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Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Catholic women are some of the most maligned, most caricatured, and most intriguing people in American society America is flirting with the idea that being a Catholic female means saying "yes" to the faith as a private source of comfort, but "no" to living out its more countercultural moral and social teachings.

Catholic women are facing unprecedented questions about sex, m
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published September 20th 2012 by Our Sunday Visitor (first published January 1st 2012)
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Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2013-list
I remember when everyone was talking about this book, right after it came out. Some reviewers I really respect had good things to say about it and I'll be honest: I believed them.

I just had no real desire to read it for myself.

And then, THEN, I found myself with a copy of it, thanks to Amazon Vine. (True enough, I picked it out for myself. Curiosity? Compelled? Something!)

It's been collecting dust on my shelf all summer, and I decided that it was now or never.

And I have only this to say: WHAT! A
Emily Pachla
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved the different topics and points of view, however, I wish there were more from women of different backgrounds. Almost all of the contributors have advanced degrees. In the chapter about single motherhood, it would have been nice to have an actual Catholic single mother discussing her experience.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a really good book. I really enjoyed the varied observations of women in the church. No two women in the church have the same experience but we live in similar vocations and similar experiences. It was good to read a variety of story to understand varying experiences of women in the church who had come to realize the teachings of the church and why. Some of the stories shared are heart touching and moving. I recommended this to friends it was really good.

"mine is an identity that the s
Vikk Simmons
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Breaking Through is definitely a thought-provoking book. Editor and contributor Helen M. Alvare has gathered a group of today's woman who are intent on practicing their faith amid the tumultuous changes in today's culture and who have a lot to say about their particular challenges as they strive to practice their faith.

Alvare's honest examination of whether children even play any part today in a woman's life is a candid response to world we live in today The call to religious life, the specific
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Alvare's collection of mini-essays does a fairly decent job of doing as it states- showing Catholic women speaking for themselves, clearing up some misconceptions about the way women work in the modern Church. It's too skewed, however, in that in the small amount of essays given all of the women only see one way, and they see in pretty stark black-and-white. There should have been several essays on the same topic from women seeing the issue from different angles (even if they end up at the same ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: catholic
I was rather disappointed in this book. It does not show a variety of who Catholic women are. Nearly all the writers in the books are either doctors or lawyers. Maybe if I hadn't read "My Sisters The Saints" first I would have liked this one better. Or maybe I will appreciate it some time down the road but for now, I am disappointed.
Peggy Haslar
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unxpectedly rich with the insight of experience and research. Reading this as a book club discussion group selection, the timing of the chapter on how lay women can help address the horror of scandal was a blessing indeed. When Catholic women speak for themselves, their desire to "speak the truth in love" shines.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Upon receiving this book, I was confused as to why Our Sunday Visitor asked me to review this book, but God must have wanted me to learn a little bit more about the fairer sex, and I certainly did reading this book. There are ten chapters in this book, with two written by the editor Helen M. Alvare and eight by other notable Catholic women. Topics include contraception, dating, careers, single motherhood, and many others.

The most interesting chapter to me was Chapter 3: Sex, Mating, and the Marr
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
There is much debate about the role of women in the Catholic Church these days. We hear many women who are critical of the teachings and traditions of the Church in areas that touch on the lives of women. But how many of those questioning voices come from Catholic women? Here is a collection of essays from such Catholic women, in which they address their own understanding of the Church’s teachings and practices. These women defend their faith and argue strongly for the merits of the positions he ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was really disappointed with this book and don't understand how it got so many great ratings. First, this was not written by a wide variety of women. Nearly all the chapters were written by doctors or lawyers. I think everyone had a master's degree. I found the first chapter by the author rather offensive to those who aren't parents. The author kept talking about how parenting made her less selfish, and she couldn't imagine what she would be like if she never had kids. She made it sound like v ...more
Julie Davis
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is not really my sort of book, yet when I received the review copy and flipped through it my eye was caught by something that sparked a note of recognition and made me think. Picking it up when cleaning off a desk a couple of days later the same thing happened. Which made me think this is not the ordinary "that sort of book."

What sort?

You know. About women. All telling things from their point of view. *yawn*

But this one seems ... different. And that in and of itself is novel enough to make
Jackie St Hilaire
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At first I thought this book would be conservative but I was pleasantly surprised at the subject matters and view points of the women authors.

The women did break through many old beliefs that we have been brought up with, which were never discussed unless you were encouraged to look further than the 1960's.

Those of us who were fortunate to get educated after Vatican II became aware of the many controversies facing women in the church, more importantly the Catholic Church.

