A Reflection on Veiling and Intimacy

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

How did a recent Mass reading about the Ten Commandments lead me to tears over the gift of the body and the hidden, particular relationship spouses share with one another?

Photography:    Fiat Photography

Photography: Fiat Photography

The Book of Exodus accounts how, after times in conversation with God, Moses would descend Mount Sinai radiant; literally and visibly changed by the encounter. The Israelites were uncomfortable at the sight, “afraid to come near him.”

Ultimately, we read that Moses makes the decision to veil himself when he comes down from the mountaintop, covering the radiance upon his face. He only removes it when alone and in the presence of God, in prayer.

How beautifully analogous this sense of veiled radiance is to the way our own prayer lives can or should be, and to the nature of marriage. How there is deep joy in being unveiled, naked before the Beloved, but only within the most intimate, free, and trusting setting.

Why is it I felt shy in front of friends and family after returning home from my honeymoon? Why do we struggle to hide our stupid, seemingly uncontainable grins from others after a moment of transcendence in prayer or in our relationship with our spouse?

It’s hard to re-enter the world right after those mountaintop experiences, still wearing that radiance. Part of my desire to do so, I’ve realized, is a wish to keep the experience sacred. Hidden. Not out of shame, but out of reverence for the gift.

On her wedding day, a bride veils herself, reserving the fullness of a face-to-face gaze for her bridegroom alone. At every Mass, the tabernacle is kept covered or closed until the Liturgy of the Eucharist--the holy union wherein time stops and heaven meets earth.

It is when these respective sacraments are complete--consummated--that an unveiling takes place, honoring the goodness of the body: those of husband and wife, speaking the language of their wedding vows in the flesh, and that of Christ himself, broken, poured out, and given to his bride the Church.

Just as Moses encountered the living God in a direct, personal way, so too do the sacraments draw us into his presence as closely as is possible on earth. And we are indelibly changed: Ven. Fulton Sheen reflected on the knowledge of another that is revealed to spouses in marriage. There is no return to how things were, he says, for “neither can live again as if nothing had ever happened.”

Whether you’re in the season of discernment, of preparing for marriage, or of living out married life, may all earthly joys reveal to you the love of our divine Beloved. May you be encouraged in freedom, unmasked, unveiled, and radiant with his love.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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Newlywed Life | A Responsibility to be Obedient

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

The first sin in the Garden of Eden was the sin of disobedience. Baptism is the initial sacrament in our Christian journey which cleanses the stain of original sin. 

At the moment of our baptism, we no longer belong to ourselves, but we “belong… to him who died and rose for us.” With the grace of the sacrament comes a responsibility to live in service, obedience and submission to God and the Church. The stain of original sin predisposes us to temptation, to fall away from God throughout our lives.

Throughout the lifespan, every sacrament, including the Sacrament of Matrimony, is a gift from God to empower men and women in their journey of service, obedience, and selfless submission.  

PHOTOGRAPHY:     DU CASTEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Obedience is about responding to a call or a command. Children learn obedience in the home through the instruction and discipline of their parents. An obedient child is one who hears an instruction from a parent and responds appropriately and respectfully. In much the same way, our “grown up” responsibility requires adults to hear the command of God the Father and respond appropriately and respectfully. 

When the two become one flesh, man and woman are called to obey for the sake of their beloved, either in protection of or nurture for the other. And through marriage and family life, spouses collaborate to fulfill God’s commands and live as visible signs of his unconditional love. 

One must first discern the will of God before exercising freedom and choosing to obey him. 

Do you know the call God is asking you to obey? As it may relate to you in your individual life or within the context of your marriage, God yearns to be heard. He speaks through the big moments of our lives as well as the quiet movements in our hearts. In order to discern his will, we must create a space to ponder him--in the Mass, prayer, confession, and personal reflection. 

In the chaos of our lives, the will of God can be muffled amidst external responsibilities or expectations from others. 

Work can be a source of complication; for example, ‘I am confident God called me to this job, but my employer is asking me to sacrifice family dinner in order to meet a deadline... is God asking me to surrender family time for this job?’ 

In another context of extended family life, ‘I strive to honor my mother and father, yet they expect me and my husband to abandon our weekly date-night in order to spend more time with them; is God asking me to abandon intimate time with my husband in order to obey my parents?” 

