Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mulieris Dignitatem

I realize that this is probably the most boring thing that I could post during Baby Leopards' countdown, but life must go on. Plus, dear reader, you can be like my whole family and skip the long, picture-less posts. 

One of my mentees suggested that we read Mulieris Dignitatem together; I agreed, and remembered, in the course of reading, that I'd read this before. Here are my thoughts (mostly notes for myself) as I read:

Mulieris Dignitatem: "It is a question of understanding the reason for and the consequences of the Creator's decision that the human being should always and only exist as a woman or a man."

Emily Hale: Is a human being always and only a woman or a man? Certainly in the scriptural account of creation in Genesis. Certainly in Aquinas' description of sex as a necessary accident. But what about cases in which it isn't clear? What about where chromosomes are XXY? What about intersex persons, where doctors and parents often choose one sex or another? This question comes from my work in disability studies, which is attuned to cases that are atypical. This letter focuses on the typical cases, but in no way touches on the other cases.

MD: Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, points us to the supernatural union with God that humankind is made for. Mary, like Christ, is a servant.

EH: Throughout this letter, and especially at the beginning, I'm struck by how much he emphasizes women's (through Mary's vocation) similarity to men, rather than difference.

MD: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). Man and woman derive their dignity and vocation from this beginning. The institution of marriage is in the same context as the creation of man and woman. Original solitude is overcome with the creation of man and woman; this is like the divine communion of the trinity.

MD: "We can easily understand that - on this fundamental level - it is a question of a "help" on the part of both, and at the same time a mutual "help". To be human means to be called to interpersonal communion. The text of Genesis 2:18-25 shows that marriage is the first and, in a sense, the fundamental dimension of this call. But it is not the only one. The whole of human history unfolds within the context of this call. In this history, on the basis of the principle of mutually being "for" the other, in interpersonal "communion", there develops in humanity itself, in accordance with God's will, the integration of what is "masculine" and what is "feminine"."

EH: I love this. Incidentally, discovering this idea that humans are called to find themselves through being "'for' the other, in interpersonal 'communion'" is when I decided that I'd like to get married: whether married or single, the point of life is this mutual help and this interpersonal communion. If I'm going to have to live for others and not for myself in the nice, ordered way that I sort of prefer, then I'd just as soon do it in the context of a marriage. 

MD: "The Lord Jesus, when he prayed to the Father 'that all may be one ... as we are one' (Jn 17: 21-22), opened up vistas closed to human reason. For he implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons and the union of God's children in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self"."

EH: The point here is, I think, that union among masculine and feminine through marriage bears some likeness to the union of the trinity. But this union among masculine and feminine is more pervasive than just marriage, too--it occurs in the context of the Church and in other forms of community. 

To be continued...

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