Chartres 2006
Photo Story

Remnant Tours

Click Here to visit
THE REMNANT Scrapbook!


See Remnant


Thoughts on the Working Mother

The Housewife as Martyr

Solgne Hertz POSTED: 8/29/11

(  Our Lord warned His little flock before His Passion, “They will persecute you too” (John 15:20). Why?  “You do not belong to the world because my choice withdrew you from the world, therefore the world hates you…Indeed the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy duty for God.  They will do these things because they have never known either the Father or myself.” (16:2-3)

Martyrdom is a solemn, divine promise to the Christian.  Aware that the great majority would find His words hard to believe in their case, our Lord points out that He told us this, “so that your faith may not be shaken…so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you”  (John 16:1,  4).  By martyrdom we are revealed to the world; by martyrdom is the world judged.  And it happens all the time. Martyr is a simple Greek word meaning   “witness”   It doesn’t have to be bloody;  although  sometimes it is.  It comes from sticking to the truth, and those who have never known the Father habitually exert whatever pressure is deemed necessary to make the Christian relinquish it.

Pressure is now being exerted on the Christian housewife in an effort to tear her from her duties in the divine economy.  Being a housewife can be very dangerous. St. Margaret Clitherow, who took the housewifely duty of hospitality seriously, ended by being pressed to death for permitting Mass to be said in her house in York. (She was also guilty of keeping her entire household in the true Faith, not to mention other like delinquencies.)

St. Margaret lived in rough, mechanical times; ours are more subtle, more electronic. Although equally cruel, they seem increasingly intent on racking minds and spirits rather than arms and legs.  By submission to the sustained blandishments of mass media, the housewife is being driven out to things no amount of physical compulsion could ever have driven her to.  The same electronic energies which should be put at her disposal to effect a radical reintegration of home life such as has hardly been possible since agricultural times, are in fact systematically destroying it.

The persecutors of the home know well that whoever destroys the home has society at his mercy.  In The Enemy Within, Fr. Raymond de Jaegher gives an eyewitness account of how a small, highly trained Communist cadre took over a Chinese Village without firing a shot or crudely intimidating anyone.  The invading cadre didn’t waste time with cumbersome maneuvers.  Like the serpent in Eden, they headed straight for the housewife, knowing that when she falls, the basic cell of society falls, as happened in Eden.

For their first target they picked a woman who was outstandingly competent, a respected wife, and the mother of several children.  Losing no time in pointing out her unusual talents, they soon persuaded her she was at fault to waste her time at home when she should be serving the whole village, spending herself for China and eventually the world.  In time she accepted the responsible position offered her in the cadre’s own exclusive ranks. As her commitment grew, her house was left to run itself, her husband relegated to the tea house for companionship and the children given over to the care of grandparents and relatives.

Eyeing these developments, other village wives soon found their humdrum lot intolerable and followed the example of the chosen one. The village began falling apart at the seams. The climax was reached when the first housewife found the courage to deliver a public insult to her mother-in-law, who was forced to “repent” before the community for the subjection in which she had held her son’s gifted but now liberated wife.  Such an enormity constituted the most scandalous flouting of traditional authority possible for a Chinese woman.  Chaos ensued.  The cadre assumed the administration of the village after liquidating the opposition, and Fr. de Jaegher was ushered out to relate the sad tale to the West.

Oh, those wicked, wicked Communists!  How could anybody be taken in by them?  It might be well at this point in history to forget about Communists and concentrate on the real enemy within, the primordial Adversary who taught them every godless technique they know, and who knows how to make use of any persons or systems that suit his purpose. 

Unless the world is restored in Christ, it will do the Devil’s work as well as any hand-picked cadre, just by going its own way.  Mindlessly pulling mothers out of their homes to do its chores and swell its profits, it has been enormously successful in producing that modern social deformity popularly known as the “working mother.”  As an insurance executive once lamented to me, “But if you get housewives at home and mind their children my company would fold up tomorrow!”  Is that bad?  Made to feel important, and lured by increasingly attractive temporal rewards, it’s no wonder more and more women are finding their satisfactions outside the home. Lest anxiety about their orphaned children tempt them to quit, they are naturally encouraged to reproduce as infrequently as possible, and child development centers are being set up to take over from the cradle if necessary.

The world being what it is, the only alternative is martyrdom. How much is today’s mother prepared to suffer to give witness, to cling to the simple truth of her vocation before her persecutors?

And what’s wrong with a working mother anyway?  Actually, nothing.  Every mother works who is worthy of the name.  But where?  And how?  And for whom? There is certainly nothing essentially wrong in a mother plying a trade and helping the world in a worthwhile work.  Hagiography is full of such mothers.  In apostolic times St. Lydia ran a dye factory; the Little Flower’s mother had a lace business and Bl. Maximilian Kolbe’s mother had a small shop.  Indeed they managed to educate saints as they worked.  Far from separating them from their children, it would appear these enterprises served to bind the family closer, because everything went on at home.

"In an 'enlightened' society like ours most babies never make it past the contraception peddlers and abortion doctors; and those few that do often spend their days behind bars--imprisoned there by their working mothers. And this, we are assured, represents forward thinking and human progress!"  ...MJM

Today a complete reversal of values is in progress.  Beginning by persuading mothers by the thousands to leave their children for the major part of the day in order to work for them, the new values have resulted in mothers living lives wholly distinct from their families.  For these mothers, family life has become a mere avocation, an appendage to a career.  With the growing disintegration of natural structure and morality, it’s hardly surprising that many women find less and less reason for procreating.

