Barb Szyszkiewicz reviews three new books written to inspire and encourage Catholic women.
Edited by Corynne Staresinic
This beautiful gift-quality book is a collection of letters from 25 Catholic women, intended for younger women as they seek to find their place in the Church and in the world. A Place to Belong is divided into five sections: Nurture, Create, Protect, Lead, and Receive; each of these sections explores an aspect of the feminine genius, with a patron saint and five letters from women sharing their perspective on this topic.
Contributors to the book include Abby Ellis, Justina Kopp, Leticia Ochoa Adams, Sr. Helena Burns, Andrea Polito, Erica Tighe Campbell, Sr. Nina Underwood, Fabiola Garza, Elise Crawford-Gallagher, Gracie Morbitzer, Sr. Damien Marie Savino, Natalie Alfaro Frazier, Lauren Costabile, Cara Fleury, Sr. Norma Pimentel, Shanel Adams, Katie Waldow, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Sarah Kroger, Eve Tushnet, Julie Lai, Kate Capato, Emily Fossier, Alexa Hyman, and Meg Hunter-Kilmer.
Following each letter, you will find a page with a reflection question and prayer. This begins with a quote from the letter, then some questions to ponder as you pray, a call to pray for a particular intention related to the letter, and a prayer to the patron saint of that section.
Dear sisters, we can be tempted to mistake our vocational fulfillment for social-media-worthy achievements, or a "superwoman" drive for success, or a finished to-do list. But true peace is only found in the fulfillment of a higher calling to love others before ourselves. Look for opportunities in your day-to-day life to love and nurture those around you. We bring Christ to others through the simplest acts of kindness, generosity, and compassion. (Cara Fleury, 116)
A Place to Belong is available only in hardcover format and is published by Pauline Books & Media.
by Dr. Kathryn Rombs
The author of Motherhood grew up within a culture that didn't offer much support or respect for the vocation of mothering. In fact, her own mother was a friend of feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, and Dr. Rombs admits to living a very secular lifestyle during her teenage years. As a new convert, she married and began her journey as a mother, but did not lose sight of what the vocation of motherhood has suffered over the centuries. Drawing on her feminist upbringing, she could see that women's dignity had been diminished and undervalued, but Dr. Rombs confidently states that mainstream feminism has left behind motherhood, which "was naturally seen as a hindrance to the opportunities that had suddenly been won for women" (17).
The purpose of this book is to make the case that motherhood can be a significant part of the successful life of a twenty-first-century woman. (19)
Chapters in this book focus on the dignity of motherhood; making your life a masterpiece; being happy in the face of death; how to flourish; becoming a radical Christian; mothers as world changers; and a new feminism.
Motherhood is available in print and ebook versions from Our Sunday Visitor.
by Terry Polakovic
Terry Polakovic finds comfort and inspiration of the lives and works of the four women Doctors of the Church, especially in the current turbulent climate of our Church and our world. She chose to introduce these four women saints not in chronological order but in the order in which they were declared Doctor of the Church -- to emphasize God's perfect timing in honoring each with that title at a particular time in history.
The lives of each of the four saints -- Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen -- are covered in sections approximately 50 pages in length. Reflection questions punctuate these sections, inviting readers to pray, journal, or even discuss these questions with a friend or in a small-group study.
I believed that head knowledge alone would soften my soul. Unexpectedly, what I learned from Teresa, Catherine, Thérèse, and Hildegard is not head knowledge at all. Instead, they touched my heart with the simple truth that God never abandons his people, but he meets us at the point of our greatest darkness. Time and again, he met each one of them in their darkest hour. He was their hope, and as we know, hope never disappoints (see Rom 5:5). Learning about these four women restored my hope for the Church, and even increased it. (14)
Women of Hope is available in print and ebook format from Our Sunday Visitor.
Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
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About the Author
Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. She is editor at CatholicMom.com. Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count. Her booklet, The Handy Little Guide to Prayer, is available now from Our Sunday Visitor.