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My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live

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In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality, Patheos blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances. In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk col In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality, Patheos blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances. In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk college students, and caregiver for a husband with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Through humorous, empowering, and touching portraits of twenty-four spiritual mentors who inspired her, Johnson shows how their bravery, integrity, selflessness, perseverance, and hope helped her and can help others have courage to reach for a closer connection to God. She presents remarkable holy women and saints—including the gun-toting Servant of God Sr. Blandina Segal, who tried to turn the heart of Billy the Kid; and Nazi resister Irena Sendler, who helped smuggle children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II—in a way that brings their vivid personalities to life and helps readers live out the challenges of their lives with virtue and conviction.


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In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality, Patheos blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances. In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk col In this edgy, honest, and often audacious book of Catholic spirituality, Patheos blogger and popular podcaster Maria Morera Johnson explores the qualities of twenty-four holy women who lived lives of virtue in unexpected and often difficult circumstances. In My Badass Book of Saints, Johnson shares her experience as a first-generation Cuban-American, educator of at-risk college students, and caregiver for a husband with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Through humorous, empowering, and touching portraits of twenty-four spiritual mentors who inspired her, Johnson shows how their bravery, integrity, selflessness, perseverance, and hope helped her and can help others have courage to reach for a closer connection to God. She presents remarkable holy women and saints—including the gun-toting Servant of God Sr. Blandina Segal, who tried to turn the heart of Billy the Kid; and Nazi resister Irena Sendler, who helped smuggle children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II—in a way that brings their vivid personalities to life and helps readers live out the challenges of their lives with virtue and conviction.

30 review for My Badass Book of Saints: Courageous Women Who Showed Me How to Live

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I really enjoyed this book and liked the format with the author beginning with a story of her own life leading into snipets about the saints. My only complaint would be that I wish it was longer and more in depth! I will be researching more about the amazing women mentioned in this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    K

    I’m not Catholic but this book really resonated with me. I appreciate that the Catholic Church holds up strong women as examples of Christ-like love, strength, and passion. At a time when I’m fearful for making noise and standing up for the right thing, I felt God speaking through this book and inspiring me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Johnson offers a really beautiful way to parallel saints to modern day holy activists; I only wish she offered more content about the saints. The small chapters are thoughtfully organized by theme, even offering contemplative questions at the end. For any Catholic who remembers The Picture Book of Saints, this feels like the female adult version of that beloved classic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna Janero

