When I was given the chance to review Maria Morera Johnson’s book Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was I intrigued by the title, but who wouldn’t want to read a book by someone whose most recent prizewinning bestseller was entitled My Badass Book of Saints?
I wasn’t disappointed as the book lives up to its title. It grabbed my attention right at the beginning when the author revealed one of her earliest heroes: Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of the Starship Enterprise. Anyone who knows me and my family knows how we feel about Star Trek. I knew immediately that Mrs. Johnson and I were kindred spirits.
You will never read another book that explores saints and their virtues the way this one does. Mrs. Johnson blends her personal stories and insights with tales of secular heroines and saints who together exemplify similar virtues. The Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance are revealed to the reader via the stories of such pop culture icons as Wonder Woman, Dana Scully, Hermione Granger, and Katniss Everdeen, along with the lives of saints like St. Clare of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Cunegunde, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
These engaging stories are accompanied by explication of the virtues from The Catechism of the Catholic Church and steps for the reader to follow to strive to attain each of them. And although readers will be learning a lot about saints and virtues, it will feel more like listening to stories told by a friend.
In her introduction, Mrs. Johnson recounts a moving story of her father’s excitement while watching the first moon landing on television, and how he encouraged her to put her little hand on the screen so that she could touch the future. She writes: “My dad, who was my hero, had heroes of his own. It was a small lesson with a big impact: grown-ups had heroes who were other grown-ups . . . today, grown-up me has lots of grown-up heroes. I call them saints.”
Reading this book encouraged me to think about my own heroes, and specifically about the saints who have inspired me. I was a little girl when I first read The Song of Bernadette. Later I chose St. Bernadette to be my Confirmation saint.
Bernadette Soubirous was a humble young woman, impoverished and uneducated, who did not aspire to renown. She found within herself unexpected faith and courage after the Blessed Mother appeared to her. Once these apparitions ended she was content to enter religious life and lived in seclusion until her painful death from bone cancer at 34. She refused offers to travel to the miraculous spring at Lourdes, remembering Mary’s words to her: “I cannot promise you happiness in this world but only in the next.” Unquestioning faith, obedience, and humility are virtues I have yet to achieve but hope to through her intercession and example.
Several bloggers received free copies of Super Girls and Halos from Ave Maria Press in exchange for honest reviews. There are 15 stops on this blog tour, and a giveaway is part of the fun! Please click below to enter.
Super Girls and Halos Giveaway
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Who are your secular heroes? What about your Saint Super Girl? I’d love to hear if you’d care to share in the comments!