The role of women in rebuilding Christian civilisation (Part I)

by Maria Madise

In this month of March, women and womanhood are celebrated in their degradation as well as in their glory. While the secular world celebrates International Women’s Day – of socialist origin and affirming women mostly in their revolutionary actions and rebellion against God’s order – the Church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation, honouring the humble handmaid of the Lord who, by her example and guidance, illuminates woman’s true mission for all generations. The choice between the way of Eve and the way of Mary remains at the heart of our struggle today. This short series of articles will consider how the revolution against Christian civilisation has sought to instrumentalise women and womanhood and how, consequently, the restoration is dependent on the role that women will play.

“To a great extent the level of any civilisation is the level of its womanhood,” noted Archbishop Fulton Sheen. We can only fathom the full dignity and beauty of Christian civilisation when we consider that here this level is that of the Blessed Virgin. Today’s world looks all the more fallen than after the Fall and wholly unworthy of her. However, we should not forget the perseverance of those who lived between Eve and Mary, or their ceaseless prayer imploring God to send the saviour who would reopen the gates of Heaven. This prayer was answered. So should we pray – and work – for the speedy triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

Mary is our surest and shortest way to Christ. The closer we are to her, the closer we are to Him. Jesus and Mary are so intimately united that St Louis de Montfort claimed: “it were easier to separate the light from the sun, the heat from the fire”. “Nay,” he said, “it were easier to separate from Thee all the angels and the saints than the divine Mary, because she loves Thee more ardently and glorifies Thee more perfectly than all the other creatures put together.”1

If she is our true help and comfort, our chief commander and sovereign, we need to know where to find her. With her unfailing assistance, she could be present anywhere, but we can surely find her at the foot of the Cross. The Cross is at the heart of Christian civilisation, of which Mary is the mother and crown.

The late Alice von Hildebrand points to the “privileged position” that has been granted to women in the economy of redemption, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection. The holy women, in the company of Our Lady, followed and served Christ in His ministry, made their way to Pilate’s courtroom, accompanied Him to Calvary and mourned together at the foot of the Cross.2 Amid complete despair, when God Himself was dying, woman received her new mission. The Apostles had fled. St John, however, fled to Mary and it was through him that the dying Saviour entrusted the Church and all of mankind to His Mother: “Woman, behold thy son.” Her task was not finished. And with her, each woman, who wants to fulfil her role, must share in her motherhood wrought at the foot of the Cross.

Order and revolution

Revolution is the attack on God’s order. Recalling the success of the serpent, revolutionaries often follow the same strategy, seeking to achieve their goals through woman. She is a strategic target of the revolution, because of her influence on the family and society.

By “revolution” we mean a movement that aims to destroy a legitimate order and replace it with an illegitimate power. It is the subversion of the moral order and denial of God. This, in fact, is how “revolution” is defined by Dr Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira (1908-1995),the Brazilian thinker and author of the book Revolution and Counter-Revolution (essential reading for all counter-revolutionaries).

Dr Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira explains that all significant revolutions in history – whether the Protestant Reformation, the French or Communist revolutions, or any of the more localised and smaller-scale forms of revolution – are fruits of the same tree: the denial of God and His order. Thus, revolution has a universal character.4 He also argues that each instance of revolution incorporates all those previous to it,5 so that the key elements of the Reformation can be seen in the French Revolution, and the key elements of both the Reformation and French Revolution are seen in the Communist Revolution and so on. It is no surprise then, that we can identify many Marxist and Socialist ideas in the revolution we are witnessing in the Church today. 

Given that the aim of revolution is to destroy the Christian order mothered by Mary, naturally, the aim of the counter-revolution is to stop the revolution and to restore the authentic Christian civilisation in its beauty, goodness and truth. 

In principle, the temptation inciting woman to co-operate with revolution derives from the duty which God has placed on her. Through the sin of our first parents, the original or natural order, created by God has fallen. The relationship between man and God, as well as between man and woman, changed dramatically. Man and woman were punished, each according to their main duty and privilege in the natural order, which for the woman was the bearing and bringing forth of new life. God said to her: “I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.”In each of the following revolutions, therefore, the woman is especially tempted to protest the sentence she received for her first sin: against being subject to the man and making sacrifices for her family. 

Nevertheless, tempting her has become more challenging since Mary’s fiat. Eve, for her pride, was humbled but, through the perfect humility of the Blessed Virgin, the authentic dignity of women is restored. Eve’s disobedience echoed the rebellious archangel’s “non serviam!” but Mary’s “fiat!” – the watchword of the troops of the counterrevolution – restores human nature to God’s order. The gate of Heaven closed behind Eve, while Mary herself became the gate of Heaven. The Fall and the Incarnation frame the loss and restoration of the order which has harmonised Christian society throughout history.

Given the greater part of the punishment that women have borne since the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, we may consider that it follows that love of sacrifice and perseverance are inherent in the female nature. It was through her lifelong participation in the atoning sacrifice that woman’s disobedience was to be redeemed. Until then she was to be completely powerless to heal the wound that she had inflicted on her relationship with God. All she could do was persevere in hopeful expectation of the sacrifice to be offered for her and all her children born in exile. This love of sacrifice, so deep-rooted in women’s nature, is reflected in the words of Edith Stein: “After every encounter in which I realise my inability to influence others directly, I become more intensely conscious of the urgent need for a personal holocaustum.

Mary, however, raised this personal offering to a completely new level. Her love of sacrifice was not the love of a sinner hoping for reconciliation, but the love of the mother, completely united with her Son who was the Sacrifice. Eve was sentenced to bring forth her children in sorrow. In tremendous sorrow at the foot of the Cross, Mary became the mother of all and was obliged to love all. Since then every woman is called to take part in the sacrificial motherhood of Mary, be it naturally or spiritually, and raise citizens for Heaven.

It is this love of sacrifice and perseverance that revolution seeks to destroy in every single woman and in every culture in which they are raised. For the revolution, as well as for the restoration, these are intrinsically related, because the woman who can nurture souls, can also nurture the culture. 

The second part of this article will look at how each episode of the revolution sought to appeal to women and deform their mission.

  1. St Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Saint Benedict Press, Charlotte 2010, p. 30.
  2. Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman, Sapientia Press, Ave Maria 2002, p. 18.
  3. Dr Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), Spring Grove 2008, p. 40.
  4. Ibid., p. 11.
  5. Ibid., p. 4.
  6. Genesis 3:16.
  7. Sister Teresia de Spiritu Sancto, O.C.D., Edith Stein, Sheed and Ward 1952, London and New York, p. 77.