Maybe it’s Divine intervention that in the middle of this crazy year, Melissa Maleski’s book ‘The Supreme Vocation of Women’ hit bookstores. With everyone hiding behind masks, Catholics being deprived of the Eucharist and the term “social distancing” a part of our everyday vocabulary, the importance of connection and relationship is being revealed to all of humanity.
Maleski’s book reminds us that the one connection we need is a connection with the Lord, that we will find happiness and joy when we “pour out our whole selves” to Him (53). It’s a call to action for every woman to be in communion with the Lord, and to bring others into communion with Him.
Maleski is on a mission to help women know their God-given purpose through the teachings of the Church. “My hope is that you come away with a better understanding of what the Church holds true about the human person, and women in particular,” she writes in her introduction.
“The Supreme Vocation of Women” draws inspiration from the writings of Pope St. John Paul II who wrote many documents on women’s dignity and their role in society, including his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Women).
The book begins recalling St. John Paul’s visit to Lourdes, France on the 150th anniversary of Mary appearing to St. Bernadette Soubirous. “Mary entrusted her message to a young girl, as if to emphasize the special mission of women in our own time, tempted as it is by materialism and secularism: to be in today’s society a witness of those essential values which are seen only with the eyes of the heart,” he said (St. John Paul II, “Homily at Lourdes,” Aug. 15, 2004, no. 5). “To you, women, falls the task of being sentinels of the invisible.” (14).
Maleski uses the Holy Father’s words to take women on a journey to discover their true vocations and purposes in life. With help from feminine Biblical figures and saints, she further emphasizes what it looks like to be a woman who’s a sentinel of the Gospel message.
These saints show that the only One we should be following is Christ; the only One we should be trusting is Him, alone. In a world where society tells us to follow this person and that person, this book is a reminder that we should only be following Christ, because when we trust Him and follow Him, He’ll unravel a life that’s fulfilling and meaningful; being in communion with Him is ultimately what our hearts are made for.
Maleski delves into the topic of motherhood with grace and boldness, saying that motherhood isn’t something that women do but a part of the female personality (96). She points to Mary as the ultimate example of a woman who uses her nurturing qualities to bring the rest of humanity along with her into communion with Jesus; Maleski calls all women to follow Mary in this way.
In her book, she describes Eve in a way that is redemptive. She is bold in saying that the serpent didn’t choose Eve because she was a “weak link” but says that he “went to Eve because of her ability to love” (105). Maleski helps women to better understand ourselves through our weaknesses, to trust Him with it and to draw us deeper into communion with Himself.
The book concludes with Maleski unveiling the beautiful truths of the Church’s stance on women. Contrasting with the perceptions of the world, the Church believes that men and women are created with different qualities and as it’s written in Genesis, God saw that all He made was very good (Genesis 1:31). Maleski points to the fact that the Church is a she and is made to draw everyone into deeper communion with Christ and others, just as women are called to do (128).
Women who read this book will have a better understanding of themselves as God designed them to be. This book is a reminder of the beauty that comes from men and women honing in on their own gifts to help reveal the goodness and God. Men and women alike who read this book will develop a greater desire to run to Him and to be in communion with Him, because only He alone can satisfy.