Click here to
March 27, 2008
Click Here to Order!
Return to Home Page Return to Old Archive Home Page Doctrine, Scripture, Morality, Vocation, Community Identity, Sexuality, Family, Healing, Work Art, Ideas, Technology, Science, Business Politics, Bioethics, Ecology, Justice, Peace Spirituality, Prayers, Poems, and Witness Archive of top news from around the web Columns, Reviews and Personal Essays What is Godspy?
faith article
The Glorious Truth About Power, by Mary Beth Newkumet
Only a radical dependence upon Christ allows us true freedom from the anxiety inherent in both competition and powerlessness.

Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical on the sancity of life and marriage.

"Life After Sunday"
Takes human experiences like 'Power', 'Beauty', 'Security' and 'Destiny' and shows how they are illuminated by the living Presence of Jesus.

Life After Sunday
Innovative publication that presents life with Christ in his Church for everyday believers and their skeptical friends.

Radical Union, by Mary Beth Newkumet
Celibacy is the radical path that the world finds hard to fathom, but which allows the men and women called to it to offer themselves freely to every person, loving intimately and profoundly ‘with the freedom of God.’

Click here to buy the movie...
Click here to see the video!
Click here to buy!
Click to buy at Amazon.com
Click here to buy!

Ovaries and Rosaries

The woman’s sign read 'Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.' How sad, I thought, when only the Catholic Church takes the full truth about our ovaries seriously.

Mary Beth Newkumet

When I watched C-SPAN's coverage of the recent pro-choice movement's March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C., as I listened to the speakers, I was struck by the vision of motherhood-on-our-own-terms that so dominates our cultural landscape. Wrapped in the mantle of "freedom," speakers took turns coming up to the podium to encourage the crowd in the fight for unlimited access to contraception and legal abortion. To prove how important this agenda was to the future of women in America, many of the speakers brought their own daughters up to the podium with them, to remind the audience of "what's at stake" for young people.

As the camera scanned the crowd, I was particularly struck by one woman's sign which read: "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries." Ah, how deeply sad, I thought, when the Catholic Church is the only reality on earth that takes the full truth about our ovaries seriously.

The Truth about Male and Female Happiness

The Catholic Church insists that women be received in the fullness of their femininity, including the unbreakable link between their sexuality and their fertility. To approach a woman in any other way reduces her as a person and profoundly affects the depth of intimate relationship—and therefore, mutual happiness—that she will be able to have with the men in her life.

This full truth about the relationship between men and women is at the heart of every one of the Church's teachings. "Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes," says the Catechism (CCC 1604).

Why were so many of the women at the March for Women’s Lives desperate to protect themselves from the effects of real union with men?
Pope John Paul II has reflected upon this profound and beautiful teaching of the "good" of the creation of men and women right from the beginning. The image and likeness of God is not a solitary man or woman alone, the Pope reminds us, but is a man and a woman united together, in a self-gift of love. And since the Trinitarian God is continually creative and fruitful by his very nature, the image and likeness of God in the real union of men and women must remain naturally creative and fruitful, too.

These realities about men and women have been so central to their relationship with each other, that they have been the core of every form of society and culture since the beginning of time.

Until now.

In our generation, a dramatic change has taken place that has profoundly affected the union between men and women in the image and likeness of God. By denying the truth of the fruitfulness that always flows from union, many deny the truth about themselves as persons. Consequently, the relationship between men and women has increasingly become an image of sorrow and discord.

I saw this reflected on the faces of many of the women on C-SPAN who seemed desperate to protect themselves from the effects of real union with men. I have seen it, too, in the faces of men who are deeply afraid of the fertility of their women. Yet by altering—and therefore, denying—the truth of the unbreakable link between sexuality and fertility, many modern men and women are still living in relationships of unprecedented sadness and division. And for some reason, they are having trouble seeing the source of their difficulty and disconnection.

The Checks and Balances of Fertility

Those wonderful "ovaries" the protesting woman mentioned on her sign have always played a part in the natural moral law that helped men approach women with wonder, awe, and a bit of trepidation. Why? Because the egg-producing function of those ovaries ensured that a man never forgot the fullness of a woman's bodily receptivity and full femininity—including the truth that she could be the mother of his child—if he became drawn into a "one flesh" union with her.

