Letter to a Young GirlALICE VON HILDEBRAND
Alice von Hildebrand speaks tenderly and intimately to a fictional young girl about the great dignity and specialness of being chosen by God to be a woman.
My dear young friend:
I know that young girls like secrets, and I am going to share one with you. God has chosen your sex for you; He made you to be a girl. You know that girls today are often told by feminists that the Church is “sexist” and has “discriminated” against them from the very beginning. She is accused of having treated them as “inferior,” less talented, less gifted, made to be man's servants. She has denied them power in the Church, and prohibited them from receiving the highest honor, to be ordained to the priesthood and so on.
No doubt, you have heard this siren song, because the media are good when it comes to spreading this negative message. And this is why, to rebut these false claims, I would like to make you realize that women—far from being discriminated against—have been granted a unique place by God in the work of redemption. The beauty of their mission is already hinted at in the Old Testament, but it finds its fulfillment only in the New, that is in the sweet Mother of our Savior; in Mary, the gentle Maid of Nazareth who was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer.
Let us take off our “secular” eye glasses, and then we shall be able to see that women, far from being “discriminated” against, are in many ways privileged. And this is the “secret” I wish to share with you. The body of every little girl born into this world is mysterious sealed by what is properly called “the veil of virginity”. That is to say, a “secret” is entrusted to her body, and a secret is always “veiled.” According to Christian teaching, this veil closes the entrance to a mysterious garden which belongs to God in a special way, and for this reason cannot be entered into except with His express permission, the permission that God grants spouses in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Any little girl aware of this “mystery” will feel that her body is to be modestly clothed, so that its secret will be hidden from lewd looks.
Little girls, of course, grow up. How beautiful when a bride can say to her husband on their wedding night, “I have kept this garden virginal for you, and now, with God's permission I am giving you its key, knowing that you will enter into it with reverence.”
Moreover, when a wife conceives a few hours after her husband has embraced her, God creates the child's soul in her body, (as you certainly know, neither husband nor wife can produce the human soul; God alone can create it.) In other words, there is a personal “contact” between God and the woman which, once again, gives to the female body a note of sacredness. Don't forget that He whom the whole universe cannot contain, was “hidden” in the womb of the Holy Virgin for nine months. Once you realize this, you will be awe-filled for the double mystery that God has confided to you: to conceive a human being made to God's image and likeness, and to give birth to it in pain and anguish. Do not forget that it was also in pain and anguish that Christ re-opened for us the gates of paradise—which had been shut by sin. To women has been granted the awesome privilege of nobly suffering so that a new human being, made to God's image and likeness, might come into the world. Meditate upon this for a moment, and you will feel a deep reverence for your body. It belongs to God, and is not a “play thing” that you can dispose of as you please.
If you ever study pagan art, you will discover that it pays tribute to the male reproductive organ, representing it in various sculptures and paintings as a symbol of strength, virility, creativity, power. But from the very moment that the Catholic Church became a recognized religion, she fought relentlessly against this pagan cult. But the Church introduced a prayer uttered millions of times every single day in which the female organ par excellence, the “womb” is mentioned. “Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.” I am sure, my dear young friend, that if you meditate on this, you will understand that it is a privilege to be born a woman, and will respect the mystery that God has put in the female body.
Thank God that He has made you to be born a woman; I am sure now that you understand that it is a great privilege.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand
von Hildebrand, Alice. “Letter to a Young Girl” this letter was submitted, by the author for use by the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.
Alice von Hildebrand is professor emerita of philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and a renowned author and speaker. She is the author of The Privilege of Being a Woman, By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride, and The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich Von Hildebrand. Alice von Hildebrand is on the Advisory Board of the Catholic Educator's Resource Center.
© 1998 Alice von Hildebrand
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