From a Catholic guy's perspective at the University of Illinois
A while ago I was asked by a girl what makes holiness attractive and why would guys find holiness attractive. This was because she had been told this by priest, in talks she had listened to, or reading it in a book. My point is she had heard it a lot and didn't quite believe it. Her big question was if holiness is so attractive then why when she goes out, or to bars, do guys always pay attention to the "pretty" or immodestly dressed girls and ignore the modest girl striving towards holiness? I think one reason is sometimes where she's at and the guys in that place have little respect for woman, but she brought up a point that it still happens in almost every situation that the guy pays more attention to the girl who is prettier or dressed immodest. Which I thought was a very valid point. I wrote a response for her trying to explain why I thought holiness was attractive. I did this by first defining holiness and then attractiveness.
Holiness - holiness is having an understanding of God’s will and then acting accordingly. One dictionary defines it as, being “pure” or “purified.” I take this as striving to act without, or with little, sin. I also think it is having a good relationship with God. I mean having a deep love for God and wanting a strong relationship between Him and you. To be holy I feel you have to have a strong bond with God that really only comes from the mutual love between Him and you (Anybody can have this relationship though). I kind of relate it to a marriage between you and God. You are giving yourself completely to God. I don’t really know how to explain this part but that is why I think the sacrament of marriage is called “Holy” Matrimony. Holy Matrimony is supposed to be a strong lasting bond where you give yourself to the other person. A married person is giving one’s self to his or her spouse just like a person that is holy has definitely given his or her self to God. The strong bond of love that makes a marriage work, between the husband, wife, and God, is the same bond between a person and God that helps to make them holy. So I think holiness is definitely being pure in mind, body, and soul, but the motivation or desire to be pure and act according to God’s will comes from having the bond of love between you and God
Attractiveness - attractiveness is the desire of something. I think most people take it as being aesthetically pleasing or a pleasurable desire. When saying holiness is attractive in this sense, I think it is completely wrong. I think the attractiveness of holiness is more of the recognition of a person being at peace with God and therefore oneself. When you see a person who is holy, they emanate joy and happiness, and it really shows to the people around them. I think what kind of helps a person to notice this is the modesty of a holy person. Modesty keeps a person from being distracted or blinded by eros, the first level of love or attractiveness – the tight skirt / dress that is meant to show the curves of a woman and the low cut or skimpy top that is meant to show a lot of skin or cleavage, or a guy wearing tighter shirts and flexing all the time to show his muscles – and allows you to see the cheerfulness and joy and inner characteristics of a person that comes from holiness. So attractiveness in the sense of holiness being attractive, is not the pleasing aesthetics or the pleasurable desire of something, but more the recognition of the comfort and happiness that you feel not only when you are around someone that is holy, but even after that person is gone and you still can’t help but smile or feel happy and comfort from the encounter with that person and holiness and wish to encounter it again.
So in my opinion that is why holiness is attractive. Holiness allows you to see the true being that a person is and the joy and happiness that is in their life. It is something that is contagious. It is something that when you see it you recognize it will make you a better and happier person and are drawn to it.
Below are a few quotes I thought were good for defining holiness and attractiveness:
-Mary Mazzarello “true piety consists of doing the right thing at the right time solely for the love of God.”
-John Bosco “to be holy is to be cheerful, study and pray, and do good (at the right time)”
3 Levels of love or attractiveness:
Eros - Level 1 for the physical attractiveness
Platonic - Level 2 more the connection from friendship between each other
Agape - Level 3 true sacrificial love that engenders communion and bonding at the deepest level
By: Ben Rahimi
Hello there everyone! So I wanted to come up with an article discussing how Mary’s example can aid young women in discerning their relationships with men. Luckily enough, this topic also ties in nicely with upholding female dignity too.
“Mary must be an influence in the lives of every man and woman. Mary must also be the example we live by in our relationships with God and others. From her example we see how relationships are brought to a beautiful communion that transcends the physical and brings us closer to our Lord.” – T.W.
Mary truly is the queen of all relationships whether they are manifested in a committal of oneself to our Lord in religious life or to another human being in the sacrament of matrimony. For the sake of brevity, I will stick to giving a little reflection on how Mary can help shape one of the simpler types of relationships: dating relationships.
Initially it is hard to grasp how we can use Mary as an example for dating relationships as she was perfect and we…well let’s just say we are far from perfect. However, Mary’s life gives us some of the best examples of what young Catholic women should expect from a good and healthy relationship not only with God, but also with a man.
