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Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Authentic Catholic Woman: A Book Review

Title: The Authentic Catholic Woman
Author: Genevieve Kineke
publisher: St. Anthony Messenger Press
paperback, 156 pgs.
cover price: $13.99
With a Foreword by Christopher West

In June, I wrote an essay entitled Just What IS a Woman's Role If She Cannot Be Ordained? in defense of the Church forbidding a woman's ordination into the priesthood. A friend of mine consequently recommended The Authentic Catholic Woman by Genevieve Kineke.

Genevieve is a convert to the Catholic faith and the founder of Canticle magazine, a forum dedicated to the topic of the vocation of the woman. Click here to visit the website.

Authentic femininity (and authentic masculinity) is a term I have heard several times in the course of six years of homeschooling. It is becoming an important concept among Catholic homeschooling moms, particularly in the light of John Paul II's gift to men and women everywhere, his Theology of the Body.

One can argue that the "women's movement" has done a great deal to forward the cause of equal employment and opportunity for the feminine gender, particularly here in America. Yet, one great injustice has occur during this "battle." Authentic femininity has been traded away. In an effort to make women equal to men in the eyes of society, women have turned their energies into becoming more like men, redefining the term of "a self-actualized woman."

As urgent as the role of a man is in the plan of Creation, it is not meant to be played out by a woman. A woman has a unique role that parallels and complements her counterpart. Genevieve writes, "You are a feminine apostle--a vocation that has a startling richness and is distinct from both masculine apostles and false, weaker visions of womanhood." False, weaker visions of womanhood: this is what our society has embraced today, and the "startling richness" is almost extinct.

She continues: "This is a critical time for women and a critical time for the world. The Church has made it clear that if we women can discover the richness of our vocation, then we will have an impact that we never imagined. If we are faithful to our femininity, we can do what God asks of us and rebuild a civilization of love and life."

The Authentic Catholic Woman is not a handbook of how to be the ultimate Catholic mom. Nor is it a fluffy how-to on being a good wife. Undoubtedly, I came away from Genevieve's work with plenty of nuts and bolts and realistic guidelines to a life of grace. Many times, I've read books that make me say, "Yes...but how?" Genevieve indeed answers how. But most importantly, she shows how femininity is directly connected to the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, and how authentic femininity is deeply rooted in the sacraments and, indeed, in all of the creation and redemptive plan of Our Father in Heaven.

I found The Authentic Catholic Woman to be so engaging that once I finished, I turned back to the beginning and started again (something I rarely do). Lots of dots were connected as I worked my way through each chapter. Chapters included: What Do Women Want? The Essence of Femininity; Mirroring the Sacraments of Initiation; Mirroring the Sacraments of Healing; Spousal Love; The Church as Mother; The Church as Teacher; The Bride in the Old Testament; The Church as Builder of Culture; Pitfalls to Authentic Femininity; and Our Gift to the Church and the World. Genevieve also includes notes, from which a "further reading" list can be easily culled.

This is not a difficult read, yet Genevieve's work is firmly grounded in scripture and Church doctrine. She clearly conveys the truth, and truth is always deep, complex, and remarkably beautiful. Her writing makes it accessible and easy to understand. I came away with awe and wonder over the completeness of the creation plan and the feminine role. She also reminds us that the feminine role works in tandem with the masculine; lived in an authentic manner, they cannot be separated.

In a world that calls for women to be more like men, and for men to be like women, here is the antidote--our Catholic Faith. Genevieve explains that through Him, with Him, in Him we can live our true womanly nature and bring the redemptive plan to reality. Of course, I must not forget to mention Genevieve's explanation of model of Mother Mary, our purest form of womanhood. As the author notes, John Paul II calls her, "our tainted nature's solitary boast."

This is a must read for every Catholic woman--and, might I suggest, for her husband as well.

God bless.

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