When I was a little girl, I loved traditional fairy tales. My favorite was the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.
Without any knowledge of the ways of the world, I somehow knew there were great truths revealed in these tales. I knew it in my heart.
Perhaps this is why I have such disdain for the modern trend to revise fairy tales. Ever since Shrek became a blockbuster, these revisionist tales have, for me, been a herald of something sinister. To prove my point, I would like to reference a recent movie review by Steven D. Greydanus (SDG) of one such tale, Maleficent:
He writes of the film, a revisionist version of Sleeping Beauty:
The cumulative effect of all these changes is to invert the moral world of the original story: The satanic villain is actually the victim heroine; the traditional, patriarchal cultural system that condemns her is actually evil.
I can’t go into all he says, but I encourage you to read the entire review. (Shades of 2 Timothy: 3-4.)
Interestingly, his blog is a response to a critique from a reader who is apparently familiar with John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. She uses her knowledge to say how much she disagrees with his conclusions. I, on the other hand, want to use what I learned of this teaching to agree with SDG.
Like I said before, I have always identified greatly with the traditional Disney fairy tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, where the prince rescues the princess and whisks her off to happily ever after. When applied to the eternal destiny of the human person, this is Truth. I mean great Eternal Truth — the relationship of Jesus Christ to his Church discussed in Ephesians 5. I have often tried to articulate this analogy in disagreements with so-called enlightened modernists on the role of women in society and in the church, but I’ve had a hard time expressing myself succinctly.
Then, I watched a presentation for teenagers given by Fr. Jonathan Meyer on the Theology of the Body. This priest from the Diocese of Indianapolis gave the presentation at Catholic Familyland in 2009. (Go to the following links and specifically watch part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcZz7BJUX-Y and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mqKc21bq_g
In his presentation he says:
“Every single woman is the daughter of a king, so every woman is a princess.”
His words stand in sharp contrast with one of those enlightened voices I mentioned earlier. Interestingly this one is from a Catholic woman, who writes:
“…Here’s the problem, in a nutshell: princesses are pointless. They have no important function in the world….princesses are as useless and inconsequential as the highly-privileged can be.” (“The Big Problem with Disney Princesses Most People Miss.”)
In contrast to her thoughts, Fr. Meyer uses a traditional Disney fairytale to put into perspective the Church’s vision of the role of women, including the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He tells the story of how his young niece once wanted him to watch with her the movie Snow White, and of course he dreaded the idea. But after sitting through the Disney film, he said, “It was amazing!”
In the movie, he saw the analogy of the marriage of Christ and his Church, specifically mentioned in the song that Snow White sings: “Some Day my Prince Will Come.” He saw this song as an illustration of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, waiting for the coming of the Messiah. These Hebrew Scriptures are filled with marriage imagery, referring to God as the bridegroom and Israel as the bride.
He also explains that in these Disney princess films, there is a power of evil attacking – always –the princess. He likens this image to the “attack” of the serpent to Eve in the Garden of Eden.
“If he (Satan) can kill the symbol of humanity, the symbol of the Church, the symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the symbol of life, then He is absolutely victorious,” he said.
Fr. Meyer points out how, in the garden, Adam fails to protect his wife from this attack. On the other hand, Jesus Christ, the awaited Messiah and the new Adam, is willing to die so his Bride can have eternal life.
Other interesting statements made by Fr. Meyer:
• Women are the crown of creation: God’s masterpiece.
• Why do women long for their wedding day? Because women are ultimately longing for Christ.
• Men are called to be like Christ. (In marriage) they know they will have to die, to lay down their lives. They must not lust. They must not dominate.
• Women’s bodies are good and beautiful and glorious.
• You are called to image the Church and Mary.
• You are called to be exalted and lifted up.
• You are the daughter of the King, and you are called to be treated like a princess.
Yes Fr. Meyer, you are correct. Women are the daughters of the King, AND the daughters of the Queen, who shows all of humanity how to respond to God, our savior, with total love and complete trust.
Mary, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Church, and model for all women, pray for our society, so disordered by sin, to once again recognize the Truth.
(For a revealing look at Mary’s role in salvation history, I suggest reading the book by Scott Hahn that was very enlightening for me, Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God.)