This state of affairs suits the world very well.  Its ideal working woman is hardly an incubator, as woman’s lib complains, or even a sex object.  It’s a mule, a smooth-bellied sexless hybrid with feminine configurations answering to “Molly” or to some other female appellation, who is incapable of procreation, but can outwork an ox.  A mule isn’t even a lesbian.  It’s a female for nothing; its role in the world is not to be confused with consecrated virginity, which is in fact a highly sexed vocation ordered directly to spiritual generation.

When works are placed above generation, the divine image is destroyed in mankind both individually and collectively.  In women a psychic disintegration takes place which soon renders them emotionally and psychologically incapable of true motherhood and its responsibilities. When this happens, the children are the martyrs.  Theirs is the witness which even now judges the world.

Certainly it isn’t women’s working that destroys society.  We readily concede, furthermore, that there are many women who have no vocation to marriage in the first place for whom work is the normal means to supernatural fulfillment.  Our Lord confirmed the divine origin of work when He revealed, “My Father works even until now, and I work” (John 5:17), but this work on the part of God is carried on ad extra.   Ad intra, in the intimate “family” life of God within the Blessed Trinity, only a sublime generation of Persons takes place.

 “Shall not I that make others to bring forth children, myself bring forth, says the Lord?  Shall I, that give generation to others be barren, says the Lord thy God?” (Is. 66:9).  Whoever doesn’t imitate God primarily in this most essential Act of the Godhead—either physically or spiritually—can hardly be aspiring to be perfect as He is perfect. He isn’t even a Christian.

In the present state of the world, millions of mothers are simply not able to realize the ideal of developing their talents to the full without  neglecting their primary function as human beings.  This is regrettable, but it is so. Nursing talents sough them into hospitals, teaching talents into schools, legal and administrative abilities into courts and offices, merchandising into stores, scientific pursuits into laboratories. Although increasingly feasible technologically, the great electronic reintegration whereby mothers should be able to serve the world from their homes has yet to take place.  What to do in the meantime?

Martyrdom is the only solution.  Nobody likes it.  In every case, bloody or not, it means preferring a painful but morally acceptable alternative to reversing God’s cosmic order.  Unless God himself places her in conditions which require her to work, the Christian mother today must quite simply sacrifice her career—morally quite expendable—to the greater good of her motherhood.  The trinitarian structure of society depends on her witness.

 “I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy”  (John 17:20).  Because you will be rooted in the truth which is God himself.

The tale of the Chinese village illustrates what happens on the natural, political plane when the mother is abstracted from her house. What transpires on the spiritual, supernatural plane in a Christian home is far more grievous.  Representing, in a manner of speaking, the Holy Spirit in the human trinity we call the family, the mother is its principle of immanence and unity, the person through whom both physical and spiritual life should be transmitted.  In and through her, family activity integrates and proliferates.

Her personal presence is the shekinah of the home, dwelling there as the Holy Spirit dwells in the Sacred Humanity and the Immaculate Mary in the Church. Her absence reduces a home to a mere house, a meeting-place rather than the mini-Church it is meant to be. The empty house, the empty womb, are sanctuaries robbed of the Real Presence.  “Make your home in Me, as I make mine in you,” pleads God the Son.

So often working mothers are heard to say,  “My family doesn’t suffer from my job.  I bring in more money, my disposition is improved, and anyway my hours are fixed so that I’m usually home when the children get back from school.”  What a shallow understanding of motherhood!  Their children return daily to a house bereft of God’s presence all the while they are absent from it.  What is there to come home to? To run a home is to tend a sanctuary.  God’s presence must be kept there “without ceasing” by prayer, study and housework.

Mothers who work outside their homes can’t know what’s really going on.  What can they teach?  Who prays for the family during the day?  Who will correct the disordered perspectives when they regroup around their hearth?  In some ways, mother is becoming the most disordered and alienated of them all, yet she is their last hope.    

This isn’t to say she alone is to blame.  Husbands and fathers en masse began putting careers ahead of their families with the Industrial Revolution.  The children were long ago torn out of the home by the compulsory education accompanying that upheaval.  Wholesale desertion of their God-given charges is even now taking place among the clergy, who so often place social work for the world above sacramental service to their flocks.  Suddenly no one can bear to stay home and put first things first—despite St. Paul’s stricture that “They are to learn first of all to do their duty to their own families…because this is what pleases God” (1 Tim. 5:4).

When mothers leave, all will have fled.  Those with able-bodied husbands who maintain extra income is needed aren’t worth mentioning. The fundamentals of Christian economics have escaped them:  “Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and all these other things will be given you as well.  So don’t worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matt. 6:33). Or maybe they don’t know that poverty is a virtue.

Staying home isn’t merely remaining on the premises and doing without. Many women stay home physically who are never there spiritually.  Others not holding down paying jobs might as well be,  they are so immersed in extraneous activities.  On the other hand,  a mother who stays home as the Holy Spirit stays home in the Blessed Trinity can be “sent” to the world as He is sent; but this will be a truly spiritual sending, and effected in view of the divine Child.

In the same way, our Lady’s mission to God’s people is only because of her Son’s.  “Hail, Full-of-Grace, the Lord is with thee.”  Were this Mother of God and men to work outside the Church, God’s presence would depart with her.  It’s precisely fidelity to her maternal vocation that constituted her Queen of Martyrs.  Had she sought to save her life as so many of her daughters are doing, by pursuing a career significant only to herself or the world, she would have lost not only her own life, but ours too. 

The Christian mother who ignores her spotless example isn’t engineering Redemption.  In due time her eyes, like Eve’s, will be opened on the inevitable fall of the Human race.

  HOME    |    PRINT SUBSCRIBE    |    E-EDITION    |    ADVERTISE    |    NEWS    |    ARTICLES   |    RESOURCES    |    ABOUT    |    CONTACT
Web Format and Content   ©  1996-2010 Remnant Press