The Pope’s video for May is a series of prayer intentions which asks us to pray for the betterment of women the world over. Pope Francis’ prayer that, “in all countries of the world women may be honoured, respected, valued for their essential contribution to society” got me thinking.
I felt twinges of guilt because it is a prayer intention that I wasn’t aware I was neglecting. The reason for my oversight is that I don’t agree with liberal feminism, and have wrongly labelled praying for women as supporting feminism, which is an incorrect and illogical thought process. I realise that you don’t have to be a feminist to pray for other women.
Womanhood is cherished by God; it was a woman who was mother to His Son. So praying for the good of other women, even those we do not know is something for every Christian to take to heart and to pray very earnestly for.
How precisely do we pray for such an intention?
One way is to pray specifically for the particular intentions of our female friends around us – and one excellent way is to offer the Rosary.
When meditating on the Visitation, we contemplate that when Our Lady was pregnant she prioritised visiting Elizabeth so she could help her elderly relative who was pregnant with John the Baptist.
Benedict XVI wrote in Spe Salve that Our Lady was the first missionary because she carried Our Lord in her womb as she travelled to Elizabeth.
Praying the Visitation may call to our minds the intentions of pregnant women and even women who are having exceptionally difficult pregnancies, thus each time we offer these intentions it can be a pro-life work.
A lot of attention focuses on how the Church as an institution can do more to value women.
When I was taking my university degree, it was thought by feminist academics that women would only be honoured by the Catholic Church if women were ordained alongside men. When I would proffer an alternative view, I was shut down and increasingly excluded from ‘the debate’, I was one woman they did not recognise because I held differing views.
Much less discussion is given to how Catholic women can do good by their fellow women on an everyday basis. There are those of us, and I accuse myself of this, who are hypocrites in this regard.
I have cheered and cooed at dinner parties that Hermine Speier was the first woman to be employed by the Vatican in 1934. But I can’t remember the last time I had enough generosity of spirit to find and congratulate a female Catholic near me in London who has broken the glass ceiling for women in her area of work.
Now that I am praying in tandem with Pope Francis that women be ‘honoured’, I will be more conscious of honouring other Catholic women, not just for their achievements, but also if they seek to do good to others and who make the Church proud of her female members.