More than 10 years ago, Lisa Hendey started the website CatholicMom.com to build community among Catholic moms, at a time when she herself was seeking support in the vocation of motherhood. The site continues to serve as a source of community and encouragement for mothers today. In her latest book, "A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul," Hendey shares how we moms are also supported by our holy friends in heaven.
"A Books of Saints" is divided into chapters by saint. Each chapter begins with a brief bio; I stress "brief" because there are so many resources where one can learn about a saint’s life—what’s unique here is that Hendey’s narrative goes on to explain how the life and example of that saint specifically relates to the ups and downs of motherhood.
She also shares traditions, wisdom, Scripture, prayers and activities associated with each saint (more detail in the Q&A below).
I appreciate how “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” is helping me become better acquainted with these holy friends, and count on their intercession: when I’m doing something like cleaning the house (St. Zita, patron of homemakers); writing an article at work (St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists); or trying to figure out how to keep the peace (St. Elizabeth of Portugal, patron of peace). It's good to know they’ve got my back!
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Hendey about her new book.
This is not just another book of saint bios to sit dusty on a shelf: How will it serve as an active tool in a Catholic mom’s prayer arsenal?
LH: Thanks for your support Julie! “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” is intended to be used as a daily or weekly prayer companion for busy women. It features 52 chapters, each of which highlights a saintly companion (or two, in the case of a few married couples). In each chapter, I share a brief biography, my personal reflections on their impact upon my life, a quote, and traditions associated with the saint, like: “Why do we bury St. Joseph upside down to sell our homes?”
Additionally, each chapter has seven days of Scripture readings and prayers, activities for a mom in relation to that saint, family activities to bring the saint to life for children, a family prayer, and discussion/journaling questions to prompt reflection.
It’s designed to help women recapture a bit of personal prayer time in the midst of their busy days, to pray through the intercession of and learn from the examples of these amazing men and women. The book is indexed in several ways, so if readers would like to use it in conjunction with the liturgical calendar or search for a particular patronage, that’s possible too. I hope it’s the type of book that will remain in my friends’ devotional stack of books for years to come.
What would you say to a mom who might not feel “saintly” on a regular basis? How do our holy friends in heaven help us in our vocation?
LH: Too often, we moms may think because we’re not able to spend hours in the adoration chapel or devote an hour a day to prayer and Bible study, we’re not “saintly” enough. It’s true that many women—myself at the top of the list—could and should devote ourselves to a more disciplined prayer life. But in many ways, our work in our homes is our prayer—through our vocation, the love we give, and service we deliver to our loved ones, we give our best to God. I love the words of Blessed Mother Teresa: “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”
I'd encourage moms who desire greater sanctity in their vocations to emulate the examples of St. Zita of Lucca (a domestic servant), St. Martha of Bethany (known for serving Jesus in her home) or St. Margaret Clitherow (a businesswoman beloved by her customers). Each of these ladies did her best to make her work a prayer. So many saints show us our path to sainthood can play out in the confines of our own home or community. By coming to know about their lives and challenges, by following their examples, and by praying through their intercession, we can grow in grace and faith.
Every person has many patron saints who intercede on their behalf: Who are some of the saints interceding specifically for moms? Who are some of the more unusual or unexpected patron saints that might appeal to today's mothers?
LH: I must always begin with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother. In so many ages and places, she’s been present to the faithful and is a constant intercessor, drawing us into an ever deepening relationship with her son Jesus Christ.
St. Gerard Majella and St. Monica are also well-known as patron saints for mothers. Many turn to them for parental intercession for mothering issues from pregnancy and childbirth, to dealing with difficult young adult children.
As for the second part of your question, one new, and perhaps surprise, intercessor I discovered was St. Thomas More, a 16th century statesman and martyr, patron of step-parents and adoptive children. A brilliant legal mind and the Lord Chancellor to King Henry XVIII, he prioritized family prayer and the religious education of his children. He welcomed a martyr's death rather than compromise on his belief in the primacy of the Church. His example reminds me that sometimes the greatest lessons I teach my children about living a life of faith are taught with my actions, not my words.
I encourage readers to get to know the many and varied saints I share in the book and to develop their own spiritual friendships and connections with these amazing men and women.
Can you suggest ways a Catholic mom can bring the saints alive with her children, and in her family life?
LH: In each chapter, I share examples of simple things that moms can do to bring the saints alive for their children. I'm not a crafty person, so these don't include pipe cleaners or construction paper! I think the best way to bring their examples to life is to help our children to faithfully serve others. For example, in my chapter on Saints Anne and Joachim, I recommend families commemorate the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary by doing something special for their own grandparents. This might include taking a family outing with them, baking them cookies or writing them a letter, or simply remembering deceased relatives in a special, loving way.
Activities that both educate the children about the saints, and tie their spirituality to our current lives are poignant ways to keep their charisms alive. Of course, one of the best ways to share these heroes with our families is to come to better know and love them ourselves.
How can people get their hands on this book?
LH: It’s available at many local Catholic retailers, or can be purchased online at Amazon.