Apostolic work, if carried on inopportunely or immoderately, can take a woman away from her home too much.
Beyond a doubt, there are immense needs: help for the sick, catechetical instructions, guild meetings for the Sisters, spiritual conferences, and in all of these, great charity can be exercised.
It is much better for a woman to spend her time in such things than in lounging, or in numerous and useless visits, in exploring for the hundredth time some enticing department store.
Nevertheless, the duties of the home remain her principal work: To plan, to arrange, to mend, to clean, to sew, to beautify, to care for the children.
But what would that matter if they represented the Will of God? Are we not too often tempted to want a change?
Impetuous zeal, poorly directed service, caprice under the guise of generosity seek to substitute for daily duty which perhaps has not much glamour about it but which is just the same wanted by God.
Would not the greatest charity in such a case be not to engage in works of charity but to remain faithfully at home and devote oneself to works which no one will speak of and which will win no one’s congratulations?
Later when the children have grown up and settled, there may be leisure; then a large share in the apostolate will be open according to one’s strength and time.
Until then, my nearest neighbor, without being the least bit exclusive about it but merely judging with a well instructed understanding, will be this little world that has established itself in my home….
Another danger besides excessive apostolic works that might ensnare some wives and mothers of families would be to give exaggerated place to exercises of piety.
Did not one of the characters in a novel by George Duhamel lament this tendency:
“I have heard priests say that some women have spoiled their married life by excessive attendance at religious ceremonies and they sighed, ‘Why did they get married if they had a religious vocation.'”
There are unfortunately some husbands so superficially Christian that they see exaggeration in the most elementary and normal practice of piety on the part of the wife and mother.
That is only too sadly true!
Their judgment is worth nothing.
We are referring only to an actual excess which would really be considered such by a competent judge.
There is no doubt that a married woman, if she is a good manager and is not encumbered by some job outside the home, can find time for normal religious exercises and can even provide for meditation, spiritual reading and a relatively frequent assistance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion; time, after all, is something that varies in its possibility for adaptations and compressibility and woman excels in the heart of putting many things into a small place….
If she suspects that her husband finds certain exterior acts of piety exaggerated, attendance at weekday Mass for instance, let her increase her private devotions somewhat, a little more meditation or spiritual reading when he is not around; whether he is right or not, it is better not to irritate him if grave consequences might result.
That is how Elizabeth Leseur managed; never did she betray the least annoyance when disturbed in her devotions; she always answered her husband’s call or his outbursts of irritation with a pleasant face.
Never neglect a duty but observe the order of their importance.
Be sure to treat all alike. Nothing is so disrupting to home life as favoritism for one or the other child. The same measure for all! – Christ in the Home, 1950’s, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J
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Drawing on the experience of dozens of saints, Fr. Plus explains sure ways we can recollect ourselves before prayer so that once we begin to pray, our prayers will be richer and more productive; he teaches us how to practice interior silence habitually, even in the rush and noise of the world; and he explains each of the kinds of prayer and shows when we should and should not employ each.
We all pray, but few of us pray well. And although that’s troubling, few of us have found a spiritual director capable of leading us further along the path of prayer.
Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., is such a director, and reading this little book about the four types of prayer will be for you like hearing the voice of the wise and gentle counsellor you long for but can’t find: one who knows your soul well and understands its needs.
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