Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Women and their housecleaning

Occasionally you read some words from the fathers and reflect, "There is no way I could say that today." I think if I tried to deliver these words today I'd have some more words returned to me at coffee hour. That is not to say that there's no need for these words to be said, but the delivery would be... less pointed. The below is from the blog Orthognosia.

Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. They’re constantly finding things to do. While they do have a lot of heart and could do much “housecleaning” in their soul, they often waste their heart on insignificant things. Let’s say we have a delicate glass with very intricate designs. Now, if this glass didn’t have all these designs on it, it would still serve its purpose as a glass. But no, women go to the store and start: “No, I want the designs up higher, to this point; no, not this way, the other way…” And if there should be some floral details on it, well then the heart really starts leaping! But by doing this, women lay waste to all their energy and potential.

You’ll hardly find a man paying so much attention to such details. For example, a man will hardly notice if a lamp shade is brown or black. But a woman wants something beautiful and she rejoices in it; she gives a part of her heart to this, a part to that, and then what is left for Christ? Only a tired yawn is spared for the time of prayer.

The more a woman distances her heart from material things, the closer she comes to Christ. And when her heart is given to Christ, then she acquires great strength.

+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life


  1. Seeing things like this, for artists who know that beauty draws us up out of ourselves into something better - that beauty expresses the mercy of Christ that is beyond our understanding, is why they can easily feel that there is no place for them in the Church. That the products of their hands are viewed as, or a cause for, or an expression of spiritual illness.

  2. Thank you kayemigart; you have said what I wanted to write better than I ever could.
    St. Paisios of Mt. Athos should have taken in the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius on the Theology of Beauty. I thank God for all the women in life, family and women at church who have worked so hard to provide such beauty around the dinner table and around the home and church halls.

    1. Women are tuned for beauty. This is why it is so painful to witness when that natural expression is distorted so badly in our culture. Thank you for your kind words. K

    2. The saint who on numerous occasions saw the Uncreated Light, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Theotokos, St. Ephemia, and others, who was a vessel of the Holy Spirit and a living testimony of theosis, "should have taken in the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius on the Theology of Beauty"? I don't know whether to shake my head at such a statement or to weep.

      "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." 1 Cor. 2:15.

      The charitable and humble thing might be to wrestle with what exactly the saint is saying, rather than making ourselves his judge.

      Wouldn't the charitable reading be to see this as a passage about "proportion and priorities"? The saint clearly points out that women are blessed with a great deal of "heart". And couldn't we say a great deal of love by extension? But how do we 'prioritize' that love and are we watchful to maintain the healthy balance?

      It seems that the charitable reading would understand the saint to be warning against a particular temptation to allow our earthly priorities - however blessed and however necessary they might be - to overtake our heavenly ones: to lose the balance, i.e., the whole Mary and Martha dilemna. Was our Lord denigrating household work, serving guests, preparing meals, and philoxenia (love of foreigners/visitors) when he spoke to Martha? I think not. Wasn't He pointing out a temptation that He saw Martha falling into and said what he did as a call to re-prioritize? Might the saint not be doing the same thing with a temptation that he noticed during his long, long years of spiritual fatherhood? Could this not be a call to remember why God gives us beauty, or anything else: to attain salvation and transformation.

      Rather than completely denigrating "heart" or "love of beauty", the charitable reading of the saint would, like that our Lord Jesus Christ's own example, be read to teach us about "proportion and priority" and about not giving our hearts so fully to any earthly good that we have nothing left for Christ.

      Forgive me and I'll get down from my soap-box now, but let's try to give the benefit of the doubt - the charitable reading - especially when we don't have the full context, and even when we do. And let us be doubly hesitant to "teach" our saints the "correct way" to view these topics.

      "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." 1 Cor. 2:15.
      "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matt. 10:37

      May God bless all those who glorify Him with the creations of their hands and help make manifest His beauty to the world! And may He constantly recall us when we're tempted unwittingly to turn these reflections of His Glory into "deaf and dumb" idols.

      May we all have the saint's blessing.

      Please forgive me for any offense and for my strong words.
      In Christ,
      Father Matthew

    3. Thank you, Father. I kept checking back in hopes of finding a response like this.

  3. I agree with the saint. More moderation in housecleaning!

  4. And now you see why I said this would not float as a homily today.