(I was reminded at Mass today on this the feast of St. Martha of domestic happiness, and this piece which I wrote for The Remnant Newspaper a while back. It was wildly popular when it was first published, with only a handful of women griping about it. Most women loved it, and for many it brought back happy memories of their own mothers and/or grandmothers, busily and lovingly taking care of the business of the household. We know St. Martha must have been a stupendous hostess, as today’s Gospel specifically states that Our Lord availed Himself of her (and her siblings’) hospitality FREQUENTLY. It also reminded me that I should watch one of my favorite movies tonight – “Marty”.)
I have had this piece in the back of my mind for some time, and have even run the title and general gist of it past a few people, all of whose eyes sparkled like the transporter beam of the Enterprise-A upon hearing it.
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I lived in a large, shared house built in the 1920s with a male friend. I had the master bedroom suite, and thus my own private bathroom, and everything was completely on the up-and-up. Fear not, gentle readers. I shall not be scandalizing you with tales of ribaldry – no “accompanying body-to-body” going on, to use one of FrancisChurch’s creepier turns of phrase. It was an excellent use of the property, and very frugal and affordable. And, yes, I certainly preferred to live with males, from both the security as well as a domestic tranquility standpoint.
In this particular case, I did, in fact, greatly admire and count as a treasured friend the male housemate, and no matter what great adventure I had been on in those heady days of my youth, when my learning curve was near-vertical, and every day seemed an adventure, it was always a pleasure to simply go home.
I have always been a bit of a “foodie”, and would often eat out, arriving home after the “rush hour” in the relatively large and well-equipped house kitchen was over for the evening. In fact, four out of five dentists surveyed would have guessed that my shelf in the refrigerator, packed with condiments, pickles, recycled glass jars of bacon drippings, and as many bottles of Corona Extra as would fit in the remaining void, was the “man shelf”. And they would have been wrong. But I digress.
My evening ritual before turning in for the night was, in order, to go into the kitchen, wash and dry any and all dishes and cookware used that day, including the coffee pot, lift the grates off of the gas stovetop and thoroughly clean and polish the stainless steel stovetop, clean the countertops, kitchen table, and stainless steel double basin sink, and finally replace the stove grates and then set upon the perfectly clean stove the small saucepan for my friend to heat his milk for the next morning’s coffee.
Bear in mind, rarely were any of the dishes dirtied by me, as I ate out more often than not. Further, I was almost never the first in the kitchen in the morning, and was not a ritual morning coffee drinker. I cleaned the kitchen and set out the next morning’s accouterment not for myself, but for my friend and housemate. I wanted him to start his day off not with a dirty kitchen, dishes stacked in the sink, and a grease-covered stove, the thought in the back of his mind, “Oh, I’m going to have to clean this kitchen after I get home from work today….”
No. I wanted to give him the smallest of gifts – a little help around the house. And God forgive me, that twenty minutes of quiet, nightly kitchen clean-up, in particular the polishing of the stove and setting out of the saucepan, was the best part of my day. If I were dishonest I would say that something liturgical or some formal prayer was the best part of my day, but it wasn’t. The silent, spontaneous prayer of thanksgiving that flowed out of my soul as I recalled that day’s events, and how happy I was to be where I was, surrounded by friends, recalling past adventures and making plans for future adventures, and praying for my friend and housemate and his intentions, as I scrubbed grease splatter off of the stove with Ajax grease cutting spray and paper towels – that was the best part of my day.
To this day, if asked to pinpoint my zenith of personal happiness, it has nothing to do with my personal accomplishments in business – my first cattle marketing school, the opening of my brokerage firm, or even my first six-figure month. Nor does it have to do with my reception into the Church, which was more a feeling of relief than anything else. If you ask me when I felt happy – truly, truly happy – it was when I was cleaning up for a man. So roll that up real tight in your Virginia Slim cigarette and smoke it, Betty Friedan. It’s almost as if there is some sort of hard-wiring given to us by God – factory-loaded software if you will – nudging us toward our gender-specific vocations that will make us truly happy.
One evening as I was doing the evening tidy-up, my friend and housemate, having eaten his dinner in his room, brought his dishes into the kitchen after I had started cleaning up. I happily reached out to take his dishes to wash, as I was already standing at the sink washing dishes. He said, “No, I’ll do it.” And I happily replied, “No, I’m happy to do it.” Which, as we just covered above, was the understatement of the evening. At this, he angrily handed me the dishes, growled contemptuously, “You’re SO annoying,” and walked out.
Being human, I was certainly wounded at the revelation that the best part of my day, this small yet concrete act of charity, was a source of annoyance for my friend. But, I also remembered a book I had read about the life of St. Joseph by the mystic Maria Cecilia Baij.