To begin comprehending how Mary can help young women understand what to expect from a loving relationship one needs to look no further than Mary’s relationship with her husband, Joseph. From the Bible we can see that St. Joseph had a variety of distinctive traits. He was gentle, strong, compassionate, just, and most importantly he was obedient and faithful to God. Obviously, it is incumbent upon young Catholic men to better themselves, however women should never have to settle. One of the saddest moments I have ever experienced in this regard goes as follows. Too often, I hear of young women making excuses for the “men” in their lives. These poor women have no idea of their dignity and therefore can be won back over by superficial material things. This past year, I was chatting with a young woman in class and was congratulating her on her one year dating “anniversary.” I asked her what their plans were for the evening. She smiled and said they would be going out to dinner and a movie. I smiled and said that sounded like a fun evening. She nodded happily and then, with a sad laugh, she said that he and a bunch of his friends had gone to the local strip club the night before to celebrate. I asked her if she was ok with his behavior and the answer I got truly scared me. She stated that, although she did not like that he goes to the strip club, it is just kind of a “guy thing” that he will grow out of and that she doesn’t care all that much. An interesting quote that a friend of mine had posted on her Facebook wall read, “He is a man made up entirely of your excuses. And the minute you stop making excuses for him, he will completely disappear from your life.” Is the man in your life a man made of excuses?
How terribly sad that our culture has engrained in us the idea that men almost have a “right” to behave in such an immoral manner if the occasion calls for it? How much sadder is it that women are now being brought up to believe this asinine ideology?! I have the honor of being the best man for my best friend’s wedding and I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by men and women alike if I was going to take him to a strip club for his “last night without a chain.” Ladies, you cannot allow for this! As I have talked about in previous articles, you must always remember your importance and dignity and save yourself for a guy who is working at being another St. Joseph and therefore at becoming another Christ.
Mary found a man that would care for her no matter the situation. She found a man that would forego sexual relations because his love for her was far more profound than any physical act could ever express. She found a man that would accompany her on the journey to help bring up our Lord, a task that any weaker man would surely shy from. She found a man that would never try to lead her away from our Lord. Heck! Mary was the most beautiful woman to grace our planet and she did not settle and neither should you!
“Love; it will not betray you, dismay, or enslave you - it will set you free”
-Mumford and Sons
To end this little reflection/rant I just wanted to leave you with a few reflective questions regarding relationships:
1) Do you see your relationship bringing you closer to our Lord?
2) Is your relationship with your significant other attractive? Is it a relationship that others around you aspire to have one day with their boyfriend/girlfriend?
3) Do you pray together about your relationship with our mother Mary and our Lord?
4) Do you look for ways to make sacrifices for your significant others or are you allowing your relationship to become stagnant?
5) Is this relationship helping you to discern whether or not you might be called to marriage and, more specifically, to marriage with this significant other?
By: Ben Rahimi
Hello again everyone! I hope that you are doing well. So, to continue in the spirit of building Catholic women up, I wanted to write this piece about the BIGGEST reason you should all be proud to be women…the Blessed Virgin Mary!
"Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son." - St. Bernard of Clairvaux
"Seek refuge in Mary because she is the city of refuge. We know that Moses set up three cities of refuge for anyone who inadvertently killed his neighbor. Now the Lord has established a refuge of mercy, Mary, even for those who deliberately commit evil. Mary provides shelter and strength for the sinner." –St. Anthony of Padua
Well, this is high praise coming from Doctors and Fathers of the Church! Such learned men understood the importance of Mary in the role of their own salvation. Catholic women should have nothing but a warm sense of pride and gratitude in their hearts with the realization that it was a woman who said “yes” to God to bring His Son into the world. Mary, by saying yes to God, allowed for Christ to come into the world and begin His work. Her work and life give her one of the highest honors known to the universe: that of being our co-Redepmtress. We see this fact manifested when Christ tells the Apostle John, “Son, behold your Mother.” By giving Mary to us as our mother he gave us the most powerful intercessor that we have. It is no wonder, then, why the saints and great figures in the Church have had such strong devotions to our Blessed Mother. In fact, it is through our Blessed Mother that we see another God-given trait that men lack but women have en masse.