These questions—and the decisions we must make—are complex and complicated. There is not often a clear “right or wrong” answer. Returning to a process of prayerful discernment and an examination of conscience may provide clarity in making the best choice.

Woman and man were created as reciprocal helpmates for each other. Through the gift and grace of marriage, couples can discern, discuss, and set boundaries for decision making in accordance with both God and their personal family values. 

Making a decision to protect personal intimacy with God and spouse may not be understood by others. Such unpopular boundaries may parallel an experience of Christ’s carrying of the cross; by fulfilling God’s design for his life with obedience, he received blows to his body from his peers and community members. 

An act of obedience, as established through Baptism, is to obey the will of God. As established through Marriage, holy obedience is a means for joint sanctification of both spouses. 


“Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility. By free will one shapes one’s own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.”


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Infertility is More Than Physical. Research-Based Advice for Engaged + Newlywed Couples.

In the heady first days of engagement and marriage, it’s hard to imagine the possibility of anything but lifelong joy.

Though the head knows marriage calls spouses to suffering and purification, the heart is frequently focused only on the blissful--and in many ways, rightly so.

Where, then, does that leave you and your spouse the first time you face a major cross or struggle? How can we live in the tension of suffering and hope while seeking to support and understand one another?

Marc Sherman and his wife Erin struggled to conceive for nearly a decade after their wedding day. With all glory to God, they are now parents, yet their personal journey illuminated a deep need: while science and medicine offer a wealth of physical support, where were emotional and psychological resources for spouses experiencing infertility?

Marc and Erin set out to meet this need, working with research psychologists to produce qualitative and quantitative research pertaining to husbands and wives’ individual and interpersonal experiences of infertility. Their business, Organic Conceptions, was founded in 2015, offering online education designed to develop couples’ emotional awareness, communication, healthy thought patterns, and understanding of the holistic relationship between mind and body. 

Whether infertility is or is not a part of your current season, the principles of communication and understanding are relevant to all couples. Marc chatted with us to share his advice and perspective for spouses-to-be and newlyweds.


Organic Conceptions is rooted in you and your wife's personal journey with infertility. Can you share a bit of your story, and how your struggles impacted your marriage and spiritual lives (for better and for worse)?

We often see life evolving and sequencing in a particular way, and “struggle” is such an understatement in terms of what’s happening behind the scenes. Within just several months, that anxiety, worry, and concern over did we wait too long? And what’s wrong with my body? Becomes so emotionally difficult.

For my wife and I, after many, many years struggling, we were prepared to adopt and then conceived naturally--not once, but on two occasions. When you’re struggling, these are the most frustrating stories to hear. Friends and family try to encourage you, but it’s such a sensitive space. 

After living this twice, it was very clear that things were different in each of our experiences. For my wife, it changed her perception of herself, her body, our relationships, past decisions leading to this journey...that led to the start of Organic Conceptions. We hired research psychologist Dr. Kate Webster to look into the patterns that emerge in [couples’ experiences of] infertility. From a marriage perspective, this is potentially one of the first major [challenges] you face as a couple. Everything you do is called into question, including your faith.

Dr. Webster’s research ultimately showed every couple’s story would map to the same set of emotional transitions through grief, pain, and worry. These emotions are validated through the research, and then we can start to empower and support couples to stay married and close through these difficulties. 

There is a way in which a woman experiences this differently than her husband. We tell our couples, neither is right nor wrong. It’s about emotionally coming closer together and leaning on each other. Like any issue in a marriage, there’s middle ground that, through this research, can bring them to that place. Couples begin understanding how to engage and stay connected in the light of uncertainty--and there are other instances of pain and uncertainty in marriage [in addition to infertility; this provides a solid foundation for future difficulties.

For recently married couples bearing this cross of infertility, what practical advice you can share?

I want these couples to know: your emotional health and well-being matters. Research speaks to what happens in the month-to-month devastation of hope to despair.

At the highest level, our emotional and reproductive health aren’t entirely separate systems. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings.

[I encourage couples to not be] be too quick to jump only to fixing the physical and seeking answers; give meaning to emotional processing and experiences, as well.

