A Sister Act of Feminism: How Standing Up For Women Is God’s Work

by: Mark Nott

Note: This is a fictionalized version of the accounts of real women and women-religious working in the Catholic church today.

Sister Mary-Margaret awoke in her room one bright morning to the sounds a birds chirping in the Prunus serrulata outside her window. Sister Mary-Margaret liked trees. They are steadfast and strong, yet, as is the case with the cherry tree, delicate and beautiful. She found solace in these things: trees and gardening; the sounds of the birds outside her window; the way a sunbeam illuminated the petals of a lilac.

And she desperately needed solace nowadays. Her work at the clinic was more hectic than ever; so many women in need of care and advice. She loved her job, of course. It was the Lord’s work after all and she took pride in it. But this political business had made a mess of it all.

Radical feminism incompatible with the Catholic faith, that’s what she had been accused of. “I’m not a feminist,” she thought. “No, no, I’m just doing my job. This is what the lord has set us out to do. This is my calling.” Why then were the bishops in Rome causing such a stir? Her fellow sister hadn’t done anything wrong. They simply agreed that women’s health must be a priority and access to these services must be provided — whether they were going out and sleeping with every John, Mark and Steven or not.  They should be protected.

Then again, things were different now. Whether or not the church liked it, woman, Catholic and non-Catholic, were having sex. And yes, some of them are having a lot of it; literally every John, Mark, and Steven. “Don’t judge, Margaret”, she thought. But most of these women weren’t doing that. Not in the slightest. “Didn’t Pope Paul want us to be more modern anyway? Though I do miss the Old Rite…”

So, what had her and the other nuns done wrong: the very act of speaking? Was that it? “No, no, don’t think like that, Margaret.” But could it be true? Were her voice and the voices of the other sisters to be subjected by the bishops in Rome? She was becoming incensed. “But we’re right! This is the right thing to do! It is the godly thing to do, caring for these women!”

Mary-Margaret quickly dressed, attended Morning Prayer, and then set out to work at the clinic. After a busy morning, she set out for her lunch break amongst the trees and flowers she adored. She was still troubled. He worked that morning had been punctuated by brief moments of pause and reflection. How was what she was any sort of feminism? How was it against church doctrine? The very notion was inconceivable to her.

“Keep out of the politics. That’s what they need to do,” she thought to herself while staring quietly at a lilac. “The church has no place there to being with. We concern ourselves with God, not the petty, tainted political machine. That’s been the churches largest problem for centuries. We sisters have the right idea; stay out of it all. Do the Lord’s work and leave the rest of it alone.”

As Sister Mary-Margaret sat turning these thoughts over and over in her mind, it suddenly occurred to her. “But what if they’re right? If my desire to help women, my concern for their well-being makes me a feminist, then perhaps I am. I would rather call myself a feminist than let this women go without the care they deserve. So yes, perhaps I am.”

Sister Mary-Margaret quiet packed up her lunch, took a final look around the garden, and walked back inside the clinic, resolved. In a single instant, God had spoken to her. She knew what she had to do.

Mark Nott is the Community Relations Intern for inourwords. He is also a career undergraduate student. After a brief spell studying Music Theory at the University of Cincinnati, he went on to study Music and Philosophy with the Jesuits of Loyola University of Chicago. After spending a quarter at Truman, he is an incoming transfer student at DePaul University, where he plans to study Philosophy, History, and Economics and participate in the Pre-Law program. Fret not for his artistic side: every now and again he’ll sing a few bars from Matthäus-Passion and wack you with his conducting baton.

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