“Wisdom from Women in Scripture.” Edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist. Maryland: Word Among Us Press, 2023. 136 pages. Paperback: $16.48; Kindle: $9.99; eBook: $10.49.

In Scripture, Wisdom is often referred to as feminine (“Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns. …” Proverbs 9:1) So it is not surprising that “Wisdom from Women in Scripture” edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist, should focus on six women from the Bible, some well-known and others less so, who made themselves available to God and His wisdom, in order to live out His plan, not only for themselves, but for all of us as well.

Each chapter of the book is penned by a different woman, all of whom are very active in the Church as teachers and professors, retreat leaders, authors, evangelizers, wives, and mothers.  All chose to write about a particular woman in Scripture with whom they connected deeply.  These include two nameless individuals, the woman with the alabaster jar and the woman at the well, both from the Gospel of John. The rest we know by name – Ruth (the Book of Ruth), Rahab (the Book of Joshua), Esther (the Book of Esther), and finally, Mary of the Annunciation from the Gospel of Luke. What they all had in common was a willingness to say “Yes” to God, despite the trying circumstances they may have found themselves in.

Each chapter follows the same general pattern: reflection, prayer, questions to ponder, and then a short biography of the author the reader has just encountered. At this point, the differences among the reflections become apparent, as each contributor has a unique perspective based on her own lived experience; it is here that the reader discovers why each woman chose her Biblical counterpart. Indeed, in some chapters, the personal story of the writer was as moving and inspiring as her Scriptural reflection.

We meet in these pages little Pepito, an orphan from Ethiopia, who, though multiply handicapped and guaranteed a short life, was nonetheless the beloved adopted son of a family in Michigan. They, like the woman with the alabaster jar, did not consider the love they surrounded this child with to be a waste of time and resources. Instead, as Dr. Mary Healy says of her friends, “they help us understand that true love is poured out, without counting the cost.”

The chapter on Ruth begins as a love story, but one that was not without struggle; a young married couple come to accept life’s realities and grow to love each other even more because of them. It is also a story of conversion and ultimate happy endings – as when the author hears an unlikely call to enter the Catholic Church. For Ruth, a Moabite, her commitment to her mother-in-law Naomi, ultimately leads her to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “Just as in the story of Ruth … the sweet fruit of trust and humble obedience continues to bring us life today,” says Melissa Overmyer. “He continues to come today through your ‘yes’ and mine.”

Important life questions from opposite ends of the spectrum, from “Should I marry this man?” to “Should I leave this man?” set the stage for Elizabeth Kelly to reflect on Mary’s ability, not only at the Annunciation, but throughout her life, to listen for and act on the Word of God.

Our Blessed Mother, she says, shows us that this is not a passive act but one in which we are called to co-create with God.

Good decisions, she points out, are also graced ones. “God does not want slaves,” she says, “He wants collaborators. This life of creative collaboration unfolds through our ever-deepening assent to God.”

But by far, the most moving story is this book comes from a reflection on Rahab, who was a prostitute. It isn’t until the author, Alyssa Bormes, finishes discussing this woman that she tells her own story, one of powerful redemption in what looked on the surface to be insurmountable odds.

Editor bio:

Kelly Wahlquist is the founder of WINE: Women In the New Evangelization, a creative and inspired ministry that encourages women to grow spiritually as well as in their knowledge of the Catholic faith while teaching them how to be disciples of Jesus and mentors to other women. She is the director of the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute and contributing writer for CatholicVineyard.com, Catholicmom.com, and The Integrated Catholic Life.

To learn more about Kelly, visit CatholicVineyard.com.