Individually, couples need to make sense of this journey, but it does need to be entered into together. At the root, it’s about building a marriage, family, and life.

JacoleEngagement-0901.jpg

What about engaged couples? How can they work through fears or preexisting fertility issues in a productive way? 

Erin and I often say, Wouldn’t it be great if someone got to us sooner and made us feel we matter as individuals and as a couple; that our faith matters and that [conception] is more than a to-do list item? This is a wonderful time in couples’ lives, and for some it might not go exactly as planned--wouldn’t it be great if a couple actually puts on the table early on, asking, if this doesn’t go as planned, what options or treatments are we open to as alternatives? What a healthy conversation to talk about the timing and methods you each are open to. It’s a conversation that needs to happen earlier on than it typically does.

Marriages are damaged by the journey, not the outcome.

If a couple’s journey wasn’t made in a connected, intimate way while making decisions together throughout an infertility experience, it can carry over into family life.

The ache for children and family is a natural and human desire. How can Catholic couples respectfully, lovingly answer friends and family who suggest they pursue infertility treatment options not in line with the Catholic faith?

I suggest couples focus on connecting emotionally, share their thoughts as a unit, and remember their faith. IVF and fertility treatments emphasizes the physical, treating it as a problem to be solved, and leaves out the emotional and spiritual pieces [of who we are]--we need to make room for all three.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many NaPro doctors about getting to the root of what the body is telling us: are we brave enough to listen to what our bodies are saying? In my mind, these are the most logical first steps: learning and having confidence in our bodies. Rather than leaping over and dismissing it, let’s pay attention to it. Couples can use this language of the body and the logic of fertility care in their conversations.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Her Witness Photography

An exclusive offer for Spoken Bride readers

If and when you feel called to sign up for Organic Conceptions’ programs, fill in “Spoken Bride” at checkout in response to “How did you hear about the program?” to receive the program workbook and journal for free. Questions may be directed to Organic Conceptions.

4 Marian Flower Ideas for Your Bridal Bouquet

Are your currently choosing florals for your wedding décor and bouquet?

Both secular and religious culture have long traditions of ascribing particular symbolism and significance to flowers. The first use of flowers and plants as an invitation to contemplate God’s creation is believed to have originated in medieval monasteries. Saint Basil the Great wrote in a homily, “I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to yon the clear remembrance of the Creator.”

The thought that living things speak a language, drawing our attention to the Father’s creativity, precision, and beauty, is a profound one. If the language of flowers appeals to you, consider incorporating blossoms that signify Our Lady--the purest, most radiant bride--into your selections. Here, four flowers with Marian significance.

Lilies

Many images of the Annunciation depict the angel Gabriel presenting Mary with a lily as he invites her to shelter and bear from her womb the Word made flesh. Saint Joseph, Mary’s beloved spouse, is also frequently shown with the lily. Both of these connections emphasize Our Lady’s purity and chastity--her perfect integration of body and soul. 

The lily of the valley flower, in particular, is also known as “Our Lady’s tears,” said to have blossomed from the tears Mary shed at the foot of the cross. Even on the joyful day of a wedding feast, these flowers are a delicate, fragrant reminder that marriage calls us to embrace both agony and ecstasy.

Consider, as well, that the lily is mentioned several times in the Song of Songs, a source of beauty among thorns and an element within “a garden closed:” an meditation on what it is to be a bride.  

Bold, sculptural star and Easter lilies are well-suited to spring weddings or minimalist brides, while tiger lilies and lily of the valley are a great fit for summer celebrations and bohemian or rustic tastes.

Roses

The ancient prayer of the Litany of Loreto calls upon the intercession of the Holy Trinity and of Our Lady under various titles, including Mary as the “Mystical Rose.”

Why the rose? Popularly considered the crowning, most beautiful of all flowers, Our Lady has been described by Saint Brigid as “beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness...The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, So this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow.” As with the lily, the symbolism of roses invites spouses to consider the good times and bad, the easy and the crosses, which they entrust to one another in their marriage vows.

Roses convey a classic sensibility and, in addition to the Mystical Rose devotion, call to mind Our Lady’s gift of roses to Saint Juan Diego at Guadalupe.

