Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: A Mother's Rule of Life

A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your SoulA Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Own. (Maybe 4.5?)

I read this at Mystie's and the DHM's recommendation.

And, boy did I need to read this.

I agree with the DHM, some of this book is very, very Roman Catholic. Formal Confession, Spiritual Directors, the Eucharist, etc. are mentioned frequently in this. Again, as in Beauty for Truth's Sake, I had to read past that and do some mental translating. There was a point when I almost stopped reading early on because the theology was too much different.

But, I'm glad I didn't.

Pierlot has written a book, inspired by MOTH, that feels more achievable, more friendly, more rooted in the Christian faith. She is creating a "Rule" for family life and structure and all the needs that attend to that idea. A "Rule" (and the Protestant in me shudders at that word) is based on the monastic Rules (e.g. Benedict's Rule of Order) which give structure to the lives of those living in the monastery. She asks, why not use it for the vocation of marriage and family? How can this idea be used in organizing and aiding the life of prayer and practicalities of a family?

She orders the book around a wife's vocation. I have my quibbles with her ordering of her thoughts, but they seem minor; particularly when I consider how my thinking doesn't work itself out into life.

I most especially appreciate her discussion on setting one's will to accomplish the goals set forth, asking the Lord for his help in setting one's will, and her late chapters on sloth and its hold on many of us, particularly me.

I read the book through. At the end of each chapter there are exercises and questions to consider which I didn't do after each chapter, rather I intend to work through them now that I've finished the book and see where it is going. I both need the big picture and I was generally enjoying the reading of it, so I didn't want to stop and break that rhythm.

I really enjoyed this work and pray that I can apprehend what is good and use it to bring about good change. You should certainly read the other reviews I linked to, they both are very helpful in their perspective and better writers than I am.

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  1. I'm glad you liked it!

    Yes, the chapter on sloth and the will particularly both convicted and encouraged and helped me. "Every little thing counts every single time" has become a little motto for me when I want to stop washing the dishes halfway or compulsively check my email to avoid my work.

    The concept of a "Rule" doesn't bother my Protestant conscience, because the best Rules -- Augustine's & Benedict's -- were created so early that they might as well be considered Early Christian as much as Catholic.

    I went through a second time and made all the lists she explained. It was very much like the GTD process, but specifically tailored for wives and mothers. I haven't yet gone so far as to post them all as she did, but I'm starting to think I might need to.

    I was a bit baffled by the spiritual director part. I had never heard of that before. I suppose a Protestant version would be an accountability partner or mentor. At first I was quite repelled by the idea of someone putting the burden of "obedience" on you, but as I tried sticking to my plan over and over again, I started thinking maybe something like that was a decent idea after all. :) So, I started really thinking it through, what would a Protestant version be? Wouldn't it be asking the Holy Spirit Himself? The truth was that even with her chapter on sloth, I still didn't believe keeping the Rule/schedule/system mattered much. In the midst of cleaning a bathroom and consciously choosing to cut corners just because I didn't feel like it, I suddenly heard in my head, "He who knows the right thing to do, but fails to do it, for him it is sin." Oh. Uh. So. --not sin that's going to condemn me, of course, because I'm covered in Jesus, but still, cleaning the bathroom can "matter" in that way that Holly was trying to get at, even for Protestants.

    So, the book still has me thinking and pondering and working -- *and* making more progress than I've ever been able to.

  2. Mystie,

    I had heard of the Spiritual Director concept first in a series of novels by Susan Howatch set in Anglican churches, so that didn't bother me too much.

    The verse I keep hearing is, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." I think I imbibed too much of FlyLady's anti-perfectionism and it was leading to license rather than liberty ...

    I, too, find this book has helped me move forward more than any other home-making home-educating book. Good stuff.


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