Why do we behave better outside our homes than inside with family?
Here we can spy the other thing we must put to right order if we wish to change in the New Year. In the common practice, private spaces are used to hide and protect our secret sins—this is true of our hearts as well as our homes, and this is why Our Lord uses “room” in this dual sense. To get things right, to seek God, we must aim to take what is most privately ours and put it in order: no more secret sin, no more domestic filth stashed away in pretty suburban homes.
Instead, we use what is private to shut ourselves somewhere that is ours—and learn what we can learn from the humility of such a prison. A closet will do. Or a bedroom—or any room that can be free of whatever distracts us from the only Person we cannot do without. In this private vigil with God we put all other private spaces in right order.
The universal call to holiness is not some kind of egalitarian doctrine for Catholics. Instead, it is an obligation upon which much depends—starting with the quality of our family life. So here is a resolution that could change everything for the New Year, and doesn’t even rely on our own useless resolve. Start with a clean room of your own—a closet will do—and shut the door on what is outside, in order to reclaim what is outside for God.
Catherine Ruth Pakaluk
is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University, a Faculty Research Fellow at the Stein Center for Social Research, and a Senior Fellow in Economics at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. Her research is focused in the areas of demography, gender, family studies, and the economics of education and religion. She also works on the interpretation and history of Catholic social thought. Dr. Pakaluk earned her doctorate in economics at Harvard University (2010). She lives in Ave Maria, Florida with her husband Michael and seven children.
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