Since blogging in the Catholic cyberspace, there have been many gifts presenting themselves here at the Pillars. One of which is the splendid writing and Catholic worldview that seems to be abundant. Learning never was more enjoyable and in the case of my guest author, peaceful. Heidi Hess Saxton has written several books, is the editor to Cantile Magazine, and wife and mother, just to name a few of her jobs. I am honored that the Pillars was chosen to be a book etour stop because I had some questions for Heidi and she was abliged to answer them! So, without further ado:
Ebeth: Since 1994, has your prayer life changed since becoming Catholic? Mainly, not content, but in quality and quantity?
Heidi: This may sound a bit strange … but prayer became less of an effort when I became Catholic. My “prayer circle” quickly expanded to include brothers and sisters in heaven as well as those on earth; though I remained single for another five years, and lived a thousand miles from my nearest family members, I knew I was no longer alone.
Patron saints especially fascinated me. When the migraines struck, I’d send up an SOS to St. Teresa of Avila; when we started the adoption process, St. Thomas More was on spiritual speed dial. St. Joseph helped us sell our house (we had a bet with my Baptist sister, who didn’t believe in the “statue thing”).
Then there was Mary. Even though she is the Queen of Apostles and all of heaven, it took a while for me to warm up to her. As far as I was concerned, she was Jesus’ mother … not mine. In Behold Your Mother: Mary Stories and Reflections from a Catholic Convert, I describe the process by which my attitude slowly, gradually changed.
Ebeth: What routine did you have while writing "Behold Your Mother" as far as prayers are concerned?
Heidi: I started by researching all the titles and attributes of Mary, and exploring some of the images of Mary that have been created over the centuries. My favorite pictures of her tended to be the ones that portrayed the simple girl of Nazareth (rather than the celestial, glorified images). By delving into the life and motherhood of Jesus’ mother, I felt myself drawing closer to my spiritual mother in heaven.
To be honest, I’ve never been an overly pious person. I don’t go to daily Mass, and I don’t even pray the Rosary every day. Mary had no good reason to work so hard to get me to notice and love her, except that I am among the most stubborn (and most needy) of her children. But a mother’s love does not depend on a child’s response … she just loves.
Ebeth: Did you feel Mother Mary's presence during the writing of the meditations of Mary's motherhood?
Heidi: Oh, yes. Many times. Especially when I was actually typing, playing with the words to capture the scene. My sister (who has two biological children) commented on how I got the details of childbearing right – such as the “breasts like pomegranates” imagery – despite the fact that I’ve never been pregnant. I’m not sure where it came from … but I assure you, it didn’t come from my own experience.
Ebeth: Is there another book in the making? If so, when!??
Heidi: Raising Up Mommy was recently released by Simon Peter Press, and is available through my website (http://www.christianword.com). This book takes a look at the seven deadly sins through the lens of motherhood (in my case, adoptive motherhood). Right now I’m working on a study guide for Behold Your Mother, for small group study, and another book for adoptive parents called Extraordinary Moms.
Ebeth: What was the calling like that you must have experienced to write this book and the others?
Heidi: Jim Manney, editor at Loyola Press, invited me to write the first edition. But this edition is much better simply because it has the adoption component to it. I can honestly say I didn’t fully understand Mary’s motherhood until I became a mother myself.
Ebeth: When did you start writing and how long did it take to finish this book?
Heidi: The new edition took me only a few weeks; the first edition took me several months.
Ebeth: How has your husband reacted to your writing?
Heidi: Craig is and has always been my biggest and most supportive fan. I couldn’t do all the things I do – edit Canticle, write for CatholicExchange and CatholicMom.com, keep four blogs going, and develop other book projects in addition to keeping the home fires burning – if he didn’t support us 100%. Not to mention the fact that he and the kids are an unending source of inspiration!
Ebeth: Are the children ok with it? Do they keep busy while you write?
Heidi: I write while they’re at school – we have a great charter school a mile away from us.
Ebeth: How much do you read? What is your favorite book/novel?
Heidi: I read a couple of books a week, at least to skim them. I just started The Collected Works of Flannery O’Conner, and a biography by Michael Timmis. I’m also rereading True Devotion to Mary by Louis de Montfort. Some of my favorites include A Chance to Die: The Biography of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot, Lake Woebegon Days by Garrison Keillor, and A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. For fun, I enjoy the novels of Jodi Picoult, especially Second Glance.
Ebeth: Is Mother Mary a stronger force in your life now since writing this book?
Heidi: Well, certainly since becoming a mother. I’d have to say that had more of an influence on our relationship than writing the book. However, I’ve had several people contact me and tell me that the book has helped them … especially believers from Evangelical traditions who are exploring the Church. For many converts, Mary can be an intimidating figure … we’re not always sure what to do with her, even after we enter the fold. For me, peace came when I realized that all true devotion to Mary only leads to Jesus. She never keeps the glory for herself … she draws us to her so that she can show us her Son.
Thank you very much, Heidi, for stopping by and sharing your beautiful portrait of Mary, you have truly made our Blessed Mother come alive and give us a more tangible force in our lives. God Bless you and please keep writing and come visit us again!
Hopefully, this will be one of many more book etours here at the Pillars, until next time! Stay in the Mercy of God and change the world for the better!