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A woman is the heart of her home

Whenever I slip inside a church, I can feel the tension ease from my shoulders. It happens every time. I inhale the sweet air and it fills my lungs with peace like no other atmosphere. What is it that imparts such peace? Surely it's the presence of God in that place.

As Catholics, we come to know the family as the domestic church and to think of home as a domestic monastery. More than a beautiful image to take to heart, the idea of a domestic monastery is a call to make a home that is the haven a church is. It's with a little trepidation that I write again about homemaking. Last time I did so, I got ugly mail from a woman who considered it a trivial waste of time. It's never fun to read that one's heartfelt endeavor to answer God's call is perceived by at least some of society as trivial and frivolous. As so much of our common language is redefined and as the term "homemaker" is often spoken with disrespect, I want to encourage women who hear that small still voice that a life spent tending home, both practically and in the hearts of a woman's family, truly is a life well spent.

Blessed Teresa of Kolkata wrote, "The woman is the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world." This idea of peace beginning at home is a big, big idea. When a child or a husband walks through the doors of his home, does he inhale peace? Within the walls of that home, does a child learn peace? Does he learn love?

Or does chaos and disjointedness prevail?

A careful consideration of Blessed Teresa's thought shows us three goals in homemaking. Whether a woman is employed outside the home, or a missionary in the community in a third world country, or a mother at home on a single income with no car and four children under four, the call is the same: to love, to be loved, and to become instruments of peace in the world. The ability to be an effective instrument of peace is no less for the woman at home with little ones than it is for the missionary. Furthermore, being a homemaker is not a vocation limited solely to women who are not employed outside their homes. Indeed, every woman is called to be a homemaker. Every woman is called to be the heart that loves, is loved, and through devotion to home brings peace to the world.

There is no doubt that traditional, biblical values are under attack in our culture. There is no doubt that the eternal teachings of the church are despised in the square. Home can and should be the haven where families are fortified with the peace of Christ. Only when they find it at home, can family members bring peace into the world. Raising children who are confident and secure in God's love for them and sure that they can and will know, love and serve Him in adulthood is no small step for peace. It's a giant step. Sending a husband off to work from that place of peace in his home only benefits the marketplace. Making "home" wherever she is - whether dorm, or townhouse, or convent - a woman can seek to truly work at being His heart and changing the world.

A woman in her home has a great deal of strength. She can safeguard the hearts of her children there. She can shield them from negative influences. She can bring beauty into their lives. She can fill the days there with the things of God. Home fills with the presence of God when we are Christ to one another there.

When someone crosses the threshold of your home, is it peace they find inside? Does the tension slip from shoulders? Is the air permeated with prayer? Is God unmistakably there?

It can be. You can make it so.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013