How can the Christian woman of today preserve the moral Catholic values and the heart-felt faith of the early Christians? We are subjected to a conglomeratic mix of the tensions of materialism, physical comfort and convenience, sexual promiscuity, blatant immorality, the selfish lures of advertising and media, plus the ever-shifting economic, political, and social constraints of modern living. How does the Christian lady keep her faith and sanity amidst all this?
The late Jaime L. Cardinal Sin in his book of reflections and inspirations “I Will Serve” (Anvil Publishing, Phils. C1999) addresses this situation in his reflection “A Sincere Gift of Self” (pp 132-137) by defining the word “lady”. He describes a lady as a woman who is aware and concerned of the wants of others and who does not hesitate to help those in need. He believes that a real Christian lady is not someone who just believes in Christ, but a person who obeys Jesus’ commandments to love: to love God and one’s neighbor. And he cites Mama Mary as the prime example of the authentic Christian lady.
Cardinal Sin points out three qualities that a Christian lady should emulate and cultivate. These are simplicity, sincerity and serenity.
“Simplicity is a refinement of the heart and mind, an inner sensitivity and a humble attitude towards people. Mary had this quality in abundant measure. When the angel told her, you are the handmaid of the Lord, she said simply, gently, and in all humility: ‘Let it be done according to your word.’
He continues by describing sincerity as “being true to one’s self, not wearing any masks to hide one’s identity or real intentions.” Sincerity therefore is the capacity to relate to people as people, rather than as objects or things. The sincere lady has no duplicity in her heart, in her words or in her actions.
The third quality of an authentic Christian lady is serenity, a quality of peace, of inner tranquility. He points out that Mary showed such tranquility and serenity in her acceptance of the angel and his announcement, in her resulting pregnancy and throughout her life with Jesus. She accepted the challenge given to her, believing and trusting in God that she had nothing to fear.
In the eyes of Cardinal Sin the true dignity of a woman, or of any person for that matter, lies in following the way of Mary, of living a life abundant in the qualities of simplicity, sincerity and serenity. He calls this ‘the sincere gift of self’.
He ends his reflection on being an authentic Christian lady with these words: “We become more and more persons that God intended us to be when we learn to transcend our self-love and to live for others, when we learn to serve rather than to dominate, when we learn to recognize the absolute value of persons and cease to use them for our own advantage.”
As BCBP women who are striving to be authentic Christian ladies as modeled by Mama Mary, we will do well to consider and reflect deeply on the thoughts of Jaime Cardinal Sin. Simplicity. Sincerity. Serenity. Let us live simply so that others may simply live. Let us throw away our masks and reveal the sincerity, love and concern in our heart that Mary had. Let us embrace the challenges that God gives us as ways to strengthen our lives with the serenity of Mary and live in peace and harmony with the world around us.
By living lives of simplicity, sincerity and serenity, we Christian ladies can share these qualities with others by our example. We will be able to share Jesus and his moral values and attitudes just by being ourselves, by being authentic Christian ladies brimming over with simplicity, sincerity and serenity.
Let us remember that transforming the world around us begins with each one of us. We cannot change others, we can only change ourselves!