I’ve been thinking a lot about mission lately: what I want from my life and from my work, and whether what I actually do with the time God gives me is working toward those goals. If it’s not, then I am really just wasting time. I’m more than just a cute machine, though; being the person I want to be is even more important than doing what I want to do. There are no day jobs in heaven, after all. I took this vantage point into my reading of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood, and it helped me appreciate all the aspects of this spirituality. Writer, podcaster, and (of course) Catholic woman Pat Gohn offers a mission-focused guide to living the Catholic woman’s life.
As the title suggests, Gohn breaks down Catholic womanhood into three aspects: women are inherently and uniquely blessed by the love of God the Father; women possess feminine gifts that communicate their beauty; women receive the mission to be bodacious (bold + audacious) proclaimers of the Word to the world. The first answers who we are, the second speaks to who we want to be, and the third speaks to who we must become. This is less of a step-by-step manual than a life guide. As Catholics, we live our lives on Earth with an eye toward eternity. Gohn’s structure leads us to do just that.
Perhaps the most creative of Gohn’s approaches to Catholic women’s spirituality is her discussion of the gifts of women (which make them/us beautiful). She identifies four actions: receptivity, generosity, sensitivity, and maternity. Receptivity and maternity are sides of the same coin, so that was a done deal for me as a reader. I could even grasp generosity; it’s a fruit of Christian love. I struggled with seeing sensitivity as a spiritual gift, though. As Gohn writes, a woman’s sensitivity is like grace-filled intuition. The soul of a woman is particularly ordered toward taking in (receiving) a whole person: a body + soul; a being, not just a “doing”. Somehow, she answered a question I didn’t even realize I had.
One of the things I liked most about this book was Gohn’s ability to balance being down-to-earth and raising the reader toward the heights. If terms like “feminine genius” leave you with a raised eyebrow, she’s ready to break them down. If you don’t understand how maternity can relate to you as woman destined for the convent, she offers a wider perspective. If you just like seeing “bodacious” that close to “Catholic” on a book cover and have to know what that’s all about, you will find a kindred spirit! It takes skill to balance between deep thought and the down-and-dirty side of life; she nails it.
I would recommend this book to the Catholic woman who’s looking for a complete vision of spirituality from one perspective, as opposed to Style, Sex, and Substance, which combines multiple expert perspectives into that vision. Beginners might find some of the theological language and the distinct sacramental focus a little intimidating. If you’re a (wo)man without a plan, this book will help get you a good one.
Many thanks to Ave Maria Press for providing a free copy of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious for me to review. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review.
Up next: The World’s First Love, among the best books about Mary, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen