The one thing that ignites my interest and passion more than anything else on my journey to know God is reading stories about the men and women who lived totally for Jesus. Their example opens my eyes to the many ways we can dedicate our lives to truth.
In the past year, I have encountered four books about incredible women. Not only are these women’s lives incredible, but they have written about themselves in their own words in a captivating way. And their lives were so different!
These women lived in various times and places, including northern Africa, Germany, France, and the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Two of these women had children, and two did not. The two who didn’t spent a good part of their lives in convents. But all four share in common an incredible faith and generosity.
Pick one of these memoirs and read it for some inspiration to live your feminine genius to the fullest this year!
A Memory for Wonders by Mother Veronica Namoyo Le Goulard
Mother Veronica/Lucette (her name before religious life) shares the story of her unusual childhood growing up as a French girl in various cities in northern Africa, and the incredible graces she received to know God from a young age despite her parent’s insistence that she never learn anything about God or religion.
Her description of the people and places she meets are vibrant and memorable, and it is a real treat to witness the grace unfold in her life as you read along. I won’t soon forget the dust storms and locust infestations that were a normal part of life for her, but I will also remember her honest struggle to do God’s will and the armload of fruit that came from that—touching everyone in her life.
The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day, a lifelong advocate and mover and shaker for the poor, shares her experiences growing up and through adulthood. She converted to the Catholic faith later in life, and reveals her slow and steady growth in knowledge and love of God.
Her autobiography is full of insights into caring for the poor, and her spiritual wisdom accumulated over a lifetime of service and activism. What an incredible witness, and prime example of how living my life for God may look vastly different than what you are called to do–and that’s okay.
Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
Unlike Mother Veronica and Dorothy Day, Therese was a lifelong Catholic, and was very close to God from an early age.
In this book, she shares how she grew in faith and love, and how she discovered and fought for her vocation when those around her thought she was too young. She overcame the death of her mother and the breaking up of her close knit family (she was the youngest, and watched her sisters slowly leave the nest one by one). Her faith is refreshingly simple, but incredibly deep.
I especially enjoyed reading her description of a pilgrimage to Italy she went on (her end goal was to ask the pope to give her permission to enter the Carmelite order earlier than normal). She learns much about the craziness of the world on that trip, after leading quite a sheltered life. But her experiences lead her to greater trust and love, rather than disillusionment.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Trapp
Maria relates the story of her family’s life—the story the movie The Sound of Music is based on. This is on my list to read this summer, but it comes highly recommended. My friends say that they learned a lot about how beautiful family life can be, and how reassuring it was to read about a family who worked together, but relied so totally on God to get them through the unique ups and downs of their life.