Faith & Life

CLEANING UP

SPRING CLEANING, DETACHMENT, AND DECLUTTERING CAN INSPIRE SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

By Cathi Douglas     4/27/2020

Minimalism, and detachment are modern buzzwords, but they have an important place in Catholic homes. 

And as we spend time homebound during the coronavirus pandemic, we treasure the peace provided by clean, orderly, uncluttered environments.  

Mission Viejo resident Jenny Cochrane, host of Fr. Quan Tran’s Fullness of Grace video ministry, offers up her cleaning for the love of God and asks for the grace to do it well. Cochrane notes that the motto of St. Benedict was “to pray is to work, to work is to pray,” and adds that “spring cleaning is a great time to pray! 

“As we clean and examine each thing in our house, we have an opportunity to thank God for the many blessings we have received,” adds Cochrane, a member of San Francisco Solano Church in Rancho Santa Margarita. “When we clean our children’s rooms, we can pray ardently for them, giving thanks for their lives, and asking for protection and healing for them.” 

In addition, as we clean out our closets and our homes, we can practice detachment from ‘things’ and generosity to others, she notes. In speaking of detachment, St. Therese of Lisieux says, “There is no joy equal to that which is shared by the truly poor in spirit.” 

Simplicity, and the idea of owning less, is a key part of both good housekeeping and happiness, agrees North Carolina resident Marla Cilley, known affectionately to millions worldwide as the FLYLady. 

“We all have too much stuff,” Cilley says. “I believe that clutter is the tool of the Evil One to separate us from our families. So many of us suffer from ‘can’t-have-anyone-over’ syndrome, because we have too much stuff – stuff on every flat surface and in every closet, under every bed and stuffed into every drawer.” 

Cilley, whose FLYLady regimens are described on her website, flylady.net, bases her housekeeping system on baby steps that encourage families to clean ‘zones’ of their homes daily, thus avoiding huge spring and fall cleaning marathons. 

FLYLady comes from the acronym for Finally Loving Yourself, Cilley explains. “What I realized was that I was beating myself up all the time. I was my own worst enemy,” she recalls. “When someone misses a day of housekeeping, I tell them to just jump right back in the next day. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t do things perfectly.” 

Our homes function well and are welcoming “when we create habitual patterns to handle the menial parts of life so that our tasks make our living space and our day more orderly,” notes Katie Dawson, the Diocese of Orange’s director of evangelism and parish faith formation. 

In springtime, when we tackle deep cleaning in advance of summer entertaining, Dawson says, “we take a step back and ask where things have accumulated and what needs a little refreshing.” 

As Jesus notes, the greatest of His kingdom is the servant of us all, she adds. “Wiping, swiping, and vacuuming we do as quickly and seldom as possible. But if we see that as a service to the people in our lives, and we take that opportunity to lift them up and pray for the people we’re serving, then we see that we are serving Jesus as Martha did,” when washing His feet with her hair.

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