Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious by Pat Gohn

A young woman I know told me she loved the title of this book, saying, “You had me at bodacious!”

A lot of people love that word — bodacious.

This review is for the rest of us, the ones who see “bodacious” and cringe a little.

I am here to tell you, “Be not afraid.” What Pat Gohn really is writing about is what Blessed John Paul II called “the feminine genius.”

What Pat Gohn does, beautifully, is contrast what it means to be a woman in today’s culture versus what the Catholic Church recognizes about true feminism.

Few women I know really understand the depth of their own beauty because they are too busy comparing themselves with others or have been unfairly compared–and rejected–by others. …

But what if I told you that there is a level playing field? What if you found out that every woman has gifts that make her beautiful–beauty derived from something innate and eternal and not fleeting or skin-deep/ These gifts sing in sync with the beauty of a woman’s inborn femininity, a standard for true beauty far beyond mere appearances.

Gohn gives examples from the challenges and rewards of her own life as she takes us through the gifts every woman has–receptivity, generosity, sensitivity and maternity. I was touched more than a few times by her eloquent celebration of the true meaning of womanhood … and her ways of pointing out the truths that many today have forgotten.

A woman’s body was made to nurture and bring life into the world. Her vocation resembles her maternal nature; it bears fruit that gives life. A woman’s relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, as in giving birth to a child, can be fruitful spiritually. Her receptivity and her generous and sensitive care of others can give birth to good fruit of a spiritual nature in the lives of other people. In this way, a woman’s life-giving gift of self to others is made through loving service, bearing the good news of love through her person.

Gohn continually expands our vision of common understanding about women, almost flipping them upside-down as we are shown new ways to think. That is a great part of what makes it so applicable to women of every age. I knew deep down, for example, what Gohn tells us above about bearing spiritual fruit, but I’d never heard it anywhere. Her discussion in the book brought it to the surface for me. It made me appreciate that aspect of my own personality as part of my personal feminine genius, bestowed upon me by God.

I think that’s going to be a typical experience for all women, young or old, when reading this book. Pat Gohn is a genius at speaking about “feminine genius.” Definitely recommended.

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