Lent with St Edith Stein Day 2: The Downside to Feminine Nature

Lent with St Edith Stein Day 2: The Downside to Feminine Nature


“For the feminine disposition suffers from the joint flaw which human nature retains from original sin, which impedes her pure development, and which, if not opposed, leads to typical perversion.”

 St Edith Stein, The Ethos of Women’s Professions


Yesterday, we discussed how God made men and women differently with intention. Women have particular gifts that aid us in any vocation, but particularly as wife and mother. Specifically, women have increased empathy and are naturally more interested in people than in things. Additionally, women have a natural drive for personal development and also seek to help others reach their full potential. Sounds pretty great, right?

There is, of course, always a downside because we always deal with sin.  Sin takes our beautiful nature that God gives us and twists it into something evil. While there is no sin that is exclusive to women or men, because of our nature, we tend to fall into some sins more easily.

A woman’s desire to help others reach their full potential can manifest itself in centering everyone around herself. Or in more familiar terms: we become “control freaks.” We can see our husbands and children as our possessions who should do as we desire for their own good. Many of us have seen this extend to the workplace and with our friends. Perhaps in some of those situations, we’ve been the guilty party. However, by attempting to take control rather than gently lead, we stall the development of those in our care because they develop resistance.

Our genuine interest in the lives of others can manifest itself in gossip. Rather than offering help and empathizing with others, we ridicule and judge. We tear them down so we can mask our own insecurities and feel better about ourselves. Rather than developing our empathetic and helpful nature, we suppress it and dehumanize the people around us.

Our desire for self-betterment can lead to envy and resentment of others who we perceive are further along in their goals than we are. Instead of developing our talents, we make excuses for why everyone else has it easier than we do.

Furthermore, we can get so caught up in the big picture of our objectives that we fail to develop our smaller talents that will help us to reach those big objectives.

When we are overrun by sin, our greatest gifts become weapons that hurt the very people we should be caring for. The wonderful gifts we have been given are tainted. How can we ensure that our spiritual gifts are being used to lead ourselves and others to God?

For guidance, we must look to Mary. She awaited the birth of Jesus with great joy, watched over his childhood, followed him in his ministry, and stood with him at the foot of the cross. Mary did not consider Jesus to be her property, but accepted Him as a gift from God’s hands which she nurtured and gave back to Him. “All is based on the concept of marriage and motherhood as a vocation from God; it is carried out for God’s sake and under His guidance,” St Edith wrote. We must remember that no matter what we do, at work, at home, at church, with friends, we must make it part of our vocation. That means we accept that the people in our lives belong to God and we need to help them when we’re needed and stand by supportively when we’re not.

Challenge of the day: When you are tempted to gossip about someone, think of a way you can offer to help them instead. If you hear someone putting down someone else, say something nice about that person instead.

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