    This book was awesome. Even if you aren’t Catholic, I highly recommend this book because of the strong and courageous women who are discussed in it. I have been wanting to learn more about saints, especially female saints. Maria Morera Johnson shares her very own vulnerable life experiences and relates them to each saint, which helps show that they are more relatable than what we think. This book was very inspiring and I pray that I can embody these empowering female saints.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. First off, I am in love with the cover that is currently shown on Netgalley: I hope this is the final, because it was what drew me to the book in the first place. Never underestimate the power of a good cover to sell books. The real question: How did what was inside hold up to the cover? Being that this was received via Netgalley, keep in mind that things mi I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. First off, I am in love with the cover that is currently shown on Netgalley: I hope this is the final, because it was what drew me to the book in the first place. Never underestimate the power of a good cover to sell books. The real question: How did what was inside hold up to the cover? Being that this was received via Netgalley, keep in mind that things might be changed ahead of the publication date. It was pretty much what it says on the tin, but mixed in with the stories of the saints were tales from the author's own life or the lives of her family. Sometimes it felt a little unorganized, but maybe having structure within each section where it's older saint/newer saint/personal connections to both either before or after each...or after or before both. Something more than a paragraph break that is in the same order from section to section. I found the stories of the saints lives interesting, especially those who are lesser known to this Protestant. ;) They were also good examples to look towards, because they mostly weren't the sort to shove their beliefs or religion in others faces and attempt to force them to conform. They simply lived their lives and did their best to right the wrongs that surrounded them and live the moral lessons laid out by their faith. I think there are people who could benefit from that sort of inspiration regardless of any sort of personal faith.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I really wanted to like this book, but it was very light on actual information about these badass saints. I’m also not entirely sure what direction the author was trying to go with her book. Is it about how holy she is or the saints? The self-congratulatory tone was off putting and I ended up being unable to finish. I LOVE the concept of a book on badass saints (especially those who struggled on their way to sainthood), but I can’t say this book accomplished much of anything.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    Could not even finish this one! I thought this was going to be an exciting, in-depth look at the lives of female saints that would be empowering and inspirational. It's mostly a (pretty boringly presented) collection of anecdotes from the author's own life with very little information about these badass women she is supposed to be educating us about. I good about 70% through and had to give up. The writing style and reading level would be better suited for a middle school audience--except that th Could not even finish this one! I thought this was going to be an exciting, in-depth look at the lives of female saints that would be empowering and inspirational. It's mostly a (pretty boringly presented) collection of anecdotes from the author's own life with very little information about these badass women she is supposed to be educating us about. I good about 70% through and had to give up. The writing style and reading level would be better suited for a middle school audience--except that there's a curse word in the title. I tried to push through this one but I wish I'd given up sooner so I could have moved on to something better!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is not an indepth look into her life but she takes pieces of her journey and weaves together Saints and their experiences into these pieces of her journey. Retry: She talks about her faith journey growing up with the influences of immigration on her family, helping those in poverty, struggling with her husband's health. All of her life experiences she weaves in Saints who she realized influenced her path. Some saints and holy women you know others you may have never heard of; some who This book is not an indepth look into her life but she takes pieces of her journey and weaves together Saints and their experiences into these pieces of her journey. Retry: She talks about her faith journey growing up with the influences of immigration on her family, helping those in poverty, struggling with her husband's health. All of her life experiences she weaves in Saints who she realized influenced her path. Some saints and holy women you know others you may have never heard of; some who have a life story written and others that little is known about. Chapters are a bit stand alone and have questions at the end of each for a book club. St. Rita of Cascia is the patron of lost causes along with St. Jude. St. Bibiana is the patron saint of hangovers. :) "God is indeed still in the business of creating women who are destined to do great things"(p. xiii). "I longed to find role models who matched me own approach to life-saints with boisterous lauhs and quick tongues that sometimes got them into trouble"(p. xvi). "We're all trying to maneuver in a world that makes living the faith a challenge at best an frustrating in some of the more difficult moments"(p. 25). "Instead, Edel put her trust in God, saying, 'We can never love too much; let us give utterly and not count the cost. God will respond to our faith in him'"(p. 28). "For the most part, people offer their traumatic childhood experience as a piece of trivia in their lives, in the same way, perhaps, that I might casually say that I didn't meet my father until I was almost three"(p. 56). "God will always take care of us. We must trust him and look to him in all things"(p. 71). "St. Teresa of Avila said that 'joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God'"(p. 99).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna Melfi (readwithanna)

    I thought this was going to be different from what it was. This was very light on information about saints and focused more on the author’s own life. I skimmed most of this book because I wanted to read the information about the women I thought this book was going to be focused on. I like the way it was set up - each chapter had two people that were linked through similar circumstances, one usually more “modern” and seen as a more “regular person” and the other, a canonized Saint. I liked the me I thought this was going to be different from what it was. This was very light on information about saints and focused more on the author’s own life. I skimmed most of this book because I wanted to read the information about the women I thought this book was going to be focused on. I like the way it was set up - each chapter had two people that were linked through similar circumstances, one usually more “modern” and seen as a more “regular person” and the other, a canonized Saint. I liked the message behind this book and it reminds me of something a youth minister told me in high school - We are all saints, with a little ‘s,’ who can get guidance from the lives of the Saints with a big ‘s.’ I also liked the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which were also compiled in the study guide at the back of the book. The study guide also included some extra questions and applications for your life. I think this would be a good book for 8th-10th graders as they would be preparing in most places to make their Confirmation. For those interested, the chapters covered: - Audacious Sisters - Sr Blandina Segale and St Teresa of Avila - Courageous Sisters - Nancy Wake and St Joan of Arc - Missionary Sisters - Edel Quinn and St Helena - Outspoken Advocates - Mother Mary Lange and St Catherine of Siena - Valiant Women - Phyllis Bowman and St Gianna Beretta Molla - Selfless Saviors - Irena Sendler and St Christina the Astonishing - Eloquent Images - Flannery O’Connor and St Margaret of Antioch - Passionate Beauties - Audrey Hepburn and St Rose of Lima - Compassionate Souls - Dorothea Lange and Bl Rosalie Rendu - Resolute Seekers - Immaculée Ilibagiza and St Rose of Cascia Authentic Icons - Mother Antonia Brenner and St Bibiana

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janka H.

    This is a fantastic book. Bold, beautiful, authentic and richly inspiring, this work combines the lives of Catholic saints from the past and more modern women whom are practicing the values and virtues in following God and working for better good of people (some of the modern women are not Catholic/believers, but are very inspiring human beings). And what makes the it even more interesting are very personal and thus very relatable musings of the authoress on every subject (virtues) her work cove This is a fantastic book. Bold, beautiful, authentic and richly inspiring, this work combines the lives of Catholic saints from the past and more modern women whom are practicing the values and virtues in following God and working for better good of people (some of the modern women are not Catholic/believers, but are very inspiring human beings). And what makes the it even more interesting are very personal and thus very relatable musings of the authoress on every subject (virtues) her work covers. The authoress is obviously warm, approachable, humble and a great fun (the bit of tongue-in-cheek of sorts I assume - a person after my own heart!). I have learned a lot about some great (and cool) women (yay for the Flannery O’Connor, a personal fave writer!) and enjoyed the rawness of the authoress's personal sharing. And I feel a whole lot closer to the heart of the matter on my faith journey, where so often I feel the need for wise mentoresses - and these women might be such guides on my broken road to God. One of the best devotionals on the Catholic literary market!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    So much potential... I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. Conceptually it has so much potential, nd the women it introduces us to have so much to offer. And yet the book overall had a curious flatness for me, an air of trying too hard. The style of the writing can't quite teach the power of the subjects here. Part of this lack of impact is that the book does far more telling than showing; it tells me precisely how to be inspired by these women, making sure I don't miss anything, rath So much potential... I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. Conceptually it has so much potential, nd the women it introduces us to have so much to offer. And yet the book overall had a curious flatness for me, an air of trying too hard. The style of the writing can't quite teach the power of the subjects here. Part of this lack of impact is that the book does far more telling than showing; it tells me precisely how to be inspired by these women, making sure I don't miss anything, rather than showing them to me in a way that enables them to actually inspire me. Still, there are women here worth meeting whose lives I do want to explore. Just not through this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anne Farrington

    This was a book we read for our parish book club and it was enjoyable. While selected mostly because of the crazy title, each chapter paired extraordinary women who the author held up as examples by which to lead our lives. While some were well known (e.g. Joan of Arc or St Teresa of Avila), others were unsung heroines like Irena Sandler who helped smuggle children out of the Polish ghettoes in WWII. The author also had an interesting past and perspective - her grandparents fled Spain during WWI This was a book we read for our parish book club and it was enjoyable. While selected mostly because of the crazy title, each chapter paired extraordinary women who the author held up as examples by which to lead our lives. While some were well known (e.g. Joan of Arc or St Teresa of Avila), others were unsung heroines like Irena Sandler who helped smuggle children out of the Polish ghettoes in WWII. The author also had an interesting past and perspective - her grandparents fled Spain during WWII to Cuba and then her parents emigrated from Cuba to the US in the early 1960s. This is an easy read that definitely peaks one’s curiosity on several of these inspiring women.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Min

