Catholic Mom Book Spotlight

Letters to Mary from a Young Mother
by Patrice M. Fagnant-MacArthur
paperback, iUniverse, March 2004

 

Book Description

Dear Mary,
I found out today that I am going to have a baby. We tried for so long, it seems hard to believe that it finally happened. I think that I am in a state of shock. I'm happy, but scared. My whole life is going to change...

So begins Letters to Mary from a Young Mother, one woman's story of motherhood, from conception through the first year, as she confides her joys and frustrations to Mary, mother of Jesus.  Perhaps more importantly, Letters to Mary explores the humanity of Mary, delving into how she herself might have felt during her own motherhood experience. Mary was a human mother, and as such is connected to mothers in all times and places, from Eve to the present day. She is a fellow traveler on the journey of motherhood, ever-ready to lend an understanding ear.

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Letters to Mary from a Young Mother
by Patrice M. Fagnant-MacArthur

 

 

 

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CM: Your faith and your family are at the core of this book - could you please tell us about your own faith journey in the Catholic Church and about your precious family?

My faith has always been the core component of my life. I was raised in a very traditional Catholic family. When I was young, we always went to daily mass, and my mother and I would say the rosary together every day. I attended Catholic schools from K - college which helped provide a firm foundation in theology and I ultimately went on to earn a Master of Arts in Applied Theology. My husband Bernie and I met in our senior year of college and were married a year later. He was not Catholic when we met, but he ultimately decided to convert. We are very involved in our parish community and working to create an atmosphere of faith in our family with our two children, David age 3 and Isaac, 19 months.

CM: Letters to Mary reads like an intimate, personal correspondence between two friends. How would you describe the book to prospective readers and what prompted you to write the book?

Letters to Mary from a Young Mother is one woman's story of motherhood from conception through the first year as she confides to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Ultimately, it is one mother talking to another about shared experience.

As I was attempting to adjust to pregnancy and motherhood, and the process of going from being a woman to being a mom, I felt very lonely. I was trying to create a new identity for myself and felt like there was no one to talk to. I searched for a book that described what I was feeling from a spiritual perspective but found very little. I wasn't looking for another article telling me to sleep when the baby slept or to go out with friends for a night out. While that is good advice, it didn't deal with all the deeper issues that were going on inside of me. One night, up yet again with a crying, non-sleeping child, the idea came to me of a book of letters written to Mary, mother of Jesus. I began wondering how Mary coped with motherhood. We don't tend to think of Mary as a wife and mother going through all the same struggles that we do, but 2000 years ago that was exactly what she was. She understands what we are going through.

CM: I read that your son David was born shortly after you completed an advanced degree in Theology. Now that you are mom to two sons, how do you find time for your faith and spirituality? What advice would you give to new moms on how to foster an active spiritual life?

I will admit that finding time is always a challenge! There were times when the babies were very small that I would actually say my rosary on my fingers in the middle of the night during feeding time. I pray while I push the kids in the stroller or while I am in the shower! And of course, there are always the prayers of "God, help me!" during the day when my stress level is rising and both children are doing things that they shouldn't be! Now, that the children are a little older, I actually have time for formal prayer before I go to bed at night.

I think that just adopting an attitude of prayer can be helpful for new moms. Prayer doesn't always need to be formal. A day with all its challenges offered to God is a very valid prayer in itself, and motherhood is automatically a life of service to others. Talk to God or to Mary whenever you feel the need to. Say "Thank you" when things are going well. Our children are God's children first and God and Mary are there to help us through the process.

CM: What is the main message you hope to share through Letters to Mary?

I hope that Letters to Mary will help other new moms to realize that they are not alone, that every mother goes through an identity crisis of sorts. While there are truly amazing moments and you get to experience an incredible love for this new human being, it's OK to have difficult days and times of sadness and to acknowledge that. Ultimately, you make that transition from woman to mother and it is well-worth the effort, but it is not an easy transition.

One thing that I have found is that people have read this book, and come back me and said, "Yes, I can relate so much! I felt so isolated when my first child was born. Thank you for writing this." Then, they have turned around and bought copies for their friends! I think that is a wonderful compliment and an acknowledgement that a book like this was truly needed.

CM: Now that you've accomplished your goal of writing and publishing Letters to Mary, what are your personal and professional goals for the future?

I have started a website - www.spiritualwoman.net and newsletter devoted to providing information and inspiration for women who seek to deepen their relationship with God. There is a real need for practical spiritual help for busy women who need to balance family, work, and caring for themselves. We often put our relationship with God on the back burner, when it should be the most fundamental relationship in our lives.

CM: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share with our CatholicMom.com readers?

Thank you for letting me have this opportunity to share with you. I hope that you will support CatholicMom.com and purchase "Letters to Mary from a Young Mother" though this website. Also, please visit my website - www.spiritualwoman.net and perhaps consider writing an article for it! I think that it is so important for women to share aspects of their spiritual lives with each other as a way of helping all of us grow closer to God.
 

Letters to Mary from a Young Mother
Patrice M. Fagnant-MacArthur