Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
-Blessed Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women
These words of the soon-to-be St. John Paul II, and all of his teachings on the dignity of women, are the foundation of an organization called Endow, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women. It’s a a Catholic group that brings women and girls together to study encyclicals, other Church documents, and the lives and writings of saints to help us understand our God-given dignity and respond to our culture’s desperate need for an authentic feminine presence. This primarily takes the form of study groups, which look a bit like book clubs. Groups meet everywhere from church basements, facilitators’ homes, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, and safe houses for abused women and children.
It’s been my joy to participate in this group for about 3 years now, first as a participant and over the last year as a group facilitator. No doubt future blog posts will speak more of this experience, but to quickly take a look back… Together, our group has studied John Paul II’s Letter to Women, Benedict XVI’s encyclical God is Love, the life and legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater. These teachings and saints have become companions of ours along our journeys, educating us, but more importantly, teaching us more about how to love.
Tomorrow we begin our next study, On the Christian Meaning in Suffering, which uses John Paul II’s apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris as its source document. I expect it will be one of the most challenging to undertake.