Mary Mary and Martha

Catholic Homemaking

Most the women that I deal with on a day-to-day basis are Catholic-homeschooling-mothers-to-big families (four or more children). This right away sets us apart from most families in the US. It really seems we have more in common in those three elements than we have different in all the rest of our lives, but there are some wide differences. These differences usually are how strict a family is, to borrow a Jewish concept how “frum” a family is, and how “earth friendly” or “crunchy” a family is.

First and foremost we are Catholic. For most of us it shows. Being open to life, having larger families, the crucifixes on the wall. It just shows. There is a slightly different rhythm to Catholic life. We are lighting candles for Advent while our neighbors are hanging ornaments for Christmas and our tree is still up a week into January while theirs came down by December 27. Here in Portland, Oregon we even missed the free “Christmas tree recycling” window with the local trash and Boy Scout troops this year.

Occupation: homemaker.

Well that is what the census sees. I am also many other things, but homemaker covers a good deal of what I am. What is “homemaking”? How does “Catholic homemaking” differ from just run of the mill homemaking and how does it differ from non-Catholic yet Christian homemaking? I think homemaking is far more than just cleaning the house and tending the children. Homemaking is a personal expression of values, lifestyle and love.

I have vacillated for a long while on which of two terms I like better: Homemaker or Household Manager. I kind of lean toward Household Manager. I manage the household in ways more than I make it, but homemaking seems to be the word that most people associate with the list of tasks that fall into the category. This week I am beginning a series of entries on homemaking, specifically “Catholic Homemaking” in which I hope to address some of these issues, mostly for myself and my own amusement, but perhaps of some small use to someone else out there.

Over the next two weeks I intend to cover the following topics:

The Domestic Church — What makes Catholic homemaking Catholic

Keeping the Home — The basic elements to homemaking

Home Economics – Finances and menu planning

Education – Educating ourselves and our children

Scheduling – The rhythms of the day, week, month and year.

A Labor of Love – Mostly my personal musings on love, life and watch makes homemaking worthwhile.

Before I start I want to preemptively address two issues:

First: I am going to purposefully side step the “Work-outside-the-home” vrs the “Stay-at-home” mom debate. I have been there, both sides, done it, made my choice. I firmly believe that families and children do better and most women do better when the mother is the primary caretaker and educator of her children. I know that is not an option for some women either due to finances or temperament, but I am not going into it here. I don’t apologize for my stand, if it is different than your experience that is fine, I hope that some of what I say is still useful to you. Please do not get hung up on the fact that I don’t specifically address your personal situation.

Second: As the title of this blog implies, I believe that simplicity is extremely important. The Christian life demands a purity of purpose. We are made to love and serve God, things that draw us closer to God hold a higher value than those things which distract. Busy schedules, material possessions, a glut of media (especially television) draw away from God and leave us less time to serve him and love one another. Again, I don’t apologize for my stand, if it is different than your experience that is fine, hopefully some of what I say will be of use to you. If not there are many sites that will have more specific information for you.