Being a mom is hard. Being a Catholic mom is, in some ways, especially hard. (How on earth do you raise a practicing Catholic in our culture? I’m not sure yet!) In many other ways, though, Catholicism gives us comfort, strength, and wisdom, and I don’t know how I would survive motherhood without it.
It makes sense, then, that the first devotional I’ve ever read is for Catholic mothers. When Samantha Stephenson asked me to review her new devotional “Mama Prays: A 30-Day Devotional for Catholic Moms,” I said yes immediately, because I’ve edited her work before, at FemCatholic and Catholic Women in Business, and knew it would be worth the read.
And it was, but if every other day of the devotional had been poorly written and unhelpful, it would have still been worth it for day 6—which I started reading and almost skipped.
I did not have a good breastfeeding experience and had to start using formula exclusively to feed my daughter when she was six weeks old. Even now that she’s a year old and weaned off of formula, and the guilt I felt over not breastfeeding her has passed, I still have a hard time reading or hearing about how wonderful nursing is. It just makes me sad that I missed out on that experience. So, when I saw that the sixth day of the devotional was about nursing, I almost skipped that day.
I’m so glad I didn’t, because Samantha gave me such a gift that day.
“Long after our milk runs dry, our bodies mysteriously continue to feed our hungry children,” she writes. “‘This is my body, given for you,’ we say, and even before they are old enough to receive the Eucharist, they know what it means to consume our love.”
Pregnancy, childbirth, and the physical demands of caring for an infant and now a toddler have flared up my fibromyalgia so that at the time when I’ve needed a strong and healthy body the most, it’s felt weaker than it has in many years. Many days, I am overwhelmed with the fear that my body will never be enough for my daughter, that I will never be enough for her.
This reminder that my body is enough, that I am enough, because God fills in what I lack, came just at the right time, and I will return to this page of the devotional again and again:
“Our[s] is a call to be not depleted, but to give out of our poverty like the widow who gave her last coins,” Samantha writes. “Sometimes, we choose to put more stock in our own emptiness than in serving these little ones in need. But more often, we experience the miracle and mystery that is love: in being poured out, it only grows. Like the flour of Elijah’s widow, or the oil that burned in the temple for the Maccabees, love is actually inexhaustible.”
As a 30-day devotional, Samantha’s new book covers a variety of topics related to Catholic motherhood. I’m sure not every mother will be struck as much by day 6 as I was, but I am sure that she will find something in this devotional to relate to, pray with, and take comfort in.