The Truth About the Sexes Women s Edition

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1 WOMEN S EDITION The Truth About the Sexes Women s Edition Chapter 1: Seeking the Truth About Womanhood (Lisa Cotter) Questions 1. How does our current society describe the ideal woman? Why are many of these standards problematic for women? 2. Pope John Paul II said, The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the human as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way. When the Book of Genesis speaks of help, it is not referring merely to acting, but also to being. Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the masculine and the feminine that the human finds full realization. Letter to Women, June 29, Read: The woman of course, as much as the man, must take care that her sensitivity does not succumb to the temptation to possessive selfishness, and must put it at the service of authentic love. Pope John Paul II, July 23, 1995 Describe ways in which our sensitivity and emotions can rule us in unhealthy ways and end in possessive selfishness. What are some ways we can guard against these pitfalls? 5. Who are some women in your life who have used their feminine genius to make the world more human, recognizing the needs around them and responding in love? 6. Small steps can. Saints aren t made overnight. What are some small steps we can take each day to grow in holiness? Based on Genesis 2:18, what is the original purpose of woman? How are we to understand the principle of help? 3. Read: Without the contribution of women, society is less alive, culture impoverished, and peace less stable. Pope John Paul II, July 23, 1995 Pope John Paul II describes the Feminine Genius as vitally essential to society and the Church. What is meant by the Feminine Genius, and how are we called to use it? Answers on page 2

2 Women s Edition Chapter 1: Seeking the Truth About Womanhood (Lisa Cotter) 2 Answers 1. Popular culture seems to change its image of the ideal woman every years. Such a physical image is impossible to achieve. 2. The principle of help refers not just to acting but also to being. A woman s very existence offers this help to humanity in a mutual and complimentary way. 3. The feminine genius refers to the unique qualities of a woman s nature: her strength, beauty, intuition, fidelity, self-giving, acceptance, receptivity, empathy, etc. As a part of the feminine genius, a woman s intuition allows her to see and recognize the needs of others around her. 4. As women, we must ensure that we do not allow our emotions to rule us, to turn inward on ourselves and our own desires. We must put our sensitive nature at the service of authentic love. Acts of service always help us to forget ourselves and our own selfishness. 5. Allow the group to discuss. 6. Allow the group to discuss.

3 Women s Edition Chapter 2: The Heart of a Woman (Dr. Edward Sri) 3 Chapter 2: The Heart of a Woman (Dr. Edward Sri) Questions 1. How would you describe a strong marriage? What do marriages and relationships need not only to survive but to thrive? 2. What do you think is behind the prevailing anxiety that exists today around marriage and relationships between men and women? Nature of Love 3. Let us make man after our likeness, after our own image (Genesis 1:26). What does God s image tell us about the nature of love? What does being made in His image tell us about ourselves and the nature of our relationships? 4. Pope John Paul II said, Man finds himself only when he makes a sincere gift of himself. How does this statement compare to the modern understanding of love? Avoiding Pitfalls 7. What are some warning signs of an unhealthy relationship? 8. Discuss the ways in which men and women approach relationships differently. As women, what specific temptations do we face? 9. How can an overemphasis on feelings or sentimentality in a relationship endanger love? How does this lead to disillusionment and frustration? 10. John Paul II said, Emotions avoid the questions of Truth. How can we guard against a hypersentimentalized view of love? Attraction 5. Discuss the role of attraction in relationships and the difference between sensuality and sentimentality. How can attraction be both good and helpful? How can it be misused? 6. Love, if it is real, draws us to the personhood of the other, not merely his attributes. Have you ever found yourself drawn not so much to a man s personhood but to the attention he gives you? Have you ever been in a relationship where a man was committed less to you than to the pleasure he derived from you? Answers on page 4