Chapter 6 deals with the
Veronica Grupico
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not only was this book well written, but it does a great job at addressing the many issues that women (of all ages) struggle with when it comes to their life as a Catholic being. While some chapters were more pertinent to my own personal experiences, I highly recommend this book to all Catholic women who struggle to find a place in the twenty-first century. As Catholics, we all question how we can remain faithful in practice and in thought in a society that often discourages or seems to attack o ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Breaking Through is a collection of 10 essays by 9 Catholic women. These are real women who have struggled at times with Church teachings but have come to understand what it means to be Catholic. They explore simpler topics such as parenting and religious life but also delve into more difficult topics such as working women and single moms and even into controversial areas of contraception, same-sex attraction and the sex abuse scandal.
This is not a book to be read in one sitting. I plan to go b
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Having trouble explaining what you know to be true? Feeling alone in your beliefs? Feeling doubts when bombarded with messages that contradict teachings of the Church? This collection of essays, written by well-educated, professional women, will help you to ask the hard questions and begin to seek answers. They write with compassion, humility, intelligence and integrity. I still don't have all of the answers, but reading this book has helped me in thinking through the tough issues of today.
Mary Ellen
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Nine women examine contemporary issues from a Catholic viewpoint: Parenting, contraception, sex and "mating", consecrated religious life, women as breadwinners, sexual abuse, the hazards of "having", same-sex attraction, single mothering. Quotable quote: "For those of us who find ourselves single, we can't help but exchange glances in the pew saying, 'Do you feel like the leper Jesus was talking to or what?'"
The hard questions asked and answered, in engaging, readable style. Highly recommended!
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed most of the essays in this book. I thought that there was good research where appropriate and intelligent thoughts behind the more personal sections. There is a variety of topics and authors so some essays may "speak" to each reader more than others. I believe my favorite may have been the one written by a nun. She writes about the love and joy that made her choose a religious life without ever sounding like she's defending that choice.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic-living
The only ones that didn't click with me were the ones Helen Alvare wrote, about motherhood. This must be because while I'm writing this, I'm a teenager, so I'm too young for her topics.

The others, however, a Catholic teen could grasp, so it was a very good read. The one by Kim Daniels about being part of a community was my favorite. I could picture a cozy little town in my head from her sensory details.
Jenn Anne
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Something about the fact that each writer is highly educated made me feel that the perspective was a little limited and accessible mostly to those with college degrees and incomes well above the poverty line. Also the essay on homosexuality felt like a review of scientific studies, not at all helpful to anyone grappling with Catholic Church teaching on a personal level.
Dec 02, 2013 rated it liked it
A series of essays on topics facing women today, this book covers what you would expect, but also some topics I would not have expected. Great chapters on single motherhood, Catholic culture, homosexuality and working moms. Not the most attractive packaging, but full of thought provoking and well written essays.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic
This was interesting, but some of the essays didn't delve deep enough. It seemed a little superficial, and in some senses pointless. But, it's most redeeming quality was listening to women speak up for their faith, and the fact that it's a countercultural voice.
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thoughtful, hopeful and insightful essays from well-educated, orthodox Catholic women. Very worthwhile...not the stereotypical views one often hears from "Catholic" women in the media today. Doesn't shy away from issues facing today's women, regardless of vocation. Very refreshing!
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic, lsg
4.5 A quick read with chapters from various well-educated Catholic women about how their Catholic faith informs their world view.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of essays by nine Catholic women who vary in age, occupations, and experience. This book is filled with hope, honesty, and is very counter cultural.
Bobbi Aschwanden
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great insight! Thoughts on contraception, sexual preference, etc are presented in a very logical, fact based way. Highly recommend if you want a perspective that isn't from an "old, celibate man." :)
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and thought-provoking testimonies from Catholic women who struggled with or are thinking about various parts of Catholic teaching.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I very much liked chapter 4 (Finding Joy: The Mystery of Religious Life), and chapter 10 (Beyond Politics: Everyday Catholic Life). Some of the other chapters I was not as impressed with.
Jen Vetter
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
Women's issues presented from a Catholic viewpoint. This collection of essays is a great insight for Catholic and other women and men to understand the struggles and issues facing women today.
Emily Barnes
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I appreciated what each individual brought to this book, but I didn't find it all that ground breaking or different. Was hoping for a bit more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: catholic-reading
4.5 stars

Educated, professional and high achieving Catholic women discuss how they found Truth, and ultimately beauty, in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sensitive to the modern culture but unflinchingly faithful to the Church. Each chapter/essay is written by a different author about a specific hot-button topic.

I especially liked the essays by a nun about finding joy in religious life (I had never heard her particular perspective before and it was refreshing) and the essay on same sex att
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Helen Alvaré is a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She publishes on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, abortion and the First Amendment religion clauses. She is faculty advisor to the law school’s Civil Rights Law Journal, chair of the Task Force on Conscience Protection of the ...more

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