We have often heard the saying “opposites attract.” Other than with magnets, it doesn’t seem to make much sense. Yet nature gives us plenty of examples to prove these words true. When two opposites contact, fascinating phenomena are triggered that can even be awe-inspiring and even violent. For example, an electric current is generated when two objects, one with positive and another with negative charge, make contact. The charge between both evens out through the current. This phenomenon is behind the lightning visible during a thunderstorm or, in a controlled way, in the electricity we consume every day. Winds, responsible of the most part of meteorological phenomena, are air masses that flow from regions of high atmospheric pressure towards regions of low atmospheric pressure until the pressures are equal.
Both examples show how two opposites tend to an equilibrium when they encounter. This principle drives the various processes that vivify and order the world. This is probably one of the reasons why they say that opposites attract.
In order for these processes to work, it is essential that both opposites clearly manifest their characteristics. If they are barely noticeable, the reaction will only be faint. For the water of a river to flow, the spring must be high up and the mouth at sea level. If one day the spring happened to come down to the sea or the river mouth climb up the mountain, there would be no river. If light and darkness became gloom, day and night would disappear and nature would lose its rhythm.
In His infinite wisdom, God has created similar things in human nature. There are opposites in features of physical appearance and in non-visible traits like character and virtues. One that defines many of our characteristics is the sex we are given, either boy or girl, man or woman. God has assigned each one of them certain tasks and provided with a set of qualities to fulfil them. Together they complement and nourish each other generating a force that drives human society. This force finds its highest expression in procreation, where the human being partakes in God’s plan of creation. The closer humans fit to the model that God has set up, the more fertile the complementarity between man and woman will be.
But, how can we know the ideal attributes that God wants for man and woman? Well, He has given us two perfect models to imitate, one masculine and the other feminine: Jesus and the Virgin Mary. There are virtues that both should strive for, like humility or obedience, amongst others. Below we will focus on the ones that are exclusive of one or the other—virtues directly associated with men or women.
The greatest virtue that Jesus teaches us with His example is the sacrifice for His neighbour, the one that loves Him but also the one that despises Him. It is a spiritual and physical sacrifice that ultimately leads to his death on the cross. His abnegation becomes clear on the way to Calvary, where Jesus tells the women of Jerusalem not to weep for Him, but for their children. His years of public life, in which He proclaims the Kingdom of Heaven tirelessly, are already an example of His fight for us. Jesus is moved by love for each and every soul. He brings each one back to the Father and away from sin. He also asks sacrifices of the Apostles, whom He calls to follow Him, like leaving behind everything for Him and for the proclamation of the Gospel: family, home and lifestyle. Yet in His proclamation, He never compromises the Truth. He proclaims it openly even if some take offense at this and leave.
Following this example, a masculine trait is to not complain and demand rights or privileges for oneself. A man should care more about others’ needs than His own. He should be at the service of the weak. Physical strength, naturally typical in him, is one of the tools he has received. Yet more than physical strength, he needs spiritual fortitude to face dangers with bravery so as to not misuse physical strength to oppress. His duty is to guide wisely those who are under his care and defend God’s honor as well as his wife, children, those in need and society. In summary, accept the worse share so that others can have the better
You don’t have to be an adult to put these virtues into practice! You can start from your youth with small, everyday things. every day has its battles. As small as they might be, it won’t be possible to overcome them without persevering in prayer asking for God’s help and guidance. The most important thing to do is pray for fortitude to face temptations to comfort (taking the easy way), following one’s whims (asking according to disordered appetites and not needs) and seeking pleasure (especially in what one looks at and eats). Men should avoid spending excessive time taking care of their looks. That time is better spent fulfilling one’s obligations (school, work, chores) and being ready to assist whomever may need help.
From childhood onwards, boys have to strive to be an example of justice and must defend, as far as their means allow, but with bravery, those who suffer unjust treatment. They ought to be strong with the strong and meek with the weak, not the other way around which is easier but unfair. Doing what is right in defence of truth is worth the trouble, no matter what other people might say.
The perfect model for feminine virtues is the Virgin Mary. She is an example for women and for girls alike, as she was 14 or 15 years old when She said Her “Yes” to the Archangel Gabriel’s message. The virtue that stands out most in Her is interior and exterior purity. As a reflection of her soul that only wishes to please God, Her glances and gestures are of utmost modesty. She dresses with simplicity and without eagerness to draw attention. We can easily imagine the Virgin Mary’s tenderness and patience while teaching Jesus to dress Himself and help with chores, while playing with Him or praying before going to bed. Like every other mother, the Virgin Mary is willing to endure whatever it takes for Her children. Despite the pain it inflicts on Her, She does not abandon Jesus in His most difficult moments. She does it for us and constantly intercedes for us before the Father with her maternal Heart so that we might be saved. In the Gospel according to Saint Luke, we see how She kept all the important events in Her heart and pondered them throughout Her life. This is proof of Her intelligence, which is not the kind of intelligence shown in great speeches that seek the admiration of audiences. Rather, the intelligence that, through prayer, is capable of discovering the subtle hand of Divine Providence and delve into its mysteries.
A constant effort is necessary on women’s behalf to keep the world and pain from hardening their hearts. Society is in great need of feminine gentleness, tenderness, and care, so that an atmosphere in which children are loved and learn to love and obey may reign in families, the bases of society. Furthermore, empathy makes mothers the ideal teachers to teach kids, from an early age, the truths of the Faith that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Swear words and frivolousness contribute to numb the heart, which is why they sound twice as bad in a woman. A woman’s fortitude does not consist in “turning off” the empathy so the suffering of the people around her does not affect her, but in healing it and enduring the situation in such a way that the pain does not impede her from fulfilling her duties lovingly. Women’s compassion is a gift and a responsibility that they must bear courageously. Girls should refrain from using their superior sensitivity and emotional intelligence as a weapon to impose their will over others an instead use it to resolve conflicts.
The wish to dress well and please others by her appearance is natural in a woman. Feminine fashion has often succeeded in complementing her natural beauty. It is also surprising that since long ago it also induces young girls to a provocative dressing style at an early age, making them lose respect for their intimacy and their body, temple of the Holy Spirit. The Virgin Mary teaches us that modesty is the best dress, decency is the mother of elegance, and discretion is the best accessory.
These are just some of the characteristic features of feminine and masculine traits. Only if boys and men are masculine and girls and women are feminine will both be able to be the two necessary opposites that see in each other the match of their virtues. This complementarity is the energy source for humanity and what God wants to balance the world. Following Jesus, Our Mother the Virgin Mary or the saints in order to acquire these virtues is the best motivation there is. We ought to show others who do not know this, too.