Saints in 16 Book Club: Chapters 3 and 4


Welcome to the Saints in 16 Book Club! We’re reading My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live , by Maria Morera Johnson.


When the kids are occupied (or, even better, asleep), and the house is quiet, I try to take some time to reflect on my faith journey.

What have I been doing to move forward on the path of holiness? Have I been praying enough? Have I been taking time to listen to God? Have I taken any steps recently to increase my patience, my other-centeredness, or my humility?

Most often, I feel like I’m coming up short, and I try and figure out ways to “conquer” myself, and this thing called holiness that I want so badly to achieve. Of course, holiness isn’t something to be achieve or conquered, and this line of thinking can often lead me down the wrong path. Instead, holiness is a relationship where we learn to give everything of ourselves…but often times, what we have to give doesn’t feel like it’s worth giving.

To be honest, if I’m thinking about the holy man I’d like to become, it’s pretty much the opposite of who I currently am.

Right now, I’m a loud, sarcastic, easily frustrated, worldly-focused individual. In order to “feel” holy, I pray for the grace to become the opposite of all those things.

And yet, Maria Morera Johnson’s book has challenged me to look at the person I am, look at the person God created, and consider that He may have given me certain qualities in order to help me to be a better evangelist for the faith, a more effective missionary for Him.

It almost seems too absurd to consider, but the reflections from Maria’s own life and that of the saints she presents us in Chapters 3 and 4 of her book My Badass Book of Saints seems to point to that absurd idea as a real truth. And quite possibly, the real key to growing in holiness.

It actually seems that our holy heroes have accepted this idea and run with it. They have taken the best qualities of themselves and worked hard to point them toward the greater glory of God.

Be it Edel Quinn, who pushed forward to be herself in order to follow God’s will, despite a debilitating illness. Or St. Helena, who realized that her position in life gave her an opportunity to share God’s message with others. Or Mother Mary Lange, who quite simply worked to help those in her neighborhood and ended up changing the world. Or St. Catherine of Siena, who despite living only 33 years used her personality to become one of the most important, influential,  and courageous women in the history of the Catholic Church.

Or Maria Morera Johnson, who shows us in these chapters how being herself has set off a fire in others. And no matter how small that fire may seem to Maria, it has the capacity to set the world ablaze when aided by her brothers and sisters in Christ, and the grace of God Himself.

Maria shows us that while we may want to dress up and learn ballet because everyone else is doing it, playing basketball might be the path the Lord wants us to take.

So, rather than sitting around and praying for God to change us so that we may be the person He wants us to be, let’s ask Him to make us more of who we are.

By embracing who we are and who He made us to be, we just might change the world, simply by being ourselves.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. Think of a quality that you generally don’t like about yourself. How can you re-frame that quality into a positive trait to be used to spread God’s love to others?
  2. Take a moment to thank God for making you who you are, and ask Him to help you say yes to His will in a way that capitalizes on the person you have become.
  3. Think of a part of your personal spiritual life that you would like to share with others. How can you take a small step toward achieving that goal?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 5 and 6. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Saints in 16 Book Club page.


Copyright 2016 Thomas Tighe


About Author

Tommy is a Catholic husband, father of four boys, and the author of The Catholic Hipster Handbook (available now!).


  1. Think of a part of your personal spiritual life that you would like to share with others. How can you take a small step toward achieving that goal?

    To begin, I am loving this book! I keep reading ahead because I cannot seem to put it down! I feel that a part of my spiritual life that I have been wanting to share is how wonderful it has been to connect with other Catholic women and moms. Just as these saints and should-be saints that we are reading about have been incredibly inspirational to me, I also find a lot of comfort in talking with and learning from other women of our faith in our modern day world. Some of these women that I have gotten to know could probably have stories to add to this book :).

    About a year ago, I met a gal at church. She is the momma of three beautiful girls and right off the bat, invited me to come over about 10 minutes after we met. My husband and I hadn’t really connected with other young couples of our faith at that time and we were new parents so we rolled with it. It ended up being an awesome night at their house and today, they are our closest friends. Through them, we were able to meet several other Catholic couples who are “in the trenches” raising families just as we are. It has been such a blessing from God that we met this couple and have now connected with these other wonderful people as well.

    One of the best things that we have done with them was praying a rosary together once a week. We also seem to sit with them at church majority of the time, and our families seem to just mesh together. My friend and I are going through the video series with a group of Catholic women called Momnipotent by Danielle Bean. To say that this has been fulfilling to both of us doesn’t hardly do the study justice, but each time we meet, we truly feel so blessed to be building this community with this group of women and to find a sense of peace in knowing that other women have the same feelings that we do–love for children and some days watching out the window for the moment our husbands’ car pull down our street! The conversations and topics we discuss are so deep and incredibly rewarding because we all take so much away from them–most of the time, just the refreshment and rejuvenation to start a new day the next day with our kiddos.

