O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Living in a Monastery as a Family


The family is the domestic monastery. There have been many posts about this around the blogosphere and I feel inspired to write another. There are many monastic traditions, but they invariably involve a mixture of prayer as the foundation of their life and the manual labor by which the monks support themselves. Does a family not do the same? What is the role of the husband and father? He is protector and provider over his wife and children. It is his job to pray for them and bring them to the Lord. He is a mediator between God and his family. He leads them in prayer as a community and teaches them the faith, assisted by his wife every step of the way, similar to a priest assisting his bishop, or better, a monastic priest assisting his abbot. It is also the husband's job to provide for his family by his labors. Ora et labora as the Benedictines put it. Prayer and work. He gives himself to God through his prayers and his labors to take care of his family and bring them to Heaven. Having a career and a prayer life are not contrary to one another, rather they are meant to be two sides of the same coin. It is people who degrade having a career to a secular pursuit and degrade prayer to an emotional pursuit. The husband is called the Christ-figure of the home because what Christ does for His Bride (the Church) and Her children (us), the man does for his wife and children. They are an icon of the Church existing within the Church.

The woman, as Genesis tells us, exists to help the man. She assists him in doing the things he is unable. She uses what her husband provides her to feed and clothe their children. The husband specializes in providing for the family and the wife specializes in domestic duties. Neither of them can survive alone, nor are they supposed to. Only together do they form a completed whole. The children then live a life similar to the three monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The children must obey their parents in all things, offering to God the sacrifice of obedience when they don't like something. The children, upon reaching a certain age, must protect their chastity unto marriage. They will learn that sex is the giving of your entire self, even your very body, to your spouse to get her (or him) to Heaven, creating an environment in which God creates new life, and not an act based on emotions or physical pleasure. The children must also learn that things belong to the family more than they belong to the individual and will learn to share with other and avoid materialism. A little monastery; the domestic monastery.