Baij claimed that the events of the life of St. Joseph were told to her by Our Lord Himself, and I found the book to be most informative and credible. In it, the Blessed Virgin is described as a meticulous housekeeper, not out of the slightest hint of personal pride, obviously, but out of pure love for Our Lord and St. Joseph.
Further, I was struck by the realization that Our Lord, who could have miraculously “cleaned” the house for His mother, or summoned angels to do it, let her do it. Why? Because He wanted her to be happy, and we can only be truly happy when what we do is motivated by love, and what we are doing is proper to our state in life. She loved St. Joseph because he was one of the finest and most admirable men who has ever lived, and he was her most chaste husband, and she was his wife ever virgin, and she loved Our Lord because He is God, and also her Son. She who was full of grace, and thus capable of such tremendous love, was, in keeping with her state in life of woman, wife and mother, made truly happy in taking care of and cleaning up after her “Boys”.
After thinking on this, I resolved that I would not stop doing my evening clean-up, and I did until the very end. I still remember the last night in that house, crying and crying as I polished the stove and set out the saucepan one last time.
Flash forward to today, wherein one of the main focuses of my writing and lecturing is Diabolical Narcissism. Diabolical Narcissism is the psycho-spiritual driver behind most of the cultural pathologies we see around us today. Diabolical Narcissism is broadly defined as when a human being, like the fallen angels, freely chooses to purge themselves of all charity, leaving them incapable of love or empathy, and capable of only the demonic emotional palate of anger, hatred, jealousy and fear. These people are incredibly dangerous to souls as they, like the demons, literally hunt other human beings, attempting to murder not their bodies, but their souls, out of pure spite.
One of the points of nexus I made early on in researching Diabolical Narcissism was that the subset of Marxism commonly called “feminism” is nothing less than the explicit attempt to turn women en masse into Diabolical Narcissists – whereas women have historically comprised less than 20% of the total of Diabolical Narcissists in western populations. Feminism demands that a woman be totally selfish, and beyond that hate men qua men, hate marriage, and even hate their own children to the point of demanding the state-protected, state-financed ability to premeditatedly murder them.
But where it all began was with the notion that any sort of work performed by a woman around the house was drudgery, a waste of time, an act of patriarchal oppression, even legalized slavery. Many women today in the post-Christian west are shockingly bad housekeepers, and not just because they are working outside the home. Many stay-at-home wives and mothers are content to live in squalor, even proud of the fact that they are “sticking it to the man”, boasting of their refusal to clean or inability to cook.
Are we surprised? As true charity is purged from every corner of our culture, replaced with a self-worshiping narcissistic humanism, is it any wonder that today’s women are simply incapable of understanding how it could possibly be that cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, or even that most primordial of caring acts, FEEDING another human being, could possibly make them happy, much less fulfill them as women on this mortal coil?
One of my favorite movies is 1954’s “Marty” starring Ernest Borgnine. A side plot in the film revolves around two widowed sisters, immigrants from Italy, living in the Bronx. One widowed sister has just moved in with her son, his new wife and their infant child. The mother is angry and frustrated with her daughter-in-law because the mother can no longer be the sole housekeeper. While her behavior toward her daughter-in-law is selfish and wrong, she gives a moving speech to her sister, also a widow but still living in her large family home and taking care of her remaining bachelor son, Marty, about the horror of growing old and not having anyone to take care of, not having anything to do.
To today’s women and girls, this sentiment is incomprehensible. How could a woman complain, much less fall into a depression, because she doesn’t have to clean up after anyone, doesn’t have to do anyone’s laundry, doesn’t have to cook? In other words, how can a woman not be overjoyed at having no one to love?
Goodness me, how I do hate feminism with a perfect hatred.
The lesson in all of this is to learn to be animated in our work by the love of God, because then all of our tasks and chores that we perform for others which the world considers menial drudgery at best and horrifically unpleasant at worst, including for perfect strangers, will yield that same happiness that comes from doing something for someone we love personally, be it a spouse, child, family member or friend. This is called, “sanctity”, and is what drove the centuries of religious who took care of the sick and dying, the destitute poor, and orphans. They saw Christ in every face. Even those chores that those of us who are single and live alone do for ourselves can be done for the love of God. And yes, to this day when I clean my own stove I still pray. But what I wouldn’t give for just one more night to clean up for my friend, because looking back at my life, that was the closest I ever came to being a normal woman, which is why I was, in retrospect, so happy.
And so, when I hear a woman, especially a woman with a family, complaining about housework using the standard diabolical narcissist feminist boilerplate that we can all recite, all I can think is, “Go clean up the kitchen, you stupid, stupid woman.”