Monday, February 16, 2009

The Domestic Church: Room by Room

The Domestic Church: Room by Room A Mother's Study Guide

One of the hardest tasks in the world is to stay home alone all day with small children, doing all the minuscule yet vital tasks which keep a family physically and spiritually healthy, but which the world no longer values. Work is measured in terms of how much money it makes. It is forgotten that children have only one childhood and the love they don't get from their parents they will never get at any other time. What greater success in life is there than the raising of happy, faith-filled children? To do that properly requires one's entire being.

There is a wisdom about life and people which can only be learned by being a mother. The Domestic Church: Room by Room by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle is redolent with such wisdom. We have forgotten the secret to sanctity that past generations possessed. Holiness is to be found in the present moment, in the humblest tasks which, when performed with love, are of greater merit in the eyes of God than works that are magnificent but loveless. Donna-Marie discusses the nature of a mother's sacrificial love, as follows:
The list of sacrifices and sufferings is endless, as is a mother's love. If we really love our children properly, there must be sacrifice; otherwise, there is no real love. A mother's connectedness to her child, which continues even after the umbilical cord has been severed, allows her to truly experience a sacrificial love- a love that puts her own interests and needs on hold, a love that continues to give even when it hurts. (pp. 156-157)
Donna-Marie explores many issues which at times beset mothers of families, saying:
Mothers, as we know, have a difficult job in the home coupled with the fact with the fact that society oftentimes demeans the role of a mother by 'measuring' her worth by the size of her paycheck. There are areas that a mother may try to 'escape' to in order to feel more accomplished while inadvertently neglecting her family....

Diapers, demands, laundry, and dishes are not the only activities filling a mother's time. However, a mother may begin to feel frustrated and dwell on what she feels is her lack of accomplishments. She may also fail to see Our Lord's hand in her housekeeping because of the mixed messages from our society aimed at mothers and also because she may be exhausted and in need of encouragement. Mothers should strive to help one another with Christian camaraderie and encouragement for the journey. (pp. 113-114)
The book integrates the basics of Christian spirituality with the practical side of running a home. Although the means of giving apostolic witness may seem limited for housewives, we are reminded about the power of the little things which are at our disposal. To quote:
While remembering that our example speaks louder than our words, we can feel confident that even out at the grocery store, the post office, the bank, and other places where we do our errands, God is sure to put people in our path. A simple smile, a door held open, a listening ear to someone we meet who has an immediate need, giving a hand to a mother with many children in tow- all kinds of situations arise in which we can lend a hand....Through little acts of kindness, miracles do happen. A simple smile and a kind word may have been just the little act of love that a lonely person absolutely needed so as not to fall into despair that particular day.... (p.213)
Donna-Marie is an excellent teacher; after reading The Domestic Church it came as no surprise to discover that the author is a lay Missionary of Charity, following the path of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I am especially impressed by the order and clarity with which this book is written, complete with study guide that would make it perfect for a parish discussion group or a wonderful companion on a retreat. Quotes from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI about the condition of marriage and family life in the modern world make the book particularly relevant to the present time. I am looking forward to next reading Donna-Marie's newest book, Grace Café.

(*The Domestic Church was sent to me as a gift by the author.)


+JMJ+ said...

Have the book and looking forward to it...especially after this tantalizing review. My homeschool group moms are starting a book club on it. Chapter by chapter we will discuss it as we read. We've been talking about doing something like this for a while and this book is PERFECTLY suited.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it is! There are lots of pages just for note taking. Any prayerful discussion of Donna's book will bear much fruit!

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Thank you very much, Mary-Eileen for writing this beautiful review about my book!

God bless you!

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Dear "JMJ",

That's great that you will be doing a group study of my book. Feel free to get in touch with me at: DMCOBoyle(at)aol(dot)com and I will be happy to help your group with a discount on the books and I will of course inscribe and autograph them for all of you.

Have a great study.:) May God bless you all in great abundance!

God bless!


Ms. Lucy said...

Thanks for this great review. This sounds like a wonderful book to work on with my youngest daughter.

SuzanneG said...

I rec'd this book for Christmas and was very excited about it. It will be perfect for Easter!

Several people asked me about it, but I could only give them what it "looks like", so now I'll send them here to read your review.

Mrs. Cooper O'Boyle's Prayerbook for Mothers is also a wonderful little book for mommies to keep in their's small and hardback and full of inspriation! Perfect!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the encouragement I need! I hope to buy a copy soon. Thank you EMV for letting us know about this book.

elena maria vidal said...

Lucy, I think it would be a wonderful book for a mother and daughter to read together.

Suzanne, it really is great spiritual reading.especially for Easter. I am letting "Grace Cafe" get me psyched for Lent!

Margaret, you'll love it, especially the quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

DisneyWorld Dreaming said...

How profound is the comment about being generous with kindness!! We really do not know the lives of those we encounter everyday, do we? I have often told my children that they must remember to treat others with kindness and respect, as they cannot know the sorrows of another. Our Lord commands us to treat others as we would have them to treat us. Some may think, "Of course! The Golden Rule--we've heard it a million times. Every Christian knows this!" Yet, are we daily careful to practice it? How often are we consumed with the cares of the day, or even pride that we do not extend kindness to those who may need it most? We oft forget that near us there may be that precious soul who is heartbroken, depressed, or even suicidal.

Some people are hanging unto their last thread. An unexpected kindess can provide a hopeful ray, or even just enough healing to defray hopelessness.

We must always be willing and ready to share Christ's love.

What a lovely book!

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Dear "Disneyworld Dreaming,"

What a lovely comment!

Thank you and may God bless you and your family in great abundance!

(author of the book)