This beautiful trait is receptivity. Women, with their inherent emotional openness generally are initially more receptive to God’s grace while men generally have to work harder at it. The key to holiness is to allow oneself to be totally reformed by divine grace. It means that one essentially says to God what our Blessed Mother said, “Be it done unto me according to thy word.” Mary’s receptivity and humility allowed her to be the blessed servant through whom God would accomplish great things.
It is also important to note that even though Mary is known for her tenderness and love, she possesses an exceptional strength! Throughout the Bible, God only formed one irreconcilable enmity: it is between Mary and Satan. In the bible it is written, “I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel,” (Gen 3:15). This enmity pits the children of the Blessed Virgin against the children of Satan. However, Satan fears Mary, as the new Eve, above all the angels and saints combined. If Satan’s great sin was one of pride, does it not make sense that he would greatly fear being defeated in the battle for our souls by the humble handmaiden of the Lord?
So, women, when you bring your friend, boyfriend, fiancé, or husband closer to God you are not only making Satan furious but you are fulfilling your divinely appointed role in the economy of salvation. As women, you have the unique ability to influence men’s actions. Either you can show men that you do not respect yourself and that you can be treated as “eye candy” or just another girl thus leading him and yourself into sin. Or, you can remember who you are and your importance to our Lord and hold men to a higher standard. Show them that you are not so easily won over by cheap praise and materials, but rather a beautiful daughter of God and that you demand him to raise himself up in the eyes of our Lord before he can be worthy of you. Well, that is all for today. Tune in next time to hear about how Mary can and should be an inspiration to you in your own relationships.
By: Ben Rahimi
Hello there! Welcome to a little series of reflections, from a guy’s point of view, on why great Catholic women are integral to our society and to the divine plan of salvation. Hopefully, after reading these little articles you will understand your significance and whenever you are feeling down you can remember how important you are and will hold your heads high as Daughters of God.
“The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is how it treats its women.” – Barack Obama
Listening to the words of our current Commander-in-Chief one would think that he was speaking from a culture that truly respects its women or that he even believes in true respect for women. Unfortunately this is not the case, especially in the United States. The way our modern and “enlightened” culture views women can be summed up in one word, “objects.” As harsh as this sounds there is philosophical and experiential evidence to make this case. It just so happens that someone with this opinion happened to be a woman! The French existentialist philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), maintained that women are “pure objects” who exist in order to satisfy the cravings of the male sex. She even went so far as to say that women “are disgusted by their own sex.” This quote gets to a core problem in our society that often goes unnoticed in our culture which is women objectifying themselves. This problem manifests in women willingly posing for racy commercials/magazines and, in the college culture, in the obscene amount of “hook-ups”. Women will consider themselves a “thing” to be won but not a person deserving of true respect and proper courting.
Fast forward to 2012, how many commercials are we subjected to where the object being sold is not the focal point of the commercial but rather an attractive and scantily clad woman. Literally, all you have to do is turn on the radio and you are guaranteed some lyrics which degrade women. For the sake of brevity I will not go into all of the attacks against womanhood. So with that aside let’s get into the real meat of this little series, why it is such an amazing God-given privilege to be a woman and why viewing women as objects is such an abominable thing to do.
When God created women He gave to them an amazing beauty that would have the power to change hearts. This beauty is so powerful that it can be used to destroy man through seduction or it can be used to win souls for God. Along with this beauty God, in His infinite wisdom, has given women their emotional openness. This openness allows women to be more receptive to God’s mysteries than a traditionally rational “machine-like” male mind which, when not softened by the influence of a woman, can be “allergic” to God’s mysteries. How often do we hear men say, “It was my wife/girlfriend who brought me back to God”? This speaks to the importance of being complementary. The complementary relationship between men and women is so beautiful and allows for a true communion of persons. A relationship of supplementary peoples does not allow for them to be their best. Think of an employer of a company. When this person hires people to work he/she does not usually look for someone who is their clone. Rather, they seek out those people with complementary skill sets so that they may all reach their optimal potential.
So not only do women have the power to bring men to God but I would take this farther and say it is woman who brings society as a whole to God. The philosopher, Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand, makes the point that “women are God’s grand instruments of which Providence makes use to prepare the way for civilization…if women fail in their high mission, society will fall into moral decay.” In fact, woman’s high mission to help save society began with our Blessed Mother. However, I want to dedicate an entire article to Mary and why she should be a perpetual source of confidence for Catholic women everywhere. So thanks for reading! Take care, God bless, and hold your heads high Daughters of God!