his head after receiving holy communion. My friends and I were sitting in our pews some rows behind him and the moment we saw that particular gesture of reverence, we all looked at each other with our mouths wide open. We didn’t have to say anything as we were all thinking the same: “Well, that was just about the coolest thing I have ever seen.” I told my priest-friend how envious I was that he had the good fortune of having been born a man and was able to be called to the priesthood. Father’s response to my comment some years later was not what I was expecting at all when he replied “Are you kidding? I wish I had the veil of a bride of Christ!” He was 100% serious and enthusiastic about it; I had to laugh, but later it had me thinking: while we women can never perform the sacred duties of the father of a household or a priest at the altar of sacrifice we too, have something these precious sons of God can never offer.
Nor did you, Lord, when you walked in the world, despise women; rather, you always, with great compassion, helped them. And you found as much love and more faith in them than you did in men. ~Our Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus~
As Our Lord suffered in the Body; Our Lady suffered in the Heart. While Our Lord is the absolute One exception in having the strength to suffer in His Heart and Body, something I have been meditating on is the physical strength of man and the spiritual strength of woman. Aside from the beloved apostle John, it was only women who were found at the foot of the cross. Our Lady’s secret was really one thing: remaining faithful. That is the greatest weapon to be found in the hands of a woman and as it was found in the hands of Mary, it must be found in yours also:
I want to end with a story that confirmed this weapon of faith in my own current state as virgin and hopefully, soon-to-be poor bride of Christ. I have never felt so “spiritually poor” in all of my life as I do at this moment; last November 9th I removed Our Lady’s Holy Habit of Carmel and painfully stepped out of the enclosure and back into the world. Keeping my head covered – as Carmelites on the day of their investiture give all of their hair to the Bridegroom as the ultimate sacrifice – I left with only the clothes I had worn when I entered, my blue backpack and the book True Devotion to Mary. I left knowing I was called to be a Carmelite, but how that would fall into place, I truly did not know. I have spent everyday since then trying to move forward: from initially trying to start another Carmelite community to finally realizing my ultimate desire of living the life of Mary Magdalene. After Our Lord’s Resurrection, she chose to spend the rest of her days in a cave while Martha started a community of holy virgins and Lazarus, their brother became a bishop. In order for the Magdalene to remain faithful to her vocation and not leave her cave of seclusion, the angels brought her the Eucharist everyday. As I await bishop approval under Canon Law 603 to live as a Carmelite Hermitess and as I await putting back on the garbs and veil of Carmel, I have been forced be patient and remain faithful in a situation I absolutely cannot control. During this period of waiting, I learned a very valuable lesson; I read a review from another woman’s commentary of the fairy tale Cinderella and I was astonished to see yet again how these “morality tales” are another one of Our Lord’s hidden Parables:
A lot of people don’t like the Cinderella fairytale because they think she’s just a helpless girl waiting for a man to save her and that’s a bad example for girls of this generation. But I’ve always believed that this fairytale teaches one to be patient. Not everything you want will come to you right away and you don’t have to break the rules to get what you want either. Sometimes it just takes patience and courage. Do the things that you have to do today and take it one step at a time no matter how hard your problems may be. If you’re grieving or you are hurt, remember to still be kind. Thank you, Cinderella. You’ve taught me many things that I still take with me.
As great things take time, sometimes we simply cannot control the circumstances we are in. My Spiritual Director (and priest I mentioned in the beginning from Carmel) recently reminded me that the saints often had to feel the loss of something not of their own choosing; something out of their hands. Since March of this year all the way to September 27th due to government restrictions and lockdowns, I have not been able to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. I went from having the Holy Eucharist everyday in Carmel with the Traditional Latin Mass to no habit, no vows, no eucharist and not the slightest idea of how my dreams could possibly come true. The only knowledge I had was the desire to be a Carmelite bride of Christ – somehow, some day… I had originally set the special feast date of August 22nd, 2020 as a target goal of fulfilling my dream. This is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Roman Rite Calendar and it was always the day I dreamed of taking vows as a religious- as for me personally, besides September 15th and May 13th, there is no greater feast for Mary that I hold closer to my heart.
As I saw the day approaching, it became clear that this feast was going to come and go and I would need to be content that vows would come, but perhaps not on the day I had intended (My Grammie reminded me “it’s His wedding too”). I only had one request for God that day. In California, many of the priests are being mandated under “obedience” (not the holy kind) to limit distribution of communion only in the hand during the pandemic. I was told by my prior Carmelite Confessor that I could simply suggest to the priest in my area to instead place the host on the purificator, a white linen cloth which is used to dry the fingers and the lips of the celebrant and to wipe the chalice and paten after the ablutions which follow communion. I could then simply lean down and place my tongue on the Eucharist without being in contact with the priest, but still not using my hands. Since I have been relegated to only being able to seek confession from a Novus Ordo priest because of where I presently reside, I contacted him for an “appointment” for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (“necessary” during this time of the COVID) on scheduling it for the fourth Saturday in August.
