Humanity needs deeper understanding of ‘masculine genius’

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Talk shares how men’s, women’s gifts can shed light on life

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God shows us in the book of Genesis that though he made men and women equal, they possess different gifts so they can work together.

Male-female complementarity was the focus of Deborah Savage’s talk, “The Masculine Genius,” Dec. 3 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Men’s gifts, or the “masculine genius,” get less attention but are especially needed today — their capacity to know and use earthly goods to benefit humanity, according to Savage, theology and philosophy professor at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.

“Properly understood, the particular genius of man has proven throughout history to be an essential gift in sustaining families and creating social order. Indeed, it has been the key to the very building up of civilizations,” Savage said.

Savage spoke at the event “Is there a Masculine Genius?” sponsored by the Siena Symposium for Women, Family and Culture; and Catholic Studies leadership interns. Siena Symposium is an interdisciplinary faculty group dedicated to rebuilding families and culture through scholarship and insights of the Catholic faith.

About 150 people — mostly students — attended the event. David Deavel, associate editor of “Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture” and Catholic Studies adjunct professor, as well as St. Thomas student Magdalene Lococo offered responses to Savage’s talk.

Drawing on St. John Paul II’s writings, the creation story and other sources, Savage spoke about men’s and women’s unique gifts and how they support each other and benefit humanity.

Scientists now find that almost from birth females and males exhibit respective personality traits, something Scripture also reveals. In Genesis, Adam is formed from the earth, and according to St. John Paul II, seems more naturally oriented toward things, which God charged him to care for. In this, man has an ability to understand things, which is his charism, Savage explained.

Genesis tells that Eve, on the other hand, was made from Adam’s rib and is more naturally oriented toward persons, Savage said. According to St. John Paul II, women have a capacity to conceive and nurture life, whether physically or spiritually.

She emphasized that neither man nor woman can be reduced to a function or role, and both have the capacity for receptivity and action. But our complementarity gives us our mission to create human families and human history, Savage said.

The feminist movement has affected that mission, confusing males about their identity and role, she said. Boys especially are experiencing many problems in society today.

“The situation requires that we recognize that humanity urgently needs a deeper understanding of the genius of men,” Savage said.

We don’t always identify clear-cut roles for men and women when we consider questions of masculine or feminine genius, but we can discover something about where and how they can thrive and serve humanity wherever they are, Deavel said.

“Genius of any sort will find its perfection in myriad ways, but to say that there is a masculine or feminine genius and then identify it is to help men and women discover the ways they can develop themselves — and then through prayer and discipline be as Scripture says, like gold refined,” he said.

St. Thomas freshman Tristan Jakobson said the idea of masculine and feminine genius was new to him, but he found it a way to explain aspects of life.

Lococo, a St. Thomas junior and Catholic Edge leadership intern, said she was glad to hear the topic discussed. Responding to Savage’s talk, Lococo said:

“Men, we want you to know that we recognize your strength, and as women, we need your strength.”

“It is actually a supernatural reality that, if we are to realize it fully, requires both man and woman to enter into the life of grace and be sustained by it if we are to arrive at the level that represents a more perfected state,” Savage said.

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