A Professional Outlook On the Work Of The Home
Kathie Hunt, HomeAdvantage Plus
February 28, 2009
HomeAdvantage Plus was conceived in my heart in April of 1973 when I joined Opus Dei. Through the writings of the founder, St Josemaria Escriva, and the affection for the home that he passed on to the members of Opus Dei, my respect for the role of homemaker grew. I felt I had found a great treasure in the knowledge that the ordinary work I did in my home, for my husband and children, had great value and I began sharing this appreciation with others.
“Go about your professional duties for Love’s sake. Do everything for the sake of Love and (precisely because you are in love, even though you may taste the bitterness of misunderstanding, of injustice, of ingratitude and even of failure in men’s eyes) you will see the result in the wonders that your work produces — rich, abundant fruit, the promise of eternity!” (‘Working for God’, in Friends of God by Josemaria Escriva, 68).
Friends would ask about my busy life, and in ordinary conversations I introduced them to the deep and valuable lessons of love and work that are the cornerstone of St Josemaria’s teachings. I was fortunate to have acquired many basic homemaking skills before I met Opus Dei. I enjoyed caring for the home because I enjoyed the emotional satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with a well run home. But before I met the Founder, through his writings, I failed to grasp the deeper significance of my work being turned into prayer. This is what I shared with friends who became discouraged with the day-to-day routine of keeping up a home. This concept of work becoming prayer when done with love is so simple, and yet opened up new horizons for many people. So often taking care of a home receives very little acknowledgment as something important and thus it is motivating for a homemaker to realize that this work is something of great value in the eyes of God: “Before God, no occupation is in itself great or small. Everything gains the value of the Love with which it is done” (Furrow, 487).
These words of St Josemaria are particularly significant to homemakers, since in the care of the home there are very few compliments. A homemaker seldom hears “This it looks great!” or Good job!” In the workplace an employee can look forward to a good job review, a raise or promotion when work is well done. This is not the case in caring for a home. There are no grades, no report cards at the end of the quarter, no real accountability. There is no paycheck at the end of the week and a wife or mother will never have to worry about getting “fired” because the house is not in order. This is why understanding the deeper significance of managing a home is such an advantage in striving to do it professionally and for the sake of love. This knowledge can actually lighten the load of the day-to-day routine because of the inner realization of how important it is in God’s eyes.
Most people do not think of caring for a home as a real profession. They readily agree that it is work but do not grant it the dignity of a profession. Until I met St Josemaria through his writings, I also failed to see the true significance of the home as professional work. I am sure my attitude reflected the modem world’s opinion that professional work is seen as something measurable with a monetary value. I began to realize that the measurement of what I was doing would only be seen many years in the future with the growth of my own children and the value they would place on the tone and atmosphere of their homes. That would be my personal payoff. But the ongoing payoff was that I was pleasing God and that was enough: “You must indeed have purified your intention well when you said: from this moment on I renounce all human gratitude and reward” (The Way, 789).
The last two generations of women have come of age expecting to work and pursue careers—perhaps their mothers were also working outside the home. Most young people find it logical to pursue formal education for their careers but think that the skills for managing their own homes will come naturally. As women now strive to balance home, work and family responsibilities they are faced with stress and concerns about how to manage everything in a way.
Younger adults now value the importance of a balanced home life as an integral part of their personal growth and development and that of their children. They are seeking practical answers and solutions to reach this sense of balance between their work life and their personal, family life. Young adults are beginning to realize that the physical confusion at home may be a significant element contributing to a lack of peace and harmony among family members. When there is order and warmth in the physical surroundings, people look forward to coming home - it becomes their haven. Today, with many outside pressures, families need the comfortable atmosphere of a well-run home more than ever before. It is in such an atmosphere that a combination of inner growth and true relaxation can take place.
With the emphasis on women pursuing careers over the last thirty years, the work of managing a home has taken on a much less significant role in the eyes of society. St Josemaria always encouraged women to have outside interests or careers. At the same time he reminded them of the beauty of their unique role as women. In the spheres of business, social life and politics the Founder of Opus Dei said “women can offer a valuable personal contribution, without neglecting their special feminine qualities. They will do this to the extent to which they are humanly and professionally equipped. Both family and society clearly need this special contribution, which in no way is secondary to that of men.”
As I became increasingly involved in work outside my own home I began to rely more on St Josemaria’s words regarding women and the home. I was particularly touched by the influence of his mother and sister in passing on a true family spirit to the members of Opus Dei through their housekeeping skills. Learning from this example I was determined to not let my family or home suffer due to my increased outside responsibilities.
I began to take my priorities and a sense of order seriously looking at the home as professional work. Time was limited and my first goal was to look at my schedule, first weekly and then daily, so that the important things inside and outside my home would not be neglected. This timeless quote from Plato became a guide: “In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary everyday life.” In modem life this means knowing what is most important and then having a realistic plan to carry it out.
Society has begun to voice a legitimate concern about the responsibility of balancing home and work. HomeAdvantage Plus has the opportunity to build on these social trends to bring the inspiration of St Josemaria to men and women in a corporate world, which is increasingly demanding, for individuals and families. We can now turn attention to the work of the home, increasing its value and impact in the eyes of the professional world. Our hope for HomeAdvantage is that individuals will embrace their homes not just as a material object to be “managed” but also as a means to foster the emotional, social and intellectual growth of each family member. St Josemaria always encouraged the members of Opus Dei as well as all responsive Christians to make a difference where they are and to develop initiatives that would have a positive impact on society. Since family and home are the foundation of any successful society we hope our humble efforts with HomeAdvantage Plus will add to the positive impact that St Josemaria continues to have in modem society.
List of Contents
- I am my children’s ‘window’ into the world
- Doing what I have to do, and putting my heart into it
- We started calling him Father
- Dedicating your life to the priesthood is a fantastic thing to do
- At the Service of Others
- The sorrows and joys of St Joseph
- His words give me hope and encouragement
- I belong to the generation whose childhood, youth and early adulthood were spent in the Soviet Union era
- Now my life has a meaning
- Engagement and marriage are a wonderful adventure
- Sadness is an ally of the enemy
- A Professional Outlook On the Work Of The Home