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Model for Women, Mary as

Model for Women, Mary as

Q: Should we view Mary more as a model for today's woman than as a model for today's Christian, in general?

A: Our list of frequently asked questions (i.e. #1) included a discussion of Mary as a model for women today. However, Mary is also a superb model for Christians, in general. Despite the cultural gap of twenty centuries, the faith and active love for God and neighbor which she showed are ideals for which every member of the Church should strive. The Church frequently presents her as a type or model for Christian faith and discipleship.

Also, even though Mary's culture and life circumstances differ from that of women today, in many ways she may still be a model for them. As Pope John Paul II noted in his encyclical The Dignity and Vocation of Women, women bring certain gifts to society which are unique to their sex. The inclination to give of oneself for love of others, as good mothers do, is such a gift. As a woman, Mary is able to model the living of these gifts in a special way. The custom of choosing saintly models based on their life experience (e.g. Thomas More for lawyers) is very old in Catholicism, and derives more from the sense of the faithful than from hierarchical decisions. In this sense, Mary offers a natural model for wives and mothers, though there were aspects of her situation unique to Mary because of her God-given role in salvation history. Indeed, even the self-giving love which has such a maternal character in her, is certainly an ideal for all people to imitate in their own manner. Another perspective on Mary's femininity is that of sister. Early Christians addressed each other as sisters and brothers to indicate solidarity during their earthly journey to the Father. Mary, progressed along a 'pilgrimage of faith' during her own life in an exemplary way, and is a model for all of us in this regard.

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