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Holy Women Hardcover – June 28, 2011
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About the Author
On April 19, 2005, CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER was elected POPE BENEDICT XVI and became the 264th successor to Peter as the "Vicar of Jesus Christ." He may well be the most accomplished theologian to be elected Pope in modern times. Beginning in 1981 he spent over 20 years as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a role often depicted as the "defender of the faith." Cardinal Ratzinger was also President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of the Preparatory Commission that codified the new "Catechism of the Catholic Church," published in 1994.
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Same for the early church Fathers, for them and these women Saints what made their teachings and examples uniquely inspiring? Maybe I need to read both books twice, it would be nice if every Christian read them at least once.
A lesson for all of us is the following from the first chapter: "The person endowed with supernatural gifts never boasts of them, never flaunts them and, above all, shows complete obedience to the ecclesial authority."
Naturally, these are not exhaustive biographies; rather, the pope's talks provide an quick sketch to orient his audience about when the mystic or contemplative lived and about the main events in each of their lives. Each chapter also connects the virtues of the given woman to what we can do in our own lives. For instance, although Joan of Arc is famous for her military year and for being burned at the stake, Pope Benedict reminds us that she was first and foremost a dedicated spiritual being whom we can emulate: "Dear brothers and sisters, with her luminous witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to a high standard of Christian living: to make prayer the guiding motive of our days; to have full trust in doing God's will, whatever it may be; to live charity without favoritism, without limits and drawing, like her, from the Love of Jesus a profound love for the Church."
HOLY WOMEN allows us to see these great women of the Church through the words of wisdom of Pope Benedict. Some of the seventeen are more familiar than others, but in each case, the pope's brief dissertation can prompt a desire to learn more about the respective servant of God. I'll just mention two volumes in my own bookcase that offer more extensive essays on a number of these same women and might be useful to others for further reading: Enduring Grace: Living Portraits of Seven Women Mystics and Women Mystics in Medieval Europe.
In the opening talk about St. Hildegard of Bingen, the pope begins by noting that Bl. John Paul II wrote, " 'The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the *feminine* 'genius' which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms that the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.' "
This little book is a gentle commemoration, from the current Vicar of Christ, of some of those women.