Home is where the heart is. That’s how the old saying goes. But for many people home can be a place of chaos, a reminder of tasks incomplete, or desires unfulfilled. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether your life is full of calm or chaos, whether your house feels too empty or too full, home can be a place where you can encounter the eternal.
In the new book Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday co-authors Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering, and Kim Baile explore our relationship with the concept of home, and encourage us to contemplate the way our own homes on earth can help equip us in our journey toward our ultimate home in heaven.
Carrie Gress recently stopped by A Closer Look™ to discuss Theology of Home, and why there is a need for Catholics to instill a deeper sense of the divine in their homes.
While featuring more than 100 beautiful and inspiring photographs of homes around the country, Gress explained that Theology of Home is more than just another coffee table book. It provides in-depth commentary on the theological and spiritual underpinnings of our love for home, and the ‘why’ behind it all.
“I think we all sort of carry around with us this ideal of what home should be like, and how we can manifest that through our own efforts,” Gress said. “Even looking at our culture, we spend $450 billion a year on decorating and remodeling and redoing our homes. And a naysayer could say that people are just consumers. But I think it goes deeper than that. I think we really have this desire for something much deeper that God has put there. Because our homes, they’re really meant to be a foreshadowing of heaven.”
“We all desire to go home to be with Him,” she pointed out. “That’s really the goal of the Christian life, to get home to be with God in heaven. So our idea behind this book was really: how do we connect these dots? How do we help people see this that desire for adding throw pillows and wallpaper and all these kinds of thing is not disordered? There’s a way to bring them in an ordered way, and to live them in an ordered way.”
Drawing on an excerpt from the book, A Closer Look host Sheila Liaugminas read, “Home is where life unfolds. For some people, it’s a beautiful, warm, nurturing place. And for others, it’s where there’s more agitation.”
But she told Gress, “And yet, your book helps everyone. Even people who have homes with agitation.”
Gress explained that she and her co-authors do not simply want to speak of the aesthetics of home, but of how we encounter other people there.
“There was an article about a year ago,” Gress said. “And it was talking about how people actually felt more at homes in their car than they do in their own homes. I think that because of the fact that our relationships have become so frayed, we just don’t value the family. And really we have so much radical individualism in our life, if-it’s-not-fun-don’t-do-it kind of attitude that has really led to all this. … So I think there’s a reason why people can feel prickly at home. But I don’t think it has to be that way.”
In a culture of radical individualism, sometimes people need a how-to guide for how to foster community and form relationships in their own homes. That is something Theology of Home explores. Whether it is creating unity in your family or reaching out to bring others together, deepening the sense of the divine in your home can bring a sense of fulfillment, unity, and love that provides a foretaste of heaven on earth.
“[It’s] the beauty of recognizing something like hospitality,” Gress said. “I just heard about this guy in New York recently who started these Wednesday night dinners with a bunch of other single people. They would do this at his house, or they would meet other places, just so that people have this continuity of community in their life on a regular basis.”
“I think that it’s those kinds of creative ideas that we can do to sort of build up our own communities. Even if it’s something like a book club, or pray the Rosary together, that kind of thing. Just to make the home more of what it’s supposed to be. Because we recognize what it is when we see it, it’s just can be hard to get there sometimes.”