The Habitually Peaceful Household
by Soren & Ever Johnson
“My sister Lilly woke up at 4:30 each morning, went to lead the daily Rosary at 6 a.m. at her parish, attended the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass, came back to prepare breakfast for her family, got them off to work and school, and at the end of the day, led the family Rosary.” And she did these things every day without fail and with such peace.
We were speechless.
During a visit with Fr. Jose, a priest friend of ours from India, he shared about the life of his recently departed sister. He said he was so edified by her last days in hospice, which though extremely painful, were suffused with joy and peaceful anticipation of meeting the Lord. We were still busy thinking about her day-to-day virtues!
While we never met Lilly, her selflessness struck us as the gold standard we’re aiming for when we speak of “heaven in your home.” The Catechism defines virtue as the “habitual and firm disposition to do good” (1833). Sometimes it feels like 80-90 percent of our lives as parents are spent working on the “Household Economy” (household work, education, careers, etc.) of our domestic church, or as we like to say, our “Trinity House,” laying down our lives, over and over again, in service to our families.
Dishes. Laundry. Meals. Yardwork. Trash… It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking of our household economy as a monotonous and joyless grind. As we talked about Lilly and our own daily struggles building a “habitual and firm disposition to do good,” three attitudes we often bring to the daily work of our Household Economy stood out:
We’ve all been there, especially in the sleepless days of welcoming a newborn. This is when, faced with the onslaught of tasks and needs, we feel like saying “woe is me” or “I’m sick of this!” In exasperation, we either avoid our daily work in the household or do it poorly.
This is the attitude of the parent who makes the meals, washes the dishes, and does the laundry, but who doesn’t infuse any of this work with love or cheer. While it’s great to get the work done, such an attitude can create a cold and sterile atmosphere in the home
Think about “Lilly” or the most joyful parent you’ve ever known. This mother or father is dependent on God’s grace in keeping the family well-supported with good food, a clean house, a consistent prayer life, but especially with the love with which they accomplish it!
Can we exhibit all three attitudes on the same day—or even in the span of one hour? Absolutely!
But you get the idea—the goal is to beg the Lord that we might carry out the work of our household economy with peace and cheer. Or, as Paul exhorted the Colossians: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
Grace builds on nature, and we can’t flip a switch and change from “exasperated” to “cheerful” overnight. But with time, grace, and a lot of humility, we can allow the Lord to strengthen our “habitual and firm disposition to do good” in our homes. And we can gradually become that virtuous and cheerful parent.
For more information and tips on The Johnsons’ Household Economy, check out their Household Economy Tools.