4 Women s Edition Chapter 2: The Heart of a Woman (Dr. Edward Sri) 4 Answers 1. With time, a marriage should grow in love, unity, and intimacy. 2. Allow the group to discuss. Nature of Love 3. God is triune a communion of love. His very nature is a relationship of love; His inner life is one of selfgiving love. We are made in this Love and for this Love. Our relationships should be a reflection, an image, of such love. 4. The modern view of love is not about self-giving, but self-getting; it asks, What s in it for me? It focuses on one s own feelings and emotions instead of seeking the good of the other. Attraction 5. Sensuality is attraction to physical attributes; sentimentality is attraction to emotional or psychological qualities. This attraction is both good and from God, because He ultimately wants us to be drawn to the person who possesses these qualities. The problem comes when we focus on those qualities and our pleasure alone, not the whole person: This can lead to idealizing that person on one hand, or using him or her on the other. 6. Allow the group to discuss. Avoiding Pitfalls 7. Fear of conflict; inability to confront the other about struggles in the relationship; pretending problems are not as bad as they really are. 8. Men are more sensual: A physical gesture might not have the same meaning for him that it does for a woman. Women are more sentimental, often possessing the ability to connect more deeply with others on an emotional level. That may lead some women to do things sexually with a man that she wouldn t ordinarily do in order to fulfill her desire for a sense of closeness, the security of having a boyfriend, or feeling loved. 9. The danger occurs when we make feelings the primary gauge of love in a relationship. Today, love is often reduced to a mere feeling, but feelings can be misleading. Unchecked emotions can lead to the idealization of the other, where we project onto a person values and qualities that they do not have. When we do so, we are not honoring the personhood of the other but the image we have created of him. This often leads to disillusionment and disappointment because, eventually, we must face the real person. When he does not possess all the qualities we originally envisioned, we are left feeling frustrated. 10. We must use our intellect to keep our passions in check and not be afraid to ask ourselves tough questions and answer them honestly.

5 Women s Edition Chapter 3: Catholic. Woman. Servant. Leader. (Helen Alvare) 5 Chapter 3: Catholic. Woman. Servant. Leader. (Helen Alvare) Questions Preliminary question (consider while viewing the talk): How do we use our gifts of femininity, intelligence, leadership, and servanthood to respond to the changing pressures of our society, especially with regards to sexuality? 1. Read Genesis 3:15. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve, there has been enmity between the Devil and the woman. In what ways do women continue to experience this enmity? How has this attack become more visible recently? 2. What does the recent HHS contraceptive mandate communicate about the nature of women and their freedom? 3. Contrast the message of the contraceptive mandate with the Christian understanding of human sexuality and the dignity of women. Considering that God is a Trinity in continuous relationship with others (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), what does this tell us about our nature and our need for relationships? 5. What are some of the implications of the mandate for Catholics business owners, social services, schools, and hospitals? 6. As an effect of Original Sin, the male-female relationship is fraught and prone to abuse. What are some practical ways we, as women, can guard against using one another or competing with one another and instead devote ourselves to the mutual service? 7. In what ways can we better spread the Christian message about human sexuality and the dignity of women within our own fields and spheres of influence? How can we work to be better informed on such issues? 4. Why is the mandate s message about sexuality particularly harmful to the poor? Answers on page 6

6 Women s Edition Chapter 3: Catholic. Woman. Servant. Leader. (Helen Alvare) 6 Answers 1. Allow the group to discuss. 2. In recent years, various federal laws have sent the message that contraception and abortion are the essence of women s freedom that, in order to be truly free, women must be able to commit sexual acts outside of a committed relationship and avoid the possibility of a relationship with a child. In essence, this sends a message that sexual expression, free from responsibility or relationship, is the heart of women s freedom. 5. The mandate does not permit these organizations to exercise their right to act according to their conscience. 6. Allow the group to discuss. 7. Allow the group to discuss. 3. The contraceptive mandate implies that the essence of freedom is a freedom from relationship, but as Christians, we believe that we are made for relationships with God and with others. 4. Promiscuity and cohabitation are a huge predictor of divorce. In addition, the crime rate is directly linked to the lack of a father in the home. What s more, it s harmful to family formation: Trends show that the poor tend to marry less, have higher numbers of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, more abortions, a higher divorce rate, more cohabitation, and shorter lifespans.

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