St. John Paul II greets throngs of Poles waiting for a glimpse of their native son at the monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa during his 1979 trip to Poland. CNS photo/Chris Niedenthal

Speaking Out: A purposeful interior life

By  Elizabeth Gay, Youth Speak News
  • October 28, 2020

It would be impossible to encompass all the ways a Catholic woman could live purposefully in 2020. However, one virtual workshop explained some of the core elements in a six-session thought-provoking series of online talks and seminars. 

The workshop, organized by Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) executive Bethany Lau and called “I am Wanted, I have a Task in History!” took place from Oct. 2-4 for an international audience.

One of the most striking points, on elegance, was made by speaker Virginia Aterido. She discussed how the development of the quality of elegance is perfective and natural to a woman’s nature and how it is closely related to being human. Elegance goes hand-in-hand, Aterido argued, with interiority which transforms a person from the inside out, giving them true beauty. 

Interiority means developing a deep inner life that incorporates knowledge of a spiritual dimension with physical activity. Living in the world while integrating interiority gives a refinement to the soul. We begin to exude elegance as one develops and increases in sophistication and depth.

“Without the primary greatness of the spirit,” Aterido said, “the person cannot be profoundly human and attractive.”

People who have encountered saints say the same thing about them. Those who met or worked with Mother Teresa unanimously agreed that “there was something different about her.” Though physically frail and small, her depth of personality carried a weight that was profoundly attractive. 

In my own life, I have seen the truth of the power of elegance in women. There is a marked difference between those who perform the bodily tasks of existence and those who work with interior purpose that shines through into their work.

I am blessed to know Bethany as I went to high school with her. She has been a close friend and comes to mind when I think of examples of elegance and interiority that mark women of purpose in today’s society.

Her deep internal life has pushed her to become very involved in CCO’s activities on the University of Ottawa campus and then outside of the school year through mission trips. Her depth of personality and conviction flow from the development of her inner life. 

Bethany also gave a talk during this conference on her experience with second conversion and her conviction that all Catholics are called to be missionaries in different ways. She discussed how the aim of various missionary methods was the same: to share their faith. 

On reflection, it is elegance and a deep personal interiority that also fuels mission and evangelization. It is first by anchoring yourself in interior life and developing a certain dignity which enables one to attract others to the truth. 

Bethany ended with a charged quote from St. Pope John Paul II, emphasizing the purpose women of elegance and interiority can find in today’s world: “You must be the builders! You are the men and women of tomorrow. The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with Him in the building of a civilization of love.”

The subtle qualities of elegance and refinement that are natural to femininity can attract the world to the truth found in Christ.

(Gay, 20, is a third-year student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Barry’s Bay, Ont.)

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