To be a child of the Light or a child of the Dark ultimately boils down to whether or not a person knows their true potential. Aristotle had a particular way of viewing “things” (as in stuff, materials), a view St. Thomas Aquinas would later adopt. For Aristotle any given “thing” had two parts: an act and a potency. Things were as they appeared to be (or were in the act of being), an acorn for example, and things were as they were meant to become (or existed in potency, or potential, an oak tree for example. The Ancient Greeks, interestingly, called things by their potential—so, for instance, Aristotle would not have called this an acorn, but rather an oak. Because he knew tucked away somewhere inside the remote recesses of this acorn, a great oak tree existed.
Why all this stuff about acorns and oak trees, act and potency? Well, it is all really important actually, as we begin considering who we are, or more importantly what we are; because, like the acorn, we are “things.” And, so, like the acornwe have two constituent parts—act and potential—or what we are right now, in addition to what we can be. And if Aristotle were here, what would he call you, or this group? What is your potential?
I think perhaps the most empowering piece of advice that the world seems bent upon keeping from you young women is that you have a very special dignity as women. As opposed to telling you about your true potential, this world would have you believe you can be quickly summed up as a mere object of man’s pleasures, kitchen aids, and/or consumers. Modernity has sought to take away your nobility as a woman, whether through dehumanizing you or by defeminizing by demanding strict gender equality. And what is that nobility? What is your potential? You are a daughter of God. You have divine nobility. Your femininity is a great and laudable asset. We have become too busy looking at women the society wants us to look at women (objectively, equally, sexually, as tools and means towards an end) that we don’t even understand the import of women’s potential anymore. But I tell you now that women are daughters of God. Wow.
So what does that mean? Big whoop, I’m a daughter of God you might reasonably ask. Well, what that means is that you have been created specifically for a very awesome task. A task that only you as woman can perform. Fulton Sheen wrote that among other things women were given a superior function when it comes to devotedness and creativeness. He writes that “no woman is happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice herself, not in a servile way but in the way of love. Added to her devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man is personal; life to a woman is otherness.”
As daughters of God, you are specially suited to bring a special kind of redemptive love into this world. A love that is not self-centered, but other-centered, a love that is self-sacrificing. Your emotional nature connects you very closely to the pulse of the real, physical world and those within it. You are occupied with reality and therefore life. That is why St. Edith Stein reasons that women are exclusively suited for the vocation of motherhood. In woman, she writes, “there are capabilities of caring, protecting, and promoting that which is becoming and growing. She has the gift thereby to live in an intimately bound physical compass …” Women, being so “other-motivated” become what Fulton Sheen calls “the measure of the level of our civilization,” because you will be the ones to propose who and what and how we care for in the world. You will set the standards if there are to be any at all. You will lead the revolutions, just like Our Blessed Mother before you. You will, like her, “sing the most revolutionary song ever written,” as Sheen describes the Magnificat—for it will take a woman to call Mankind out of its ruts and shortcomings because women dare to see and care for the Other in their devotion to the real world. And, like Mary, you may sing the song that “was the abolition of prinicipalities and powers, and the exaltation of the humble.” This revolutionary nature is precisely a trait of the Daughters of God, who according to St. Edith Stein, are specially suited to “complement Man, counteracting the dangers of his specifically masculine nature.” Wow. Women…are…awesome. We need women. We need Daughters of God in this world today, calling out modernity, calling out corrupt power, calling out greed and suffering, calling out men, who if left to their own devices, suffer from the delusion that they have it all figured out—trust me, I know a thing or two about men.
And because you possess so much potential is precisely why society seeks to demean you, to strip you of any notion of dignity. The world likes being worldly and it can only be successful in perpetuating worldliness if it can make you forget who you are and what you can be—if it can make you believe you are Children of Darkness, and not Children of Light, not Daughters of God then it has won.. Worldliness is easy. Greed and taking and hoarding is “no problem.” War is simple. Hurting and being mighty a piece-of-cake. Withholding and hating—spshh, nothing to it. The worldly seek the path of least resistance, the easy path; the world loves a cake-walk. But love isn’t easy. Love…is…difficult. It is a Cross to bear…after being beaten…after being ridiculed…bore up a hill where only the greatest suffering awaits. Love and mercy are the answers to the ills of the worldly, but they are noble things, not easy things. And it is you, as Daughters of God, Children of Light that are suited to bring and bear witness to these noble tasks. Again, Fulton Sheen writes, “when man loves woman, it follows that the nobler the woman, the nobler the love, the higher the demands by the woman, the more worthy a man must be.” Your potential, ladies, is to be ever-noble and correspondingly make the world rise up to your noble level. Men will do whatever they need to do to pursue you…so aim high, even if the world tells you to aim low, to be easy. Your potential, ladies, is to be ever-demanding and correspondingly make the world worthy. Again, men will do whatever. We’re shameless, I’m tellin’ you, I know. But you have to buy into that, because a bunch of us men who don’t want a tough and noble pursuit, who don’t like a demanding woman, who just want an easy world, we have created a world that makes it easy on us by making women forget the value and dignity they possess as women.
You are Children of the Light, not of the Darkness. You have the power to revolutionize this world simply by being who God meant for you to be. Forget what society will try to tell you about femininity. Of course it wants to destroy it, abolish it, redefine it, make you think it oppressive; because the worldly seeks its reign of terror. But we can counter this feminine-erasing tendency of society by actually turning back to Aristotle. We can start taking back who women are by calling things by their potential and not their act. Stop looking at an acorn and seeing just an acorn. Call it what it can be—call it an oak. And as we get in the habit of doing this, you will be faced with a startling image when you next look in the mirror. Because you won’t see who you are, but what you can be. You will see in that present reflection a Daughter of God, a Child of the Light, a woman with great, noble, and divine dignity, fully-equipped by her very nature to burst forth upon the scene of a disordered and decaying world where you can be a much needed instrument of life and redemption. The world needs women. Real women…feminine women…Daughters of God…the world needs you, ladies…you.
By Chad Cunningham