Monday, May 06, 2013

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood

By Pat Gohn. Release Date: March 25, 2013, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, Paperback or Kindle. Available from Ave Maria Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Catholic  book stores.

Reviewed by Jean M. Heimann, M. A. Theology, wife, mother, freelance writer, and oblate with the Community of St. John.

In 1989, a friend from my parish choir introduced me to a document that would change my life – Mulieris Dignitatem—Blessed John Paul II’s famous encyclical On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. It was this document that dispelled all my misconceptions about how the Church actually viewed the modern woman and it was John Paul II’s words which enhanced my self-esteem, altered my attitude toward the Church, and positively impacted my mission in life. Today, it is Pat Gohn’s wonderful book Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood that has bathed me in grace and renewed my spirit once again. In it, Pat shares her personal life experiences along with the Church’s teachings on women, which confirm that they are indeed blessed, beautiful and bodacious.

I must admit that it was the title that first caught my attention. In my world, it isn't every day that one hears the word “bodacious” to describe women. But beyond that, I was drawn in by the magic of her winning writing style – which is warm, witty, and entertaining.  Reading this book was like having a conversation with a close friend. It was simple, yet heartfelt, with some laughs and some straight talk about the things that matter most in our lives.

What captured my interest was the topic – the dignity of women – and what makes them blessed, beautiful, and bodacious. Pat does a comprehensive job of covering the topic. Using Scripture passages, excerpts from encyclicals, saint quotes and her own personal experiences to illustrate certain points, she helps us understand ourselves from a theological point of view and to appreciate our blessings (the reasons we are special), our beauty (our spiritual beauty and unique gifts), and our mission as women (the task to which God calls each of us).  The last chapter was my favorite part of the book, in which Pat discusses spiritual motherhood, making specific suggestions that women, as spiritual mothers, can implement.

In response to society’s counterfeit definition of feminism, which deprives women of their true dignity, Pat offers women an alternative – to discover the truth about womanhood and to appreciate the authentic reasons why they are treasured and why they were created.  “Feminine genius” is a term that has been long used by the Church. Isn't it time we put it into practice?

In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious. It was uplifting, entertaining, and informative. It also provided some very specific suggestions that I can use in my daily life to carry out the mission to which the Lord has entrusted me. This is a must-read for all women – single, married, divorced, or widowed. It would also be beneficial for men to read this book, too, if they desire to understand and to support the women in their lives. I give Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood my highest recommendation.

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