I’ve been in a funk lately. I’m sure part of it is financial aid worries (hopefully resolved) and the other part is that there are no good role models for lay Catholics. Rather, there aren’t any that fit my situation in life. Most of the intellectuals I admire are monastics or people in religious orders. Lay modern Catholics? Can’t think of many I’d like to emulate, especially for women. Most speak to childbirth and homemaking–both vitally important vocations, but neither mine.

So we’ve got St. Gianna Molla. She’s never spoken to me. If anything her message seems to be the same as what I’d get from my family: I’m selfish if I don’t have children. She’s never mentioned for being a doctor during a time when women just weren’t. She had to have been one sharp cookie–I’m sure the prejudice was against her to begin with, so she had to be better than those around her. I think a woman who was able to overcome such a situation back in the 1950’s is enough proof of sainthood. But that’s not what’s emphasized in her story. I worry that the extremist “pro-lifers” are going to an idolatrous extreme, which objectifies women in opposite ways from hedonistic secularists.

Then we’ve got the Quattrocchi family. I swore I’d never discuss sex on my blog, but I can’t say their relationship is one the Hoopy Frood and I would like to emulate, either. Sure, you can’t build a relationship on sex, but going too far the other way–the term “living as brother and sister” for a married couple creeps me out in a deeply Freudian way–isn’t good, either. Humans need closeness. There was a study done with primates–if you deprive them of touch from other primates they wither, give up, and die. I’ve seen the same thing happen to couples who’ve been married decades when one person in the relationship dies. The other person fades away.

Are children necessary for such a relationship? I know more than a handful of couples without children. The fruit of their love can’t help but spill over into their relationships with other people. Maybe it’s coincidence, but those couples–some of which have been married as long as I’ve been alive–are some of the most loving people I know.

I don’t know why I was given the gift of being able to compose music. I have to believe it’s not an accident, given the hardship and trials I’ve faced getting to where I am today. I’m not after fame and prestige–there are easier ways to get it beyond a doctorate in music composition. I don’t know why I was given the gift of the Hoopy Frood, either, but I have to believe both of them aren’t accidents.

Yet it seems like the overwhelming bias on marriage in the RCC emphasizes women giving up on their careers to be mothers. How is my being unhappy bringing glory to God or using the talents I have? (I know myself well enough at 32.5 to know that there is no way I’d ever be a happy person as a stay-at-home-mother.) How is throwing away my talents best for the relationship between the Frood and I?

I can point to Catholics I’d like to emulate, but they aren’t “big names” or canonized saints. Maybe things are changing. Over on Whispers in the Loggia, Palmo wrote a wonderful article about the role of women in Benedict’s papacy, including a letter from him about the need for women in the Church. So why doesn’t the institutional Church value women’s talents?

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~ by Jen on June 15, 2007.

6 Responses to “”

  1. Garpu,I hear you. It seems the only time they can make a single lay person a saint is if she died resisting rape. They can only make married people saints if the live like “brother and sister”. Enough of this celibate psychosis…Why not make Dorothy Day a saint? Peter Maurin. Cesar Chavez. Thomas Dooley. Franz Jaegerstatter.Do you know who I admired? Marla Ruzicka, who tried to do some good in Iraq. She didn’t make it home.

  2. I forgot Maria Goretti. That’s another person who doesn’t do much for me. Marla Ruzicka sounds like she did some wonderful stuff…shame people haven’t heard more of her.

  3. Ok so they aren’t all Catholic and they aren’t all childless but here is some food for thought:Felipe & Mary Barreda: Married lay apostels and martyrs in NicaraguaSt.Paula (347 – 404): Widow and ScholarFannie Lou Hammer (1917- 1977): Prophet of FreedomSt. Margaret Clitherow: Martyr of EnglandHarriet Tubman: AbolitionistPandita Ramabai: Indian Christian and ReformerSt. Germaine Cousin: ShepherdessMargery Kempe: Lay mystic and pilgrim (1373 – 1438)Penny Lernoux (1940 – 1989): JournalistMaura O’Halloran (1955 – 1982): Christian Zen Monk and IrishRaissa Maritain: Poet and Contemplative (1883 – 1960) married to Jacques MaritainEtty Hillesum: Mystic of the Holocaust (1914 – 1943)Maude Dominica Petre (1863 – 1942) Catholic Modernist

  4. Wow, you rock! Now I’ve got some research to do…

  5. the term “living as brother and sister” for a married couple creeps me out in a deeply Freudian wayAs my toddler would say, “ewww yucky!”I’m with Jeff. Tired of the celibacy clique.Well, at least there is Saint Gianna now, whom you mentioned, who at least was a professional doctor who also had sex. St. Joan of Arc was a soldiering type, though a celibate. Hey there is the lady who founded Seton Hall. She was married but got really into her professional life if I recall correctly.

  6. oops, forgot to mention the book Sweet Grapes, which I compulsively do whenever someone talks about a vocation that doesn’t include reproduction but also not celibacy. That book is about infertility, and about ‘bearing fruit’ in a child-free life. Something the church hasn’t spent quite as much time on as it has procreative marriage and religious orders.

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