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Book review: A prodigal mum by Catherine Wyles

Book review: A prodigal mum by Catherine Wyles

Book review: A prodigal mum by Catherine Wyles

6 December 2017

Catherine Wyles takes a look at the parable of the parable son from a mother's perspective. Photo: Jad Limcaco.

Reviewed by Claire Watson

The Prodigal Son is arguably the most familiar of Jesus’ parables. Yet have you ever wondered about the response of the mother to her son’s departure?

Major Catherine Wyles, from the United Kingdom, explores this question as the springboard for sharing her experiences as a prodigal mum. Both Catherine
 and her husband are officers in the United Kingdom and have four grown sons. 

His family has a rich heritage within The Salvation Army, extending back to the formation of The Christian Mission in the mid-1800s. Among her seven grandchildren, however, only one regularly attends Christian worship. While her target audience is women, the book could have been enriched by the inclusion of her husband’s perspective.

Parents whose children have walked away from God will resonate with her feelings of disappointment, guilt and fear. Commenting on the exodus of the younger generation from the Church, Catherine says, “We – the parents – are a grieving generation”. Yet her focus in this book is not her son’s story but her own: “Not only did my son walk away but, because of my attitude towards the situation, my own relationship with God weakened.”

A Prodigal Mum is an easy read at just 55 pages. Each chapter begins with the imagined thoughts of the mother from the parable, and ends with questions for reflection and discussion. She includes numerous illustrations from the Bible and from her own experience. Topics include: relinquishing expectations; refusing to play the blame game; tough love; and prayer.

She reminds us that the responsibility 
to pray for, and seek out, young people who were once part of the family of God belongs not only to parents, but to the whole corps.

Unlike the parable, the hope within Catherine’s story is not the reconciliation of her son to God. Her continuing journey is sustained, however, by God’s abiding presence and love.

A Prodigal Mum is available from Salvationist Supplies in Sydney (1800 634 209) or Salvation Army Supplies in Melbourne (1800 100 018)


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