Marigolds or Calendula

As prayer gardens grew more prevalent in medieval monastic settings, the faithful frequently reclaimed pagan epithets for plants and flowers by giving them religious names. Marigolds or calendula flowers (variations on a similar species) are now traditionally known as “Mary’s gold,” intended to invoke Our Lady’s heavenly queenship and radiance, the “woman clothed with the sun” in Revelation who triumphs over the grasp of evil and destruction.

Available in warm tones of red, gold, and orange, marigolds are beautifully suited to fall weddings, and can also be found in year-round friendly white.

Something Blue

Choosing blue, the color most frequently associated with Our Lady, for your wedding florals offers an array of choices and shades to complement your wedding colors, season, and style. Consider hydrangea, hyacinth, iris, bluebells, or wildflowers.

Do you plan to choose your wedding flowers based on their symbolism or connections to Scripture and the saints? Share your stories in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

Catholic Gift Ideas for the First Five Anniversaries

CARISSA PLUTA

 

I’ve always loved the traditional “themes” that go along with your wedding anniversary and enjoy the challenge of coming up with a gift idea to go along with it.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    HER WITNESS

PHOTOGRAPHY: HER WITNESS

Finding the perfect gift for your spouse isn’t always easy, so here are some thoughtful and uniquely Catholic ideas for the first five anniversaries:

First Anniversary: Paper

Spiritual bouquet: This gift idea is a favorite of mine. This thoughtful idea allows you to physically show your husband your prayers and sacrifices for him. There are several ways you can go about putting your spiritual bouquet together and you can even invite your family and loved ones to join in.

Framed Print: Beautiful Catholic prints and artwork like this St. John Chrysostom Print or this St. Josemaria Escriva print from our shop, would perfectly fit this theme for your first anniversary and fill your home with even more beauty.

More Here: First Anniversary Gift Ideas

Second Anniversary: Cotton

T-Shirt: Cotton shirts make a laid back but fun gift for your significant other. You can buy functional, everyday shirts or switch it up with a cool (and Catholic) graphic t-shirt like the Beloved and All the Days of My Life tees in the Spoken Bride Shop. 

New sheets or a quilt: Your bed shouldn’t just be the place in which you go to sleep each night, but a sacred space. It is where your vows are made flesh and should be adorned in a manner fitting of such a high honor. New cotton sheets or a custom quilt would help turn your bedroom into a sanctuary.

Third Anniversary: Leather

Leather bound Bible or Liturgy of the Hours: I love leather bound books, don’t you? You can buy a leather bound Bible or the set of Liturgy of the Hours for your spouse (and you) to use daily. These sturdy books will hold up well over the years and would make a great addition to your family’s sacred space.

Leather prayer journal: Does your spouse like to journal as a form of prayer? Buy a leather journal for him to take with him to the chapel for holy hour. 

Personalized Leather Tray: A leather tray to hold your wedding bands, keys, or spare change would make another good option for your third anniversary. You can even have it personalized with a meaningful quote or verse from your wedding mass readings. 

Fourth Anniversary: Fruit or Flowers

Custom painting of your wedding bouquet: If you have a photo of the bouquet from your wedding, you can find an artist to make a custom painting of it for your home. It serves as a beautiful reminder of that special day (and would last much longer than real flowers would). 

Marian Garden: Clear a spot in your yard and plants flowers around a statue of Mary. While this isn’t exactly a simple, one-time gift, it gives you something to watch grow and flourish as the years go on.

Fifth Anniversary: Wood

Crucifix: A wooden crucifix would remind you of your call in marriage to self-giving love, and make a beautiful and meaningful addition to your bedroom or sacred space. 

Wood beaded rosaries: Wooden rosary beads are also a good (and spiritually edifying) option for this anniversary. 

The Spoken Bride vendor guide features many talented Catholic artists and craftsmen and can help you find other gift, art, jewelry, and photo options for your upcoming anniversary. 


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Editors Share | Hobby Ideas for Couples

It’s our privilege to be invited into your story and vocation. In gratitude, we love to share ours with you, as well. Today, the team shares the leisure activities and hobbies they enjoy with their spouses.

