Referring to Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (On the Christian Family in the Modern World), he said that God created the human race in his own image.
“God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and the responsibility, of love and communion,” said Bishop Ricken. “Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.”
He said that through marriage and through celibacy, the faithful can live out their vocations and “are expressions of the full truth about man as created in the image of God.”
Bishop Ricken noted that Christians have a shared vocation: “to create a world where having wealth and power are never more important than seeking a true conversion of hearts.”
Thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II could see how materialism and individualism were beginning to blind the world to the dignity of the human person, and in a particular way, to women, explained Bishop Ricken. John Paul began to teach how to obtain a clear insight into who we are and who we are called to be.
A key to his teaching was his “theology of the body,” a philosophical and theological look at God’s plan for the human person and for sexuality.
John Paul believed the future of the church and society depended on the stability of the family and a recommitment to the theological and philosophical formation of the family, said Bishop Ricken, noting that families have an indispensable role in building up a healthy and stable society. “This is also an important challenge for us as a church to proclaim this role and serve to build up the health, holiness and life of families,” added Bishop Ricken.
In John Paul’s view of society, nowhere was the confusion of the modern world more apparent than in the area of sexuality. The unifying and procreative aspects of sex had been divided with the widespread availability of the pill. Contraception, sterilization and abortion were employed against children who began to be seen as problems to be solved and as intruders into the free-love lifestyle, said Bishop Ricken.
“As had been predicted by his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae, the world stood in need of healing,” said Bishop Ricken.
“The Holy Father saw the need for a new articulation of God’s plan for marriage, family and sexuality in its simple and dignified beauty.”
Theology of the body reveals to us that together, marriage and celibacy mirror a love that neither can reflect alone the unconditional, limitless and total love of our God, noted Bishop Ricken. “It is in contemplating our response that we must turn to both face and embrace the feminine genius of women.”
Today, across the globe, attacks against marriage and family continue, said the bishop. Pope John Paul II deemed the “feminine genius of women” as indispensable to the hope and healing needed by the world, noted the bishop.
“The feminine genius, which refers to a woman’s particular way of loving, gives her a capacity for accepting the human being in its concrete form,” said Bishop Ricken. “Yet in today’s society, both men and women find it difficult to appreciate the gift of parenthood that gives them the beautiful privilege of co-creating with God and forming the hearts and souls of his children.”
According to Bishop Ricken, Mary is the archetype of the personal dignity of women and of feminine beauty. “Thank her for always pointing us back to her son and his great love for us,” he said. “Ask her to help you as women to bear Christ into your homes, your families, your church and our world.”
Bishop Ricken concluded his address telling the women that he prays they discover the feminine genius in their own lives. “I pray … that it will lead you to the joy of knowing who you are in the eyes of your God who loves and cherishes you as the woman you are.”