After months of anticipating The Kiss of Jesus: How Mother Teresa and the Saints Helped Me to Discover the Beauty of the Cross, I read it from cover-to-cover in the span of a single day. This isn’t unheard of for me when it comes to books that are engrossing, well-written, and/or particularly inspiring. Since The Kiss of Jesus is all of the above, I stopped reading it only to eat and go to an interview.
I expected to be impressed by the caliber of the writing, and I was. I figured I’d be surprised by some of the trials Donna-Marie has faced, but I was actually floored by the amount of suffering she endured. The most miraculous and inspiring part is that she always remained trusting of God and a persistent prayer warrior.
Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle has long been in the eye of the public as the author of many best-selling Catholic books, a popular speaker, as well as the host of EWTN’s “Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms” and “Catholic Mom’s Café.”
My first time meeting her was at the Catholic Writers’ Conference in August 2009. She was one of the presenters. Two of Donna-Marie’s books that I have read, reviewed, and loved since our meeting in 2009 are Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship and A Catholic Woman’s Book of Prayers. I highly recommend both of them!
Donna-Marie uses social media incredibly well as a tool for the new evangelization. In that respect, she has served as a model of faith and ongoing intercession for me and countless others. There are few people I keep up with on Facebook, if any, who are as steadfast in their intercessory prayer and willingness to lift up others they’ve never met as she is.
As she writes in the preface of The Kiss of Jesus, “I decided to open the book of my personal journey—the good and the bad, the crazy, the ugly, the scary, and the redemptive—so that with God’s grace I could offer hope, especially to those who are struggling on the sometimes precarious or crooked path that leads to heaven.”
Little did I know that behind her joyful smile and humble demeanor is a woman who survived many dangerous situations that were miserable, confining, and demoralizing at best. Donna-Marie feared for her own safety as well as her family’s.
The faith she exhibits in the midst of incredible opposition and persecution is truly a gift from God. Her devotion to the Blessed Mother as the Mother of us all, particularly through the Miraculous Medal, has helped sow the seeds of conversion and bring about fruit in some of the most unexpected places.
She spent a huge portion of her life hiding from others the pain she was dealing with, but now she is ready and willing to bare her soul and the most intimate details of her past—not for shock value, out of revenge, or to gain notoriety—but for the purpose of bringing others closer to Christ, especially those still in the midst of the storm.
From what I have witnessed, to reach such a degree of vulnerability and openness with others requires a tremendous trust in God’s ability to bring good out of every circumstance. It also illustrates a deep humility that allows others to see the heartache as well as the many ways God has been at work in, through, and around her over the years.
I can identify with her initial reservations about sharing some of the most painful memories and periods in her life. From what I have read about and by Donna-Marie, her bravery in doing this springs from a desire to encourage others in harrowing, harmful, and hurtful situations not to give up hope. Keep praying, keep trusting, keep hoping that God can and will make all things good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The concept of uniting our suffering with Christ’s on the Cross is one I have read about in many sources and tried to incorporate in my own life. Two of the prayers Donna-Marie (and I) have found to be very powerful meditations of Christ’s Passion are the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
When near the depths of despair, sometimes there is only the smallest glimmer of hope. What seems pointless, insignificant, and useless to us can be transformed into sacrifices that, when combined with Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross, have real redemptive value in time and eternity.
Donna-Marie survived many of the tragedies I’ve feared the most: sexual abuse, abandonment, miscarriage, being a single mom, not having a safe place to live or enough money to provide for her children.
God provided numerous people, Mother Teresa being among the better known and admired, to help encourage Donna-Marie. Following the example of surrender to God’s will in all things, she has turned to the Blessed Mother and the saints for inspiration in her darkest days.
I highly recommend The Kiss of Jesus to all who have been and/or are currently experiencing times of darkness, doubt, and despair. This book is also for those who enjoy reading about people who refuse to give up while experiencing their own versions of the agony in the garden. This memoir beautifully illustrates that faith, hope, and love are possible regardless of the situation, and united with Christ’s suffering, our pain, great and small, has meaning, value, and a greater purpose.
This is a brief interview of Donna-Marie Cooper-O’Boyle about her memoir: