As a fan of the podcast Among Women, I have been anticipating the publication of Pat Gohn’s first book for quite some time. Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is finally available and I was excited to be sent a review copy to do this review here on Catholic Sistas. Let me state right up front that I loved the book and highly recommend it.
Last summer I wrote an article here on how the Church celebrates womanhood and it generated a lot of discussion. As it always is with these things, the discussion did not go as I thought it would and there was much dissent with Church teaching in the comments. I wish that this book was available at the time so I could have recommended it. If you have ever felt that the Church takes a lesser view of women, doesn’t respect women, doesn’t treat women as equal to men, or whatever, I encourage you to add this book to your list of things to read and study in an effort to better understand the true teachings of the Church.
So why do I feel that this book can answer all those concerns? Pat does a great job breaking down the gifts all women have into three main categories and then exploring those to develop a fuller picture of the dignity of women in the eyes of the Church. Those categories are obvious from the title: the blessedness of women in the eyes of the Church, the beauty all women have through four main gifts from God, and the bodacious mission women have as a result of our beauty and blessedness.
What I especially loved was Pat’s use of not only her own personal experiences as a daughter, wife, mother, and friend, but also her incorporation of Scripture, the Catechism, writings of Pope John Paul II, writings from other famous Catholics and saints, and various Vatican documents. It’s a lot to include, but she does it seamlessly.
I believe, too, that you could read this book more than once and get something different out of it each time. Particularly at different stages of your life. A single woman will be struck by Pat’s words in a different way than a grandmother might. Those struggling with health issues may find comfort in Pat’s experiences of breast cancer as a young mother. There is something here for everyone.
For me, as I read this book, I was particularly taken in by Pat’s discussion of Our Blessed Mother Mary. Mary plays a large role in this book, but Pat is honest with her readers and tells us that Mary was not always a part of her life. I could relate to this and I loved learning more about how Mary became a larger part of Pat’s life and thus drew her more into appreciating the important role women have in the universal Church.
Of the three parts of the book, I found part two on Beauty spoke to me the most. I don’t want to give too much away, but there was much here I could relate to. There are four chapters, each discussing one of four gifts that all women have. Those who know me well know that I am a very sensitive person. I loved seeing an entire chapter on sensitivity as a gift from God. And I am not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes several times throughout this chapter as well as other chapters in part two. Pat’s words really helped me to see what a gift sensitivity is to me as a woman and to not be ashamed of it. Thanks, Pat!
Finally, I never thought about the mission we have as women. A mission that God has given us through the gifts He uniquely gives to women. A mission that is unique to women and different from that of men. Pat does a great job of discussing our calling as baptized Christians and our unique gifts as women and then bringing it all together to share the “bodacious” mission we have as women in the world. I especially loved the chapter titled “Beyond Fairy Godmothers” since in it Pat gives many concrete ideas for how we are all called to some sort of motherhood: biological, physical, spiritual, or all three. If nothing else, I know I will refer to that chapter again and again.
This is definitely a book I would recommend to any woman. If you are struggling with how your life fits into the mission of the Church, this book is for you. If you are struggling with motherhood, this book is for you. If you are struggling to understand who you are and why God has made you, this book is for you. And for as much information that is here, Pat herself admits to only skimming the surface of the Church’s teachings. She provides a thorough bibliography at the back of the book for further reading for those who want to dig deeper.
Go get yourself a copy and buy one for a friend while you’re at it.