Grace Café: Serving up Recipes for Faithful Mothering
By Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle, released October 2008, Circle Press, North Haven, CT, 220 pages, Paperback $14.95. Available from CirclePress.org, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Major books stores and Catholic and Christian book stores.
Reviewed by JEAN M. HEIMANN, freelance writer, wife and mother, retired educator, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.
As the mother of five children for the past thirty years, and as a personal friend of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle has plenty of advice “from the trenches” to share with Catholic/Christian mothers. In Grace Café: Serving up Recipes for Faithful Mothering, she offers mothers a method in which they can find a deep, enriching spiritual life, while remaining attentive to their families.
In Grace Café, Donna passes along the blessings and lessons of love which she has learned in her life on her spiritual and maternal journey, weaving it with much wisdom and love, offering encouragement, praise, camaraderie, and guidance. In her usual gentle and gracious manner, Donna speaks to women heart –to-heart and captures their full attention by dishing up delicious recipes for the mother’s soul. She begins by inviting her readers to make themselves “a cozy cup of tea” and take a little time to refresh their souls.
And, refresh them she does! From the moment I opened Grace Café to the moment I closed it, I felt as if I had been bathed in an abundance of graces which lifted up my heart and soul. Donna’s recipes are delectable and power-packed! Each chapter consists of various combinations of the following: enlightening excerpts from papal encyclicals on love and the family, brief passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Holy Bible, penetrating quotes from some of my favorite saints (St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Augustine, St. John of the Cross, and many more), personal anecdotes, practical tips, spiritual poems on motherhood, mother’s miracle stories, prayers and so much more. This was truly a work of love that will lift up mothers in their vocations, help them see what their true role is according to God’s will, and encourage them in the challenging role that they face in society today.
Some of the inspiring topics which Donna discusses in the book include: a mother’s call to holiness, self donation, making time for prayer, the grace of the present moment, the blessings involved in this beautiful vocation of love, discovering grace within suffering, saintly inspirations, and evangelizing the household and the world.
Grace Café was primarily written for mothers, but I believe that it is appropriate reading material for all those who plan to be mothers one day – both Catholic and Christian women – and would be a wonderful supplement for: pre-Cana classes, marriage encounter groups, adult education, NFP groups/classes, Christian/Catholic women’s groups, and book discussion groups. For anyone who is planning to be a mother – this is an excellent gift. I highly recommend: Grace Café: Serving up Recipes for Faithful Mothering – it is a delectable dish that mothers will delight in and want to savor for years to come.
~ Copyright Jean M. Heimann, September 25, 2008
The Domestic Church: Room by Room, A Mother’s Study Guide
By Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Released in mid October 2008, 256 pages Paperback $18.95. Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Major books stores and Catholic and Christian book stores.
Reviewed by JEAN HEIMANN, freelance writer, retired educator, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.
I recently had the pleasure of reading a copy of noted author Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s latest book, The Domestic Church: Room By Room, A Mother’s Study Guide. On this twentieth anniversary of Muleris Dignitatem: On the Dignity and Vacation of Women and this fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae: Of Human Life, Donna, presents us with an in-depth study guide on the vocation of motherhood. In this inspiring book, she instructs, guides, and encourages women to embrace the gift of motherhood and assists them in developing their vocations to the fullest by providing a personal /group retreat, enabling them to grow in holiness and share this holiness with their families.
In her warm, personal writing style, with gentle, loving care, Donna effectively draws women into a deeper understanding of their roles by taking the reader on a tour of the domestic church – the Catholic home – where each room unveils a beautiful new aspect of the mother’s vocation. In each room, she explores the truths of the Church as revealed through Scriptures, papal encyclicals, Church doctrine, and the teachings and words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, reflecting on the implications of each as they affect the daily lives of mothers and their families.
In the foyer, we learn about Our Blessed Mother Mary and Motherhood. Through the words of Pope John Paul’s Muleris Dignatatem we discover that “to serve means to reign” and to follow the example of Our Blessed Mother Mary in our service to others – first in our family, then in reaching out to the world. We also learn to emulate the Blessed Mother’s virtues. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s life example and her simple, but powerful words about love teach us what it means to love others selflessly as wives and mothers. In subsequent chapters, which are concise but complete, we are welcomed into new rooms, where we learn about the different aspects of motherhood, for example, in Chapter 2, we are escorted to the garage, where we find a husband in the picture and delve into the world of marriage and ways of growing together in love and holiness as a couple.
The Domestic Church: Room by Room acts not only as a tool for spiritual growth, but also serves as a tool for growing in practical knowledge/wisdom, by providing insightful, commonsense solutions to some of the day to day problems women face as wives and mothers. Donna addresses the multiple roles, responsibilities, and challenges that women and mothers face today and the ever changing relationship that couples experience in their marriages. In addition, she provides suggestions for the problems that husbands and wives face in their relationships with one another, as well as with their children. The personal anecdotes she uses to illustrate this makes the reader feel as if they are discussing these issues over coffee with a close friend /spiritual mentor.
The organization of the book makes it easy to use in a group setting, sharing faith and insights with other Catholic mothers or studied individually. At the end of each chapter, Donna provides a helpful summary of the main ideas presented, followed by four or five questions which assist readers in applying the theological and doctrinal teachings to their own lives. It also comes fully equipped with a leader’s guide and an answer key.
The main message that is conveyed in The Domestic Church: Room By Room can be summed up by Pope John Paul II as he defines the role of the Catholic family: “It will be their task to foster among the faithful a lively sense of solidarity…to favor a manner of living inspired by the gospel and the faith of the Church, a true source of light and a wholesome leaven for other families.” (Familiaris Consortio #72)
Catholic adults will enjoy this inspiring book a great deal. It has the potential to transform lives and bring marriages and families closer together, empowering them to be a source of light and leaven to the world.
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann, September 20, 2008