    Because of this study, I have had the urge to continue focusing on my growth of faith, even while being a mom of 2 kiddos under 2. I am starting to slowly achieve this goal by doing this book study as well as reading “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly. If any of you have ideas or resources to share with me to continue this growth and can point me in the direction of something that is “time nice,” I would be so grateful!

    Prayers and blessings to you all!

    • Momnipotent is wonderful! And I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying the book. It’s so important for us women to build community with each other. I just came from some much needed time with some friends. We truly lift each other up — in prayer, in encouragement and support, and in friendship. It is a gift to me, as I’m sure, it is a gift to them! god bless you!

  2. If I could riff off what Sarah shares above. I too was blessed in my child-rearing days by a number of women that I prayed the rosary with weekly… sometimes on a Friday night we would get together for take-out pizza with the men too. It was good fellowship for sure.

    I’d like to build on what Tommy encourages in question 3, “Think of a part of your personal spiritual life that you would like to share with others. How can you take a small step toward achieving that goal?”

    I’d like to share, as a mother looking back on her years in the trenches of childbearing and child-rearing, that community is often a gift we give to ourselves, as we’re giving it to one another. Reach out and try to connect to other women in your parish. It’s sometimes a swing and a miss, but it is sometimes a home-run!

    Momnipotent is great, as mentioned by Sarah! Here’s another follow-up in connecting with other Moms and a great suggestion for Lent – host the online Catholic Conference 4 Moms in your church hall, or right in your living room. CM contributor Tami Kiser is the conference organizer and its truly “a conference in a box” – all the work is done for you. Details here…

    I love that Maria Johnson’s book focuses so much on the friendships we ought to make with women saints, and the women who inspire us. We can’t be inspired by those we haven’t met, so this Lent, take a step in your parish and offer this conference for the Moms there, or invite a few over for coffee and fellowship in your living room and watch the videos together and discuss. And then follow that up with your own book club with Johnson’s book. Whatever you do — do it together with other women!

  3. This was a great reflection to accompany chapters 3 & 4 of Maria’s book. I like how you, Tommy, draw out the theme of being ourselves for the glory of God. I also can tend to think that I am coming up short: “If only I could do this better …” And while there are always things to work on, it is important to recognize that God has a special plan and purpose for me that only I can live out. The same is true for each of us. When we focus on His will and the gifts He has equipped us with, we are going to be following that plan and purpose more closely than ever. Right now, I am really trying to accept the exact place God has me—on a quest to regain some of my health. I have realized that I cannot share my gifts if I am not strong physically. In talking to my spiritual director, we connected my current state with St. Catherine of Siena, during her years in her small room (cell). She was hidden away for awhile, until the time was right. That is how I feel right now. It requires a lot of patience, but it also just feels like the right place to be. Also, as I journey with one of my children who is struggling with reading, and as we prepare to have her tested for Dyslexia, I also feel as if St. Catherine is taking us by the hand as our guide, as I read about her own struggle with reading and writing that she didn’t accomplish until adulthood. It is probably not a coincidence that my middle name is Catherine.

  4. I’m so happy to be learning about some new “Heroes of Faith” and let them inspire me.

    I have to say question 1 for this discussion is quite a doozy! Think of a quality you generally don’t like about yourself and reframe it to be used for the glory of God…! I will definitely have to contemplate that one. I’m more than aware of my failings…but turning them to good is a whole other ball of wax.

  5. This is the 2nd time in 3 days I’ve come across the quote “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze” (St. Catherine of Sienna). I think someone is trying to tell me something! 😉
    Reading Sarah’s comment made me smile. When my boys were little, we lived in a community where I could count on 1 hand the people who were actually from there. We had a wonderful base of Catholic friends who were our family when we lived there. I think, especially as Catholics in the South, we need that. We need friends who have the same values, who raise their children the same way we do.
    We moved away from there 11 years ago, and I have really found my spiritual life floundering. I’m attending the parish where I grew up; the same parish where I was baptized and received First Confession/Communion, and Confirmation. It’s taken me this long to get involved and to start forming the friendships that I had in our previous parish. (Okay, I’m going to stop before this turns into a complete blog post!)
    My goal is to grow spiritually and to read more books about the Catholic faith. And, these “badasses” (Maria included, of course!) certainly are motivating me! 🙂

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