The God-given checks and balances of this truth shaped the behavior of men and women of good will regarding all sex outside of a committed, faithful marriage where children could be raised together in security and love. It brought some restraint to the temptations of pre-marital sex and adultery.

'Simply because it became possible - and simultaneously profitable - we have cut the cultural ties between sexuality and fertility,' says Wendell Berry.
Now, easy access to birth control, the morning-after-pill, sterilization and legal abortion has taken away the careful approach of men to women and women to men. The age-old question that used to be a consideration with every "one flesh" act: "Do I want to be permanently connected to this person through the life of a child?" is no longer posed. Blind to the truth of who they were created to be for each other, many modern men and women find themselves unable to live as a real "communion of persons" in lasting love, security, freedom and peace. This has profoundly changed society and the way we live happily together as men and women.

While the Catholic Church has often been the lone voice of enduring wisdom and discretion in the cultural dialogue, many have dismissed her teachings, mistakenly thinking that she proclaims only an unlimited, and therefore a potentially irresponsible, parenthood. In fact, what the Church asks is that a woman's natural cycle of fertility be respected and known by both spouses so that they can plan their family together, according to the Lord's will for them. This natural way acknowledges both their freedom and their circumstances, and leads them to the intimate communion and mutual happiness that their hearts so deeply desire.

Thankfully, some other cultural voices are now beginning to articulate what the Church has always recognized and proclaimed. "Simply because it became possible—and simultaneously profitable—we have cut the cultural ties between sexuality and fertility," says author and farmer Wendell Berry. "What is horrifying is not only that we are relying so exclusively on the technology of birth control that is still experimental, but that we are using it casually, in utter cultural nakedness, unceremoniously, without sufficient understanding, and as a substitute for cultural solutions" (The Unsettling of America, p. 135).

Husband and wife authors Leon and Amy Kass have also noticed how the breakdown of the natural checks and balances of fertility has destroyed the timeless forms of courtship and marriage that used to help men and women shape the truth about their relations with each other. "The new arrangements that constitute the cultural void created by the demise of courtship and dating rest on serious and destructive errors regarding the human condition: errors about the meaning of human sexuality, about the nature of marriage and about what constitutes a fully human life." (Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar, p. 15).

Respected and Beloved Companions

Many modern men and women no longer regard each other as 'respected and beloved companions,' but as solitary competitors.
When Pope Paul VI issued his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, claiming that the truth between sexuality and fertility must be guarded and upheld, the world—and many Catholics—roared in disapproval. Yet his prophetic words have come sorrowfully true: "It is to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion" (HV, #17).

Sadly, many modern men and women no longer regard each other as "respected and beloved companions," but as solitary competitors. Perhaps here lies the root of the motherhood-on-my-own-terms mentality that so many of the pro-choice marchers now insist upon. Without the on-going, attentive care of the fathers of their children, many feel very much alone indeed.

I, for one, live in joyful hope that the Church never stops praying her rosaries to protect the truth about their ovaries and mine. The Catholic Church is the guardian of the truth about the human person, because within her dwells the truth of all human life, the living Presence of Jesus Christ. Christ comes to heal, transform and fuse the relationship between men and women, united in love in the image and likeness of God. Perhaps it is time again to ponder with Mary this great truth in the heart of the Church which takes seriously not only our ovaries, but the full gift of self in mercy and love.

May 10, 2004

MARY BETH NEWKUMET is Vice President of Lumen Catechetical Consultants, Inc., a non-profit company specializing in communicating life with Christ in his Church for Catholic organizations. She is also editor of the Lumen publication, Life After Sunday (www.lifeaftersunday.com).

All rights reserved. 

Email A Friend
05.24.04   alexander caughey says:
That abortion is the acceptance of murder of an innocent and helpless human being, should not be denied. Unfortunately, we live in a time of convenience and indifference to the right to life of all who are created. That life should be denied to those who are created to live, is to accept that life can be devalued. We must accept life as the epitome of who we are and who we are becoming, through living life. That our view of living life, is now a minority outlook on the future of the human race, must instill in all who believe in the right to protect the lives of all who are in life, that understanding that we are the sentinels of life in progress and to this end we should be dedicating our energies to wards influencing those who think otherwise.

05.10.04   Godspy says:
The woman’s sign read 'Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.' How sad, I thought, when only the Catholic Church takes the full truth about our ovaries seriously.

Click to buy at Amazon.com!
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Advertise | About Us