"If you knew the gift of God" (Jn 4:10), Jesus says to the Samaritan woman during one of those remarkable conversations which allow his great esteem for the dignity of women and for the vocation which enables them to share in his messianic mission.
The present reflections, now at an end, have sought to recognize, within the "gift of God," what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a "sincere gift of self" to others, thereby finding themselves.
During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the "mystery of woman" and for every woman-for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the "great works of God," which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history-the incarnation of God himself-was accomplished?
Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for "perfect" women and for "weak" women-for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal "homeland" of all people and is transformed sometimes into a "valley of tears"; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.
The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine "genius" which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations, she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.
The Church asks at the same time that these invaluable "manifestations of the Spirit" (cf. 1 Cor 12:4ff.), which with great generosity are poured forth upon the "daughters" of the eternal Jerusalem, may be attentively recognized and appreciated so that they may return for the common good of the Church and of humanity, especially in our times. Meditating on the biblical mystery of the "woman," the Church prays that in this mystery all women may discover themselves and their "supreme vocation."
May Mary, who "is a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ," (63) obtain for all of us this same race," in the Year which we have dedicated to her as we approach the third millennium from the coming of Christ.
With these sentiments, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all the faithful, and in a special way to women, my sisters in Christ. (MD, 31)
After reading this, how can Catholic women feel anything but respected and embraced by the Church, and empowered to bring Christ to others through her. We are women on a mission; women who are called to enlighten ourselves, our families and our neighbors. We are meant, by virtue of our “supreme vocation,” to not only bring, but to be Christ to others. That mission starts with the undeniable truth that the root of our femininity is incontrovertibly linked to our maternity. We as Catholic women are the bearers of the next Catholic generation. It’s time to own that great gift and build up the Kingdom of God by means of our “feminine genius”.