    The best part of this book is that it blends a personal story with the women - sainted and secular- that have inspired the author to be better, and persevere. The book is meant to be worked through, and offers questions at the end of each chapter to help individuals, and groups, to explore the text, and what it means, on a deeper level. The back of the book includes exercises, and explorations to go even further to the acts of faith, and charity. The saints, and secular, included are encouraging The best part of this book is that it blends a personal story with the women - sainted and secular- that have inspired the author to be better, and persevere. The book is meant to be worked through, and offers questions at the end of each chapter to help individuals, and groups, to explore the text, and what it means, on a deeper level. The back of the book includes exercises, and explorations to go even further to the acts of faith, and charity. The saints, and secular, included are encouraging stories, and ones not often told, especially of the lesser known saints, and blesseds. The title may seem irreverent, however, it is a work of Catholic devotion, with traditional views.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    The title and the audacious cover pulled me in. You can tell the author Maria Morera Johnson is adept at modern media, social media and marketing. in the forward she tells you this no Butler's Lives of the Saints, an encyclopedic format. Instead she pairs obscure ancient states with modern woman living lives of grace including the author's cousin and the beautiful Audrey Hepburn. It's an interesting juxtaposition. Johnson is liberal with details of her own personal life, journey and faith. She w The title and the audacious cover pulled me in. You can tell the author Maria Morera Johnson is adept at modern media, social media and marketing. in the forward she tells you this no Butler's Lives of the Saints, an encyclopedic format. Instead she pairs obscure ancient states with modern woman living lives of grace including the author's cousin and the beautiful Audrey Hepburn. It's an interesting juxtaposition. Johnson is liberal with details of her own personal life, journey and faith. She walks the walk. The book is short but does read like a textbook with questions and exercises at the end of each chapter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    True to its title, this book delivered on giving me a 10,000-foot look at a bunch of new saints whose stories I didn't know. I love reading about awesome religious women (see my review of The Red Tent). Where The Untethered Soul came across too preachy for my taste, I enjoyed how Johnson included some personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter. True to its title, this book delivered on giving me a 10,000-foot look at a bunch of new saints whose stories I didn't know. I love reading about awesome religious women (see my review of The Red Tent). Where The Untethered Soul came across too preachy for my taste, I enjoyed how Johnson included some personal reflection questions at the end of each chapter.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Great introduction to and reminder of some amazing women in history that are also Saints or should be. I learned something about my confirmation saint, Rita of Cascia that I won't go into now but is quite prophetic in retrospect. Each chapter also includes a set of questions that I will go back to this week and in the future. It is not a long book nor is it an in-depth account of each saint but I gave it five stars because it is making me think and that is my favorite pass time, thinking. NEXT! Great introduction to and reminder of some amazing women in history that are also Saints or should be. I learned something about my confirmation saint, Rita of Cascia that I won't go into now but is quite prophetic in retrospect. Each chapter also includes a set of questions that I will go back to this week and in the future. It is not a long book nor is it an in-depth account of each saint but I gave it five stars because it is making me think and that is my favorite pass time, thinking. NEXT!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Megan (carry_abook) Abbott

    An honest and vulnerable book of Catholic spirituality. Maria, a first generation Cuban American shares her own struggles and experiences in life and her faith beautifully while also introducing 24 holy and complete badass women. Maria finds a way for you to feel a connection with all the saints even when they were saving children from Nazis and ending violence in ways I can never imagine myself doing so fearlessly. Maria really was able to make these saints and their lives more personable and a An honest and vulnerable book of Catholic spirituality. Maria, a first generation Cuban American shares her own struggles and experiences in life and her faith beautifully while also introducing 24 holy and complete badass women. Maria finds a way for you to feel a connection with all the saints even when they were saving children from Nazis and ending violence in ways I can never imagine myself doing so fearlessly. Maria really was able to make these saints and their lives more personable and allowing you to feel inspired by their actions.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Another first, thanks to Coronavirus: first audiobook I listened to on purpose. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it, both the book and the listening experience! I really like how the author began each chapter by connecting the saint or saintly woman she was about to describe with an event in her life. She was/is a very good storyteller and I felt these women come to life more than when I'd ever heard of or read about then before. This is one I think I will bring up in my catechism classes and is a good r Another first, thanks to Coronavirus: first audiobook I listened to on purpose. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it, both the book and the listening experience! I really like how the author began each chapter by connecting the saint or saintly woman she was about to describe with an event in her life. She was/is a very good storyteller and I felt these women come to life more than when I'd ever heard of or read about then before. This is one I think I will bring up in my catechism classes and is a good read for all Catholics, women especially.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Could not finish this, though I tried my best. Too much information about the author, not enough about the saints. The concept was great, but it was not done well. I had really looked forward to this book and requested it from my husband as a gift, so I was very disappointed when it just didn't live up to what I had hoped it would be. Could not finish this, though I tried my best. Too much information about the author, not enough about the saints. The concept was great, but it was not done well. I had really looked forward to this book and requested it from my husband as a gift, so I was very disappointed when it just didn't live up to what I had hoped it would be.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    I loved this book and found myself looking up more information on these saints and would-be saints . I didn't want the book to end. I like the format and the questions. I just wish I had known there were more questions at the end of the book as I went along. I purposely read it slow to savor and research more . I learned so much in reading this tiny but powerful book. I loved this book and found myself looking up more information on these saints and would-be saints . I didn't want the book to end. I like the format and the questions. I just wish I had known there were more questions at the end of the book as I went along. I purposely read it slow to savor and research more . I learned so much in reading this tiny but powerful book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mary Helene

