Mom’s Day Out Marian Bible Study Group

This morning I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a Bible study group for mothers at our parish. I’ve felt a little adrift ever since we moved here in November, knowing no one at our new parish except the two priests. Of course this past winter was absolutely terrible for getting out and exploring and meeting new people. I was exhausted and nauseous and the weather was… well it was winter in New England, nuff said.

I know in two more months I’ll probably be going back into retreat mode, dealing with the arrival of baby Benedict and all that entails. Fortunately God has given me a golden season right now, a lovely, leafy springtime. I have energy again and am not too debilitated by my sciatica and aching back. The girls are both taking simultaneous afternoon naps, leaving us nice wide-open mornings. Time to reach out and make some connections while I can. In the past few weeks we’ve enjoyed story time at the library, meeting other mothers of 2 and 3 year olds. Now a new Bible study starts up at the parish that actually meets at a time I can make and even offers babysitting. Time to meet other moms from church.

I had no idea what to expect, but I was certain that this was something I needed to do and I’m so glad I went. I’m not looking to make a best friend or have deep theological discussions about scripture, though neither do I discount these possibilities—anything is possible; but for me that’s not what this is about. It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone to make connections and become a part of a community. I hate going to Mass every Sunday and not knowing anyone. Oh there is almost always at lest one nice soul who stops by to compliment the girls. We are starting to get to the point of recognizing some faces and even saying hi to a couple of people. But I want to feel like I belong, like I’m a part of something, not like I’m just visiting.

And so there I was, walking into a room full of strangers with Sophie in my arms and Bella at my side. Shy introvert me. At least the girls sort of provide an ice-breaker. There’s an automatic script that everyone can go through when you’ve got a baby in your arms: how old is she, what’s her name, etc. It’s familiar and comforting and made the whole process a little less stressful for me.

It was a small group, I was so glad. Just four other women plus the woman who was babysitting. Everyone else already knew each other, of course. It’s not a large parish, not a large town for that matter. They were all very welcoming to me, though. One said she’d noticed us at Mass and complimented me on the girls’ behavior.

The Bible study manual the group is using is a Marian Bible study for moms put out by Our Sunday Visitor. Lots of annoying fill in the blank workbook questions of the kind that drive me crazy; but I know are helpful for getting discussion rolling. Otherwise the layout is rather good. Lots of meat to chew on. Today’s chapter was on the Annunciation and began with the angel’s visit to Zacchariah and the went on to a bunch of prophetic Old Testament texts that point to the Messiah, then on to the actual annunciation from Luke. We skipped over a few sections for the sake of time.

I liked that the intro to the chapter framed the discussion specifically for moms with an anecdote about the author losing her cool while trying to do too many things at once. A spaghetti sauce moment she called it. Much of the discussion revolved around the virtue of patience and giving up our need for control to allow God to be in charge. Everyone shared several anecdotes about her home and children, I felt like I got to know everyone else a little bit. Surprisingly, I think I probably talked too much rather than too little. Odd to find myself spilling my guts about my miscarriage and cancer scare to women I’d just met an hour before.

I was glad our pastor stepped in at the beginning and end of the session. He was understandably called away in the middle. He was able to help guide the discussion a little deeper than it might have gone without his guidance. And since he’s a family friend, I feel like I have a prior connection with him that made it a bit easier to slip into being a part of the group. Especially when at the end when we were wrapping things up and chatting he commented on being able to see the Bettinelli in Sophia.

I felt like a bit of an intellectual snob at several points during the session. I’m pretty sure I’ve read and studied theology more than any of the other women. I’m a huge reader and in the past few years I’ve really tried to get better educated about my faith. My husband and sister were both Theology majors after all and I grew up in the Catholic bookstore that my parents owned. I met Dom at a Bible study he was running that really challenged me at time. And I know that for my intellectual pride can be a stumbling block. So I think on that level this Bible study will be good for me. It will challenge me in a different sort of way, to focus on faith not as an intellectual exercise, as can be my wont, but in terms of my motherhood, my vocation, the daily trials and tribulations. And at the same time it won’t be the same kinds of challenge and support I get from my online friends, who though they are all very different are still all so much more like me than any of the women I met today. Even when more women join, I suspect it will still be a group of women very unlike me. One of the women said today in a moment that floored me that she’d never considered Mary as a person, a mother who’d had faced challenges and trials. She was just a pretty image, a beautiful, perfect woman. 

5 Responses to Mom’s Day Out Marian Bible Study Group

  1. The Bookworm May 20, 2009 at 5:16 am #

    Cherub is now 88cm (34.5 inches), and I think about 24lbs – still very petite. Funny how they seem so much on the same track. We get traffic light comments here too. I was instructed “it’s red so you have to stop” the other day. Think she thought I was planning to jump the light! Much better than Star, who was far more creative about the whole thing … “why didn’t you stop at that light, Mummy?” … “what light?” … “Winnie the Pooh said there was one!”. Ack! Imaginary traffic lights! She would have been a few months older, I think.

  2. Cathy May 21, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    Somehow traffic lights, traffic signs, streets, were what Ivy focused on at that age. I actually blamed it on pre-school TV; there’s a lot of emphasis in sign shapes, red=stop, etc. in many of the shows.  But I don’t think Bella watches as much TV as my girl did.  Maybe it’s more natural than I guessed….

  3. Melanie Bettinelli May 21, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Bella watches no television. Only occasional You Tube videos. And she’s not getting this from books. It’s all from conversations as we drive. Usually it began with her complaining when we stopped: “Go, go, go, Mama.” To which I’d calmly explain that the light is red which means we have to stop, when the light turns green, we can go. Repeated that conversation and a few variants thereof enough times and she started to get the idea. She’s just insatiably curious about what everything is doing and constantly asking questions.

    I suspect that it’s a pretty natural phase which is why the kids tv programs are pitched to teach those lessons. Kind of like with younger kids and animal sounds. I always thought it was a little odd how we teach kids just learning to speak animal names and noises; but they’re just naturally drawn to the topic no matter what we parents do or don’t do.

  4. Domenico Bettinelli May 21, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    Don’t forget that Bella used to stand in the window at our old place and watch the traffic with rapt attention. I bet that plays a role in her fascination as well.

  5. Melanie Bettinelli May 20, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    Ack indeed. So far she’s got a pretty active imagination but I’m glad it doesn’t extend to traffic lights.

    Cherub is tiny!

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