Hello all. I’m a happily married wife of 17 years and mom to our 6 children (4 girls and 2 boys). In my quest to be the best wife and mother I can be I have come across much information on the Proverbs 31 woman, wifely submission, modest dress and biblical child rearing. Much speaks to my heart and addresses many of the societal ills present today. However, most of the information is not Catholic. What is the Catholic perspective on these issues and are there any Catholic Proverbs 31 women out there who believe in submission, wearing dresses and are happy to keep the home as their given role? Blessings, Kim
We had Proverbs 31 as our OT reading at our wedding. I love that Proverb!!! It’s awesome.
I do consider myself to be a P31 woman.
I, however, do **not **believe that being a P31 woman means wearing dresses nor do I believe it *excludes *working-- since the P31 woman clearly earns income and transacts business to the betterment of her family and the esteem of her husband. Also, this Proverb does not speak to “submissiveness”, which comes from Ephesians. We also had that reading. Yes, DH and I believe in mutual submission as outlined in Ephesians.
However, the home and family are to be set above any career and the P31 woman shows that conducting oneself with grace, charity, and good character is a godly way to serve in the marriage vocation.
Interestingly, Kimberly Hahn, through her husband Scott’s St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is offering women’s retreats at Steubenville. This retreat is a multi-year platform, last year was Chosen and Cherished. This year it’s Graced and Gifted. It’s based on P31. She has a book available based on last year’s retreat, Chosen & Cherished: Biblical Wisdom for your Marriage. And, there’s also a DVD package that comes with the book, study guide, and discussion questions. I believe she will put out part 2 after the retreat this fall.
Info at www.salvationhistory.com
I too LOVE this reading and it was read at our wedding as well!
However, I have a very different interpretation of the reading…
Let’s read it here…
When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
1 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands.
2 Like merchant ships, she secures her provisions from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household.
She picks out a field to purchase; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She is girt about with strength, and sturdy are her arms.
3 She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.
She fears not the snow for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed.
She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing.
Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts.
4 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in idleness.
Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
"Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all."
5 Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.
I read this woman to be a very hard working person… a strong, independent, happy, leader!..
ALL of her workings are towards the betterment of her FAMILY… her only motivation is to be the life support of her family.
I actually read this woman to be a working woman, in my opinion. She “makes” things and “sells” things and “stocks” the merchants with her goods… and “enjoys the success of her dealings”.
That can be read into any modern working woman’s lifestyle!
I don’t think those lines are to be necessarily taken literally… you don’t have to be a seamstress to be a hard-working, family-motivated mother!
Her MOTIVATION is to support and love her FAMILY first… and that’s the beauty of this reading!
Em and 1Ke sum it up!
P31 woman - not exactly a dowdy shrinking violet
There are some great Catholic women who wear skirts only, and some who never put on a skirt. Skirts do not make one more or less holy.
Working does not make one more or less holy.
Please - don’t start the “Fascinating Womanhood” stuff again, it has been beaten to death on these boards!
The Protestant websites geared towards Proverbs 31, and other topics of marriage and family, don’t have the Magesterial teachings. They have a very unbalanced view of womanhood in God’s divine plan. They lack what the Catholic Church has-- the fullness of truth. Therefore their ideas, while noble, fall short and are sometimes at odds with Catholic teaching.
It is encouraging to see such attempts at recovering a biblical and traditional understanding of the complementarity of the sexes, what it means to be a woman of God, and God’s plan for marriage, family, and sexuality. We definitely need to countermand the feminist culture of death.
I was glad to see Kimberly Hahn doing something on this subject. Jonette Bencovik and Christalina Evert also have books on the subject of authentic Catholic womanhood.
Kimberly Hahn did a complete bible study on Prov 31. It is called More Precious than Jewels. I could only find it available here catholicfamilycatalog.com/scotthahn.htm. It was from quite some time ago, but it is beautifully done. I am thinking to use it with DD before she is ready to leave for college. It touches on how to live the ideals in every state of a woman’s life.
I didn’t know that.
Maybe this retreat/book/DVD is based on the earlier version. It might be more expanded, updated, or something. Hmmm…
Anyway, that’s COOL.
I just found this thread on my fave forums when I did a google search for Kimberly Hahn’s audio series on Proverbs 31. A friend had recommended it years ago, and I’ve been meaning to buy it ever since (don’t know of a place for borrowing, or I would).
Anyway, apparently, she does have a whole Bible study series out or coming out soon that is an expansion of the older audio series that I’m seeking, and it’s called Chosen and Cherished - Biblical Wisdom for Your Marriage. There is a podcast interview with her here podcastdirectory.com/podshows/1848340
I haven’t listened to any of the above, so I can’t say what I think. I am going to purchase the Prov. 31 tapes and go from there.
P31 woman is engaged in “cottage industry” and owns and manages a business separate and apart from whatever her husband is doing. I don’t see a lot of “submission” in the biblical description of a valuable wife. There may be a lot of consultation and discussion, but that is not necessarily submission. No mention is made of her sense of fashion. She is clothed in dignity and strength. One does not need clothing to be dignified.
Finally, her business dealings are such that her income suffices for the household: her husband has the leisure to sit at the city gates and discuss Torah.
If you want to be a modern P31 woman, you will have to have sufficient income to pay household help, send the children to good schools, manage multiple businesses, etc. You almost have to be a workaholic.
I didn’t take the husband sitting at the city gates to mean that he wasn’t working. I took it to mean that he was an important person in the city thus had an honored place. It makes sense that the woman’s activity would help bring her husband honor.
My husband works in the military. Occasionally, we have to make appearances at functions, not all of which are interesting. It helps to have a spouse who is supportive and at least smiles during these events. Such actions reflect positively on the military member and bring him/her honor.
The woman is an example of self sacrifice for her family and community. She even helps to clothe the poor. What has to be kept in mind is that she is an ideal. Although we should strive to be the Proverbs woman, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we can’t always reach the ‘ideal’ that is presented here.
I thought I’d share another passage with you, not trying to change topics, but simply add to the pondering/praying about being a “biblical woman”:
I was so thrilled to read this post, even if it is old! The Proverbs 31 woman is so beautiful, and I agree with you, I am so attracted to the beautiful focus that so many Protestant groups give to the really feminine role of the wife in marriage.
I too believe that wives a called to be submissive to their husbands, which I think is an issue that is very commonly misunderstood and misrepresented in our culture.
I also choose to wear mostly skirts and dresses (though I do occassionally go out in pants) because I feel that skirts are so beautifully feminine, besides being incredibly comfortable.
Keeping the home is another issue that so many people misunderstand and run from…and such an essential aspect of a stable, Catholic, biblical home-life.
I have found some information on the Catholic version of the Proverbs 31 woman, JPII letter to women was wonderful, as was - actually, his letter to artists, which in so many ways relates to the role of the stay-at-home wife and mother. Also some of the chapters in Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married book address the role of the wife and mother, the need for her to be home, etc. Many blessings to you as well.