If you want to start a moms' group but your group wants something a little meatier than my simple suggestions from a few days ago, I thought I would list my ten favorite books to discuss with fellow Catholic mothers. The first two are specifically homeschooling titles, and the last two are fairly secular, but all are fantastic!
1. Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie --- Those who know me personally know that I share this book every chance I get. There is so much to ponder in this slim volume. It is like slipping into a warm bath and letting the wise words soak into your skin. This book could be discussed in 3-4 sittings or split into a dozen. And, there's a companion journal with reflection questions already written! (not specifically Catholic)
2. Seasons of a Mother's Heart: Heart to Heart Encouragement for Homeschool Moms by Sally Clarkson --- With a gentle, motherly tone, this author helps us reflect on the seasons of mothering and homeschooling we all face by sharing intimate details of her joys and struggles as a homeschooling mom. This is another book I reread periodically to refocus my goals to be in line with God's goals for my vocation and provides a wonderful discussion starter for all homeschooling mothers, regardless of which season each currently enjoys. (not Catholic)
3. The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson --- This book focuses on the relationship each mother has with her child and the ways we are called to form their hearts for Christ. Conversations about our relationships with our God, our children, our home, and eternity cover all aspects of motherhood in inspiring and specific ways, making this title a fantastic reflection for all mothers. (not Catholic)
4. Kimberly Hahn's Life-Nurturing Love series on Proverbs 31 --- Now a series of four titles, these guides to the historical and spiritual meaning of becoming a Proverbs 31 woman are beautiful. Step by step they take readers through the Scripture and expound on how wives and mothers are called to serve God and our families. Reading these books inspires moms to recognize our unique role in the world and what our vocation asks of us in the modern world.
5. Any Scott Hahn book --- I especially like First Comes Love and Hail Holy Queen for moms' group discussions, but many others would be suitable. The key about these books in groups is to take them slowly and pause frequently to discuss and ponder aloud the material. And while discussions about our beliefs as Catholics are important, be sure to talk about how to connect the teachings to our daily lives as mothers.
6. Holiness for Housewives and Other Working Women by Hubert van Zeller --- Another short read, this one is full of depth. Reading a short passage can provide incredible discussions about how to carry on the repetitive work of running a household and allowing that work to be our sanctification rather than a stumbling block to our holiness.
7. A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot --- I actually think this book is best read when you can discuss it with other mothers. The ideas in this book are incredibly practical, but because of my type A personality, I found them too idealistic and enjoyed bouncing ideas off other mothers to be sure my plans are realistic for my family's season of life. But the spiritual guidance in this is invaluable to making sure that, as in the above title, our daily life is a path to Christ.
8. The Woman's Guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Susan Muta and Fr. Van Kaam --- Again, this is one best read and discussed with others. Each chapter even includes discussion questions, and you can bring along a Catechism to look up various points. This is a special way to walk through the new Catechism focusing on areas of special interest to family life.
9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families: Building a Beautiful Family Culture in a Turbulent World by Stephen Covey --- There is a lot to cover with this book! If you are familiar with Covey's seven habits, you will especially enjoy how he applies them to family life, providing testimonials and practical steps to ensure that your family's relationships are being continually strengthened. We could never read an entire chapter in one meeting, but applying his principles to the domestic church was even more inspiring to me than applying them to my personal life.
10. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger --- I know you are laughing at me for putting this title here, but if your group can get past the drama (and sin) in the stories Dr. Laura tells to make her points, this book provided some of the best discussions I have had in a moms' group! There is so much practical advice here and fodder for wonderful conversations about how we serve our husbands. Just be sure you set some ground rules before beginning, like no husband-bashing and make sure your husband is comfortable with what you share. I found our discussions centered on the positive ways we enrich our marriages and sharing success stories about what has worked in our relationships.
Other suggestions I think would be fantastic by Catholic authors, but I have not personally tried in a group setting:
- The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home by Leila Lawler & David Clayton
- Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina by Michele Faehnle & Emily Jaminet
- A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul by Lisa Hendey
- The Hidden Power of Kindness: A Practical Guide for Those Who Dare to Transform the World One Deed at a Time by Fr. Lovasik
- Growing in the Virtues of Jesus: The Marianist Method of Virtues for Use in Groups by Fr. Hanenewerth
- Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms by Tami Kiser
- Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom by Marge Fenelon
- The Domestic Church Room by Room: A Study Guide for Catholic Mothers by Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle
- The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living by Lisa Hendey
- Random Moments of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood by Ginny Moyer
What other books (not full studies; I'll cover those soon) would you recommend for a moms' group to give a try?