    Ok, I would have chosen different saints. That said, OF COURSE I would have. That's the point, in part, of this personal collection, that the ones who inspire are speaking to us in our particular situations. I like the interweaving of our personal lives, women who inspire us and certified saints. Thank you to the author for making the pathways visible. Ok, I would have chosen different saints. That said, OF COURSE I would have. That's the point, in part, of this personal collection, that the ones who inspire are speaking to us in our particular situations. I like the interweaving of our personal lives, women who inspire us and certified saints. Thank you to the author for making the pathways visible.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    The author is a Cuban American catholic with a deep love for saintly women, both official saints and unofficial ones. Each chapter includes a bit of the author's life and sections on two women who exemplify a characteristic the author has experienced in her life. The author is a Cuban American catholic with a deep love for saintly women, both official saints and unofficial ones. Each chapter includes a bit of the author's life and sections on two women who exemplify a characteristic the author has experienced in her life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Talea

    I enjoyed learning about a few saints I'd never heard of and of women the author admires. The stories about her personal life in relation to the saints she was talking about helped as did the study guide in the back. I enjoyed learning about a few saints I'd never heard of and of women the author admires. The stories about her personal life in relation to the saints she was talking about helped as did the study guide in the back.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    Amazing read! Great book! I read it in less than two days. Engaging and witty. Love the pairings of saints familiar and unfamiliar with easily recognizable women. Good place to begin if you're wanting a fun introduction to many inspiring saints and women. Amazing read! Great book! I read it in less than two days. Engaging and witty. Love the pairings of saints familiar and unfamiliar with easily recognizable women. Good place to begin if you're wanting a fun introduction to many inspiring saints and women.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Packard

    I adore this book. Exactly what I needed ib my spiritual life. I have forever been shoved prayer cards of "The Little Flower," but I am drawn to the more "badass" women warrior saints. Thank you, Maria, for this amazing collection! I adore this book. Exactly what I needed ib my spiritual life. I have forever been shoved prayer cards of "The Little Flower," but I am drawn to the more "badass" women warrior saints. Thank you, Maria, for this amazing collection!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sadie McLaughlin

    I really enjoyed this book! There was so much information about inspiring women packed into one little book. The author’s personal stories were charming, relatable, and vulnerable. This a wonderful read!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sydney (booksofkings)

    My badass Book of Saints is a must read for any Catholic woman, young or old, that is looking for some great religious role models and saints to model their lives after. Split out over multiple chapters, Morera Johnson pairs notes on her own life and experience with both Saints and ordinary women that embody a specific trait or action. Something that all 24 of these women have in common is the courage and heart that they use to lead their lives. The blessed and canonized women that Morera Johnson My badass Book of Saints is a must read for any Catholic woman, young or old, that is looking for some great religious role models and saints to model their lives after. Split out over multiple chapters, Morera Johnson pairs notes on her own life and experience with both Saints and ordinary women that embody a specific trait or action. Something that all 24 of these women have in common is the courage and heart that they use to lead their lives. The blessed and canonized women that Morera Johnson are from all facts of life and now some women that i really want to learn so much more about. I want to know how i can emulate their traits in to my own life. This book also makes me want to learn all about the saints i already have a special fondness for. This book is something that is a must own and must read for the modern Christian woman.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    This book was more about the author’s personal reflections than an informational text about the saints.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Rozman

    The book had a strong focus on the author's first hand experience and I was expecting to learn more about the saints. The book had a strong focus on the author's first hand experience and I was expecting to learn more about the saints.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joelene Swearingen

    This book very lightly introduced me to some new saints. Unfortunately it was not compelling enough to make me want to find out more about them.

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