Menu
A+ A A-

Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday

  • KIM BAILE, CARRIE GRESS, NOELLE MERING, AND MEGAN SCHRIEBER

Home. It is an elegant word, at once both simple and far-reaching. 


Introduction

theologyofthehome

Home.

It is an elegant word, at once both simple and far-reaching. Home is that place where we are meant to be safe, nurtured, known for who we are, and able to live and love freely.  Even for those from broken homes or homes that no longer exist, there is still something in the idea that pulls at us.

Home's universal appeal populates culture.  "Take Me Home, Country Road," "Sweet Home Alabama,"and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" are just a few of the many songs that invoke the theme.  Movies and literature end happily with protagonists, like Odysseus, finally going home.The entire goal of the American pastime of baseball is to be safe at home.YouTube videos of joyful homecomings of perfect strangers fill up our social media feeds and can leave us in tears.We spend billions of dollars constructing and decorating our own houses, turning them into "Home Sweet Home," while converts to the Catholic faith, like Scott and Kimberly Hahn, speak of finally coming to find "Rome Sweet Home."

This all begs the question: Why?  Why the fascination and universal appeal of home?  What is it about this place that so captures our minds and spirits?

Home Is Where Life Unfolds

Our homes are the great theatre where the drama of our lives unfolds.  G. K. Chesterton eloquently said:

The place where babies are born, where men die, where the drama of mortal life is acted, is not an office or a shop or a bureau.  It is something much smaller in size and much larger in scope.  And while nobody would be such a fool as to pretend that it is the only place where people should work, or even the only place where women should work, it has a character of unity and universality that is not found in any of the fragmentary experiences of the division of labour.

Home is, as Chesterton said, small in comparison to a business or office but enormous in terms of the impression it makes and leaves upon us.  Home, by its nature, is meant to be a foreshadowing of heaven.  It is to be both satisfying in this earthly life while also offering a glimpse of things to come when we see the fulfillment of Christ's promise of heaven.  Pope St. John Paul II's final words in this life were: "Let me go to the house of the Father."  He wanted to go home — to the home where all of us are willed by God to go, even if he allows our own will to lead us elsewhere.

— "When I was at home I was in a better place." — William Shakespeare

Ironically, despite the innate human desire that there is for home, the notion that someone would actually want to make a home, providing a place of safety, love, order, education, and hospitality, has fallen out of favor.  Could there be, in the minds of millions of women today, anything worse than being a "homemaker"?  The pendulum, however, seems to be swinging back toward home even if the homemaker title is still unpopular.  The meteoric rise of home-centric programming, such as HGTV and DIY Network, and the celebrities they have spun off, such as Chip and Joanna Gaines, speaks to the fact that people are craving more connection with home.

"There are two ways of getting home," Chesterton explained.  "One of them is to stay there.The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place."  As the world seemingly grows darker, we are longing for our homes to mean something again.  Our homes are becoming sanctuaries — a place where we feel safe, protected, cared for.  Even the word sanctuary reflects a deeper meaning.  It stems from the word sanctus, meaning "holy."  It initially meant "a building set apart for holy worship."  Only later did it come to mean "a place of refuge or protection."  Making our homes a kind of sanctuary means more than simply having nourishing comfort food on the table or high thread-count sheets on the bed.  There must be nourishment for the soul.  Without this, the soul will be left hungry and searching for the One who truly satisfies every desire of our hearts.

Homes Can Evangelize

The phrase "Theology of Home" calls to mind a vital spiritual truth: that our homes can evangelize.All the time we spend "in the recesses of our homes" —  cleaning a cupboard here, making a bed there, hanging up a picture, watering a plant, cleaning up after a child, cutting potatoes, saying prayers, arguing and making up — all these things, seen and unseen, somehow work their way into the fibers of a dwelling.We can fail to recognize how beautiful it all is until a stranger is among us and is moved.  Life lived according to God's way, lived under the banner of love, teaches us, and others, through a humbling sort of beauty.True, we might not be able to get all our friends and acquaintances to step through the doors of a Catholic Church, but we can get them into our kitchens.  Because secularism is so pervasive, interaction with a family in an orthodox and authentically Catholic home might be the only intimate exposure some will ever get to human lives struggling and striving to fully and sacramentally live according to God's designs.

— "He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home." — Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Catholic daily living — with all its imperfections and struggles, its mercy and its joy, not to mention aesthetic and hospitable beauty and nourishing food (and hopefully some good red wine) — can be an intoxicating inducement to the reality that life is fuller, more secure, more exciting, and more fulfilling when lived in the context of the divine.To step inside this context is a foretaste of heaven, and sometimes, mysteriously, this experience can be even more profound for a stranger than being inside a church.  For in the liturgy, he may not know the "language," but the language of a home is universal.

Our Goal

Despite the fact that we are three moms mothering a total of sixteen children, this book is not packed with tips, recipes, or meal plans.  Rather, it's a simple guide to help reorient all of us toward our true home, allowing us to think purposefully about how to make our homes on earth better equipped to get all those living in them to the Father's house.  It's an effort to help us rethink the honor that accompanies being a homemaker, to provide those we love with safety, nourishment, affection, love, creativity, comfort, and freedom.There are fundamental things that human beings need the world over, both physically and spiritually.The investment we make in these things at home produces great dividends when offered freely and generously to those around us.

Come with us on this journey and tour of the home.Whether you live in a sprawling estate or a humble dwelling, whether you live alone or with a crowd, it's our hope that something from this book will transform your heart, your soul, and your home.

Authors' Note

Since the subject of home is so personal, it was only natural for us to include personal stories from our lives as wives and mothers.  But as the nature of co-authorship dictates, you don't always know who is speaking.  Part of the beauty of this book is the universal theme of home, and as such, our personal stories are meant to convey deeper truths, making the actual owner of our individual stories not nearly as important as the message the story conveys.  We hope and pray this does not distract from your reading of the text.

dividertop

Acknowledgement

theologyofthehometinyKim Baile, Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering, and Megan Schrieber. An excerpt from Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 2019): 1-8.

This excerpt is reprinted with permission from TAN Books.

The Author

Kim Baile has been a lifestyle and commercial photographer for 10 years, and has had the pleasure of documenting many of life’s moments from newborns and families to seasonal campaigns for global brands. She and her husband, Mark, live in Southern California. 

Carrie Gress is a prolific writer and author of several books, including The Marian Option and The Anti-Mary Exposed. She and her husband, and four children, live in Virginia. 

Noelle Mering is a frequent writer on the topics of contemporary culture, politics, and religion. She has worked as a decorating consultant. Noelle, her husband, and their six children live in Ventura, California. 

Megan Schrieber had an interior design firm for fourteen years before going on to establish and launch various Catholic ministries. Megan now runs Harvest Consulting and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and six children. 

Copyright © 2019 Tan Books
back to top