Revolution, Mary, and the Modern Feminist Morass

As we discussed in our first part, Protestantism removed the cult of the Virgin Mary and with it the living authority of the Church. The reason that Protestantism was able to gain such ground was due to the power it gave to kings to overturn the authority of the Church. With no check on their power, the kings could now become tyrants who exercised their power no longer in a traditional system of duties and oaths (as in the limited monarchies before this period), but in the model of the old pagan emperors who ruled as if they were God [1].

As we discussed, this tyranny was first on display in family life in the relationship of a man with his wife. The Protestants justified the shameful adultery of King Henry VIII and the multiple wives of Lutheran prince Philip. As we have said, Marian devotion was thrown out along with devotion to Holy Mother Church, and thus also the reverence due to the queen mother or any princess as well. Without restraints on fallen masculinity, the kings could now dominate without limits — whether women or lands.

Meanwhile, the Catholic monarchs, too, imitating the Protestant kings, sought to become even more tyrannical and control the Church for their own gain. It was to a Catholic monarch that the infamous absolutist saying is attributed: l’état c’est moi (“I am the state”) [2].

But this excess of tyranny both in family life and in politics could not continue long without something happening, founded firmly as it was on a bare contest of power. The Church did not tire of calling men back to reverence for Mary and obedience to Tradition and Christ in His Church. But the period of absolutism in monarchy only broke free into a period of absolutism of the individual in society.

The Revolutionary Contest for Power

The republican revolutions of America (1776), France (1789), and Ireland (1798) embedded deeply into the consciousness of Europe the ideal of revolution as a force of good for society. This was nothing but the transposing of Luther’s religious contest of power onto politics [3]. In 1848, as revolutions were sweeping Europe, two documents were published that pushed the contest of power deeper into society and into the family. The first was the Communist Manifesto. In it, everything was understood, as under the Protestants, as a contest of power:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. [4]

This endless contest of power, Marx said, was changed into a new epoch when one oppressed class rose up in revolution against the other — thus, the goodness of the revolutionary ideal was justified as a progressive movement of Providence. Like the revolutionaries, Marx thought that in order to escape the contest of power, a further contest of power must be released.

Meanwhile, in the same year, the first major feminist document was produced in America, transposing the revolutionary ideal of America into the heart of family life:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights … that to secure these rights governments are instituted[.] … Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these rights, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it[.] … Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled. The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. [5]

As we discussed in the last part, Luther’s Protestantism, by abolishing the cult of Mary, indissoluble sacramental marriage, and consecrated virginity and pursuing unbridled license and debauchery over women, had indeed helped to re-establish the old pagan ideal of a husband as tyrant over his wife as slave. In this the feminists were correct. But since they deprived themselves of the Catholic faith, they could only press the revolutionary contest of power further. Their ideal was the same as Luther’s: pride demanded more power, and power was the source of dignity. It was thought that if women simply had more power, they would finally have the dignity that they knew was theirs by right.

Holy Mother Church Responds

As this was happening during this period up until our present, Mary was been exalted both in apparitions and dogmas more than any time in history. Just as women were beginning to return to ancient pagan servitude, it was as if the Mother of God herself intervened to save all her daughters from this destruction. I do not believe, with all we have said, that this is some coincidence, but rather an unfolding of God’s merciful providence at a time when women in particular need it most.

As the Marxists and feminists were organizing the destruction of all things feminine, the apparitions of Our Lady to St. Catherine Labouré and St. Bernadette proclaimed the quintessential privilege of the New Eve: her Immaculate Conception. This was dogmatized in 1854 in a bull in which Pope Pius IX said Mary was “eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him.” The Church proclaimed against the Marxist feminists that true glory is rooted in humility, not power.

A few generations later, in 1917, even as the revolutionary contest of power was enveloping the whole world in bloodshed, Our Lady of Fatima appeared to oppose “the errors of Russia.” Several years later in 1925, she established the First Saturday devotion, which made reparation to her for the offenses of denying her honor — something the Marxist feminists were attempting to accomplish at every level of society. In this apparition, the Child Jesus said to Fatima seer Lucia:

Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce It at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them

Then the Most Holy Virgin said:

‘Look, My daughter, at My Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce Me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console Me and announce in My name that I promise to assist at the moment of death, with all the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months shall receive the sacrament of Confession, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep Me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to My Immaculate Heart.’ [6]

In 1930, Pius XI correctly perceived these errors of Russia and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart leading directly back to the pagan enslavement of women:

The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected[.] … This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. [7]

As we have discussed in another place, the submission of a wife to her husband is nothing other than an imitation of the glorious humility of the Virgin Mother. Thus, to call this submission itself beneath a woman’s dignity is to insult the glory of the Mother of God. Moreover, this glory of Our Lady also assists in calling a man to truly strive along with his wife’s humility in giving up his whole life and dying for his wife in imitation of Christ.

But to the Marxist feminist, this contest of humility is abhorrent, since everything is understood as a contest of power, and there can be no dignity without power. So they continued to press their attack on every hierarchy, especially the marital hierarchy, and pursue more revolution, leaving the warnings and admonitions of Fatima unheeded.

Around 1960, on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, the Curia in the preparatory documents spoke starkly about not only the growing objectification of women in popular media, but the psychological engineering program of men like Wilhelm Reich:

The moral order has the task, not only of leading man to his true end, but of defending him against all doctrines and practices that would enslave him to the minds, modes and passions that are contrary to the dignity of his intellect[.] … In particular the moral order defends the immutable principles of Christian modesty and chastity. We know the energies spent at the present time by the world of fashion, movies and the press in order to shake the foundations of Christian morality in this regard, as if the Sixth Commandment should be considered outmoded and free rein should be given to all passions, even those against nature. The Council will have something to say concerning this subject. It will clarify and eventually condemn all the attempts to revive paganism and all the trends that in the abuse of psychoanalysis tend to justify even those things which are directly contrary to the moral order. [8]

But instead of the warnings of Fatima and the Curia, the organized Rhine group led by Ratzinger, Küng, Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and others successfully threw caution to the wind and plunged the Church deep into the contest of power. This will be the subject of our final installment.

[1] The absolute monarchs are not without pre-Reformation precedents, since they were always trying to gain power over the Church but were unsuccessful through the investiture controversy. The Protestants finally provided the religious justification that the kings wanted in order to rule without limits.

[2] Attributed to King Louis XIV (d. 1715).

[3] It has been reasonably argued by Mr. Gordon that the American Revolution (as opposed to the French) held on to certain Catholic principles of natural law. It is also true that the system of government known as republicanism is an acceptable form of Catholic polity. Nevertheless, as I have written elsewhere, because these revolutions in their general demands were secular in nature, they divided Catholics then and now.

[4] Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Communist Manifesto (1848, Engels and Moore translation), ch. 1

[5] Declaration of Sentiments, 1848

[6] Apparition of December 10, 1925. For instructions on how to fulfill this devotion, see here.

[7] Pius XI, Casti Connubii (1930), n. 75

[8] Quoted in E. Michael Jones, The Catholic Church and the Cultural Revolution (Fidelity: 2016), 33

Image of Betty Friedan from Lynn Gilbert via Wikimedia Commons.

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