I mean seriously, before I read a single word, the cover alone made me feel good:
See what I mean? Don't you feel better?
If the Little Catholic Bubble had a handbook, this would be it. It's sort of a "How to love being a Catholic woman even more than you do now, as if that could even be possible!" or a "These are the women I want to go out to lunch with pretty much every day for the rest of my life and that's saying something because I am classic introvert!"
A quick overview of the chapters:
Jennifer Fulwiler, blogging icon, on "How I Fell Out of My Minivan and Found Myself". The glorious, six-foot, could-be supermodel (who really did spectacularly fall out of her minivan in front of church ladies) asks, what would a holy woman today -- a modern Mary -- look like?
Hallie Lord, our lovely hostess, on "Style: Balance, Beauty, and You". My dear friends, you really do not have to be frumpy and plain to be a faithful Catholic woman! So don't let that fear stop you from converting, k?
Karen Edmisten writes on "God and Godiva". A concise primer for busy women on how to pray and spiritually order your life all day long. (And yes, Karen, bullet points are always good!!)
Elizabeth Duffy covers "Sex, Passion, and Purity". I always chuckle when people think Catholics are prudes. We understand the joy of sex the way God intended it to be enjoyed, which is always the best way. And you can just read the chapter if you want to know more. ;)
Anna Mitchell speaks to all the single gals out there with "Single and Seeking God's Plan". The cross of living one's vocation is preceded by the cross of discerning and then waiting to live one's vocation. Anna deftly walks us through it.
Rachel Balducci writes on "Fruitful Friendship". A much needed discussion about how to be a friend, how to make a friend, how to navigate friendships, and even how to mitigate or end a toxic friendship with grace and peace.
Danielle Bean gets real in "We Said Yes". Ah, honesty about marriage! The grit right along with the grace, no sugarcoating, but full of hope and joy. Lots of wisdom here for newlyweds looking down the road, and profound reminders for us long-marrieds, too.
Simcha Fisher on "Receiving, Creating, and Letting Go: Motherhood in Body and Soul". All I'm gonna say about this chapter is that Simcha always makes me smile, and she didn't disappoint. But this time, she made me tear up as well. I'll get you for that, Simcha!
Barbara R. Nicolosi with the important "Plugging in and Embracing Discipleship in the Twenty-First Century". Yes, ladies, we live in an increasingly hostile culture and we may long for a simpler time. But God wants us living, loving, and evangelizing in this time, with this media and technology, and He wants us to do it with beauty and excellence.
Finally, the chapter that taught me the most.
Rebecca Ryskind Teti on "What Works For You?" This discussion of the feminine genius was timed perfectly. I had just read the following when along came Hilary Rosen's diss of Ann Romney and stay-at-home moms:
In Redeeming Economics, John Mueller points out that there are two forms of capital. Physical capital, such as production plants, machinery, and computers, which includes all of the items businesses invest in so as to be able to operate. Because businesses employ people and generate wealth, we give them incentives to keep investing in capital. There is also human capital: the minds and muscles of people who design, create, or labor in various businesses.
Mueller performs a rough calculation and concludes that two-thirds of wealth creation is a product not of physical, but human, capital. At present we don’t incentivize investment in human capital. We don't for example, provide the same tax breaks for educating a young person that we do for buying a Mac. This means that every adult whom a stay-at-home mom sends into the workforce is an enormous gift of wealth she’s given her country.Take that, Ms. Rosen!
And I'm not the only one who saw Rebecca's piece as the perfect foil to Ms. Rosen's dig, as even the good folks at Hot Air quoted this informative nugget from her chapter:
There was a time when each household had to provide everything for itself. Economy, in fact, comes from the Greek word for household management, and it refers to all the activity necessary for a household to have what it needs. Each family planted crops, hunted game, spun its own cloth, and so forth in a division of labor that assured that everyone in the household had what he or she needed to live well. And a household typically included not only a nuclear family, but also extended relatives and servants, because it took a lot of people to perform all the necessary tasks.
“Business” is a form of task specialization by which the household outsources to others what it used to have to do by itself. Increasing specialization of this kind has led to massive changes in social organization, but it hasn’t changed the essential nature of the activity, which is to provide households with what they need to live well. We don’t talk about economics in these terms because we have become philosophical materialists, interested only in what and how, never concerning ourselves with the questions of origin (Why does this arise?) or purpose (To what end is it ordered?). It’s not necessary for a woman to “contribute” to the world of work. The world of work exists to be sure she has what she needs for her family.This is the stuff we need to teach our children! Imagine how differently we would view motherhood and things of the home. Which is not to say that the Church in any way condemns women who work outside the home; quite the contrary! The feminine genius extends into the workforce as well. Rebecca quotes Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) who said that mothers "who wish also to engage in other work should be able to do so with an appropriate work schedule, and not have to choose between relinquishing their family life or enduring continual stress, with negative consequences for one's own equilibrium and the harmony of the family."
And, amen to the ladies who opened their hearts and poured out their wisdom in this amazing book. It showcases the best of Catholic womanhood and encourages me in my own slow journey to sanctity. I also think it has the power to change non-Catholics' perceptions of us. (I love Jen Fulwiler's piece about the book: The Secret Lives of Women (Who Don't Use Contraception.))
And you know what? I was going to use my copy of Style, Sex, and Substance for a giveaway, but I liked it so much that I'm keeping it for myself.