Book Review of The Heart of Motherhood
by Lisa M. Hendey 5/10/2007 / Book Reviews
Book Review of The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home
by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
Reviewed by Lisa M. Hendey
The Crossroad Publishing Company, 16 Penn Plaza 481 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1550, New York, NY 10001
160 pages, $14.95
During May, Mary's month and the month in which we celebrate the vocation of motherhood, it seems fitting to write about what is undoubtedly one of my favorite mothering books in recent years. The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home by noted author Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle offers and encouraging and inspirational look at the vocation of motherhood.
In her introductory remarks, Donna-Marie shares that today's mothers need encouragement and recognition. Her mission statement for the book comes in these early pages:
"My hope is that I can help more mothers realize and embrace the sublimity of their missions as mothers, responsible for the souls entrusted to our care."
Having savored the pages of this book through several readings, I would say that Cooper O'Boyle manages to hit that mark head on. Among the highlights of this book, along with Donna-Marie's warm and engaging writing style, are the many quotations she shares from two luminaries of our Church: Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with whom the author shared a personal correspondence. The Heart of Motherhood is the type of parenting book I favor most. Concise enough to be read in a few short settings, yet thought provoking enough to invite its reader back repeatedly for in depth illumination. Each chapter ends with dual prayers, inspiring pause and reflection upon the content discussed.
In her chapter on the need for saints in our world today, Cooper O'Boyle shares the life story of Mother Teresa, reminding readers that each of us is called to be a saint in our own walk of life. It is fitting that the author reminds mothers that any task, done with love, becomes an act of faith, love and prayer. In this manner, she commends and affirms the role of any mother who may feel that the mendacity of her day to day lives is not "good enough" or sufficiently holy. Remarks by Pope John Paul II reinforce the dignity of the role of every mother. Cooper O'Boyle also underscores the vital necessity for mothers to take breaks for prayer and refreshment throughout the course of their daily familial service.
As Catholics, we have in the Blessed Virgin Mary the greatest role model for parenting with faith and love. Cooper O'Boyle reminds mothers to strive to imitate Mary and her virtues in their lives and to turn to Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, when in need of help or consolation. Additionally, she reminds mothers of their duty to pray on a regular basis, to teach their children to lead lives of constant prayer, and to seek out opportunities for evangelization in our everyday relationships. The age old conundrum of taking small children to Mass is lovingly and patiently discussed as the author shares her own experience as a mother of five. Donna-Marie encourages mothers to pray throughout their day and to model this prayer to their families. Families should emphasize family dinner as a time of spiritual and physical nourishment and each day should end in quiet prayer with our children.
In subsequent chapters, Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle shares the story of female saints whose lives of quiet service to their families shine as a true lesson for today's mothers. Additionally, and with great charm, Donna-Marie addresses the topic of suffering as a form of prayer and encourages mothers to look for life's "everyday miracles", those moments of grace and opportunity that are sprinkled throughout family life.
I have loved and followed the progression of Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's writing from her previous book and at her "Daily Donna-Marie" blog (http://www.donnamariecooperoboyle.blogspot.com/), so it is indeed a pleasure to have another of her books to read and recommend. With The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home it is certain that Donna-Marie continues to encourage and support the vocation of motherhood with gentle and loving care.