Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood
by Pat Gohn
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2013

Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Our present culture does not value and esteem womanhood very much. Catholic writer, speaker, and podcaster Pat Gohn is working to change that. With Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood , Gohn “seeks to celebrate womanhood by exploring a woman’s dignity, gifts, and mission.”

As one might expect from the title, Gohn describes women as blessed, beautiful, and bodacious. “We are blessed that we have simply been called to be.” Baptism serves as a tattoo on our souls. We have been branded by God, “claimed as his own.” We are children of God with a loving Father who “always knows what’s best for his daughters.” 

Our beauty is more than skin deep. It is centered on “four dynamic gifts” from God: receptivity, generosity, sensitivity, and maternity. Receptivity is “receiving another person for his own merits.” It is “saying yes to love.”  When we make that decision to love, we also live generously. “We may never know who might be ultimately blessed by our generosity. The ripple effects are often shielded from our sight. But God uses our generosity for good, to bear good fruit.” Sensitivity is also part of love. It involves seeing with one’s heart, to be able to help and serve others when and where they need it most. Maternity encompasses more than the physical ability to give birth. “All women are entrusted with the call to care for the people within their sphere of influence.” In this section, Gohn discusses the beauty and responsibilities of both physical and spiritual motherhood.

Bodacious refers to our reason for being on this earth, our individual mission given to us by God. A combination of bold and audacious, this gift invites us to embrace all that God made us to be.
Gohn writes in a very conversational style, sharing stories from her own life in order to illustrate how God works in a person’s world. She tells of her romance with her husband, the challenges of parenting, the importance of friends, and her experience with cancer while still in her thirties.  She shares her fears and joys and how she developed a relationship with Mary, whom she holds up as a model of all that a Christian woman should be.

With a Master’s Degree in Theology and certificates in adult faith formation leadership and the theology of the body, Gohn brings much to the conversation of what it means to be a modern Catholic woman, a daughter of God. Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious is wonderful reading for any woman who wants to embrace the gifts God gave her.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Movie Review: Home Run - PG13


Cory Brand is a successful professional baseball player, but he is charged with a DUI and suspended from his team when his drinking problem gets out of control.  He is sent to his small hometown to coach a youth team.  A lot happens for Cory in this small town:  Coaching the team renews his interest in the game, he joins the only recovery program in town, and he meets a past love and family he never knew.   

A great story of redemption, forgiveness and how God can transform us.

 I recommend this story for all, especially those struggling with an addition.

 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald





Every once in a while there comes along a book that I feel absolutely must be shared with as many young people as possible.  Odette’s Secrets, a young adult historical novel, lovingly and painstakingly crafted by Maryann Macdonald, is one of those rarities.  It tells the story of the Holocaust, a dark period that must never be forgotten, through the eyes of a child.

Told entirely in blank verse in the voice of a young Jewish girl, the book is filled with black and white photographs from the Meyers family album.   The story begins as Odette is beginning to realize that things for Jews are changing in Paris.  Life becomes defined by hiding, secrecy, and loss.  The Meyers family is not religious, so Odette struggles with understanding what it meant to be a Jew.  To keep her safe, Odette’s mother sends her to the French countryside to attend a convent school, with instructions to blend in as a Catholic orphan.  

Odette’s new life is much better, with room to play freely without food rationing and the fear of soldiers.  She is filled with confusion about her identity, as she is living out the lie that was designed to protect her.  She feels drawn to the Holy Family of Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Joseph, and finds comfort in the nativity scene.  She misses her mother, but never wants to go back to Paris.

Odette’s mother joins her when Paris becomes too dangerous for her to continue her secret work.  She does not blend in as well as her daughter has, however, and when the children become suspicious Odette is chased down and beaten up.  Although a friend and protector is able to convince the country folk of the family’s story so they can continue living there in peace, Odette is never able to trust her friends again.

When the war ends, Odette and her mother return to Paris, where Odette must confront the reality of the suffering that the Jews have endured.  Only then can she finally come to terms with who she is as a girl and a Jew.  She is reunited with her father, now a prison camp survivor, who brings her the gift of a diary in which to write her story. 

Maryann Macdonald has written more than twenty-five books for children.  While living in Paris, she discovered Doors to Madam Marie, the autobiography of Odette Meyers, who grew up to be a poet and university professor.  She became fascinated by Meyers’ story and personally visited the places where she had lived and played as a child.  Meyers passed away in 2002, survived by her son Daniel, who provided Macdonald with additional materials and permission to write his mother’s story for children.

This is a story that will draw young readers in and keep them turning the pages.  It tells the sorrowful truth in a sensitive way that is age-appropriate, yet never condescending.  Young people and their parents can benefit from reading this book concurrently.

Odette’s Secrets by Maryanne Macdonald
Published Feb. 26, 2013
240 pages, Hardcover, $16.99
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Ages 10 and up

Music Review: Loved by JJ Heller

In addition to JJ performing, she and her husband wrote all songs on this CD. There are 10 tracks,  and although they are each different, they all have a familiar, steady,  comfortable tempo/rhythm.  JJ's voice also sounded comfortable...not too shrill, not too low.  Both of those factors made this CD very pleasurable listening.  

That being said, most of the lyrics acknowledge what we receive from God.  "If you Fall" is God saying he loves us even when we fall.  "Redemption" refers to us as ransomed and redeemed.  "Come Back to Me", in fact,  states how we 'self-destruct' when we walk away from God.  

Most Christian music I've reviewed contains songs of worship and praise.  I did not find that the case with "Loved".  The lyrics mostly focus on 'us', 'we' and 'me'...It would be appropriate and desirable to have some focusing on thanking God and praising His greatness.  The music and singing are great, but the lyrics left a hole for me.  

 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Bible TV series on the History channel: Segment One

I watched the first segment of "The Bible" on History last night and here are some of my thoughts.
 I found the soundtrack and direction inspired by "The Passion of the Christ", the acting was dramatic and well done. I appreciated the emphasis on the trials of those whom God called to fulfill His mission. Each one, from Abraham to Moses, was continually doubted by those closest to them, and yet remained steadfast, saying, "Trust in God, have faith." This is something we often forget. I was sorry to see that Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were omitted for time's sake, and I wish a bit of time was dedicated to the Passover dinner itself.