Cultivating a Christ-Centered Domestic Church | National Catholic Registry

At first glance, everyday tasks like simmering a pot of soup or lighting a lamp may seem to have no meaning beyond the mundane.

But modern Catholic women discuss the value of these simple, everyday things as they cultivate the notion of what home really is.

“God built the world like he built a house,” Catholic author Emily Stimpson Chapman told The Register. “We who are created in the image of God feel the need to create a home for ourselves and for our children…where the most important work and growth of the human person takes place.”

Chapman explained that humans have an innate desire for beauty, which partly explains the modern preoccupation with home design. Having recently renovated a historic home with her husband, Chris, she has admitted her own fascination with interior design on social media.

However, Chapman pointed out that the true creation of a home requires much more than paint, furniture and fixtures.

“There’s nothing like staying home, for true comfort,” noted author Jane Austen. | Courtesy of Emily Stimpson Chapman

“The heart of the house should be a spirit of welcome and love, mercy and respect,” she said. “If you have these things, the rest of the things don’t matter.”

The authors of house theology I agree.

Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering highlight these themes in their book Theology of the house: finding the eternal in the everyday.

“The house, by its very nature, is meant to be a foreshadowing of paradise,” they wrote. “It’s both satisfying in this earthly life while offering a glimpse of things to come.”

This is how ordinary things like hot soup and a bedside lamp can help create a “sanctuary”, a place where its inhabitants feel a sense of belonging and peace.

house theology offers guidance to those who wish to create such a haven with spiritual reflections on topics such as food, light, safety, order, comfort, and hospitality.

The authors take each element and reveal a deeper, sacred meaning. The glow of lamps and candles point to Jesus as the Light of the world. The shared meals echo the gift of the Eucharist. A well-ordered home recalls the intentionality with which God created the world.

“Making our homes a kind of sanctuary means more than just having nourishing comfort foods on the table or high-thread count sheets on the bed,” they wrote in house theology. “There must be food for the soul.”

These themes are developed in the second house theology delivered, Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Housekeeping.

In his new book Revitalized and renovated: Real-life conversations about the intersection of home, faith, and everything in between, designer Paige Rien (with co-author Victoria Duerstock) confirms this sentiment.

“The work of sprucing up the home is inextricably linked to the work we do with God on our souls,” Rien explained to the Register. “You want to empty your kitchen, but let’s talk about what needs updating in your house.

“What Relationships Need Work?” she asked. “We can’t put them on hold to redo the kitchen.”

Looking back on her life, Rien noticed a parallel between her spiritual journey and her career as an interior designer. After years of drug addiction, Rien found strength in the Catholic faith and joined the Church in 2018.

“I feel totally renewed by the Lord,” she says. “I am this office that God reduced to the essentials to rebuild me.”

Nothing added that every dimension of the house changes when Christ is at the center.

“I don’t just want to say his picture is the center of my living room,” she said. “I mean my vocation as a mother is going to win out trying to impress my neighbor.”

As such, Rien said she considers her individual and family needs first when decorating her home.

“I need things in my house to remind me to make a better choice…to remind me that I’m not alone and that God is with me,” she said. “If I made my house just beautiful, using all the trends, it wouldn’t do it.”

For example, Rien said she prominently displayed a Marian statue in her home because it provided her with the daily encouragement she needed.

“Sometimes I don’t feel like living, loving or serving,” she says. “When I say to myself, ‘I had it as a wife and a mother’, the sun shines on the Blessed Virgin. There is a courage that I receive from her.

Nothing added that a home should reflect everyone who lives in it.

“Culture says home is your greatest asset, your centerpiece, your place to impress guests, but it’s actually a place of connection,” she said.

The photographs scattered throughout the house theology Tomes help bring that sense of connection to life.

While the spaces featured in the book are modern and appealing, the photograph shines a light on ‘real’ life: a group of four siblings donning mud boots, a young girl’s hair blowing in the wind, and the baby walker. a grandfather resting beside the dinner table.

Delivered
“The place where babies are born…where the drama of mortal life is played out is not an office, nor a shop, nor an office. It is much smaller in size but much more extensive,” said English writer and theologian GK Chesterton. | Courtesy of Theology of Home; Photo by Kim Baile

“Our books are full of pregnant women and lots of kids running around,” author Noelle Mering said in an interview with the Register. “Husbands are also involved – holding babies and then chopping wood.”

Noelle Mering at home for Home as Haven article
Noelle Mering reads with her children on a photograph presented in the book “Theology of Home”. “The ordinary acts that we do every day at home are more important to the soul than their simplicity would suggest,” said St. Thomas More. | Courtesy of Theology of Home; Photo by Kim Baile

“There’s a lot more vibrancy to Catholic family life than you would imagine if you were just sitting from afar, looking at it from the perspective of media representation,” she said. “I think there’s something fascinating about seeing this life that we know to be difficult but also full of deep and abundant joy.”

Mering lamented that the art of housekeeping has acquired a negative connotation in secular culture, but she also finds hope in the resurgence of hobbies like vegetable gardening, knitting and making chicken broth. home made.

“People are trying to get back to something more human, even though the concept of domesticity has been so denigrated,” she said. “The human soul wants the goodness that [these activities] represent.”

Mering pointed out that the culture’s desire for simplicity provides the perfect opportunity for the home to evangelize.

“We may not be able to get all our friends and acquaintances through the doors of a Catholic church, but we can get them into our kitchen,” the authors wrote in Theology of the house.

Mering pointed out that family life well lived is compelling and appealing.

“That doesn’t mean every family has to be dressed to perfection and stunningly gorgeous,” she said. “It’s deeper than that. It’s the family that maybe not everything is perfect, but they have a real sense of joy about them and care about each other.

To support this view of family, Mering and co-author Gress partnered with the Center for Ethics and Public Policy to create the Theology of Home Project. Mering said the main strategy of the project is to develop new media to “promote a positive embodied view of the domestic church.”

She said their website, TheologyofHome.com, is intended to look like a women’s magazine, filled with inspirational articles, crafts, recipes and a mercantile of handmade items for gift giving or personal use. .

Mering remembered years ago her desire as a newlywed to live by the teachings of the Church, but as a convert she didn’t know where to start.

“It helped so much once I finally found a community of other women who were living this life, and I was invited into their home,” she said.

Mering hopes the Theology of Home project will serve a similar purpose in modern culture.

“This is a simple guide to help us all reorient ourselves to our true home,” wrote the authors of house theology, “enabling us to ponder with determination how to make our homes on earth better equipped to bring all who live there to the house of the Father.”

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