Baha’is believe in the power of prayer and you’ll find Baha’is and their friends, throughout the world, getting together to pray. This is often referred to as a ‘devotional gathering’ or ‘devotional meeting’, and they happen in diverse settings, whether in cities or villages. These gatherings are open to all and are intended to embrace that attitude of prayer and practice of devotion that is universal to all religions.
4 Devotional Compilations for Mothers, Fathers, Couples & Families by Wendi Momen
Wendi Momen has compiled four devotional books perfect for couples, mothers, fathers and families. These small paperbacks with watercolor floral covers contain sacred writings, poetry and prose on universal themes. George Ronald Publishers reissued Family Worship, To be a Mother and To be a Father and released, for the first time,To Be Married.
I will shamelessly admit that I judge books by their covers and these four make a beautiful and enchanting set before you even open them for meaningful study and worship. I was eager to find out more about them and Wendi lovingly obliged. Here’s our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I came to England from the US in 1969 after meeting my husband in Haifa in 1968. We married in 1971 and have two children and two grandchildren. I have always loved books, reading them even as I walked home from school. My husband is a family doctor but also writes, mostly on the history and different aspects of the Faith, so it was a great day when I began to work as an editor at George Ronald Publisher, as I was able to edit some of his books and also to spend all day reading and editing some other great books. I have written 13 books myself and have contributed chapters to many others. I’ve been a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the UK for over 28 years, in two stages (23 years and then 5 years) and am very involved with the Training Institute process. I also serve in a number of voluntary capacities – I have been a magistrate for 37 years, serve on the board of the Baha’i-inspired NGO Ethical Business Building the Future (ebbf.org) and also on that of the International Environment Forum (iefworld.org), and am heavily involved in the women’s movement, promoting the equality of women and men and the rights of widows.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about this little collection of four books?
The three To Be books have a similar format: 19 sections on different aspects of the subject, each section comprising short verses from the Baha’i writings and other scriptures, prayers, poems, aphorisms and literary pieces. To Be a Mother and To Be a Father have matching sections, with different verses, specifically for mothers or fathers. Some of the sections in To Be a Mother are “On the Birth of a Child”, “Mothers, Bringers of Peace”, “Mothers of the New World Order” and “A Mother’s Prayers”. To Be a Father has similar sections, such as “Fathering”, “Men at Work”, “Fathers and the Home”, and “Fathers as Educators”.
To Be Married starts with a short blog I wrote some years ago called “Travelling Companions”, and has sections on “Meaning and Purpose of Marriage” and “Love”. Then it follows “The Path to Marriage”, from “Engagement” and “Wedding” through “A Marriage of Unity”, “A Home Together”, “Marriage Through Life’s Stages” and “Together Forever”, which looks at marriage continuing into the next world. This book also includes prayers for weddings and marriage and a little-known essay by Hand of the Cause George Townshend entitled “Joined by God” – I was particularly happy to find this!
Family Worship provides 125 prayers that the family can say together and prayers that individual members of a family can say for other family members or on special occasions, for example, “Prayers of the Family for Happiness”, “Prayers for the Home”, “Prayers of Children for Mothers” and “Prayers of Women for Assistance”.
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to reissue and rework these books and to release a new one?
It was a team decision – by the way, we are all women at George Ronald – and two generations. Both To Be a Mother and To Be a Father had proved very popular and we thought it would be lovely to include them in a set of theme-related books. With the emphasis on devotional gatherings in our own homes, we thought it would helpful to re-issue Family Worship. We had already decided to do this when the Universal House of Justice provided a host of beautiful new translations of prayers and verses which we could add to it. I had the idea for To Be Married for about 20 years, even before To Be a Mother, so it was just a question of completing it to make a set.
Baha’i Blog: What’s something that you learned while working on this project?
Working on these books, reading prayers and verses, poems and sayings, and putting them into appropriate sections, made me think about the prayers and writings in a new way and see them in a new light. For example, reading the prayer of the Baha’u’llah in which He says, “Out of the pure milk, drawn from the breasts of Thy loving-kindness, give me to drink, for my thirst hath utterly consumed me” 1 made me think of God as a mother, hence the section in To Be a Mother, “God, A Loving Mother”. Being on the team that provides Wilmette Institute’s courses on marriage and family life gave me insights into aspects of marriage that I felt needed emphasis, such as incorporating play and laughter into one’s marriage, so I included a section in To Be Married on that theme.
Baha’i Blog: How do you hope the books will be used?
I have always thought of each of these books as something I would have loved to have received as a gift when I was married and then became a mother. I wanted something specifically for my husband about being a father — not too “educational”! — and I put Family Worship together because I struggled with the standard prayer books of the time to find prayers that said “us” rather than “me” – that one grew out of my own need to have “us” prayers all in one place. So I hope others will use them for themselves and will also give them to their friends, both Baha’is and those who are not yet Baha’is, as gifts on suitable occasions. To Be Married and Family Worship make a nice wedding present for any couple!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.