Saturday, April 23, 2011

Women of Substance

Those of you who are cradle Catholics like I am know exactly what is happening in this picture. You might even be humming to yourself the familiar tune from the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday during Lent at St. Philip Neri Parish in Lynwood, California- grades one through eight- we attended this ritual which reenacts the journey to Calvary where Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.  Along this path Jesus meets Veronica.

Just recently on Facebook a friend of mine posted in exasperation: “I’m looking for one strong female role model!  Come on! I know you are out there!”  She received 52 comments.

The thread went something like this:

I need someone to talk to, draw inspiration from. Someone who doesn’t go eeeek when they break a fingernail!  I’m frustrated with the shallowness of women these days! It’s all about appearances!

We need a round table of women willing to meet with no makeup on!

I could spend a whole day on the shallowness of boobs!

How much wine have you had?

Not nearly enough!

Why aren’t there more women adventurers?  Why do we allow ourselves to be tied down and tethered to domesticity?

A slave to our biology! To bear and then nurture selflessly…

Or the corporate apron!

I like men lots. I can’t stand women running around degrading the whole sex with fake boobs and fake weakness and fake airheadedness to make cavemen feel macho.

A woman who is willing to face each and every one of her fears directly in the eye!

Putting it in a form of a prayer always works to bring what I seek into reality.

And a prayer it is… find me one female who is a work in progress, willing to face her fears, doing the best she can in this world with integrity and strength which is her birthright.  A person from whom I can learn and grow into the best woman I can be!


When Jesus crossed the path of Veronica she had a decision to make. Holding the linen cloth and seeing Jesus in all his suffering- blood mingled with sweat dripping off his face- she stepped out in faith against all odds. She shrank from fear and gathered every ounce of courage in order to do the right thing despite the violence of the angry guards and a culture that disregarded women in every venue.  She laid that cloth on Jesus’s face and lovingly and tenderly wiped the grime, showing him a measure of humanity and grace. What woman wouldn’t?  It is our gift as well as our curse. She could not let him pass by unattended and without mercy.  She meshed her innate chemistry as a woman with the courage of a martyr and left us with this extraordinary illustration of how to be a woman of substance.

Veronica is a role model to all women.  Did she really exist?  Theologians laugh and say “yes.. and there is a Santa Claus!” But Veronica has always existed for me.

As a little girl standing with her classmates at St. Philip Neri going through the motions of the Stations of the Cross.

Even before I knew what kind of courage and fearlessness it would take to be a woman.

7 Responses

  1. Rosemary on

It turned out to be a very inspiring thread. It’s hard being a woman today, swimming against the tide of expectations which include perfect domesticity, a perfect waist, hips and most of all amazing boobs, the expectations of our corporate employers or the struggle to be everything as a small business owner. I’m glad women are beginning to see the traps and folly of those expectations.

  • Rosemary Ruiz Fernandez on
  • Thank you Rosemarie for that insightful reflection. There really are not enough Biblical women for us to emulate. Of course we can always go back for the answer to the eternal question, “Who’s the Martha and Who’s the Mary” or in more modern times, “Who’s the Mary and Who’s the Rhoda”? I believe that “brow wiping” is something that many of us women are born with. I’m sure you wiped your kids tear stained face and wiped your mother’s brow before she left this earth, I know I did. And each time I thanked God that I was there to do it. I think we can venture a guess on how Veronica’s must have felt as she wiped Jesus brow. Thank God she was there to do it.

  • Yes, Rosemary, I agree. If we took the story further and watched as the drama unfolded we would see the women who waited at the foot of the cross in order to anoint Jesus’ body and wrap it for burial. Then see the women waiting at the sealed tomb- the first to see the risen Christ. We have a hankering for worry and want to have sadness resolved. Can’t seem to let go of that. Someone has to care. Women seem to care. It is truly in our genes.

  • I’m not Catholic or any other religious follower, but I love this post. For far too long women were suppose to be this and that and anything but her courageous self. It takes a huge leap of faith to face our fears but more importantly a willingness to take that leap… and I’m willing to bet that any woman who takes that leap will find themselves surprisingly stronger and smarter than they ever thought they were.

    • admin on

    Thank you for your kind words. I am really enjoying your blog as well!

  • Friend Debbie on
  • I would say that the women you described with these admirable attributes are the ones not famous. They are all around us living their lives with integrity on their own terms in the situations they find themselves.

  • rosemarie healy on
  • Debbie, I so agree with you. I see it more every day. Women who have been in the trenches raising children, waiting up for teenagers, discerning the best methods of discipline as well as the best laundry soap for their sweaty smelly clothes! There are women everywhere who deserve an award for endurance, consistent love and compassion, and for living selflessly in integrity and grace. I count you among those women.

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