 

Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

My husband and I love being outdoors, so hiking or even just going on a walk in our neighborhood has been a great way to spend time with one another. 

Recently, our activity of choice has been rock climbing. My husband got into before I did and kept asking me to come along. I was a little hesitant to try this new activity, but ended up loving it. I started asking him to go more regularly together. It’s a fun and challenging activity and gives us an opportunity to encourage each other to get better. 

We also love playing games with one another. We have a large board game collection and love spending an evening playing one, or more recently, Dungeons and Dragons. 

 

Stephanie Calis, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief

Gift-giving is neither mine nor my husband’s primary love language, but when I consider our favorite things to do together, they are centered around some of the most meaningful and most well-used gifts we’ve given!  

From the start of our marriage when we lived within walking distance of a rail trail, we’ve loved going on bike rides--a bicycle was my husband’s wedding gift to me--and now we continue enjoying family rides with our children.

We also love playing music together. I gave my husband a guitar when we got married, and over the years he has gotten me a ukulele (a longtime bucket-list item of mine) and keyboard (allowing me to follow up on my years of childhood piano lessons as an adult) as birthday gifts. We enjoy looking up chords to selections by musicians we love, as well as simply experimenting with melodies on our instruments and playing off each other.

Our other favorite hobby is discussing what we’re reading--we met in our college English class, after all! When we have the time, we enjoy reading the same novel together.

 

Andi Compton, Business Director

Ever since our dating days, my husband Matt and I have enjoyed watching movies together. Most nights we will throw on a movie or show while we work on other things; I love that we create our own inside jokes which give us excuses to laugh together during the day. 

Honestly, we are complete opposites in every way but the faith, and we tend to drag each other to things we each want to do. Matt will treat me to a musical now and then, he works on quilts with me, and I love dragging him to malls and model homes. He drags me outside on the occasional hike, to the beach, and to the park with our kids.

Lately I’ve been enjoying cooking with him when the kids are occupied with playing. He likes it much more than I do, but I like to pick the recipes, put on music, and be his sous chef.

 

Mary Wilmot, Social Media Manager

We enjoy going on walks and to the pool with our kids. When we have a show that we are into, we look forward to watching an episode with some fun snacks, such as stove top popcorn, ice cream, or yogurt with lots of toppings.

From time-to-time we like to indulge in an early bedtime and read side-by-side. We have recently started talking about investing in some board games to mix things up, too! We love playing games with extended family and friends, but have never gotten into it as a couple. We also love trying out new restaurants, wineries, and breweries when we can!

 

Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

For better or worse, my husband and I are competitive. We were both athletes through college and met at a student-athlete conference; our competitive natures are ingrained in who we are! We’ve found some fun ways to keep the game day mindset alive while light-heartedly playing with (and against) each other. 

We love to take a soccer ball to a local field and play one-on-one. Bowling is definitely a favorite activity--one we did the first day we met, and on our wedding day! Game nights are perfect when we want to stay home. We especially enjoy Exploding Kittens, Settlers of Catan, and Scrabble. 

Some activities that keep us on the same team are traveling to new cities, exploring local breweries, and shopping at Ikea. 

 

Jiza Zito, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Three years ago, my husband started regularly working out through CrossFit. A year and a half later, I followed suit, and it has become one of the most fun parts of our marriage. We love encouraging one another and pushing each other towards personal goals week after week. This year we watched the CrossFit Games together and started reading up more on our favorite athletes and coaches. We have really come to enjoy being part of the CrossFit community. 

Our other hobbies include visiting historical sites and museums, visiting churches and shrines, tasting ethnic and local foods, and taking nature walks with our kids. 

We love sharing in community with you and hearing your own stories! Share one of you and your beloved’s favorite hobbies in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

 

Danielle Rother, Pinterest Manager

Most nights my husband and I will cuddle and put on a show or movie to unwind. I really love cuddling just before bed—sometimes it’s the highlight of my day! My primary love languages are quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation. So, I really enjoy being close and spending one-on-one time with my husband.

We also enjoy going out to eat and having intellectual conversations. One time an older couple came up to us when we were eating at Chick-Fil-A and they asked what we were studying—at the time, we actually weren’t studying anything! Both of us graduated with our master’s degrees a while ago, and we just like to nerd out and keep our minds sharp. Most of the time our conversations are on theological topics, but the subjects vary. If there is any way I can make a connection to literature, fairytales, or a Disney movie I certainly will!

