Site Information

 Loading... Please wait...

Prayer of the Month

May 2017 Prayer of the Month: Pausing to Remember Our Mothers

Posted by Patricia A. Lynch on

This month's free reflection is taken from

The Art of Pausing

Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed

Haiku and Reflection by Judith Valente

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am helping a friend host a baby shower for her daughter-in-law. The mother-to-be doesn’t like being the center of attention, but it won’t be long before her child steals the spotlight.

My time in the spotlight was short. Before I was three years old, there were four younger than me and, after a short break, three more. (My mother had two sets of twins.) It took me until my early years of college to fully understand the burden my parents had carried for us; how much they had sacrificed to be sure we participated in sports, music, and dance programs; and how much they loved us. But I still didn’t understand the depth of that love.

On my birthday, not long before she died, my mother phoned, sharing details of my birth I had never heard before and calling me “her little Patricia.” I was startled. Her little Patricia. She had loved me as myself, someone distinct from the brood. Now as I sift through my treasured collection of family letters, I discover new hints of the depth of the love that brought me into being and sustains me still.

The Art of Pausing

Judy Valente is the editor and one of the three contributors to The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed. In the following haiku and reflection from the book, she reflects on how she came to love the mother-in-law she had never known.


In yellowed journals

they work, love, argue, complain:

those long dead, live

I never knew my husband’s mother, Helen Rizzoli Reynard. But one day, rummaging around the cellar, my husband unearthed a set of her diaries. Suddenly, I was able to enter the life of this dedicated mom who worked the night shift as a registered nurse. Her entries, sometimes recorded in leather-bound journals, at other times in inexpensive spiral notebooks, span the years from 1953 until 1985, when she became too debilitated by Alzheimer’s to write. She often crystallized in a few terse sentences an entire day.

A typical entry might read, “Today I went to Galyan’s and bought a cut-up chicken on sale, then on to the yarn store but couldn’t find the green color I wanted.” Then a few days later: “A man was admitted to the ward last night with congestive heart failure. He’ll probably die here. His young, inexperienced doctor doesn’t know which end is up.” She records the day President Kennedy was assassinated and the morning her second husband collapsed and died of a stroke on their front porch while she and her son were at church. She writes of having her gall bladder removed and her disappointment at being turned away from a dance class because she didn’t have a partner.

In these journals, the mother-in-law I never knew lives again. Through them, my husband can reconnect with grandparents, aunts and uncles long gone, memories long faded. His mother’s journals are proof that no life is “ordinary.” Each day is its own feature film worthy of being preserved.

About The Art of Pausing

The poems and reflections in The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed are the work of three writers who inhabit very different worlds. But for each, the reading and writing of haiku is an essential spiritual practice.

Bother Paul Quenon is a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemane who studied under the great spiritual writer, Thomas Merton. Brother Paul writes from the confines of a cloister and with the boundlessness of one who has spent a lifetime contemplating what really matters. He is the author of four books of poetry and a talented photographer. His photographs accompany many of the poems and reflections in this book.

Michael Bever is a retired educator, a doctor of theology and an ordained Disciples of Christ minister who was drawn later in life to Catholic traditions. He combines Zen and Sufi practices with his Christian heritage.

Judy Valente is a broadcast journalist who covers religion news for PBS-TV and the author of two poetry collections and a book on contemporary monastic life. As a retreat leader, she helps busy professionals slow down, find more balance, and tap into the transcendence of the everyday.

Special Offer

Order The Art of Pausing for Mother’s Day (and other occasions) here, use the code GIMMEMOTHERSDAY, and receive 50% off. Or call 800-397-2282 before May

April 2017: Do Your Part

This month's free reflection is taken fromFatima at 100 / Fatima Today: Ten Steps to World PeaceBy Mary K. DoyleMy sister Judy first met Una along the Camino Frances, one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwest Spain. Regardless of the point of departure, the journey is known as the [...]

Read More »

March 2017: Prayers for Difficult Times

This month's free reflections are taken fromPrayers for Difficult TimesConversations with God about Thinks Often Left Unsaidby Helen Reichert LambinMy first encounter with Helen Lambin was at an ACTA Christmas party. I remember turning my head discreetly to see if she was wearing a bright blue cap. She wasn’t. Her bright blue hair framed a mischievous face sporting [...]

Read More »

February 2017: Our Mission to Transform the World

This month's free reflections are taken fromTo Love and ServeOur Mission to Transform the WorldDaily Reflections with The Message for Lent 2017Gregory F. Augustine PierceHave you thought about trying a new prayer practice for Lent? To Love and Serve is intended to give you food for thought and invite God’s movement into your heart. It uses an excerpt from [...]

Read More »

January 2017: Finding Your Way through "Silence"

Provocative new Martin Scorsese film raises questions about faith and suffering.New guide helps search for the answers.What is required by faith?What does it mean to believe?What are the costs?Is Father Rodrigues a sinner?Or a saint?In Faith Stripped to Its Essence: A Discordant Pilgrimage through Shusaku Endo's Silence, Patrick T. Reardon offers the perfect guide for those of [...]

Read More »

Christmas 2016: Reflections from Literary Portals to Prayer

Literary Portals to Prayer…and ChristmasExcerpts from Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth GaskellIn Starlight, theologian and storyteller John Shea wishes us a “defiant Christmas.”No matter how severe the outer world is—darkness, barrenness, rejection—it cannot snuff out the light, wither the greenness, or destroy the love. Although we do not always reflect on it, there is an edge to Christmas, an [...]

Read More »

Advent 2016 Reflection by Greg Pierce

This month's prayer is a reflectionon Dickens' A Christmas Carol by Gregory F. Augustine PierceA Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in 1843 and is one of the most beloved stories in the world. Unfortunately, it is so familiar that most of us miss its basic message when we see it on stage, screen, or [...]

Read More »

November 2016 Prayers of the Month: Bless Us, O Lord

This month's prayers are taken fromThese Thy Giftsby Mark G. BoyerIn the spirit of the season, we offer three simple meal prayers for Thanksgiving and three for Advent from Mark Boyer’s collection. All are based on the Psalms and biblical canticles and are arranged according to the seasons of the liturgical year. One section contains [...]

Read More »

October 2016 Prayer of the Month: A Step along the Way

This month's prayer is taken from When We Visit Jesus in Prison: A Guide to Catholic Ministry by Chaplain S. Recinella “Imagine…” In his introduction to When We Visit Jesus in Prison, Chaplain Dale S. Recinella invites us to imagine the day when a well-prepared volunteer begins prison ministry. Your spouse and family struggled with the idea of you serving [...]

Read More »

September 2016 Prayer of the Month: The Best Way to Live

This month's free reflection is taken fromEdith Wharton, Illuminated by The MessageCompiled and introduced by Patrick T. ReardonPatrick T. Reardon is the most recent contributor to ACTA’s popular Literary Portals to Prayer series. Each contributor scours the works of their favorite author, playwright, or poet to extract passages that lead to prayer. Then excerpts are carefully selected from The Message: [...]

Read More »