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Is your home a sheltering space or just a sleeping bag?
Posted By Eric Sammons On July 9, 2010 @ 8:00 am In Finances,Parenting,Pope Benedict | Comments Disabled
Recently I ran across this profound and insightful statement by Joseph Ratzinger, written in 1977:
[In] the very structure of modern society the corporate life of the family is increasingly displaced by the logic of production and the specializations which it has developed. As a result, the family home frequently seems no more than a sleeping-bag. In the daytime it effectively dematerializes. No more can it be that sheltering space which brings human beings together in birth and living, in sickness and dying. (Eschatology, pp. 69-70, emphasis added)
Two hundred years ago in this country, the vast majority of families had all their members stay close to home throughout the day. The mother stayed at home to tend the house and raise the kids, and the father either worked the farm or at a local shop nearby. Family life revolved around the house, making it a “sheltering space,” as the future Pope Benedict noted. Today, however, nothing could be further from reality. As Ratzinger writes, during the daytime, our homes “dematerialize.”
It is amazing how my own neighborhood becomes a virtual ghost town during the day, even during the summer. Although plenty of families have young children, you never see any during working hours, as they are all away at day care or summer camp (at night, it is little better, as yards are still empty and most homes seem to have a TV-blue glow emanating from their homes). The days of children playing with their siblings and the neighborhood children are long gone, as are many of the deep bonds that unite a family together and to their community.
It would be easy to point the finger at individuals and blame them for this epidemic. But, as Ratzinger points out, such a situation is due to the very structure of modern society. Everything about our modern economy and society pushes families to become two-income households, and drives families to live farther and farther away from work-centers, thus adding to the total time away from the home. And the process is self-perpetuating: as more families become dual-income, their total income rises, thus rising the cost of homes, which in turn pushes more families to become dual-income and to live farther from work-centers. The devil has done a wonderful job in modern times in preventing homes from becoming “sheltering spaces” as long commute times and mothers having to work outside the home are destroying any sense of the family home being anything more than a “sleeping-bag.”
All of these factors make me more and more appreciative of stay-at-home mothers. I understand that there are situations in which a mother must work outside the home, but I still cannot but praise those families who make the great sacrifices necessary to have the mother stay at home with their children. I am very grateful to my parents for many things, but one of things I’m most thankful for is that my own mother stayed at home throughout my childhood years. By doing so, she made my home a “sheltering space.” Without exception, there is no job I admire more than mothers who stay at home with their children. This feeling of admiration even is greater than the one I have for priests, of whom I have great admiration. In my estimation, stay-at-home moms have an even more noble – and thankless – task. As grace builds on nature, so too does the work of the priest build on the work of the mother, the first educator in the school of love for any child. A loving mother does more to help a priest in his work to sanctify souls than any other person.
The greatest human person who ever lived – the Blessed Virgin Mary – was a stay-at-home mom, and her task was a humble one, although it was also the most important one given to a human person in the history of mankind: to raise the God-man, Jesus Christ. In the fifth glorious mystery, we contemplate the coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth: here is a simple stay-at-home mom made the Queen of men and angels! I often think that there will be countless other unknown stay-at-home mothers who will one day be glorified in heaven because of their work to make their homes sheltering spaces and not just sleeping-bags.
Our Lady, Mother of God, pray for us!
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