A Casual Encounter With Grace

Father Walter Schu recommends Grace Café: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering by Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle.

Grace Café is an aptly titled book. How does one discover grace — that sublime reality so distant from most people’s vocabulary today and, sadly, so often absent from their lives?

Within these pages, seasoned author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle makes that elusive encounter with grace seem as casual and natural as a mid-morning rendezvous with an old friend at the local café.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “Beauty will save the world.” If that is true, then Grace Café — addressed specifically to mothers — could bring many mothers one step closer to salvation.

Even, and especially, in the midst of the daily trials of raising a family, such as being confronted with a steadily growing mountain of unfolded clothes, the beauty of motherhood alights from the page to capture hearts.

In response to the culture’s exalting of careerism for women, O’Boyle ponders the value of being a mother, the transcendent mission it entails. She says:

“Women have been put through the mill, so to speak. However, as Christian mothers, we can consider the fact that nothing can be more meaningful than to be part of the creation of a human being, to be able to nurture it within our bodies, and then raise our child within a loving home — preparing him or her for eternal life. In my opinion, nothing compares — nothing!”

The simple prose reveals a mother’s warm heart, as O’Boyle offers hints on how to carve out time for prayer and savor the grace of the present moment in a family where the young ones always seem to grow up just a bit too quickly.

Interspersed with personal anecdotes are succinct quotes from the wisdom of holy men and women — especially Pope John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, whom the author was friends with.

All mothers know that their vocation entails its share of difficult moments, and O’Boyle tackles this aspect of motherhood head-on in the chapter “Discovering Grace Within Suffering.”

She reflects, “This whole concept of giving and hurting may seem absurd, especially in today’s culture. Why should we feel uncomfortable — God forbid — or selfless, when we can avoid it? It’s because the love in our motherly heart calls us to it; it beckons us to give of ourselves unreservedly. Real love demands blood, sweat and tears.”

She sums things up with these encouraging words from St. Ignatius of Loyola: “If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that he has great designs for you, and that he certainly intends to make you a saint.”

One slight disappointment may be the final chapter on evangelizing the household and the world. It contains several long Gospel passages, which perhaps could have been reduced to allow a more in-depth look at how the family stands at the very center of the New Evangelization.

All mothers who seek to glimpse with renewed spiritual vision the priceless value of their calling, all those who long to encounter grace amid the joys and trials, the dirty dishes and daily crises of family life will discover in O’Boyle’s book a grace-filled companion along the path to becoming a saint.

Legionary Father Walter Schu is the author of

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