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Recently, a beautiful book, Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers to Be, caught my attention and admiration.
I had never before equated the months of pregnancy with the qualities of a novena. However, the author, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, did this very well.
Now, Catholic women can be gently directed—prayerfully and joyfully—in special ways that enhance the mothering experience long before their babies are born.
This writer previously authored The Heart of Motherhood and The Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers, which I also recommend to women.
However, her newest book concentrates on a time when—in previous decades—most pregnant women concentrated more on material preparations so as to be ready for the newborn. Baby showers often helped with this but, in my experiences, that did not happen.
When I realized that I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was elated but surprised because Paul and I had only been married for three months. In five years, I gave birth to three daughters. I have deeply cherished each of them from the moment I realized that I was pregnant.
Cooper O’Boyle writes that her reflective prayer journal for mothers-to-be can “become a distinctive interlude of contemplation as you delight in your baby’s movements and life within you, and prepare for his or her arrival.
“By giving yourself the time to rest, reflect and pray while you are carrying your precious child,” she explains, “you will most certainly provide a sense of peace and tranquility for both you and your baby while being open to the many graces that our Heavenly Father has prepared for you!”
The author wrote the book while on complete bed rest because of serious complications during a pregnancy with her fifth child. She had four active children at the time and knows what a busy mother’s life is like.
“The tasks we do as mothers,” she writes, “are the acts of love that keep our families together in intimate communion and at peace … these loving acts as a means of sanctifying our families.”
Before her death, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta wrote to Cooper O’Boyle.
“Your books on young mothers and expectant mothers are much needed,” Mother Teresa wrote. “Yes, you may use some of the things I said on motherhood and family … .” And the author does.
About Prayerfully Expecting, Mother Teresa wrote, “I pray that it does much good.”
This book is written by a woman who, by the way, also received an apostolic blessing from Pope John Paul II shortly after the beatification of Blessed Teresa.
The author also shares some of the pope’s words about the sanctity of life, including his statement, “Human life is sacred—from its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God.”
The book is published by Crossroad Publishing Company. The author’s Web site is www.donnacooperoboyle.com.
(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †