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Handbook for Catholic Moms

Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor

The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul by Lisa M. Hendey, Ave Maria Press, 2010, 256 pp

Busy mothers are always looking for ways to help with the challenges of raising a family. In The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul  author Lisa Hendey provides a practical, easy-to-read guide to help support and encourage Catholic mothers in caring for themselves, thus enabling them to better care for their families.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Hendey was raised in a traditional Catholic family, but married a non-Catholic. When their first child was born, almost twenty years ago, she and her husband decided that Hendey would be a stay-at-home mom for their son. At that time, and when their second son was born three years later, Hendey felt the responsibility to be the primary faith educator for her sons. (Her husband has since turned Catholic.) She searched for advice and companionship from other Catholic moms, including her own mother. Just over ten years ago, she created, a popular website that celebrates Catholic motherhood, explores faith and family topics, and offers encouragement and ideas from other Catholic mothers.

The Handbook for Catholic Moms stresses the importance of mothers caring for themselves, and is divided into four parts, titled "Heart", "Mind", "Body" and "Soul". Part one encourages mothers to develop nurturing relationships with family, friends, and themselves. Part two inspires them to become life-long learners, seek creative outlets, and use time management and productivity tactics. The third section examines nutrition, fitness, and other physical matters. The last part explores the many spiritual resources, devotions, and concepts available to Catholics, including rituals, Mass, and scripture reading.

Each of the four parts of the book has chapters that begin with "My Story," a personal anecdote that Hendey uses to illustrate the chapter's theme. She uses examples of other mothers she has observed and situations in her own life to get her point across. She also includes suggestions offered from her website's many visitors. She especially calls on these contributions in her chapter on mothering adoptive, foster, or special needs children and her chapter on parenting alone.

Hendey ends each chapter with "Mom's Homework", in which she includes several actions to help mothers better care for themselves and their families. Many of her suggestions are simple, but can make a difference. Also at the end of each chapter are helpful web resources that relate to the chapter's theme.

Throughout the book, Hendey stresses the importance of prayer, both as a family and individually. She encourages studying the Sunday readings beforehand as a way to get more out of Mass, especially when young children make it difficult for mothers to fully listen at Mass. Henley recommends praying the rosary frequently, receiving the sacraments often, and asking the saints to intercede on our behalf.

The Handbook for Catholic Moms is a book of encouragement and inspiration for all Catholic mothers. Not all of her suggestions are suitable for everyone, but all readers will find good advice and gentle wisdom in this book.

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handbook for catholic moms