If you're a Catholic mom, you've likely heard of Lisa Hendey
. Besides writing the go-to book on Catholic motherhood, The Handbook for Catholic Moms
, Lisa also founded the massively popular CatholicMom.com
. CatholicMom.com began in 1999 and has quickly become a digital front-porch for thousands of women who seek community, support, and spiritual nourishment. Through articles, blog posts, podcasts, and all sorts of new media, the website boasts one of the richest Catholic communities on the Internet.
So with that background, it's no surprise that I agree with Fr. James Martin
who says, "Every time a Catholic mother asks me what author she should read, I have a ready answer: Lisa Hendey." In fact I admire Lisa's work so much that I gave a copy of her Handbook to my wife this year as part of my Valentine's day gift.
Lisa has just released a new book titled A Books of Saints for Catholic Moms
(Ave Maria Press
, paperback, 352 pages) that is just as compelling as her first. The book presents 52 saints who each offer special advice to mothers.
Lisa begins each entry by describing a saint and noting how he or she touches one of four essential aspects of feminine life--heart, mind, body, and spirit. Yet the book isn't just a collection of biographies. Each entry also includes daily Scripture reflections, a quote from the saint's own teachings, and Lisa's own reflections on how the saint has personally influenced her life. For example, here is Lisa on St. Therese of Lisieux
"Therese's Little Way
sprung from her intense desire for our Lord and her almost childlike passion for pleasing him with daily acts of sacrifice and love. Whether I am employed outside the home or at home all day with children, my life as a mom is peppered with daily tasks that can be tedious and mundane. Laundry continues to pile up, dishes must be washed, and the running of even the smallest home can be filled with an endless "to do" list.
For modern moms, our Little Way might encourage us as we're washing the sixth load of laundry, filling paperwork at the office, nursing a newborn in the middle of the night, or caring for a cranky toddler. Let's look at those occasions as opportunities to grow in holiness. Simple? Yes! Saintly? If done with a heart for service and offered as an act of love--most definitely!"
Two of my favorite components in the book are the Traditions and Activities. For each saint Lisa notes a particular Tradition that has developed around him or her. She explains, for instance, how St. Ignatius of Loyola
inspired millions of students to write AMDG at the top of their school papers--a Latin abbreviation meaning "to the greater glory of God"--and how St. Clare
has grown to be the patron saint of television. These traditions add flesh and color to the biographies along with doses of history of culture.
I also loved the Activities. Lisa suggests many actions--some for parents, others with children--to help families celebrate that particular saint. Under St. Francis
, for example, Lisa proposes having a family discussion on God's presence in the world and then together reading Francis' famous "Canticle of the Sun". Under St. Benedict
she encourages families to create a family "Rule of Life", a systemized schedule of work and prayer that incorporates chores, school, career, and family prayer time.
From Mary, Mother of Jesus
--"the first and best Catholic mom"--to Chiara Badano
, a young saint from the '90s, Lisa unrolls a rich tapestry of holy saints who can help all women today. I highly recommend this book to all mothers, Catholic or not, and I even think most dads would love it, too--I definitely did.