Though she was physically short in stature, St. Catherine of Siena was a spiritual giant among the giants. She was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461, only eighty-one years after her death. In 1866, she was declared a patron saint of Rome, and in 1939, co-patron saint of Italy (along with St. Francis of Assisi). In 1999, she was declared a co-patron saint of Europe. In addition, just one week after naming St. Teresa of Avila the first female Doctor of the Church in 1970, the Church bestowed the same honor on St. Catherine of Siena.
As a mystic, Catherine frequently dialogued directly with Jesus, so at times her gifts did admittedly go beyond ordinary feminine gifts. When it comes to Catherine’s intuition, it is impossible to separate out when Jesus was supernaturally directing her and when Catherine was simply following her intuition. Yet Catherine’s own thoughts, cultural influences, and personality surface in her hundreds of letters. As one historian notes,
Together with the mystical gifts Our Lord gave her, Catherine’s ability to intuitively know what to do in many circumstances, especially concerning human relationships, helped bring peace to both the public and private spaces where she ministered to others. As Pope Pius II attested in the document of Catherine’s canonization,
Catherine’s intuition shined in the way she cared for others’ physical and spiritual needs, especially the poor. It shined in the way she counseled men and women from all walks of life as she inspired them to commit themselves more fully to the Lord. And it shined in the way she negotiated peace between warring families and communities.
Catherine’s sweeping contributions to the Church and the society of her day showcase the way feminine genius intuition can bear fruit.
How Can Intuition Get Twisted?
Feminine intuition has the power to understand needs and situations without calculated analysis. This unique propensity is a gift, but a woman must be aware that her intuition has the potential to make her prideful in thinking she always knows the correct answer. This twisting of a gift can lead her to believe that others, especially men, are kind of stupid because what may seem evident to her is not obvious to others.
Let me give you an example. When first-time parents bring home a newborn baby, they are both overwhelmed, but the mom kind of knows what to do—a special motherly intuition kicks in. So when dad is taking care of the baby, she cannot help telling him what to do. This intuition can result in her correcting him every time he tries to do something. “When you change her diaper, don’t forget to do this,” or “When you’re putting her to sleep, make sure you do that.” While mom is only trying to pass on her intuitive knowledge, sometimes this imparting of wisdom feels more like nagging or belittling, and over time dad begins to lose his confidence in parenting.
The same sort of thing can happen in dating relationships. Sometimes women intuitively know what needs to happen in a relationship. Perhaps a relationship needs to move to the next level, or a couple needs to incorporate their faith more or find ways to communicate better. These changes might seem obvious to a woman, but her sweetheart might not always see it. When this happens, women are often tempted to try to drag guys into doing the right thing. While these women might be right about what needs to be done, it is important to allow men to step up on their own. If a woman tries to drag her guy along, he might fail to develop in ways that help him come to these conclusions independently.
What Can We Do About It?
Living with the mindset that men are dense is neither healthy nor reality. Remember—the particular gifts and strengths of men and women are complementary, but they are not exclusive to one gender or the other. God calls both men and women to help each other cultivate the unique gifts which they are “the reminder and the privileged sign of.”
To help accomplish this with the gift of intuition, one thing women can do is allow men to take more ownership of certain situations and lead. Of course, women can lead and there is a place for women in leadership, but if women do not want to be continually dragging men along in relationships, parenthood, the office, and so forth, they need to give them the opportunity to exercise their intuition.
A mom sometimes needs to let dad be dad, even if he does not do it the “right” way. A girlfriend sometimes needs to challenge a boyfriend to step it up, and if he does not, she might need to walk away. Instead of telling the men in their lives what to do, women sometimes need to share their perspectives and then allow them to use their intuition to decide on their own.
This article is an excerpt of Lisa Cotter’s newest book Reveal the Gift: Living the Feminine Genius. In Reveal the Gift: Living the Feminine Genius, Lisa uncovers a transformational vision of a woman’s purpose, meaning, and gifts, which might not be exactly what you expect.
The Catholic Feminine Genius: Reveal the Gift With Lisa Cotter
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