Friday, July 20, 2007

Book Review: Prayerfully Expecting



Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers to Be
by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2007

Even before I had conceived my first child, I had searched for a book on the spirituality of pregnancy. I knew I wanted that time in my life to be prayer filled. I knew it would be a time of tremendous change and possibility and I wanted God to be at the center of it all. “Prayerfully Expecting: A Nine-Month Novena for Mothers To Be” by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle is a fitting companion for the journey of pregnancy.

As Cooper O’Boyle writes, “Motherhood is truly a lofty and blessed vocation. By responding to life with a generous ‘yes,’ you have entered into a partnership with God, cooperating to bring a new soul into this world. What could possibly be more worthwhile than this?” Perhaps as in no other time in life, pregnancy makes you aware of the passage of time. You measure your life by the number of weeks along you are. Each month’s progress is marked by visits to your doctor or midwife. Cooper O’Boyle has divided her book into nine sections as well, one for each month, and one for each part of the novena.

Each month includes scriptural excerpts, personal reflections, information on what is happening with your baby, and appropriate prayers for that month. There is also space for you to write your reflections on that month. Each month is meant to be read and used independently as you pass through that month. Some of the prayers are repeated in more than one month.

As in all of Cooper O’Boyle’s writings, she is strongly pro stay-at-home mother which might make her readings less palatable for those who either must work or choose to work after her baby is born. That is unfortunate, because she has much to offer in terms of helping one’s pregnancy be an occasion for spiritual growth. Also, Cooper O’Boyle speaks only positively about the pregnancy experience. While an amazing time, pregnancy is often also difficult, both physically and emotionally for the woman involved. It might have been helpful to explore those aspects of pregnancy and offer them up in prayer as well.

Despite these criticisms, “Prayerfully Expecting” is a very good book. It encourages a pregnant woman to focus on more than just the physical changes. It is an invitation to prayer and reflection and that is always a welcome call.


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