On February 19, 2017, Vice President Katarina Connery of Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP) USA gave the sermon at the Chicago Family Church. A transcript and video of her sermon, “My True Mother,” are made available here.
In light of the many significant Holy Days surrounding this time of year—Heavenly Parent’s Day, True Parents’ Birthday, Foundation Day—I decided I’d like to talk to you about some of my experiences with True Mother.
Ever since I accepted this role at WFWP USA, I find that my appreciation of True Mother, who she is and what she represents, has grown deeper and deeper. And every time I have the opportunity to see her in person or read some of her speeches, both old and new, I feel like I receive new insights.
The last time True Mother visited the U.S.—for the launch of the IAPP [International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace] in Washington, D.C. [in December 2016]—she also met with a group of about 300 [Unificationist] youth at East Garden. The very first thing she said to all of us was “Who am I? … I’m the only begotten daughter.” Very clear. No room for indecisiveness.
And as she does in most of her speeches these days, she went through providential history. That was the first time I really felt in my heart, not just my head, how incredibly precious True Mother is. And how significant it is that she can say, “I am God’s daughter,” with such clarity.
On that day she spoke on God’s painful longing to find Jesus; for 4,000 years God was searching for that one person who could be His true son. Often we say God was waiting for the Messiah, but the word “waiting,” to me, implies something passive. Like God is twiddling His thumbs, checking His watch. “When’s he going to get here?” But no, throughout those 4,000 years, God was actively searching, working with the Jewish people and preparing the environment, trying to find that one person who could finally fulfill his 5 percent of responsibility and stand as an example of a true person. Imagine how many times throughout those 4,000 years that God must have been hopeful, only to be bitterly disappointed. And finally, finally here’s Jesus: He did what needed to be done; finally someone in whom God could place His trust and hope. And imagine God’s heart-wrenching realization that He was going to lose that son. And everything was repeated for another 2,000 years until True Father.
But at the same time God was also searching for His daughter. So God was searching and waiting for 4,000 years for Jesus and again 2,000 years for True Father. But God was searching for 6,000 years for someone like True Mother, the first true woman. How infinitely precious True Mother is. She’s the first woman in all of 6,000 years of the history of restoration who can stand as an example of a true mother, someone who can love and embrace all of humanity with the heart of a mother.
So what’s the evidence? How do we know that True Mother is who she says she is, that she’s God’s only begotten daughter, the first true woman, and a true mother in actuality, not just in title? It’s incredibly narrow to think that she’s True Mother just by virtue of being True Father’s bride. There are many ways to answer this, but rather than getting into the theological viewpoint or True Mother’s life course, I want to take the viewpoint of the heart.
Shortly after I was appointed by True Mother to be the WFWP [USA] vice president and president-in-training, [FFWPU North American Continental Director] Dr. [Ki Hoon] Kim invited me and Mari [Curry] and Miilhan [Stephens, the two new vice presidents for FFWPU USA, also appointed by True Mother] to come to Las Vegas and attend True Mother before she returned to Korea. We joined some of the witnessing activities there, met with the Las Vegas family members, and one day Dr. Kim brought us in to meet directly with True Mother. It was a small, intimate meeting, just Dr. Kim, [FFWPU USA President] Dr. [Michael] Balcomb, Dr. Michael Jenkins [the director of the FFWPU USA Office of Business Investment and Asset Development], Mari, Miilhan, and myself. Before that I had never met True Parents in such a small setting. We greeted her, she spoke to us briefly and we left. When I returned home to Richmond [Virginia], the pastor’s wife asked me, “How did True Mother look?” And the very first thing that popped into my mind was “tired.”
When we stepped into her home to meet with her, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe we had disturbed a private moment of relaxation. Maybe she was taking a moment to pray, and suddenly here come these children who want something from her. “Mother, speak to us, give us your insights.” And when we left, the others were talking about what she said and how amazing and insightful it was, but I also felt sorry for disturbing her privacy. But the thing is, if it wasn’t us in there at that moment, it probably would have been someone else. This is the life True Mother leads.
