One of the activities is my presentation on "Catholic Heroines." My heroines are not always saints, so I am including Jennifer Paterson, one of the two Fat Ladies of the television series. (I am leaving out Simone Weil, sadly, as after years of thinking about her I have sadly concluded she was a very dangerous heretic and has had much too much influence as it is.)
I do hope Jennifer is already in heaven, but she did drink like a fish and, worse, drank and drove. Nevertheless, she was an unabashedly public Catholic, who went racing off to the Trad Mass at Brompton Oratory every Sunday, even though she lived steps away from Westminster Cathedral.
Jennifer was a Seraphic Single all her life.
If you're curious, here is the beginning of my Polish lecture to college-age and older women on the same topic:
It is important for women to have heroines because we often feel limited by our femaleness. We want people to think well of us—we want to be accepted, loved and respected are women—but this desire can be in direct competition with what it means to be a faithful Christian, especially when our society is anti-Christian, or has fallen away from Christ. And sometimes Christ asks us to live in ways that even other Christians—our families, for example—resist.
In the West many Catholic parents resist when their sons say they wish to become priests or their daughters say they wish to be nuns. Sometimes women are very worried when their sisters or daughters have no boyfriends and tell them that they need to abandon their high standards of chastity. About ten years ago, an old high school friend (znajoma) asked me if I would consider just going to a bar, picking up a man and getting deliberately pregnant by him! She thought this preferable to having no children at all.
This is the world we live in now. And it is very helpful to find examples of women who have lived in our times, and have suffered the same oppositions that we suffer. This is why I am going to talk to you now about three twentieth century Catholic heroines, one American, one Polish, one French [Dorothy Day, Bl. Natalia Tulasiewicz, Simone Weil]. Two you may find very surprising as Catholic heroines, for their early life was not Catholic at all. In fact, both were strongly sympathetic to early 20th century Communism. However, as you will see, living among left-wing political radicals made their lives more like our lives today, for the Sexual Revolution began among left-wing political radicals. The three women exemplify charity, perseverance and integrity. They all had great courage.
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