Kathryn Jean Lopez talks to Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard, the authors of a new book for Catholic moms
A mom gives and gives and gives. And by the time the day is through, she may wonder where her time went. Or, rather, she knows exactly where it went: With every tear and bruise and emergency, real or imagined. It went with her heart. So how does she find time to get what she needs to be a woman of faith overflowing with Christ’s love to her family and parish and community? Lisa M. Hendey (founder of CatholicMom.com) and Sarah A. Reinhard, a blogger, come to the rescue with The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections, and talk a bit about it.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: “We hope that this prayer companion will invite you into a deeper relationship with God, our Blessed Mother, the Communion of Saints, and our beloved Church.” How do you make that practical to someone who thinks it all sounds too pious for their tumultuous life?
Lisa Hendey: If anyone could take a look at my life, they’d find the definition of “tumultuous”! With a hectic professional calendar and a complicated family life, I’ve found that taking time every day to ground myself with a few quiet moments of prayer has been a Godsend. We can’t have a “relationship” with anyone without spending time with that person. So we’re hoping that this book, but also our CatholicMom.com community, will help the moms who are our target audience find a few precious minutes each day to just simply be with God, with Mary, with the saints, and with others who get the insanity that they live every day in serving their families! We’ve called the book a “companion” intentionally, because we want the women we’re trying to serve to feel lifted up, supported and accompanied in their faith walk.
Lopez: It’s a big volume — not numbering the pages (you date them instead) won’t fool any mom. Why should no one be intimidated?
Sarah Reinhard: As someone speaking from the season of life where I sometimes only have the time I’m in the bathroom in which to turn to God, each of these prayers fit into that space. However, they also fit into a half-hour at Adoration. There’s a beauty to the simplicity and how these reflections meet you, the reader, where you are.
And isn’t that just what Jesus does too? He meets us where we are, how we are, as we are.
It is intimidating to pray. We’re talking to God. But… He’s also our Daddy. Our Papa. Our Loving Creator.
He loves us more than we can imagine. For me, I often have to get over my own fears and pride and accept that, however big and scary something (including a book) looks to me, God is there, waiting for me to show up and give him some time.
Lopez: Why for moms only? Couldn’t all women use a prayer companion? And dads and all men, too?
Hendey: More than one dad has shared with me that they’ve been praying with this book. In fact, my own Daddy, who is also an awesome Gramps, prays with it daily. As with some of my other books, this one seeks specifically to serve moms who spend so much time serving everyone else. But our co-authors include single women, some women who have no children, and men too. And yes, we can all use a prayer companion.
Lopez: Can you really pray as you match socks? And that’s not defining prayer down?
Reinhard: When someone you love pops in unexpectedly and sees your house trashed or sees you in a not-the-most-flattering way, do you wish they had stayed away, or are you happy to see them? When your child says “Love You!” do you wish they had put socks on first or brushed their hair or grown up a bit? If your spouse hugs you out of the blue and tells you you’re lovely, even when your hair’s sticking up in all directions and your face has creases from the pillow you were just sleeping on, do you hold it against them?
Prayer is a conversation with God, right? He’s happy to see us.
And I can’t help but think that He’s there, in the mundane and ordinary and recurring tasks we all do, even if they don’t always inspire us to heavenly prayer and joy. I can’t help but think that He wants us to acknowledge Him in those moments.
So can I pray when I’m matching socks? Sure. “Dear God, let this other sock be in this basket so the kid who will only wear purple socks will quit screaming.” “Oh my Jesus, help me embrace the joy of this vocation even though it feels boring and unappreciated about 90 percent of the time.” “Hail Mary, mother of God, did you ever have to match the stupid socks?!?!?”
Saying you shouldn’t pray when you’re matching socks is like saying your husband or friend or child shouldn’t say they love you when they come into the room, even if the room is the bathroom.
God’s happy to hear from us. He’s right there anyway. Why not loop him in?
Lopez: Who is your favorite mom saint and why?
Reinhard: Mama Mary, and I don’t say that because I’m super-pious (I’m not, just ask Lisa). I say that because she’s the mom par excellence and also because I turn to her pretty much hourly some days…
Hendey: I have Saint Monica on “speed dial,” because I’m parenting sons who are young adults and are out in a world that often challenges them. I love that, above all things, Monica devoted her life to being a prayer warrior for her son Augustine. My biggest responsibility every day is to pray for my husband and sons.
Lopez: How can Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton help American mothers in a particular way?
Hendey: Before Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was a foundress of a religious community or a champion for social justice, she was a wife and a mom. Mother Seton knew plenty of trials in her own faith journey, including the death of her own husband. When faced with the dual challenges of widowhood and financial devastation, it was her newfound Catholic faith that helped her to not only survive, but to rise up and find her place in a world greatly in need of the gifts she had to offer. In today’s world, when so many of our families face economic strife, societal pressure and mounting insecurity, we moms are called to be the rocks at the center of our families to keep everyone else loved and cared for. We’re also often called to serve those around us who need love and support. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is a perfect example of how the gifts of the feminine genius can be employed by each of us to solve the problems that plague a country so greatly in need of love, compassion, and solutions.
Lopez: How key is the Blessed Mother to moms in day-to-day life?
Reinhard: For me, Mary is a constant presence. Some days, she reminds me that I should turn to Jesus for help. Some days, she reminds me that this too shall pass. Some days, she reminds me that love is a decision I make within every moment of the day.
Lopez: What do you say to non-Catholic friends who might have the wrong idea about your relationship with Mary?
Reinhard: She’s Jesus’ mom and I’ve adopted her too. She leads me to Jesus. Every. Single. Time.
Lisa, you’ve got the Jan. 1 reflection in the book. What should we be thinking about as we approach a new year?
Hendey: I’m an eternal optimist, which is why even after 53 years, I still believe in the power of New Year’s resolutions. And one of my eternal resolutions is to be closer to God and to understand and give my “yes” to God’s will for my life. As we start a new year, or even a new week or a new day, it’s the perfect opportunity to reprioritize faith in our lives. When we give the “first fruits” of our days to being in relationship with God, we set a tone for our time and sanctify our days, even in their busyness.
Lopez: Lisa, why do you quote Gilda Radner in one of your reflections?
Hendey: In the book, we celebrate all of the Church’s major feasts and saints. But we also “celebrate” other days on the calendar, like “National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day.” In our reflections, we seek to find inspirational bits of scripture and quotes from saints or other notable figures. In searching for quotes for this particular day that related to poetry, I found this one from Gilda Radner that I found particularly relevant to the theme I was writing about. In the quote, Radner said, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle or end.” I’m not holding Gilda out as a perfect role model, but the courage with which she faced her end of life challenges combined with the originality of her humor have always inspired me. And this particular quote fit perfectly with my musings on “No Rhyme” day that God has placed extraordinary greatness in each of us. Even if we don’t imagine ourselves to be “perfect”—even if we don’t “rhyme”—we are each God’s perfect creations.
And I’m glad you didn’t ask me why I quoted Thumper from Bambi earlier in the book!
Lopez: What’s your chief prayer for the book?
Reinhard: That it touches and helps moms grow closer to God, especially in the midst of their days.
Hendey: That moms out there feel as if they have a companion along their journey to heaven and that we each strive daily to be in closer companionship to the God who loves us so greatly.
Read more…“The Hail Mary option? How about ‘Word-by-word’?”