Other activities we enjoy include playing board games and sightseeing. Sometimes we will invite friends or other couples over for a game night. Several of my favorite games include Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Lords of Waterdeep, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game. Those games are great for indoor fun! If we decide to do an outdoor activity, we might go sightseeing at the zoo or take a stroll around the park.

Scripture and Science Reveal a Masculine Genius

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem defines a feminine genius as four innate qualities of the dignity and nature of woman: receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. Though self-reflection is a powerful tool for growing in intimacy with God, self, and others, reflecting on the origin of man may also yield a stronger union between the masculine and feminine in a spousal relationship. 

Saint John Paul II did not write an apostolic letter defining a masculine genius; however, Scripture and science help us understand what it means to be a man and identifies qualities which are undeniably masculine. 

Recognizing the innate qualities of man may help us see, know and love our spouses as they live with courage according to God’s call for their lives. 

Creation in the Garden of Eden 

On the sixth day of the creation story, God created man and told him: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” Eventually we hear, “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” This story depicts the vocation of man, as a man. 

Man is expected to live in harmony with God and his creation while having dominion over the Earth. After the fall to sin and throughout human history, this original good can be twisted into an ego-driven dominion and self-seeking control. Yet we must recall man in his origin: created as good, in the image of God, with an inborn yearning for holy authority. 

Man is also told to cultivate and care for creation. Man is equipped with the responsibility of managing and protecting all of God’s creation. After woman joins him in the garden, Adam maintains his role as leader and protector in their relationship and their environment, their home. 

Adam falls to the temptation of sin and the same will be true for the men in our lives. Our responsibility, as women, is to see and love the essence of their goodness in an effort to inspire him towards sanctification. 

Man’s Body Tells a Story 

The physical, anatomical structure of man’s body in relation to his responsibility to “be fertile and multiply” reveals even more about the masculine genius. 

In regards to physical intimacy and procreation, man’s body is created to initiate and offer a gift of himself. Where woman is created ready to receive, man is created ready to give. 

This physical reality is not only relevant to the physical intimacy, however. Man is designed to initiate and to be the head of the household—the domestic church of the family. 

Man’s means for physical union is outside of his body. From the beginning and throughout time, he is naturally more attuned to external reality than internal emotions. In a group of men and women, how often do men congregate and discuss work, sports or hobbies—the external world—while women come together and discuss matters related to personal relationships and the heart? 

Men and women are invited to experience perfect complementarity in their union of external and internal, head and heart, realistic and emotional. 

Several secular-looking traditions may have deeper roots in this spiritual reality. Consider how “old-fashioned” it is for a man to ask for a woman’s number, to pay for dinner on a date, to go one one knee and propose marriage. These gender norms are not meant to stifle women in an inferior way; rather, these practices echo the desires of the hearts of men and women in the most appropriate and empowering way. 

Marriage between man and woman mirrors the union between Christ and the Church. In these spousal unions, we recognize the parallel call for man, Christ, to become a total self-offering and for woman, the Church, to be wholly receptive to the gift. 

Science and the Brain 

Brain development and scientific fact supports the reasoning behind the masculine genius. Dr. Greg Bottaro, founder and director of the CatholicPsych Institute, writes, “There is less connectivity between the right and left hemispheres in the male brain. This allows for greater compartmentalization. At the same time, there is actually more connection between the front and back of each hemisphere in the male brain… Men are better at spatial organization and abstract thinking… These qualities dispose a man to make decisions and solve problems that are related to the external environment.” 

The scientific evidence related to brain development, hormones, physical development, procreation and child-bearing radically support the traits of the masculine genius discussed above. 

In his origin, man is very good. By original sin, man falls from his goodness and into temptation. We, women, have a beautiful opportunity in our call to see the heart of a man, love him for who God created him to be, and empower him to fulfill his vocation as man on the journey toward sanctification. 

For additional reading about the feminine genius, previous posts on Spoken Bride highlight what it means to be a woman in the context of Bridesmaid’s Dresses, Friendship, Last Names and more.


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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