So what of these words describing women as “Blessed”, “Beautiful”, and “Bodacious?”
Each word is so evocative. There’s something of the sacred when it comes to being blessed. And all women can identify with beautiful in some sense of the word. Bodacious, indeed, is something a bit bolder, more remarkable, and even excellent. In fact, bodacious might even seem sexier and more fun than some women might care to admit about themselves, depending on the context in which such a compliment might be given. My guess is, deep down, women might get accustomed to the moniker if it is given in the spirit of good will and respect for the extraordinary lives they lead.
Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious seeks to celebrate women’s dignity, gifts, and mission, by way of an introductory conversation about these ideas. If you’ve known me for a while, you heard me speak of this wonderful idea of the feminine genius. This is why I started the Among Women podcast in 2009. With over 150 episodes, Among Women is a digital audio conversation — like girlfriends getting together over coffee — serving up faith sharing, teaching, and conversation, woman to woman.
This book, for me, is about what we really share when we’re together with friends… The stuff that’s most important about ourselves. I meet my friends at coffee breaks, or out at lunch, or on my back porch, or at church functions, or as we care for children, or when we meet online. The conversations about our real life start to happen in the down time where women relax with each other. This book is my down time with you.
Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious is about the things that have helped me grasp and understand myself better, and my own dignity, gifts, and mission. It is filled with excerpts from my journal, things I want to keep, things I’ve been pondering for years and trying to live, repackaged in chapter form.
So why should I write a book?
To start a conversation. To talk to women about the things that will bless them, and yes, help make them more beautiful — from the inside out. To use the language of girlfriends like when we are sharing over coffee, and our hearts spill out across the table. To offer encouragement in the down time we spend reading. To offer a primer, a conversation-starter, that may later lead to further study of these ideas that I count among the treasures of our faith.
But first, I believe that women need to know the treasure that they are.
The Among Women episodes that get the most heartfelt responses from listeners are the ones that describe the blessedness and beauty of being a woman, and being beloved by God. And, frankly, that is bodacious! The woman who sends me feedback by email or a Facebook comment is poised to begin or renew living her Christian mission more deeply, to become a force for good. She reminds me that perhaps the best strategy for the Church’s new evangelization is making a personal connection. By making friends with each other so we can share what’s most important to us. Good friends treasure one another, and they share the treasures they’ve found.
Uncovering the treasures of the faith is one of my favorite things to do. I admit to being a Catholic theology nerd. It is why I’ve written hundreds of articles in recent years at different Catholic websites and elsewhere. Given my Catholic life and my catechetical interests, I honestly groove on digesting Scripture, plus theological treatises and magisterial documents on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, theology of the body, Mariology, and new feminism. I also realize that most of my women friends may prefer to read other things, but they are willing to hear about the stuff that I’m really passionate about… and one of those things is the honest goodness of being a woman.
Both God and the Church delight in the gift of womanhood – why shouldn’t we? A woman was God’s good idea in the first place!
Sometimes I feel that my best qualification for writing this book is not my MA in theology, or my years in ministry, or my columns, or even the podcast … but just being a faithful friend, who happens to love the Church.
Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious has become my extended conversation that I’ve down written for my daughter, for my sisters, my mother, and my friends. It’s my heart saying “I’ve found some things that I treasure, let me share them with you. This is good stuff. You’re gonna love it. Let’s pour some coffee and talk.”
Why these topics of a woman’s dignity, gifts, and mission?
When I give talks in parishes, at retreats, or at conferences, I am painfully aware that scant attention has been paid to these subjects for women. It is not uncommon for me to encounter a Catholic laywoman who cannot articulate what makes her special in the eyes of God, the Church, or in the world. In fact, many harbor discontent about their lives and purpose. Even worse, many maintain misconceptions about misogyny within the church, and the pernicious bad vibe that women have no roles to play there.
Many Catholic women are missing the truth that the Church has proclaimed the exact opposite message to them for at least the last 50 years. As someone who once made her living in radio and advertising, I find the Church has the best message on earth but the world’s worst marketing. Thankfully, that is slowly starting to change.
This is the Year of Faith. The new evangelization must always introduce or reiterate its central message – a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, and the transformational life it brings. For a woman of the 21st century, a secondary essential message must be shared: a woman’s love and life is vital to God’s plan. From where I stand, the new evangelization must include a new feminism that combats the anti-life and anti-woman biases in our culture. This must be derived, not only from an awakening or a reawakening of a woman’s life with Christ, but by a discovery or renewal of her knowing her true dignity, gifts, and mission in light of that call.
Women who deeply know who they are – and whose they are – in Christ will become natural agents of evangelization, for most of them have mastered the art of conversation, and they’ll only be too pleased to share their hearts person to person. Yet this will only happen in so far as they fall deeply, madly even, in love with Christ, and live their vocations persuasively. That means bringing their feminine contributions to society through what Blessed John Paul II dubbed as their “feminine genius”.
Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious what I’ve learned about womanhood from God, Scripture, and the teachings of the Church. Much more than giving me a few new adjectives to express my joy at being a woman, it has brought me into a deeper relationship with God, with others, and with Mary, my mother and the Star of the New Evangelization.
There’s a free drawing- now through April 10th – for free copies of the book, plus swag. Go to this older post and scroll to the bottom of the page for details.