An Interview with Lisa Hendey
I’ve been privileged to know Lisa Hendey for several years now. I consider her not only a strong, faithful voice in Catholic media, but also a professional and personal mentor. Despite her many accomplishments what always shines through and impresses me the most is her humility. She never stops thanking others and shifting the praise to friends, family, her fellow Catholic moms, and her God.
It’s no surprise, then, that someone who recognizes that she cannot do it all on her own would write a book about the communion of saints. Lisa’s A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul (Ave Maria Press)is the perfect bedside table companion for a mom in the trenches looking for hope and help from the holy people who have come before her. Like Lisa’s immensely popular The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul her latest book is organized into an easy-to-read format for busy (and exhausted) moms.
Each chapter focuses on a specific saint and includes a brief bio, a reflection on lessons we can glean from the saint, a quote from the saint, a week’s worth of Scripture verses to ponder that are inspired by the spirit of the chapter’s saint, ways to make the saint come alive for you and your family, a prayer asking for the saint’s intercession, and finally, questions to reflect upon throughout your week that will help you grow closer to this friend of God. I love the idea of having a special saint to pray to for each week of the year, and I plan on using the book in my domestic church and “adopting” a weekly saint for my kids to learn about right along with me.
I recently gave away a copy of the wonderful book but for all of those who weren’t the lucky winner, I encourage you to buy a copy of this treasure of a book today. Motherhood is beautiful and extremely hard work. We all need helpers to guide us along the way and to pick us up when we fall flat with exhaustion, fear, guilt, or anxiety. Who better to seek the counsel of than those closest to Jesus?
Now without further ado, I present to you a Q&A with Lisa herself where she’ll share her own personal favorite saints, the story behind “Arnold” (pictured at left), and more. Leave a comment and let us know what saint(s) has/have inspired you the most!
1. Catholics are blessed with the gift of a “great cloud of witnesses” – the Communion of Saints, who, as you write in the preface for A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, ”…have modeled the way for us…and led ordinary lives yet accomplished extraordinary things.” What saints have helped you personally along your spiritual journey?
Lisa: Kate, thank you so much for your generous support of this book and for the inspiration I’ve gained through reading your work for years! So many saints have been a part of my spiritual journey. First and foremost, I look to the Blessed Virgin Mary multiple times per day in my role as a wife and a mother. Her model of love and devotion to her son and her intercession on behalf of our little family has long been a constant for me. I also turn frequently to my personal patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux, to Blessed John Paul II, and to St. Anthony of Padua who is the patron of my parish family.
2. What saints have you drawn closer to or turned to for their intercession since becoming a mother?
Lisa: In a special way, I’ve grown quite devoted to some “mom” saints! St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, has been a constant companion for many years and was a great solace to me during the conversion process of my own husband. As my sons age, I find myself turning to her frequently on their behalf. I also have a deep devotion to St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a more recent saint who was a busy wife and mom, a working physician, and a valiant pro-life champion who made the ultimate choice on behalf of her unborn daughter. There are so many wonderful saints who were moms, including the more recently beatified Blessed Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese who was beatified along with her husband Louis. As a breast cancer survivor and a writer, I feel a kinship with Zelie who loved corresponding by letter and sadly died of breast cancer. Honestly, the list of great mom saints could go on and on!
3. A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms highlights 52 saints to inspire, encourage, and edify moms. Some of these saints are Catholic household names like St. Francis of Assisi. Others are less well-known such as St. Margaret Clitherow. What was one of the most interesting facts you learned about a particular saint that you did not know prior to your research for the book?
Lisa: I loved learning about the lives of St. Josephine Bakhita, born in Darfur and sold into slavery in the 19th century, and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American proposed for canonization. Both survived great duress to practice their faith – neither were women of means, and yet they overcame incredible obstacles in their lives simply to practice their faith. I also loved learning more about the stories of St. Andre Bessette and St. Mary MacKillop, both of whom were only very recently canonized.
4. Who is your favorite saint? Why?
Lisa: I always chuckle a bit when I receive this question, as the answer varies almost every time I answer it. St. Therese of Lisieux is my personal patroness, but truly my “favorite” depends upon the situation – I call upon so many of them in different situations or at different times in the day for a variety of reasons. At the moment, I have over fifty favorites and you can meet each of them in A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.
5. What about some of your favorite words of wisdom from a saint? Do you have a saintly quote that you return to again and again?
Lisa: One of my favorite aspects of writing this book was immersing myself in so many wonderful quotations from the saints – we include a quote in each chapter. At the moment, I find myself very moved by the words of St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop, who said,
“Never see a need without doing something about it.”
I find these simple words such a call to action in my own life, where I see need around me each and every day. Many of those needs arise within my own home and are within my control, but when I see needs around me in society or in our world that feel insurmountable, St. Mary’s words remind that even pausing for a quiet moment of prayer is “doing something about it” – that a smile, a listening ear, a drink of water, or a moment of compassion are simple to offer and mean a great deal to a friend in need.
6. I love how your book not only helps moms grow closer to a saint for each week of the year by sharing lessons from the saint as well as a daily Scripture passage and prayer inspired by the particular saint’s life, but it also includes saint-inspired activities for the entire family. What are some ways you made the saints come alive for your sons while they were growing up?
Lisa: Having our boys in Catholic school was a huge blessing, but I think that honestly the best way to do this in any family is simply to come to know and love the saints, and to frequently share their stories with your children in a way that brings them to life. Our children love heroes, princesses, and geniuses – what better examples of these than the communion of saints! Even now, as I am helping my teenage son to prepare for Confirmation and to choose a patron saint, I am endeavoring to tell him the life stories of saints who I think will inspire him and illuminate his path into manhood. The more you come to know and love the saints, the easier it is to share their amazing stories!
7. You’re a big advocate for moms taking care of themselves so that they can fully embrace their joy-filled yet challenging vocations as wives and mothers. Why is it important for moms to nurture their whole selves, including their hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits?
Lisa: Honestly, we moms (and actually women in general) work so diligently each day to serve those around us that we often neglect our own self-care. We need to be strong – mentally, physically, in our relationships and especially spiritually – for the challenges we face each day. It may feel “selfish” sometimes to take time for personal prayer or exercise, and yet when we don’t do this I believe we do a disservice to our loved ones.
8. What do you hope readers will glean from your treasure of a book?
Lisa: I hope readers of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms will be inspired to learn more about these amazing men and women, to ponder the role of the saints in their own lives, to share them with their families, and that they will also be inspired to seek out new saintly intercessors to be their companions in life.
9. So tell us about the Volkswagen bus? Rumor has it you call it Arnold. What’s the story behind it?
Lisa: “Arnold” is our 1974 VW Bus, purchased as an anniversary gift a few years back for ourselves. Greg and I love buses, and when we found this one on sale for a bargain price, we treated ourselves. He’s named after his original owner, Arnold – a mechanic who kept the bus in amazing shape! We drive Arnold to Mass every Sunday, and when we pull into the parking lot everyone smiles. Arnold is famous! He doesn’t go anywhere very fast, but he’s had a lot of adventures in the past few years and he’s a true classic.
10. Where can readers learn more about A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms?
I hope readers will visit me at www.CatholicMom.com for more news about the book, as well as many other resources for themselves and their families. A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms is available at your local Catholic retailer, at Barnes & Nobles across the country, and at Amazon.