The latin root of the word ‘origin’ is oriri, meaning, ‘to rise.’
We study our origin to know the root from which we rise. This truth is simplified in the common saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” The apple is precisely what it is and where it is because of what and where it came from. Though related to the origin, each fruit carries its own dimension of unique characteristics.
Reading and studying the beginnings of human nature help us more deeply understand our supernatural purpose and eternity in heaven. I imagine studying our origin is like firing a slingshot. The further back you pull the sling—or the deeper you explore your origin—the higher the shot will launch upon release.
Our shared identity as Christian women offers a common foundation. Each of us can say, “I am a human. I am a child of God. I am a woman.” We could explore the roots of our role as daughter or sister. Many of us can say, “I am a wife.” With each piece of our identity, we rise with a beautiful complexity of strengths, graces, skills, weaknesses, and experiences into a wide variety of individuals, called to glorify God in a variety of ways. Let’s begin exploring our shared identity together to strengthen our foundations of self-knowledge and communion with God.
I am a human.
We hear the fulfillment of the universal human heartache in Scripture, when Adam sees Eve and exclaims, “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” He received her as his own, she was seen and loved in her pure existence; in that moment, Adam and Eve experienced the fullness of perfection, in unity, without shame. Following the fall of humanity to sin, our ability to achieve perfection on this side of heaven faded. Nonetheless, every person’s desire for pure companionship and reciprocal love with others remains a part of our human origin.
I am a child of God.
For an understanding of our supernatural destiny, we study the origin of creation by God. He creates every natural element on Earth as an overflow of his love. He is love. Every piece of creation is a fruitful act of love, made to reflect and share his glory throughout the world and to offer love back to him. As a child and image of God, our origin—and, thus, our destiny—is to love others, to receive love, and to be fruitful.
I am a woman.
Saint Pope John Paul II offers several beautiful texts on the origin of our identity as women. In his 1988 Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, he encourages women to explore the origin of their femininity in Christ in order to know their destiny, “In the spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a “sincere gift of self” to others, thereby finding themselves.”
In summary of Mulieris Dignitatem, four qualities inherent to the feminine heart and soul are receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. As we identify the specific roots of our womanhood in these feminine attributes, we rise with confidence in our vocations by nurturing these qualities in ourselves and the women around us. We grow in self-love and develop a greater ability to fruitfully share that love through our specialized feminine gifts.
I am a wife.
Marriage, as a social institution, is rooted in legal, structural and financial benefits to society. Through a historically secular approach, marriage functions to offer foundational assets to a community for the greater good of all.
Supernaturally, or from the perspective of the divine, we are taught that men and women who share life in a covenant are empowered to reflect the image of the creator in a special way. Beyond reflecting God who is love in their individual lives, married couples reflect the inextricable union between Christ and the Church. We look to Christ on the cross to begin understanding the calling of married couples.
As Jesus carried his cross in a journey of salvation for all, husbands and wives are called to carry the burdens and pains of their spouse in their journey towards sanctification. As Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humankind, husbands and wives are called to surrender themselves for the sake of love of another. As Jesus’ side poured out blood and water as a sign of his purifying mercy for the Church, husbands and wives are called to forgive and be strengthened through their marriage to become an overflowing of love and mercy to each other, and their community. As Jesus’ death bore the fruit of grace through the offering of his body and blood, celebrated bodily through the Eucharist, husbands and wives are called to be fruitful through the sharing and offering of their own body and blood in creating new life.
We study our origin to know the root from which we rise.
What is another piece of your identity? I invite you to trace back through your life’s journey of memories, experiences, and callings to solidify your origin in that role. How can a deeper understanding of your origin teach you about yourself, God’s presence in your life, or where God may be calling you? How do your passions, desires, and gifts enable you to love others, to be loved, or to be fruitful in the world?
Reflecting on the origin of your personality, joys, passions, fears, and experiences will undoubtedly pull you to a deeper understanding of your roots so you may rise to the highest heights of your destiny. Ultimately, the ways in which we fulfill our vocations point us to our desire for the ultimate and infinite union with God in heaven.