A Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious Theology of Womanhood

“Each woman’s life, well lived, might be the best gospel anyone will ever read. But before the doing, before the carrying out of the mission, there is the being. The personhood of each woman, without her ever saying a word or doing a thing, is a sign of life.

Womanhood. Life.

Those terms are inseparable” — Pat Gohn

Outside of my husband and sons and my heroic and saintly in-laws — and my dear Benedict, who still astounds me — I haven’t got too many heroes in my life, but Pat Gohn is a hero to me; a fearless woman I admire a great deal, not least because I have such a hard time with this stuff.

She’s so excited about the release of her new book that she is co-ordinating her wardrobe to the cover. I’m excited for Pat, too, but more excited for the people who read this book and find themselves exposed to a theology of womanhood that can heal and uplift. Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious is one of those books that had me constantly underlining things, sometimes because Pat had written something like this, which completely reinforces my own understanding of the yes of God’s intention in our lives:

For each one of us was created at a precise, unrepeatable moment when God said yes to our being. God ordained all of our days in a nanosecond. God’s knowledge of us is so intimate and powerful that he can point to that fixed and unique moment when we came to be. One moment we did not exist. The next moment we did. That moment was a complete and utter blessing.

In other words, God knows who we are. Pope Benedict XVI preached that “each of us is the result of a thought of God.” (Homily, April 24, 2005)

God knows us deeper than the cellular level where sperm and ova meet. God knows us where the spiritual and the physical collide, where the tinder of the body meets the spark of the soul in a brilliant, ecstatic flash of his unapproachable light and genius…

I know, right? Powerful, passionate, insightful stuff!

I would find myself underlining small quips, like this:

In the end, I dropped my negative opinions about Mary because of God’s good opinion of her.

And larger sections it would be foolish of me to try to excerpt here, but that begin thusly:

I learned firsthand that marriage is an amplifier. Everything I liked or disliked about my man before I married increasedin volume after marriage. I ran headlong into a wall of my selfishness and struggles for power, not to mention my own anger issues that erupted from my quick temper. I struggled with the sacrificial aspects of taking care of a home and family. Putting others’ needs ahead of my own was harder than I had thought it would be. I bristled when I could not control things.

Motherhood intensified my struggles…

Oh, hello! Nothing like meeting myself in another woman’s pages!

On the corner edge of the book cover, you see a little quote from me, writing, “I cannot help but think the Holy Spirit wants this message out” and I completely mean that, but here is what I wrote about Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, when first asked to:

Forty years after the message that ‘women can do and be anything’ began to really resonate and take root within with the culture, many women feel like they have the ‘doing’ part down pretty well, but they’re not sure about the ‘being.’ What does it mean to ‘be’ and where can we find a consistent narrative of being that is of a piece with the realities of women’s daily lives? Through her sometimes deeply personal stories and an insightful use of resources, Pat Gohn makes a convincing argument that — contrary to most media messaging — the Catholic Church has been sharing a view of the fullness of feminine genius, strength, and beauty that is downright holistic at its well-rounded depths. Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious is such a perfectly-timed (and sanely, gently offered) look at the ‘being’ part of modern womanhood that I cannot help but think the Holy Spirit wants this message out!

That’s about the size of it! Just buy the book and be glad! Give it to a woman you love. Or give it to yourself and because you’re worth the gift.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Subsistent

    Yes. For although the bodily make-up of each of us is indeed extremely complex, it seems evident to me that I — my very self — am not any *feature* or *character* or *mark* or *note*, or any ensemble of cellular or other *factors*: I’m quite simply just me. In view of this, What reason can there be why precisely I exist at all, if not that my absolutely ineffable identity itself — and the intimate identity of you, and of every other human self — is expressly “invented” by the Creator?

  • GONZALO T. PALACIOS, Ph.D.

    Fortunately, I never had “negative opinions about Mary,” thus, I will enjoy Pat Gohn’s “Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious.” It seems that her book and mine, “The Virgin Mary’s Revolution” should be read together. Congratulations to Ms. Gohn for a much needed insight into Marian spirituality, Gonzalo T. Palacios, Ph.D., C.U.A.,1970