Monday, November 26, 2012

As Simple as That

I am pleased to welcome Mary Ellen Barrett to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Mary Ellen is a mother of eight children and wife to her husband, David. She is a writer, speaker, homeschooling mom and picker up of Legos in Lindenhurst, New York.

Mary Ellen is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic as well as an editorial advisor for Mater et Magistra Magazine. She chronicles the journey of living a faithful, but imperfect, always trying to be better, Catholic family life on her blog: Tales From the Bonny Blue House ( Mary Ellen also blogs about the dangers of the occult and the New Age at

As Simple as That

I need to let you in on a little secret.  I married a heathen.  Not a total heathen since he was baptized as an infant but my husband was raised having received no other sacraments or any religious instruction at all. David’s father was a fallen away Catholic who baptized his first child in deference to his own mother and his mom was raised Jewish and only kept the more cultural customs rather than any religious worship.

His not being Catholic never concerned me, which was odd since he was the first non-Catholic I had ever seriously dated. The thing was, my mom and dad liked him, a rarity in my dating life up till that time.  As they began to know David, my parents were giddy with happiness that I finally brought home a man who, in my father’s words, “wasn’t completely useless.”

That aside, David was completely supportive of my faith and often came to church with me. As soon as my mother heard this she declared him full of potential and gave me her full blessing.  All this, I want you to know while the poor man had no idea we were planning the rest of his life for him. When he did make the connection that we were made for each other my parents were thrilled to welcome him to the family and my mom immediately began a relentless and hidden rosary campaign for his conversion.
When we discussed having children David mentioned that he would like two. I turned my brown eyes on him and said, “I’ve always wanted a large family.”  “Ok,” he replied, “three would be good.” I smiled and bowed to his wisdom.

We had eight. Through that openness to life that desire to fulfill my desire for a family his heart gave over to love. Love of family and love of God.  It was complicated and yet simple. He loved me, so he loved our children and he came to realize that love was reflective of the love of God for us all.

With every baby, immediately after giving birth, my first thought would be that I could not wait to do this again. As Pope John Paul II said, “In the newborn child is realized the common good of the family.”  Every baby has brought good to my family in ever increasing ways as well as a stronger realization that the work of motherhood was holy work. Eternal work.

Yes, I was often tired and overwhelmed, who isn’t? However, I just loved and still love being a mom. Turns out, my husband loved being a dad and once we made the decision to allow our fertility and family be dictated by God amazing things began to happen the biggest being that Dave had a strong desire to complete his Baptism and receive the other sacraments of initiation. Another blessing is that our marriage flourished and we became truly one flesh in every way. Every baby that we were blessed to receive solidified our commitment to each other and to our faith.

It’s not been easy, and the struggles continue but through the mothering of this little brood I truly believe that I can change the world. Mother Teresa said, “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world.” So this is my mission field, to be an instrument of peace in this little corner of Long Island that we occupy. To change the world through the raising of soldiers of Christ and sending them off to evangelize simply by the way they live and love. Changing the world on load of laundry, one potty training session, one recited alphabet at a time. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.


  1. "It’s not been easy, and the struggles continue but through the mothering of this little brood I truly believe that I can change the world."

    Ha! Ha! You convinced me too, Mary Ellen! God bless you and your dear "brood"!
    And our husbands!! Sometimes I think God has a special place reserved for them in Heaven! The things we "scheme" behind their backs - all for their eternal good, of course!


  2. Yes, we need to pray for our husbands daily. Our children too. Life is not easy and there are many hardships, but we are all in this so we can be in our heavenly home one day.