Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Please excuse me for insisting on the same subject. Through the letters which reach our Editor's desk, we know that some mothers of large families complain about their being limited to the role of having children, and feel dissatisfied about not being able to devote their life to other fields: professional work, cultural activities, social work... What advice would you give them?

Now just a moment! What is social work, if not giving oneself to others, with a sense of dedication and service and contributing effectively to the good of all? The job of a woman in her house is a social contribution in itself and can easily be the most effective of all.

Take the case of a large family. The mother's work is comparable to that of professional teachers and in many cases leaves them in the shade. A teacher manages to educate a number of boys and girls more or less successfully in the course of his life. A mother can give her children a solid set of values and shape their character, and can make them, in their turn, other teachers, thus setting up an uninterrupted chain of responsibility and virtue.

In these matters it is easy to be misled by mere numbers and to think that the work of a teacher, who sees hundreds of people pass through his classes, or that of a writer who reaches thousands of readers, is more valuable. That is all very well, but how many people are really formed by that teacher or writer? A mother has three, five, ten or more children in her care and she can make of them a true work of art, a marvel of education, of balance and understanding, a model of the Christian way of life. She can teach them to be happy and to make themselves really useful to those around them.

Besides, it is natural for the children to help with the household chores; and a mother who knows how to bring up her children well can manage this. This way she will have spare time which, if used well, will enable her to cultivate her personal interests and talents and to enrich her culture. Fortunately, these days there is plenty of technical equipment, household appliances and that sort of thing, which can be great time-savers if full advantage is taken of them and they are used correctly. As in every field, personal qualities are what count. Some women with the latest-model washing machine take longer to do the washing, (and do it worse) than when they did it by hand. Appliances are useful only when one knows how to use them.

I know of many married women with large families who manage their home very well and still find time to cooperate in other apostolic tasks, just like that early Christian married couple, Aquilla and Priscilla. They worked in their house and at their job, and besides this were splendid cooperators of St. Paul. With their word and example they brought Apollo to the Faith of Jesus Christ, a man who was later to become a great preacher of the early Church. As I have already said, someone who really wants to, can overcome quite a number of limitations, without neglecting any of his duties. In fact, there is time for a lot of things: for running a home with professional outlook, for giving oneself continually to others, for improving one's own culture and for enriching that of others, and for carrying out many other effective tasks.

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