Loading
Feminine beauty created for 'spousal love,' says Catholic professor
Mary Shivanandan
Mary Shivanandan
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Writing for this week's edition of the Thomas More College journal, Catholic professor Mary Shivanandan addressed the topic of feminine beauty, explaining that a woman's physical and spiritual attributes find their fullest expression in “spousal love,” whether in motherhood or consecrated celibacy.

On Aug. 5, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts released its latest journal issue, Second Spring: an International Journal of Faith and Culture. This recent edition is dedicated to exploring the Theology of the Body from several perspectives.

In her article titled, “The Spousal Nature of Feminine Beauty in John Paul II,” Mary Shivanandan – a professor of Theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America – explores the theme of the purpose of a woman's beauty and where it finds its fullest expression.

“Feminine bodily beauty!” Shivanandan began in her article. “Is this not a topic more suitable to a fashion magazine than a serious journal? What does it have to do with theology?”

“But John Paul II takes feminine beauty very seriously,” the professor underscored.

“Towards the end of the first cycle of his Catechesis on Human Love, he writes: 'The whole exterior of woman’s body, its particular look, the qualities that stand with the power of perennial attraction ... are in strict accordance with motherhood.'”

“Right away,” she added, “we have a perspective on the feminine body that is not characteristic of our culture, which either favors the thin straight silhouette of the fashion model or the dress open and showing curves to the navel.”

In modern society, woman “is presented either without sexual attributes or as a sex object,” the professor lamented. “How is it even possible to address a culture that treats the feminine body in this way?”

However, “John Paul II does not hesitate to rise to the challenge,” she wrote.

“When John Paul II links the visible bodily aspect of a woman with its power of perennial attraction 'in strict accordance with motherhood,' he may seem to be limiting the often wondrous visible beauty
of woman to one dimension.”

Yet, “the mystery of femininity manifests and reveals itself in its full depth through motherhood,” Shivanandan said, quoting the late Pontiff.

“This mystery, as he explains in his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, involves 'a special openness
to the new person' on the part of woman through which she discovers her own identity precisely as woman.”

In this gift of self through the openness of bringing new life into the world, a woman not only realizes her identity as female, but reaches the fullest expression of what feminine beauty is, explained Shivanandan.

“Beauty, feminine beauty, which, as John Paul II says, is in strict accordance with motherhood, is
both a source and fruit of spousal love lived sacramentally in the family,” she noted. “From it radiates the beauty of the civilization of love.”

“It is the great challenge of our time to recover this sense of feminine beauty as intrinsically
spousal,” Shivanandon wrote.

In addition to a woman expressing her beauty as a gift of self through spousal love in marriage, the professor added, in “the consecrated virgin the spousal form is also present but expressed in a different way, as signifying the priority of personhood over bodily sexual attraction.”

“Espoused to the Lord, she points to the eschaton (heavenly reality) where there is no giving in human marriage. Thus the woman has to be affirmed in her role as person, oriented to self-gift, spouse and mother in a correct order.”

Shivinandan reflected that this “way of approaching feminine beauty is almost entirely foreign to our culture, which isolates feminine bodily beauty as a thing in itself, using it to sell products or titillate the senses.”

Pope John Paul II, however, “finds the search for what he calls 'integral beauty' or 'purity free from stain' in the bridegroom’s search in the Song of Songs,” the professor observed.

“He notes that the Song of Songs refers to the bride as 'a garden closed,' a 'fountain sealed,' because, in the Pope’s words, she is 'the master of her own mystery.'”

“The authentic gift of the woman, which is essential to her personal dignity, is revealed in the gift of self as spouse and mother.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Nov
26

Liturgical Calendar

November 26, 2014

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 21:5-11

Gospel
Date
11/25/14
11/24/14
11/23/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Rev 15: 1-4
Gospel:: Lk 21: 12-19

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
11/25/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 21:5-11

Homily
Date
11/25/14
11/24/14
11/21/14