By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Each human person exists as a unique individual, said St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, whose given name was Edith Stein. Bishop Thomas Zinkula quoted that line from Stein’s “Essays on Woman” during an Aug. 9 Mass that preceded a pro-life gala on the campus of St. Ambrose University.
Stein, a leading European philosopher who converted to Catholicism before becoming a Carmelite sister, later died in a Nazi concentration camp. Her feast day was Aug. 9. That fact and her life-affirming observations inspired the bishop’s homily. He reflected on two other claims in “Essays”: Women partake in a common human nature and this nature is differentiated as male or female.
“Edith believed that women are not just women in body alone, but that their very souls are feminine. Their femininity thus animates their work and their love, leaving its mark on everything they do,” Bishop Zinkula said.
Two gifts are present to every woman: the maternal gift and the companion gift. The maternal gift focuses on an innate capacity, given to women by God, to nurture life in others. The companion gift focuses on women’s unique capacity for being the companion of another, the bishop said.
If companionship and motherhood, both physical and spiritual, are integral to the vocation and fulfilment of women, then both abortion and contraception are incompatible with the nature of women, the bishop continued. With respect to their maternal gift, women who have been given a distinctive genius for wrapping their hearts and their lives around their beloved, are rendered sterile through contraception.
With respect to their companion gift, women who have been endowed with a fierce instinct to preserve and nourish all life are pressured through abortion to turn against their own child. “The spiritual and physical fruitfulness with which God has endowed women is desperately needed in every aspect of life and culture,” bishop said.
“The contributions women make to society cannot be made at the expense of their God-given gifts as companion and mother. Instead, these gifts must animate all of their works if they are going to be spiritually fruitful. The promotion of contraception and abortion is an attack on women’s nature as women, and a rejection of the very gifts they bring for the healing of the world.”
His message resonated with the assembly, who after Mass followed bagpiper Derek Grant and the Knights of Columbus in a procession on campus from Christ the King Chapel to the Rogalski Center for the Black and White gala. The event raises money for pro-life causes.
Jeanne Barnett, attending the annual gala for the second time, said she and a friend attended to support Bethany Family and Services in the Quad City area. Steven Nolan of St. Mary Parish in Davenport said he attended with his wife to support pro-life organizations.
Proceeds from the gala will be distributed to various pro-life organizations and for scholarships so that young adults can attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January.