The whole week leading up to this day, I was mentally boosting up all my courage to ask this local priest if he would be willing to “break the rule” and adhere to the procedure I described. I had friends praying on my behalf that a miracle would happen and I would at least receive Our Lord in Holy Communion on the exact day I had hoped to take vows and become Our Lord’s bride. I actually felt much confidence that He would answer this prayer. I knew my prayers were weak, but all the friends of mine who I know had valuable prayers and were most likely to be heard by Our Lord, right? Perhaps I was too confident, like a child on Christmas morning who just KNOWS he or she is going to get toys, but ends up with clothes instead. It was neither. I approached the tree and saw that Santa had forgotten to come to our home, the tree was bare. Likewise, I approached the priest and the answer was a flat “no“. We all know the feeling of rejection when we take the risk of putting our heart out there and of course we know that taking the risk and experiencing rejection is far better than never having taken the chance. That still did not erase the pain I felt. On the car ride home, all I could do was let the tears flow down my cheek as I treated this day as a First Saturday, a day of reparations of Mary’s Heart. All I could say through my blurry vision and aching heart was: “Jesus, it is for love of You, the Chair of Saint Peter and for the Immaculate Heart of Mary”.
The thought that popped in my mind was how Our Lady of Fatima asked for sacrifice, and while I much rather would have rejoiced on Our Lady’s feast of Her Immaculate Heart, Our Lord asked me if I would choose the cross instead. That same Carmelite Confessor reminded me of a great lesson the other day when he said:
Don’t you realize how blessed you have been, and how blessed you are to have experienced such pain? You have had the chance to imitate Our Lady and especially in the Third Sorrow of Mary when She lost Her Son and His sweet Presence in the temple. She couldn’t find Him, but that didn’t stop Her from searching for Him. ‘We sought Thee sorrowing’
He reminded me of how yes, it is important to meditate on Her sorrows, but more important…to imitate. Mary being the Immaculate Conception and enduring the loss of Her Son was not from any defect or imperfection on Her part; She is perfection itself, but when women do their best to imitate Mary’s faithfulness in times of grief this suffering not only resembles Mary’s, but becomes redemptive! We know Our Lady’s suffering was nothing apart from triumphant and as She was born with aqueducts of rich grace, Her suffering simply made Her reach unthinkable heights of holiness. Ah, can you imagine? Five days later following my “rejection” was the feast of the Seven Joys of Mary in the Franciscan Calendar and the Transverberation of Our Holy Mother Teresa in the Carmelite Calendar. I had just finished re-reading the scene from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia’s Silver Chair where evil comes in the form of a serpent. We always hear that starting with Eve, anytime a woman is pleasing to Our Lord Satan will appear in the form of a snake to temp her away from a path of holiness. Although Eve gave into the serpent and its lies, Our Lady crushed it by Her undeniable faithfulness to Her unshakable trust in God’s will.
As I take the vocation of seclusion very seriously even as I await proper approval, I do not go outside very often, but recently my grandfather left the water running in the little fountain outside on the patio, so I offered to turn it off for him. The moment I opened the door I saw a lizard (which is not unusual), but what was unusual was the rattling sound it seemed to be making. It immediately dawned on me that of course the lizard wasn’t making that sound and as I glanced down at my feet a little to the left of the sliding glass door I had left open a crack was a rattlesnake. I have never once made so immediate a decision as this without thinking it through as I did when I bolted back inside that sliding door and saw it staring at me through the glass! I remember one of my Mother Superior’s sayings of “women and snakes don’t get along since the fall”. But a very interesting thought occurred when I was reminded of what glorious feast days we were then celebrating of two great Women of whom we have no doubt Satan was livid with. It was a moment of positive realization when I had the smallest hint of hope that I am exactly where God wants me to be as His daughter and although I am physically and spiritually poor, I could hear the mighty words of Saint Catherine of Siena echo in my soul saying:
For the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.
Faithful daughters of Mary: Satan hates you for simply being a woman because you are a constant reminder- and threat- to him of the final outcome he will face when Our Lady puts an end to his reign on earth. As Lucifer has already been judged with Our Lord living outside of time, so has Mary already crushed his head with the power entrusted to Her by God. And if you choose to take it one step further by loving Mary and discovering Her secret of faith by merely embracing your identity by fervently seeking to resemble this Queen as a woman and daughter yourself, I promise you that there will never be a need to doubt why Our Lord created women, nor why He has a great and intense love for them. That being said, when temptations arise (as they always do in the spiritual life) remember that Our Lady is the only Woman in history to ever be a Mother without ever losing Her Virginity, therefore the life of ANY woman can always have a perfect Model to imitate. If you go to Her, She will be the One to show you from experience that God doesn’t need what you have, He needs what you are.