In “On Women, Holiness, and Middle Age,” Cristina Mazzoni talks about the aging process for women, particularly as it relates to the stigma of getting older (past the age of thirty-nine). Citing a number of famous figures who died young, as well as some who accomplished great things only after they hit middle age, Mazzoni notes that all of these women have close, fascinating relationships with God no matter their age.
The central idea behind the article is that all of the figures that she names came to prominence (and to God) at the age of 39 or later, defying the notion that one’s life is over once they approach middle age. Figures like Dorothy Day, Cristina Campo, Elizabeth Ann Seton and more are described in short bursts of information, pointing out their contributions despite their advanced years.
One of the most fascinating and appealing things about this particular article is Mazzoni’s wry, casual writing style – the writing itself is approachable, yet knowledgeable, disseminating information in a fun, non-academic way. The comprehensive nature of each paragraph, going systematically from woman to woman to outline their accomplishments cements their individuality, and yet their commonality as great achievers in middle age. According to Mazzoni, “these women inspire a new understanding of what aging, and successful aging, may signify” (40). This article, therefore, is incredibly useful in understanding the topic of women and aging, as it defies the common belief that women have to slow down and stop their lives once they hit a certain age.
By acting in conflict with the cultural idea that our “declining bodies” must mean declining spirits, Mazzoni provides example after example of women who defied this notion and offered stronger souls in their weakened bodies.
Mazzoni, Cristina. “On Women, Holiness and Middle Age.”