The Happy Girl’s Guide to Being Whole | National Catholic Registry


This is the book that asks, “Could the natural world serve as a guide for us to best discern what is right, what is true, and what will lead to happiness?”

When I was in eighth grade at a Catholic school in the 1970s, my class was the first in the school to receive a formal sex education class. But it only lasted 20 minutes. If it aimed to teach the “realities of life”, it was also a question of countering, according to the signs of the times, the sexual revolution which was then surging under the effect of the increased use of the pill and slogans and cultural behaviors praising “free”. love” and so-called “safe sex”.

Sitting in a room with the other girls in my class, I watched the short film display diagrams of female and male anatomy while the male narrator, speaking with little inflection in a neutral tone, explained the basic facts. puberty, sexual intercourse, pregnancy and the birth of a child, all within the framework of marriage. I enjoyed learning a few more details about human anatomy. Still, no joy was expressed in the film. There was nothing to inspire awe about God’s design for the natural order of our reproduction and how it affects our overall health. As the movie ended, and we walked back to our classroom, I heard girls near me mumbling comments like “I knew all that” and “kinda stupid.”

In an uplifting change of approach, Teresa Kenney, a women’s health nurse practitioner, wife and mother of eight, has penned a new Lumen Press book titled The Happy Girl’s Guide to Being Whole: What You Never Knew About Your Natural Body. Women will be drawn to Kenney’s enthusiasm as she explains their reproductive design in a way that Guiding Star Project co-editor and founder Leah Jacobson describes in the book’s introduction as “a girlfriend to another one”.

A wise “girlfriend,” Kenney guides women to think first, suggesting cultural influences to consider that could harm their health and hinder their happiness. “We can simply accept the messages communicated to us by social norms and the media,” she says, “or we can examine for ourselves what kind of life would be worth pursuing.” She suggests questions to ponder such as “Who are we deep down? What masks do we wear? What is (or should be) the life plan? and “How can we become the people we want and are meant to be?” Readers will be moved as she shares her own story of her struggles during her college years with poor body image and find hope in learning that she recovered after seeking professional help. She quotes quotes about the meaning and purpose of life from mentors including Socrates, Albert Einstein, psychologist and author Daniel Gilbert, Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, and Pope John Paul II, then offers the question most relevant to the theme of the book: that the natural world be our guide on how best to discern what is right, what is true, and what will lead to happiness? »

Kenny is convinced the answer is yes and helps women understand why as she walks them through the rest of the book, providing information to consider when considering relationship and health choices in the future. His explanations of female and male reproductive intentions highlight in a particular way the hormonal complementarity between the two sexes, ordained by nature to a love relationship and the procreation of a child. The stages of pregnancy and childbirth are explained in positive terms, and readers will learn, perhaps for the first time, contrary to the contraceptive mentality of our current culture, the benefits of Natural Family Planning. Kenney not only explains NFP as a benefit that works in concert with a woman’s natural monthly cycle, but also shares examples of couples who have used NFP and discovered a deeper communication connection not centered around sexual intimacy. uniquely.

But for me, the most important and necessary section of the book was the chapter on artificial birth control. At a time when some 72 million women in the United States alone take the pill, Kenney lists the full list of synthetic hormones and contraceptive devices used, with a corresponding list of harmful side effects, the details of which – including clots blood tests, depression, stroke, perforation of the uterus and ectopic pregnancy – have been “silenced” by the media and downplayed by organizations like the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

For example, in a sidebar feature called “Did you know?” — with a second question mark to catch readers’ attention — she writes: “The pill has been classified as a Class 1 carcinogen for breast, liver and cervical cancer. The pill, she says, dampens the normal functioning of a woman’s menstrual cycle and instead leads to chemical bleeding. As she said, commenting on the worrying preference of practitioners to prescribe the pill not only for birth control, but also to treat many other women’s health issues: “Is there another area of medicine where the treatment must close the normal functioning of this system? »

Kenney gives first-hand testimony as he shares his experience in college where he was prescribed the pill and Acumen together to treat acne – a combination that caused mood swings, bloating and weight. Once she stopped the pill and only continued Acumen, the side effects stopped and her acne cleared up. It also tells the story of Haley who, at age 14, was forced by her mother to take the pill to avoid pregnancy. Six years later, while attending a young adult conference and listening to Kenney explain how a woman’s body works with and without the pill, Haley was shocked to realize she had never had “real rules”. Tears of joy then streamed down her face as she spoke with Kenny afterwards and learned that she was free to advocate for her own health and come off the pill. “It’s really exciting,” Kenney reassured her, celebrating, “that for the first time in your life, you’ll get to know the real hormonal you!”

The real you. It’s what Kenney wants for every woman. Although she is a devout pro-life Catholic and a frequent guest speaker at pro-life conferences, she does not include any explicit reference to religion in the book, instead wishing to reach women of all backgrounds, just as she treats women from all walks of life. in his medical practice. Yet his belief that natural law is a “signpost” to truth and self-fulfillment is in exact accord with the law of Christ as articulated through his Magisterium of teaching, and in which he reminded us of the same thing through Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Correcting those who deny the competence of the Magisterium to interpret natural moral law in matters relating to marriage, contraception and birth control, Pope Paul reiterated:

Jesus Christ, by communicating to Peter and to the Apostles his divine authority and by sending them to teach his commandments to all nations, constituted them the guardians and the authentic interpreters of the whole moral law, that is to say, not only of the law of the gospel. , but also natural law. For natural law, too, is an expression of the will of God, and it too must be faithfully observed to obtain salvation.

Kenny therefore encourages us with a message of hope and a call to conversion:

A new feminism is emerging that sees women and their natural biology as healthy, whole and good. Instead of a narrative that tells women that to be happy and successful you need to change and remove the natural feminine design, we should create a culture that cultivates their feminine gifts and a society that seeks to support her to thrive and stay whole. .

Towards this goal, The Happy Girl’s Guide to Being Whole: What You Never Knew About Your Natural Body is definitely an educational step in the right direction!


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