By Ononye VC
In his address to the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO),titled “The Gift of Women”, Pope Francis recalled the importance of valuing women in social life.
Nowadays there is an urgent need to find peace in the world, a peace that begins, above all, within the heart, an ailing heart, lacerated by the division of hatred and rancour. In addition to peace, the anthropological identity of women is also in danger as they are used as tools, as the subject of political disputes and cultural ideologies that ignore the beauty with which they were created. There is a need for greater appreciation of their capacity for relationship and giving, and for men to better understand the richness of the reciprocity they receive from women, in order to recover those anthropological elements that characterise human identity and, with it, that of women and their role in the family and society, where they never cease to be a beating heart. And if we want to know what humanity is without woman, what man is without woman, we have it in the first page of the Bible: loneliness. Man without woman is alone. Humanity without woman is alone. A culture without women is lonely. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness, arid loneliness that breeds sadness and all manner of harm to humanity. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness.
Noting the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, Francis urged us to look at Mary.
Mary teaches us to generate life and to protect it always, relating with others with tenderness and compassion, and combining three languages: that of the mind, that of the heart and that of the hands, which must be coordinated.
Returning to Fatima, in the midst of the silence and solitude of the fields, a good woman filled with light met the poor, simple children. As in all God’s great deeds, the scene is characterized by poverty and humility. We too – all humanity – are represented in those shepherd children, fragile and small, and we might even say a little bewildered and frightened in the face of events that occur in life and which at times we are unable to understand, because these events overtake us and throw us into crisis.
In this context, marked by weakness, one must wonder: what made Mary strong? What gave strength to the shepherd children to do what she asked of them? What is the secret that transformed those fragile and small people into authentic witnesses of the joy of the Gospel? Dear sisters, the secret of all discipleship and readiness for mission lies in cultivating this union, a union from within, with the “sweet host of the soul” that accompanies us always: the love of God and staying joined to him, like the branches of the vine (cf. Jn 15:1-11), to live – like Mary – the fullness of being women with the awareness of feeling chosen and agents in God’s salvific work.