If I think about my own life, I really value having that time when I can just be alone or with my family, without work or mission demanding more time and investment from me. I have the luxury of being able to escape. I can turn it off. But for True Mother, she is always on, always working, always moving. Don’t you think that would be exhausting, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally? Isn’t it draining to be continuously giving?
They told us she had just finished breakfast before we came in. For myself, if a bunch of people come in to talk to me right after breakfast, I would tell them to go away. Really, she barely has any time to herself.
But why? Why would she put herself in this position of public scrutiny, and constantly being required to give and give and give again? Why?
When she came to visit East Garden [in May 2015] after she had toured Europe for the celebration of the 50 years of the European movement, I went to one of the morning meetings with her. I sat in the front row. She asked us in tears, “What can I say to make you feel what I feel?” You could hear the pleading and longing in her voice. “What can I say?”
And you know that she has put herself through the humble and uncomfortable living situation of the early days of the church, and through this life of no privacy, because of her heart for God and humanity. She is always thinking about the billions of people who are suffering. It is on her mind every single moment of every single day. I know many of us have felt it, when we see the state of the world, but we shut it out in order to function. But she has made the choice to never shut that out and completely give herself, mind, body and soul, for the sake of God and world peace. There can be no other reason, not money nor power. Human beings do not put themselves through such misery unless there is a higher calling.
She’s always thinking about restoring humanity. Throughout her recent speeches you can see a common thread: She’s always talking about restoring the 7 billion-plus people of the world. If you think about it, she’s not just saying we need to restore all the generally good or marginally okay people, but also all the ugly people and those who have done the unforgiveable.
Who but a True Mother could look at the ugliness and nastiness of humanity and willingly sacrifice herself to embrace the lost sheep and do anything possible to bring every person back to the family? There is no way to give as she does without being completely one with God’s heart of true love, this heart that gives, forgets that it has given, and gives again.
The amazingness and preciousness of True Mother also lie in her position as a true woman—that is, a woman who was finally able to become what we women were intended by God to be. Not a woman who is reacting to what society has said about women for thousands of years, but a woman who completely embraces her divinely feminine nature and lets it shine.
I’ve recently been reading True Mother’s speeches in the Pyeong Hwa Gyeong in which she spoke at different WFWP events worldwide. I would like to read you one quote that really hit me:
“Chauvinists assert that men are destined naturally to assume the superior position and men and women are designed for certain roles they are meant to play. Their theory is that men and women are born with different natures and that accordingly their roles also differ. They believe that men and women naturally assume the superior and the inferior positions, respectively, in terms of identity and status and that men are established as the superior.I believe that feminists until now primarily have been responding to this view. They have tried to secure an equal status with men in all respects, by imitating them and assuming the same roles as men.
“In spite of their efforts, complete gender equality could not be achieved. This was because they did not know the essence of the problem. The fact that the role of women and their inborn nature differ from those of men does not mean that the value of women is less than that of men and that their status is inferior. The unhappiness of women stemmed from not realizing the preciousness of their God-given original nature and role. Problems arose from the fact that many women forgot what they possessed and tried to imitate the nature and role of men, as if men were the exemplars for women.” –Pyeong Hwa Gyeong, p. 947
Throughout history, women have been treated like second-class citizens—and still are today in many parts of the world and, in some respects, here in the U.S. Women have been ignored, our voices have been suppressed and we’ve been treated like our opinions had no place at the table, and our role in the home and family were of secondary or, at worst case, no importance to society.
True Father taught us that this was because we are living with the results of the mistake of Eve. If you look at the Fall and some of the motivations involved, you can see the truth in this. First, there’s the Archangel who saw Eve as something to possess. He didn’t care about treating her as an equal, as a daughter of God; he cared about owning her for his own selfish purposes. And what do you have as a result today? Women are seen as objects—whether you’re talking about sexual objects, as in pornography, or prostitution, or women are treated as objects of status. In many countries today a woman’s worth is attached to her dowry or a bride price, and marrying off a daughter is just a means for the family to gain affluence.
Then there’s Adam, for whom Eve was the seducer, the one who caused Adam to fall astray. What are some of the results today? Women are treated as the temptress, the one to blame for the fallacies in men. For example, in many countries throughout the world, even here in the United States, when a woman is raped, many times blame is assigned to the woman: “Well, she shouldn’t have dressed provocatively, etc.” This is ludicrous.
