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Friday, February 1, 2019

What Martha Stewart and Good Catholics Have in Common

So much has been said about Martha Stewart both positive and negative the mere mention of her name is enough to “trigger” many people.  I have not met her personally, but I know several people who have and they tell me she is a hard task master.  That she strives for perfection in all that she does is no exaggeration. 

If you’ve ever tried one of her recipes, you know she doesn’t take the shortcut, nor will you ever get away with using only one bowl and a couple of spoons.  If Martha has anything to do with something, you know from the start it will very likely, though not always, be COMPLICATED.  Not that "complicated" is necessarily to be to be avoided.  Often the results are well worth the effort. 

The Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper recently published an article with the headline:  “Martha Stewart Teaches How To Do (almost) Anything In New Book.”  The article that followed by Lisa Boone was an interview with Stewart about her newly published how-to book, “The Martha Manual:  How to Do (Almost) Everything”.  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35.) 

The question that caught my attention was the following: 

Q:  “In the Martha Stewart pyramid of life skills, what are the most important things to know how to do?”

Anybody who knows anything about Martha would begin to imagine her saying something like herb growing, or flower arranging, or cooking, or any of the other things she is known for.  Her answer surprised me.  She said,

A:  “One is cleanliness, which will serve you your entire life.  The second is organizational skills, which will help keep you sane.  The third is having even a small sense of creating beauty around you.  This will help not only you personally but also your family.”

If you translate that into Catholic images, cleanliness would begin by having a soul washed in the water of Baptism and kept clean by regular confession.  A life lived as far from worldly filth as you can get---away from pornography, away from addiction, away from gluttony and in a home that is regularly cleaned of dust and dirt and grease and grim, a home worthy of the body of a child of God and his or her eternal soul in a state of chastity and total faithfulness whether married or not.  Indeed, Martha, this will serve you your whole life.

Organization in Catholic terms is getting things in order of importance.  Starting on your knees every morning with a prayer, from there doing the things you are responsible for, whether it is caring for a spouse or children, or providing an income for the wellbeing of a family.  It includes making time for
the Rosary, time for mass, time for confession, periodic fasting, and hours of devotion in an Adoration Chapel.  It means not saying, I would have, should have, could have, but actually putting your life in an order that prioritizes these things and puts them before everything else.  Before television.  Before hobbies.  Before sporting events.  Before computer games.  It also means living a life that is according to our nature.  Not putting ourselves in situations that are morally disordered, actions that involve lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered actions or in a position even to suggest that we accept such things.  She’s right.  This will keep you sane.

When it comes to creating beauty in our lives some think mistakenly that they are not capable of doing this.  All of us can make our bed.  We can all tidy up our stuff.  We can all clear off our desk and put a nice photo of someone we love in a prominent spot to remind us who really matters in our life.  We can say kind words to people, adding beauty to this world with their smiles.  We can bring someone flowers.  We can choose beautiful greeting cards, or make them ourselves, for someone special in our life. 

We can set a table and light a candle.  We can make our own selves more presentable with neatly combed hair and a little fragrant soap or perfume.  We can fill our homes with reminders of our faith, displaying a crucifix, an icon of a saint, a figurine of a holy person.  We can celebrate Easter and Christmas with the kinds of embellishments that best suit the occasion and remind us of why we celebrate these feasts. 

All these things we can do without ever needing to read Martha’s book, though I’m sure we would learn many things from it if we did.  Martha Stewart knows there is no amount of expertise or skill that out weighs the things that will make our lives more rewarding than simply doing what all good Catholics should do.  And when you are a loving faithful Catholic, without a doubt, your family will benefit from it.

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