Defiant Daughters: An Inspirational Book

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Defiant Daughters is a collection of stories about inspirational women from all over the world and all over history who had deep religious lives and whose faith lead them to courageous action. It includes women you’d expect to see such as St. Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila and Dorothy Day. It also includes women you may have never heard of before such as Anne Askew, Honora Nagle, and Satoko Kitahara.

Reading it all the way through, it was a fairly quick read. It does inspire you to learn more about the women, which is a good thing for two reasons:

  1. They are praiseworthy women. When we are daily surrounded with such filth through the media, it’s good to learn about them. As the Bible says, we are supposed to think about those things that are godly.
  2. God bless the author, Marcy Heidish, but sometimes her depictions of these women aren’t 100% accurate. I walked away from the book not entirely sure if the author was Catholic or not because, particularly with the saint profiles, her depictions of it all had so many tiny flaws. She seemed more than happy on multiple occasions to paint the Catholic Church in a bad light and not always deservingly. She is a Benedictine Oblate but in many places, you don’t have to be Catholic to practice a Benedictine spirituality.

Overall, I hope that second point doesn’t turn too many people away if for no other reason than the women in this book deserve recognition.

I do have one major beef with this book, however. The vast majority of the women in this book either gave up family life all together or abandoned their children to pursue their calling. It’s a repeated theme. One woman sent all of her younger children to live with family so she could minister to people in a war-torn country. Another left her children with their father so she could travel the US preaching about injustice. Yet another left her baby, newly weaned, to be a martyr. These are only three examples in a book that contains more.

It serves as an insult to the vocation of motherhood. Like motherhood is not an heroic endeavor, but abandoning your own children to fight for other causes is. This is balanced somewhat with the second to the last story of the book in which women become heroines precisely because they are mothers. I would challenge the author, however, to write another book featuring stories of mothers.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and I hope that the complaints I had don’t drive people away. Books about strong women of faith can be hard to come by and they are important to read when one finds them.

 

 

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Saints Behaving Badly: A Book Review

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I laughed out loud…a lot. I learned…a lot. This very short, very quick read was just simply…a lot.

Did you know about the early Pope who, in a previous career, got into trouble for basically screwing over widows? Did you know about the saint who literally screwed (biblically) a bunch of pilgrims only to have an intense conversion experience in the Holy Land? Have you met my new favorite female saint who was a wily, strong woman (if somewhat violent) both before and after her conversion to Christianity?

I was compelled many times during reading this book to share stories from it with others. It’s full of that many great stories that really make the saints into human beings.

It helps you to see the saints as normal people who through perseverance and, more importantly, the gratuitous grace of God became great.

My only complaint, and this is only because I just recently heard a lecture on St. Francis of Assisi, is that the author blurs the lines between Francis legend and history. This is forgivable because Francis is so completely seeped in legend.

It is a very fun book that everyone and anyone can enjoy. Especially pick it up if you have a problem relating to the saints. And bring a friend with you to read this. It is a book you’ll want to share.

 

Mother Teresa on Abortion

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But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.

And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

– Mother Teresa at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, speaking in front of then President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, then VP Al Gore, and Tipper Gore.

Quite appropriate for this week as we just learned that Mother Teresa will be canonized soon.

My Badass Book of Saints- The Review

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Are people so offended by the title of this book the only picture I can find of the cover online is from Amazon with “copyrighted image” printed across the top? Seriously, you can find worse language on daytime network TV. But anyway…

If you’re offended by the title of this book, get over it and buy it. You’ll be glad you did.

There has been several books out in recent years by women reflecting on the role of the saints in their lives. My Badass Book of Saints is definitely my favorite of the group.

Like other books in this category, it’s part memoir, part hagiography, and part spiritual reflection. Unlike the other books in this category, it’s relatively light on the memoir, which I like. Her writing is always spunky and engaging. It’s full of fun and inspiring facts. She makes all of the (official and unofficial) saints in her book relatable and interesting. You’re guaranteed to learn something and enjoy yourself while you’re doing it.

A couple of her choices of saints mystify me. She lists Christina the Astonishing, a woman who practically came back from the dead and then spent the rest of her life doing strange and dangerous acts of penance. The lesson Ms. Johnson gets out of it is how inspirational Christina is to come back from the dead and go through all these trials for the souls in purgatory. What I get out of it is that even the mentally ill can become canonized saints. I guess you can say “potAYto, potAHto.” Part of the beauty of the saints is that different Catholics can get different ideas from the same figure.

Other saint stories include little-known facts about well-known figures such as Audrey Hepburn and other inspirational people you may have never heard of such as Nancy Wake.

Overall, very fun read. It’s currently available at your favorite book seller. Get it!

 

Proclaim the Person of Christ- John Paul II

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If you have met Christ, live Christ, live with Christ! Proclaim it in the first person, as genuine testimony: “For me life is Christ.” That is true liberation: to proclaim Christ Jesus, free of ties, present in men and women, transformed, made new creatures. Why instead at times does our testimony seem useless? Because we present Jesus without the full seductive power of his person, without revealing the treasures of the sublime ideal inherent in following him; and because we are not always successful in demonstrating conviction, translated into living terms, regarding the extraordinary value of the gift of ourselves to the ecclesial cause we serve…In prayer, it is in that trusting contact with God our Father that we can discern better what our strengths and weaknesses are, because the Spirit comes to our aid. The same Spirit speaks to us and slowly immerses us in the divine mysteries, in God’s design for humanity, which he realizes through our willingness to serve him.

-St. John Paul II, Discourse at the Vatican, January 26, 1979

7 Quick Takes: My Favorite St. Teresa of Avila Quotes

 

This Wednesday was St. Teresa of Avila’s feast day. Looking for quotes to put up on JPII Center’s Facebook, I fell in love with way too many. Here I would like to share 7 of them with you in one post instead of spamming everyone with Teresa of Avila goodness (not that it would be a bad thing!).

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Many of the images used in this post come from Death to the Stock Photo. If you are in need of stock photos, sign up for their mailing list. They are awesome! The last pic is from user mompes at freeimages.com.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Theology of the Body Thursday #2: Thought of the Day from St. Teresa of Avila

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“It is no small misfortune and disgrace that, through our own fault, we neither understand our nature nor our origin.”- St. Teresa of Avila

Isn’t that the whole point of Theology of the Body?

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us!