And we women knew that this was not how it was meant to be; in our original minds we knew that this was not what God created us for. But without an example of someone to show us and tell us, “This is what a true woman is; this is who you were meant to be,” who did we look to? We saw men who were treated with more respect and more rights than we were, and we said that, to be treated equally, we have to have what they have, and want what they want, and pursue success the way men pursue success.
As True Mother says, the predominant response to the unfairness of the world had been “no.” No, this should not be. No, this is wrong. No, the situation must change.
But True Mother has changed the conversation, to “yes.” Yes, you are beautiful. Yes, you are valuable. Yes, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. And, yes, you should be treated with dignity and respect just as you are, as a woman with unique traits and characteristics.
True Mother says: “Women are the individual embodiments of truth representing one of the two natures of incorporeal God, who possesses yin and yang in both external form and internal nature. Therefore, women are not in a competitive relationship with men, who represent the other side of God.”
I’m sure we are all intimately familiar with this diagram. According to True Parents’ teachings, when a man and woman unite centered on God, they create a true family. And that family is only in balance and harmony when there is balance between man and woman, between masculine and feminine; even there’s no family harmony unless there’s harmony between the masculine and feminine natures within ourselves. Think of your own families: What would they be without your mothers, wives, sisters and daughters? Without that feminine heart freely expressed?
And when there’s harmony in the family, we can have harmony and peace in the community, society, nation, and world. The brilliance in this is that women must have equal participation in all aspects of society—in business, education, politics, law—not because men have these high positions, so we should too, but because we bring balance and harmony. We need to bring our uniquely divine feminine nature into business, politics, science.
How often is a kind word or an empathetic listener exactly what is needed to dispel the tension? How can we have peace unless people feel cared for and nurtured? From my viewpoint, the world really could use a little more patient nurturing, empathy, and compassion. Wouldn’t you agree? However, let’s not forget that the reverse is also true: Sometimes a decisive, assertive decision is necessary to keep things moving in a positive direction or to not allow the voices of negativity to drown out the voices for good.
When you look at general masculine versus feminine leadership styles: Men tend to be more decisive, assertive, independent, and competitive, while women tend to be more collaborative, empathetic, nurturing, and patient. Does that make us weak or inferior? No! In fact, we have exactly what is needed to make the world whole. In the words of True Mother, that’s our God-given, original feminine nature. And True Mother is exemplifying this in her leadership of our movement.
To me, this is deeply affirming. As women growing up in this culture, we are in constant war between our innate natures—as caretakers, listeners, collaborators, empathetic and compassionate—and what society says we have to be in order to be taken seriously. But True Mother stands as an example of a true woman. Because she has rectified the mistakes of Eve, she says we don’t have to be the temptress or an object to be possessed. And she lives as a divinely feminine woman; she exemplifies that we don’t have to emulate men in order to be taken seriously. We women have exactly what is needed to make this world whole.
The evidence of how empowering what True Mother represents can be seen in the work of WFWP. That may sound like a shameless plug, but WFWP has done tremendous work to educate and empower women to make our unique contributions to peace.
So I’m telling you all of this not to put True Mother up on a pedestal and to see her as someone we can’t relate to. But I believe that we should emulate her example and what she has taught, emulate it in our own lives in our own unique ways. I’m not talking about emulating the actions but the principles of heart. I believe that the course that True Parents have walked, of complete and utter sacrifice, [was necessary for] many providential and spiritual reasons, so we don’t have to walk the same course.
So I’m not saying that we all should suddenly start living so that we never have a private moment and everything we do is open to public scrutiny. But we should emulate True Mother’s heart of caring for and living for the sake of others. And base our actions and decisions on how to serve the higher purpose. And seek ways to embrace and love our brothers and sisters.
And we can emulate True Mother’s teachings about true harmony and equality between men and women, starting in our own families. I believe we are tasked to find ways first in our own families to find complementarity between our divine masculinity and femininity. Empower, celebrate, and value the unique qualities and contributions of the women in your families. We should welcome and indeed seek women’s unique contributions to creating peace and harmony in our community, even in our church community here.
I believe that way we can restore this world.