Holy Housewives VI

  1. G K. Chesterton argued that repetition is a characteristic of the vitality of children, who like the same stories, with the same words, time and time again, not because they are bored and unimaginative but because they delight in life. Chesterton wrote: Because children have abounding vitality because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead, for grownup people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again!” to the sun; ad every evening “Do it again!” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes each daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. Heaven may encore the bird who laid an egg.” (Orthodoxy, chapter IV)

Easiest way to learn is in song and thyme. Time used prudently used.

Rosary given in the form, repeat in words of a child.

God relationship as dada, Father, not master servant. father and child. More childlike prayer, more engage in every moment. Intuitive to be present to Him.

As a young mother and wife wanting to teach my family the treasures of the Faith shied away from proscribed prayers and times. For some this provides for a framework. For me I knew it would not be feasible with the obligations we had as a family. So I had to be more diligent, not less, in teaching in the Faith. This gave our family a broader knowledge base as well as a keen awareness of not depending on someone/something else.

Joy, treats, laughter.

Christ loved His mother. Corporal & spiritual work of mercy is a mother’s job.

God’s presence, awareness, cocoon of grace. Everything given to the Lord.

But the day in His hands. At night the exumen. Thanking & apologizing where needed.

Be in a cocoon of grace with Him.

#2 Busy working Mom of large family framework/ suggestions

– Morning own devotion, Imitation of Christ, get morning grounded, coffee, after school, only time quiet (10 minutes) HAS TO BE DONE IN THE MORNING OR IT NEVER GETS DONE. Lunch moving target, when kids go to school consistent time.

Night Prayer, tried rosaries, long & short prayers, none stuck, each kid is old enough Dear Jesus thank you for today and come to mind. Free form prayer. Go around room thankful or sorrow for day. Our Father, Hail Mary learn prayers. Kids like it. Everyone 3 – 15 yr have chance to speaks. Parents also have to say something they are sorry for and thankful for.

Brief examination of conscience, clear air before bed, good time end the day. Say sorry.

Mass every Saturday or Sunday. Saturday works for family, important for family.

Past 40 yrs uprooted from faith and traditions. Would have been intuitive. Great paintings shows on going piety, now seems quaint.

Liturgy of the Hours, at any moment, we live by time days, calendars. Rhythms of the Church is where peace to be found. Never to be a rushed.


Amazon Reviews

I admit that this book wasn’t what I was expecting when I first came across it. But it has turned out to be the richest and wisest book on the vocation of wife and mother that I have read. A mere 63 pages of text, it is not written in a light, chatty style with “dust jacket sound bites” but rather as an experienced spiritual director speaks to a soul, with directness, depth, and understanding. And it’s not to be read in one sitting, but each section taken a little at a time to meditate upon and internalize.

It is divided into three sections:

1) Your special vocation as a housewife

2) How to pray amidst your daily duties

3) How to grow holier day by day

and each are further divided into subsections such as “Don’t be misled by a false notion of holiness,” “Learn the two ways to pray and work,” and “Beware of the temptation to run away.” Though there are no personal stories such as one might find in a woman’s or parenting magazine to chuckle over and say “Oh, yeah I’ve been in that situation,” each topic goes to the deepest parts of what marriage is – a vocation, one’s personal way to holiness – and how to let this vocation be one’s means of sanctification in a practical way (such as how to respond to the constant interruptions and ruined plans). It helps to give a picture of what holiness truly is instead of some false image of praying in a quiet chapel all day, and practically how to advance in this particular path of sanctification.

I think a some misunderstandings in a previous review do need a response briefly. First, when speaking of religion as consolation, he is warning not to let that be the sole substance of what religion is to a soul. He warns that it not fall into the trap of being either an contrived emotional experience to just along in life, or the other side which is just a dry, routine practice without spiritual depth. Second, a more careful reading would show that after saying one must obey a superior, only two sentences later he states that, “No superior, no husband, can command you to do what is wrong.” He certainly isn’t advocating blind obedience to go along with something immoral (clear if one reads the text), but rather how obedience, even when it seems unreasonable (NOT immoral) to us, to God, His Church, and even our husbands on occasion (!), can be acts of love and even liberty.

I wish every parish had a spiritual director with as much wisdom as van Zeller.


This was an accidental find on Amazon. I was looking at a book I saw recommended on social media and saw this in the “you may like this too” section. Holiness for Housewives was a pretty intriguing title and it was fairly inexpensive, so I figured I would check it out. I probably would not have made the same decision if I had been in a brick and mortar bookstore because I quickly realized that it was written from a very Catholic position. However, I in no way regret the read and pulled many nuggets of practical wisdom for my daily life. The author, Hubert Van Zeller, is quite blunt about writing in response to statement of wives and mothers that they would be much stronger in their spiritual lives if it were not for the responsibility of caring for their families. And he says, “Imagined sanctity is no sanctity. A religion that exists in hypothetical circumstances cannot endure the pressure of actuality.” The book itself is not very long and much of the second half is made up of traditional Catholic prayers for the housewives day, so I didn’t pay much attention to those. But the central theme is that wherever you find yourself, that is where you are meant to worship and serve God. “So if God will that you should be bowed over the sink instead of over the pew in your favorite church, then washing dishes is for you, now, the most perfect thing you can possibly do. … It can only be repeated that your whole business is to look for God in the midst of all this. You will not find Him anywhere else. If you leave your dishes, your housekeeping, your telephone calls, your children’s everlasting questions, your ironing, and your invitations to take care of themselves while you go off and search for our Lord’s presence in prayer, you will discover nothing but self.”


Holiness for Housewives (and other working women) by Dom Hubert Van Zeller was originally published in 1951 under the title “Praying while you Work.” This is an updated, abridged version, but its message is just as relevant and perhaps even more needed today as it was fifty years ago. It can be hard to find the spirituality in daily life, to find God amidst the dirty dishes and the laundry and the meals to be cooked.

It is important to think of being a wife and mother as a vocation. God has called us to this life and God will give us the strength to carry out our duties. The most important thing to do in life is God’s will. “Apart from the accepted will of God, nothing has lasting reality. So if God wills that you should be bowed over the sink instead of over the pew in your favorite church, then washing dishes is for you, now, the most perfect thing you can possibly do.”

Van Zeller acknowledges that there will be times when we will want to escape. “There are times in the life of a wife and mother when almost any other setting is felt to be preferable to hers. . . You may come to feel a loathing for your husband, your children, your home, and your society. You may find that your religion has turned sour on you. You may give up hope of ever finding happiness again . . .you are being given the grace to get the best out of the situation.”

Van Zeller emphasizes that we must strive to make all our time holy by offering it to God and by stopping throughout the day to offer brief prayers. Even our leisure time must be a gift to God. We must strive to use our time as He wills us to do so.

One brief section of the book deals with obedience to one’s husband, an idea no longer enshrined in wedding vows and one which no doubt most modern women would object to vehemently. Van Zeller maintains that a wife must obey her husband in all things unless what he asks contradicts what God asks. That is an important concept even today. Husbands can never make us do what is wrong. We answer first to God.

The conclusion of the book offers “Prayers for Housewives,” a reference of both basic prayers and prayers for special needs. “Holiness for Housewives” is a wonderful little gem of a book, a real reminder that God is in the details of daily living and that if we are living the life God called us to, our sanctity is found there as well.


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