Friday, July 18, 2008

Review of The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home

Sarah over at Sarah's Musings graciously sent me her review of my book, The Heart of Motherhood. Her review is below and after you've finished reading it, go on over to her beautiful blog and read the history behind her review and how this book almost got "lost in the shuffle!"

Here is her review:

The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is both encouraging and inspirational. A mother of five, Donna has weathered the storms and inspires me (as a new mom) with her experience and wisdom.

Peppered with inspirational quotes from Mother Teresa, among others, Bible passages and heartfelt prayers, The Heart of Motherhood, inspires from within. Donna-Marie begins the book with the statement that motherhood is, indeed, a truly ordinary and yet extraordinary vocation. By being mothers and by welcoming, loving and teaching our children, we are truly doing the Lord's work. She explains,

"A mother's day is filled to capacity with many ordinary tasks, not unimportant, but rather works of love that may be overlooked or unnoticed. Changing diapers, doing laundry, schedule keeping, house cleaning, planning and cooking nutritious meals and helping with homework are just some of the ordinary tasks in a mom's repertoire. Her own family family may take these loving acts for granted. Although these tasks may seem mundane, or even monotonous, they are the nitty-gritty details that keep the family going and together. . . . A mother's deep inner faith affirms that a day's sacrifices and seemingly ordinary tasks please our Lord because they are done with extraordinary love."

And later reminds us that "love is not merely a feeling or emotion. Love is also a decision [emphasis mine] . . . at times, this decision may be an enormous sacrifice."

Donna-Marie notes that today's society, unfortunately, rarely respects the woman's role as mother and wife nor the mother's domestic role in the home. I appreciated a quote that she included from Pope John Paul II who stated

"There is no doubt that the equal dignity and responsibility of men and women fully justifies women's access to public functions. On the other hand the true advancement of women requires that clear recognition be given to the value of their maternal and family role, by comparison with all other public roles and all other professions. Furthermore, these roles and professions should be harmoniously combined, if we wish the evolution of society and culture to be truly and fully human.

While it must be recognized that women have the same right as men to perform various public functions, society must be structured in such a way that wives and mothers are not in practice compelled to work outside the home and that their families can live and prosper in a dignified way even when they themselves devote their full time to their own family.

Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home."

Donna-Marie then encourages her readers to bring back the dignity and respect motherhood deserves by being an example of holy mothering to our family and, ultimately, to society. She continues by explaining how one can focus on holy mothering, the importance of a mother's prayer life, shares inspiration for those times when you feel anything but holy in your mothering, gives inspirational examples of holy mothers (including the most holy mother, Mary) in history and ends each chapter with beautiful prayer.

It is a blessing to me to have read this book. This is a book that will be an inspiration for years to come. It does not tell you how to run a household, how to clean a sink or how to get your family pulled together each Sunday morning to make it to church on time. Instead, it delves deeper into the holy vocation of motherhood and encourages mothers young and old to keep the faith and to recognize the immeasurable importance of the job to not only their children and families, but to society, the Christian family and God.

I'll be keeping this book handy, by my bedside, on my kitchen counter, in the bathroom (yes, you read that right. You know it might be the only quiet time you get all day!) . . . maybe for a few minutes of refreshing, or even for 30-seconds of inspiration and prayer.

The essence of The Heart of Motherhood is love. God is love. And the greatest of these is love. We do difficult, easy, ordinary and extraordinary things for our family and children because we are mothers (and wives) and we do them out of love.

God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

And now, a smattering of my underlined and starred quotes and prayers that I gleaned inspiration from; I hope that it does to you as well (and encourages you to go buy the book! We need to continue to encourage good Christian authors!). These quotes are just a small amount of the beauty found within this book.

On Our Duties as Christian Homemakers and Mothers

St. Frances of Rome, a wife and mother, said, "It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife and sometimes must leave God at the altar to find him in housekeeping."

"Since we are generally our children's first teacher as well as their most important teacher, we must hold tight to our values and teachings of the truth about God."

"Christian mothers need to be a contradiction to the world" - being Christian and being a mother is counter-cultural (we are a creative minority!) after all!

She reminds us of St. Thérèse of Lisieux' words, "Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love," and backs them up with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's statement that "Small thing done with great love bring peace and love."

Dear Lord, help me to see the extraordinary graces that abound in a role that is sometimes thought of as ordinary. Please reinforce the dedication in my heart to raise my children with extreme love - love that knows no limits, love that is priceless. Help me to remember that there is immeasurable power in a mother's love and a mother's prayer for her children. Thank you, dear Lord, for this awesome gift! Amen

On the Importance of Prayer in a Mother's Life, both formal and in action

"prayer is a way of life. . . . so we learn to make our life a prayer."

"Mothers have to find a proper balance for prayer on their knees and prayer in action."

St. Catherine of Siena said, "You must pray the prayer of action, which is the fragrant flower of the soul. A good man [woman] is a prayer."

"So from our hearts as we go about our motherly duties, we pray to touch the heart of God, by lifting up to him our actions of love and service to our families. He knows we are busy! He made us the moms! He knows that we can't stop everything and drop to our knees to pray. He wants us to pray throughout our daily actions.

Pray to remember to lift your heart to God often. He is there to listen. He is waiting. He wants us to satiate his thirst on the Cross, by opening our hearts and lifting them to him. He is very pleased when a mother offers her heart to him in the midst of her hurried day. Strive to find the opportunities to do just that."

"Prayer is joy, prayer is love and prayer is peace. You cannot explain it; you must experience prayer. It is not impossible. God gives it for the asking."

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

On Holy Motherhood

"Holiness is not reserved for a few, but is a duty for everyone. Holiness is really living our lives to our fullest potential within God's will. it is striving to reach our eternal destiny while living in God's providence. It is surrendering our wills to God and praying for the graces to fulfill our duties faithfully.

We are not perfect creatures. We fall many times, even throughout the course of one day. But the difference between a person striving for holiness and one who is indifferent to God's promptings in her soul is that the former will pick herself up, examine her conscience, ask forgiveness for her shortcomings, and strive to improve with prayer.

It is a daily effort; it is an hourly effort. We have to want holiness. God will not force it upon us."

"The best and surest way to learn the love of Jesus is through the family. Whatever you do in your family for your children, for your husband, for your wife - you do for Jesus."

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

And to close, a final prayer


Dear Jesus, please help me to become united to you as I prayerfully journey through my life. Please increase the desire in my heart to bring others closer to you. As I mother my children, helping them to light their lamps, please radiate my own lamp so brilliantly that others who come to know me will see your heart burning within me, lighting the way for others. Amen.

Now go on over to Sarah's blog!

No comments: