I recently had the pleasure of reading a copy of noted author Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s latest book, The Domestic Church: Room By Room, A Mother’s Study Guide. On this twentieth anniversary of Muleris Dignitatem: On the Dignity and Vacation of Women and this fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae: Of Human Life, Donna, presents us with an in-depth study guide on the vocation of motherhood. In this inspiring book, she instructs, guides, and encourages women to embrace the gift of motherhood and assists them in developing their vocations to the fullest by providing a personal /group retreat, enabling them to grow in holiness and share this holiness with their families.
In her warm, personal writing style, with gentle, loving care, Donna effectively draws women into a deeper understanding of their roles by taking the reader on a tour of the domestic church – the Catholic home – where each room unveils a beautiful new aspect of the mother’s vocation. In each room, she explores the truths of the Church as revealed through Scriptures, papal encyclicals, Church doctrine, and the teachings and words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, reflecting on the implications of each as they affect the daily lives of mothers and their families.
In the foyer, we learn about Our Blessed Mother Mary and Motherhood. Through the words of Pope John Paul’s Muleris Dignatatem we discover that “to serve means to reign” and to follow the example of Our Blessed Mother Mary in our service to others – first in our family, then in reaching out to the world. We also learn to emulate the Blessed Mother’s virtues. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s life example and her simple, but powerful words about love teach us what it means to love others selflessly as wives and mothers. In subsequent chapters, which are concise but complete, we are welcomed into new rooms, where we learn about the different aspects of motherhood, for example, in Chapter 2, we are escorted to the garage, where we find a husband in the picture and delve into the world of marriage and ways of growing together in love and holiness as a couple.
The Domestic Church: Room by Room acts not only as a tool for spiritual growth, but also serves as a tool for growing in practical knowledge/wisdom, by providing insightful, commonsense solutions to some of the day to day problems women face as wives and mothers. Donna addresses the multiple roles, responsibilities, and challenges that women and mothers face today and the ever changing relationship that couples experience in their marriages. In addition, she provides suggestions for the problems that husbands and wives face in their relationships with one another, as well as with their children. The personal anecdotes she uses to illustrate this makes the reader feel as if they are discussing these issues over coffee with a close friend /spiritual mentor.
The organization of the book makes it easy to use in a group setting, sharing faith and insights with other Catholic mothers or studied individually. At the end of each chapter, Donna provides a helpful summary of the main ideas presented, followed by four or five questions which assist readers in applying the theological and doctrinal teachings to their own lives. It also comes fully equipped with a leader’s guide and an answer key.
The book is also appropriate for men as it explores the invaluable role men play in the education of their children in the faith in the family which they, too, are called to embrace.
The main message that is conveyed in The Domestic Church: Room By Room, A Mother’s Study Guide can be summed up by Pope John Paul II as he defines the role of the Catholic family: “It will be their task to foster among the faithful a lively sense of solidarity…to favor a manner of living inspired by the gospel and the faith of the Church, a true source of light and a wholesome leaven for other families” (Familiaris Consortio #72).
Catholic adults will enjoy this inspiring book a great deal. It has the potential to transform lives and bring marriages and families closer together, empowering them to be a source of light and leaven to the world.