How many books begin with an invitation to a slumber party?
This one does! Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle's richly personal, but powerfully catechetical new book, Rooted in Love: Our Calling as Catholic Women, is as delightful, intimate, and honest as a 3 a.m. chat with your best friend over a cup of hot chocolate, and I can't recommend it heartily enough.
This is my top Christmas gift recommendation for every Catholic woman on your list—married, single, divorced, actively raising children, or empty-nesters—and would be a superb gift for your DRE, your volunteer catechists, and the moms who help out in your parish program. It is an authentic, faithful exploration of the meaning, beauty, and purpose of our holy calling as Catholic women. It would be a genuinely bonding and exciting book study, but it's a wonderful read for individuals, too.
I was very fortunate to meet Donna-Marie a few years ago when we were both speaking on a panel for one of the Catholic Writers Guild's annual conferences, and I have had the joy of getting to know her since then.
She is an extremely unusual person, but I don't know if I can quite capture the reasons in words. A dedicated parish catechist of twenty-five years and counting, a mother of five children who suffered through a heartbreaking divorce, battled poverty as a single mother, and suffered a number of personal tragedies, she is also a best-selling author and popular speaker, EWTN television and radio personality, and personal friend of Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, SJ, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She is both ordinary and extraordinary all at once.
But to me, the credentials that really make Donna-Marie unusual and special are her simplicity and naturalness in the midst of it all. She is that rare creature: wise and deeply loving (the kind of person I have always wanted to buddy up with), a truly humble, gentle soul in love with God.
Like her other books, Rooted in Love is packed with wisdom gleaned from the Church—from documents, scriptures, and saints. And as with the others, she shares illuminating, charming, and often deeply moving anecdotes from her own life and the lives of others. And consistent with every single endeavor she undertakes, the person you meet in the printed text matches the real Donna-Marie, a surprisingly shy person whose obedience to God has led her to share her heart with the world.
What is different about this inspiring book is the depth of personal revelation and the power of the resulting intimacy. Donna-Marie has a great passion for the saints, the Catechism, and Sacred Scripture, so that the weaving of her life with the writings of the Church is remarkably familiar and seamless, comfortable, yet exciting in its freshness and vibrancy. This work has elements of both memoir and study guide, but rises above both genres in a way I can only attribute to the bond of love between the author and her Lord.
I'm going to share the table of contents with you, because it will give you a flavor for the book:
Part One: Discovering Myself in Christ
- Who Am I?
- Becoming a Whole Woman
Part Two: Christ Is My Strength
- Always at My Side
- Offering Me Living Water
Part Three: Christ Is My Life
- In My Home
- In My Work
- In My Struggles
Part Four: Meeting Christ in Others
- A Woman for Others
- When Did I See You, Lord?
Part Five: Christ is My Joy
- My Soul Magnifies the Lord
I enjoyed the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, which fall into three categories, and are followed by a simple prayer. "My Mind to Know Him" gives you something to think about, like behavior in the workplace, or learning more about the saints. "My Heart to Love Him," gently poses questions that help us take inventory of our hearts in relationship to God. "My Hands to Serve Him" frames our work and service to others in light of our love for God, but in practical, simple ways that I'll wager will touch your heart as much as they did mine. Her closing prayers are utterly humble, heartfelt, and very brief.
A very blessed and happy Advent to you and yours! Thanks for reading!
Founder, Amazing CatechistsTM