by Lisa M. Hendey | Source:
A mother’s daily list of “to do” items is seemingly endless, but there is one essential item that should top the others when a mother prioritizes her day: making time for prayer. To this end, author and mother of five Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has given both a gift and a “secret weapon” to mothers of every age with her new Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers (Our Sunday Visitor, September 2005, hardcover, 64 pages).
In our ever busier world, many mothers feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and at times separated from God. Cooper O’Boyle understands – and for this reason she took the time to write and compile a book for any woman looking to embrace and blossom in her role as “heart of the home”. “Feeling compelled to help all mothers, drawing from my own spiritual experiences during my vocation of motherhood and spiritual lessons learned from Mother Teresa, I decided to write this book,” shares Donna-Marie. She recognizes prayer both as a tool mothers need to embrace in order to have success and be fruitful in their vocation, and as a gift they will ultimately teach and pass along to their families.
Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers is diminutive enough in size to fit into a small handbag but superior enough in substance to change a mother’s life. Every facet of the book, from its lovely design to its unique combination of both original and traditional prayer, combines to provide a book that is both inspirational and heartwarming.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle about her book, the difficulties some mothers have in maintaining an active prayer life and her relationship with one of her role models, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
A: I am married with 5 children ranging in ages from 14 to 29. I was born and raised in Connecticut as one of 8 children in a Catholic family. My mother taught me about prayer and the Rosary from a young age. I love children, the elderly, art, nature, and writing, of course. I feel I have a job to help inspire other mothers and help them realize the sublimity in their vocation as a mother.
I am very active in my parish and have taught all levels of Religious Education for over twenty years. I am a Lay Missionary of Charity in Mother Teresa's Order. I founded several organizations, including "Marian Mothers" and "Friends of Veronica", an outreach organization for the lonely or elderly.
I met Blessed Teresa of Calcutta almost 20 years ago and was blessed with 22 letters from her. I was able to meet with her on 12 occasions, some private audiences. She wrote two forewords for two of my manuscripts - one will be published in 2006, "Finding Sanctity in the Heart of the Home." Mother Teresa has given me much encouragement in my writing for mothers. (Some quotes from her about this are at the beginning of my book, Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers.
I have written several other manuscripts about mothers, as well as children's manuscripts. I write for several publications including newspapers and magazines as well as Catholic publications. Q: Please briefly describe your book.
A: My book is a compilation of original prayer and traditional prayer along with inspiration for mothers of any age and stage throughout their pilgrimage of motherhood. It is suitable for mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers and adoptive mothers. It is sprinkled with quotes from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II, as well as the saints. It is filled with advice and guidance for a mother on the necessity of prayer so essential for the survival of the family and how to incorporate more prayer into such a busy life. This book was encouraged by Mother Teresa and given an apostolic blessing from Pope John Paul II.Q: Why do mothers need a solid prayer life to help them in their vocation?
A: Mothers are responsible for the little souls they bring into the world and therefore must be prayerful to raise them properly, with love and holiness. The vocation of motherhood is an extremely sublime mission in partnership with God Himself. Prayer is so very essential for the survival of the family, especially in our day and age. A mother's prayer life is really the crux and heart of her role.Q: What tips do you have for mothers who may not have an active prayer life, or may be going through a period of spiritual "dryness"?
A: It's never too late to develop a prayer life. Because prayer is necessary for the survival of the family for many reasons, mothers should do their best to incorporate more prayer into their lives. The thought of trying to add prayer to an already busy life need not be daunting. Our Lord will accept our prayer in bits and pieces. Mothers need to offer Jesus their hearts and all of their motherly acts of service throughout their days. She will then have made her very life a prayer, very pleasing to our Lord. After all, it is the Lord who has put Moms right in the heart of the family where they do the most amazing work in the rearing of their family and with such love that only a mother possesses.
At spiritually dry times, a mother should lift her heart to Heaven even more often, even when it is so difficult. She will be rewarded for her efforts. She needs to remember and ask our Lord often to be reminded that He will never abandon us! He is with us always and blesses us in our role as mother. Offer your days to the Lord in faith, while mothering your family. Our Lord will never turn his ear from a faithful mother. And at these especially difficult times, our Lord is merely preparing us for a more intimate and blessed union with Him. We must never give up on hope. Q: What elements of your own prayer life do you most rely upon?
A: I rely on my faith in God and His promises to me, especially in the Beatitudes, the paradoxical promises that sustain our hope in the midst of any suffering or sacrifice, that pronounce the rewards that are already waiting for us. I also rely upon the message in the Gospel of Matthew 25:34-46 which was one of Mother Teresa's favorite Scriptures and drove her to care for the poorest of the poor. "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink..." We are comforted knowing that as mothers, we are living out the Gospel in the care of our family. Q: How can mothers help the other members of our families learn and appreciate the importance of prayer?
A: Mothers can and should teach prayer to her children when they are very young so that it will become to them as natural as breathing. Praying in your child's presence as they are growing teaches them that prayer is really a part of daily life. Turning to prayer with them in times of need and times of thanksgiving teaches them that prayer is a very necessary part of our lives. Trips to the Blessed Sacrament with our children to visit Jesus who is waiting there for us, teaches our children a practice, that hopefully they will carry out on their own when they are older. They will know that when they are able, they can retreat to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for grace and strength and at the times when they cannot, they will lift their heart to our Lord in prayer.Q: Who are some of your mothering role models?
A: My own mother and grandmother who were very prayerful are great role models for me. My mother prayed the Rosary with all of us 8 children. She lit a candle before a statue of the Blessed Mother and we knelt and prayed the Rosary. The Blessed Mother, of course is a magnificent role model for me. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (I still refer to as Mother Teresa) remains a great role model for me and one I call upon often for assistance!
For additional information on Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle visit her web site at http://www.donnacooperoboyle.com
. For more information on the Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers visit Amazon.Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.