Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Join Us for the Super Girls and Halos Blog Tour {with a Review and Giveaway}

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome visitors new and old.  Today, I am excited to be a part of the Super Girls and Halos Blog Tour, where every day from November 8 through 22, a different Catholic blogger from around the world is sharing thoughts on award-winning author Maria Morera Johnson's thought-provoking new book which explores the Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude through pairing heroines of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books with inspiring female saints.

Now, if you've been following Training Happy Hearts for any length of time, you're already aware of how much my children and I enjoy learning about and celebrating the saints together.  So, my interest in Super Girls and Halos makes sense. However, if you know me in real life, you also might be aware that I invest little to no time in reading about nor watching pop culture heroines in action, and the closest I ever got to being a true superhero fan was taking my Dad's military hat as a child in the 70's, stuffing my hair into it, and doing Wonder Woman turns with my sisters and the neighborhood girls in our front yard.  (Okay, maybe we had some "bullet-proof" bracelets and a golden lasso, too.) 

But, seriously, science fiction, fantasy, and pop culture have rarely been my thing.  Moreover, the strong feminist push of our culture in recent years - which tends to stray far from the virtues, values, and strengths I believe women are created to embody -repulses me more than it excites me.  Thus, I tend to eschew anything that screams "woman power". So, you might wonder why I would want to read a book where over half the pages delve into analysis of
 Wonder Woman, Rey, Black Window, Scully, Storm, Hermione Granger, Katniss, and Lt. Uhura - fictional heroines whose stories I have rarely, if ever, read or watched and have had zero interest in getting to know.

Truth be told, when I first cracked open Super Girls and Halos, I had no desire to read about these "super girls".  I simply wanted to learn more about Sts. Katherine Drexel, Clare of Assisi, Mary Magdalene, Marguerite d’Youville, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Cunegunde, Mary MacKillop, and Kateri Tekawitha.  I was also interested to see how Maria Morera Johnson would highlight each of these saints as examples of real life individuals who overcame challenges and flaws through embracing Cardinal Virtues.  

Of course, though, because I was reading 
Super Girls and Halos for a review and not simply for my own pleasure and edification, I was honor-bound to read every page of it - even the parts about the fictional heroines I cared little about.  So, I did, and guess what?  Instead of being bored or rolling my eyes as Maria examined each female pop culture character, I found myself drawn in, interested in Maria's enthusiastic analysis of how each fictional heroine exhibited human virtue.

I appreciated how Maria recapped key elements of characterization and storyline so that even those who are not pop culture fans could relate to the super girls she highlighted.  I also loved how Maria wove words from St. John Paul II's apostolic letter, The Dignity and Vocation of Women, into commentary about Wonder Woman, and I discovered a new perspective on Rey, who I had been non-plussed by upon seeing one of the new Star War films when my parents invited our family to it. Likewise, I recalled why I'd liked Scully in the few episodes of the X-Files that I had previously seen and delighted to hear that in later episodes, the Catholic faith actually was brought into the storyline.  I also thought about how, if my children suddenly got into the Avengers, X-men, or Star Trek, I might not cringe and could, instead, now easily point out some virtues in the casts of characters.  Finally, I decided that although I still won't ever encourage my children to read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, I can find redeeming value in the series should my kids choose to become immersed in them.  Indeed, I found Maria's treatment of modern day super girls
 clever, thought-provoking, and on-point.  

Better still, I loved how Maria paired the fictional super girls with both both well-known and lesser-known saints, highlighting similarities in the virtues between the super girls and saints, while also honing in on a key difference: the fictional heroines overcome obstacles through superpowers or crafted twists in plots and, sometimes, fall to their flaws, while the saints face challenges and move beyond human failings trough God's face.  By operating from a place of virtue, faith, and grace, the saints made difference in their own lives and in the lives of people they touched while living here on earth - and even still through their examples, legacies, and intercession.  They also challenge us to do the same - to seek a virtuous life, to seek god, to seek God! 

As Maria encapsulates each saints path to holiness, we cannot help but to see how God's grace empowered them to live with virtue despite all too human circumstances.  We see how St. Katherine Drexel quietly used her wealth to benefit marginalized Native and African Americans.  We recall how St. Clare of Assisi put her trust in Jesus Christ, thereby saving others.  We recognize how St. Mary Magdalene remained steadfast in love and faith and also shared about the Resurrection. We learn about how St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross came to Jesus and, then, to offer up her suffering with dignity for the Jewish people.  We hear about how St. Cunegrade moved from being an empress who funded churches and monasteries that still stand hundreds of years after being built to spending her final 20 year in prayerful retreat.  We witness how St. Marguerite d'Youville overcame taunting to build a health network that is lauded even today.  We are inspired by how St. Mary MacKillop stood firm even through temporary excommunication and defended her order while changing the face of Catholic education in Australia.  And, we witness how St. Kateri Tekawitha endured wrongs and isolation as she sought to love and serve Jesus.  In short, we discover how each saint responded to circumstances with love and faith, and we are encouraged to emulate them.

Through Maria' the collection of fictional and real heroines that Maria curated in Super Girls and Halos, we are remind that even in our humanness, we are called to be saints.  When we seek the greater good, when we choose what is morally right, when we stand firm through difficulties as we strive for what is good, when we maintain healthy discretion and self-mastery, and when we take time to ask what step toward Jesus can we make today and then do it, we respond to our calls to sainthood.

Whether you're a pop culture aficionado, a saint enthusiast, or someone seeking a fresh look at how to live the Cardinal Virtues, Super Girls and Halos makes a worthwhile read.  Maria:

  • presents strong analysis of fictional characters and saints
  • shares persona anecdotes
  • defines and gives examples of virtues
  • weaves in quotes from fiction
  • highlights portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • quotes from popes
  • offers periodic questions for reflection
  • challenges readers to tap into the supernatural powers God grants each one of us so that we may become saints

She makes pop culture and saint stories accessible to modern reader, presenting edifying examples of virtue.

Truly, I believe that Super Girls and Halos is a refreshingly unique take on how to live with truth, justice, and heroic virtue that any adult - or adolescent - can benefit from reading.  In fact, I am going to recommend it to my parish collaborative to use in youth ministry and have also already recommended to a local friend who is involved with a Catholic book club.

Who Doesn't Love a Giveaway?

In conjunction with the blog tour, Allison at Reconciled to You has put together a great giveaway.  You can enter below.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who is YOUR Supergirl Saint?

I knew nothing about St. Mary MacKillop before reading Super Girls and Halos and found her story intriguing.  To think of bring excommunicated and still standing firm in faith, and, then, eventually becoming a saint.  Wow!  

Who is YOUR SuperGirl Saint? Please share in a comment!

Disclaimer:  I received a FREE copy of this product from Ave Maria Press in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


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