I was pleasantly surprised last month when I was approached through Facebook to consider reviewing a new book for Catholic women by author Pat Gohn. I had heard of Ms. Gohn from her popular podcast Among Women, and thought it a very good sign that she was reaching out to ME to read and review her book. “Little ol’ me? Why I’d be delighted!”
I have to admit that there was some sort of a satisfying ego stroke as I imagined in vivid detail me writing a glowing review (never mind if the book deserved it) and Ms. Gohn contacting me to thank me, and then of course becoming BFFs. I could just see she and I having a conversation about New Feminism and discussing the ins and outs of theology as it applies to women in our world while we sipped lattes on the set of her program before going on air.
Then I actually read the book and was delivered a roundhouse kick of good old fashioned humility and honest self-evaluation.
Gohn’s book, “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious; Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood” is quite simply a masterpiece. I do not write that lightly, especially with my self-admitted desire to please the author referenced above. I honestly believe the contents of this book have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit itself and that Ms. Gohn’s delivery of this Truth is awe-inspiring. The message of this book is for every young woman to embrace and learn.
This is the book I wish I had read 15 years ago as I first formed my concepts of what it means to be a woman, and then again as I was married a decade ago. It’s the book I will recommend and give to friends who are struggling to acclimate and embrace their roles as mothers, either physical or spiritual. These are the truths I have been learning through my own errors and am so grateful that someone is finally writing down the wisdom that can only come from experience for future generations to learn in advance of mistaken identities.
Ms. Gohn shares the wisdom of her own learned life experiences in this book, which are many and diverse, and gently forces the reader to evaluate where they are on their journey to living their life for the purpose of fulfilling God’s plan for them. She tells her story in such an amiable manner that soon you catch yourself nodding your head and realizing that you too have been duped and wounded by accepting the world’s definitions and expectations of womanhood.
In the early parts of the book, Ms. Gohn talks about coming of age in the midst of the Sexual Revolution and the onslaught of Second Wave Feminist thinking. She shares how, as a young woman, her identity became linked to ideas about productivity and achievement as the markers for success and fulfillment. This caused her to push herself to excel at everything she put her mind to and to reach out for goals and roles that women typically did not fill. She admittedly became competitive and “tuned out (her) feminine gifts as potential liabilities”.
I identified with these confessions so well and felt like I could have written them myself. As a young woman I have often felt the need to be the best at whatever I am doing, not because of a disciplined desire to succeed and apply my talents, but to somehow prove my worth. This type of thinking also results in living your life for the approval of others as your identity becomes interwoven with your productivity. It is why a simple request to review a book becomes more in your mind. Other’s opinions of you matter more than God’s opinion. It is not an enjoyable way to live and has unfortunately at times ended up pitting me against my friends as competitors and not confidants.
That roundhouse kick to my pride came as I stepped back and looked honestly at my own life. Am I spending my time in ways that truly embrace the gifts of my femininity? Am I generous and receptive to my children, husband and neighbors? Am I sensitive to the needs of others and provide the type of motherly love and acceptance that our world so desperately needs? Do I contribute the essential feminine gifts to the world or do I spend more time focused on myself and how I can get further ahead?
Tough questions indeed.
As I worked my way through this book I found myself won by the likeable and welcoming personality of Ms. Gohn. She shares her life as a testament to her journey in learning the truths of God’s plan for our femininity, but never comes across as judgmental or claims to know it all. In opening herself up and sharing her own short-comings and fears she describes the situations that millions of other women face each day. By the end of this book she feels like a friend who has walked beside you in your struggles and knows just the right words to encourage and give you hope that you are indeed loved and good.
This book is a wealth of resources to help women understand the depth of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the beauty and privilege of being created female. The number of excerpts from papal documents and the Catechism show that Ms. Gohn has spent a good deal of time learning these truths and finding the basis in the teachings of our Church. These are not just ideas she “feels” are true, they are backed by our Church. The news is truly good news for all women.
By the end of the book, I had worked through my less than desirable temptations towards over-achievement and could see that God uses all of our temperament to fulfill the gift of our femininity to the world. I may not be the mom who bakes bread every day, but I am the mom who is educating her children in social activism and being generous with time through my work. I may not have the tidiest house, but I am receptive to guests whenever they happen by, mess and all! I am trying to teach them about being sensitive to one another’s needs and to comfort and reassure those around them. I am living my bodacious call to Femininity.
I highly recommend “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious” and hope many young women will pick up a copy. I know that the Holy Spirit is working from many angles to bring forward the good news of New Feminism and I am so happy that Pat Gohn has added this wonderful book to our arsenal of tools to be used in reaching all the women of the world with these Truths.
Now to hope for that latte……