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6 min read

The Culture of Home

The Culture of Home

The Culture of Home

In 2020 due to the unprecedented world wide events, many of us were forced to quarantine in our homes. Since then many people have adapted to a new lifestyle of either working from home, going to school from home, eating more homemade meals, or simply spending more time at home with their families. Indefinitely, many lives took a huge pause in the past year, causing many families to find more time for reflection, prayer, deeper meaning, and quality time with their loved ones in the comfort of their homes. In our busy, fast-paced western society that always glorifies progress and achievements, I believe that the virtues of leisure and contemplation were re-discovered by many within the past year.

These turn of events personally led me to rediscovering a deeper love for the culture of home. As a young married woman in my second year of marriage, I have rediscovered the difference between having a house vs cultivating a home. This is not in regards to the material items that make up a home, but in regards to the transcendental essence of what a home is. It isn’t just the looks or the unique style of our homes, but it is the atmosphere that we create which derives from who we are as individuals and as a family. If a family is cold with one another, the home will be cold. If family members are bitter with one another, the home will breed resentment. On the other hand if members of the household are joyful and loving to one another, the spirit of the home will be likewise full of joy and love. So when making your home look like a reflection of you and your family, we must make sure to focus on the relationships that make up the atmosphere of each home as well. The relational atmosphere present within the home is laying the foundation for the culture of the home. Remember, your home is not a museum, it lives and breaths the life of the members who reside in it.

So what exactly is the culture of home? I have been reflecting on this topic for a while now, and here is how I would like to define it: “The culture of home is the collective memory of the family life that is lived and enriched through the prayer, traditions, hospitality, routines, and virtues.” Put simply, the culture of home is the soul of family life. Let’s face it, anyone can have or own a house – the physical building of a house does not automatically make a house a home. For a house to truly be a home, it needs a life-giving essence that breathes life into all members that reside in it. A house without a family culture is simply a house, but a house with a strong family culture is truly suitable to being a home.

How do we cultivate a culture of home? I have compiled five pillars that I think every household needs in order to cultivate a life giving culture of home for their families. These five pillars of a culture of home are, (1) Prayer and Faith, (2) Traditions, (3) Hospitality & Community,(4) Order & Wonder, and (5) Christian Virtues. Why are these pillars so important? Every Christian home is a domestic church, which means it is a small extension of the large ecclesial Church to other families. When we cultivate a strong culture of home, we will have a positive ripple effect in our society bearing the light of Christ to all who enter our homes and/or come in contact with a member of our home. This is the new evangelization, renewing the Church through a culture of home, one domestic church at a time.

 

FIVE WAYS TO BUILD A CULTURE OF HOME:

A Home of Prayer & Faith: Our homes are sacred, we should find joy in creating a dedicated space for prayer, a home altar, and a scheduled time each day and week where the family comes together to pray. When we honor God through prayer together as a family, the family bond becomes stronger. One way to practice this is through the frequent receptions of the Holy Sacraments as a family, attending Holy Mass weekly and going to confession as a family at least once a month. In my home we love to practice lectio divina as a married couple, making time every morning to read the daily Scripture readings and meditate and pray with them. Lastly, another way to practice prayer and acts of faith in the home is through the gift of sacramentals, having holy water, miraculous medals, scapulars, and blessed Catholic icons. Cultivating the gift of faith is the most important pillar of all five, as it corresponds to the 1st and greatest commandment given to us by God, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” – Deuteronomy 6:5

A Home of Traditions: Every home should foster family traditions that are based on the family’s unique culture and Catholic faith. Tradition is a strong binding and reminder of our own familial roots, and offers a deep sense of belonging to a purpose outside of ourselves.  A great way to practice this is by following the liturgical calendar of the Church, something many have coined as a liturgical living movement. One of my favorite liturgical living authors is Kendra Tierney, she has a book called “The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life”. In this book she offers great practical advice on how to live liturgically in your home. I recommend you have a liturgical calendar hung near your home altar or in a designated space, so that all members are reminded of the current and upcoming feast days and liturgical seasons of the Catholic Church. Create a binder with all your favorite family and liturgical traditions written out so that when the season approaches you can prepare to celebrate in advance. Another fun way to pass down tradition is to honor the feast days of each family member’s patron saint, or hosting baptism anniversaries as a family. Sacred Scripture reminds of the value of passing down the faith to our family members, especially to the young children, “you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 11:19

A Home of Hospitality & Community: Our homes can become an oasis for hospitality to others. Every good marriage and good family needs the support of a community that upholds their values to be there for them in the lows and highs of life. Humans are social by nature, we were created to live in a community. Hospitality allows us the opportunity to make our homes a safe haven for others. Hospitality is a vessel of God’s mercy, grace, and love for others. We become a true reflection of God’s light when we embrace with joy the arrival of guests into our homes and this in turn leads to the gift of deeper friendships. There are countless Scripture passages on the need to practice the virtue of hospitality. Here is one of my favorites, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have through the practice of hospitality, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16

A Home of Order and Wonder:  One of my favorite college professors once told me, “A virtuous home must have order and wonder; order to offer discipline to the members of the home, and wonder to offer them the space for creativity”. Yes, indeed our families need both order and wonder. We can create order through daily and weekly routines, schedules, and by keeping each other accountable to our duties in the home. Creating a morning and bedtime routine can offer a rhythm of wholeness for the entire family. And this discipline offers room for creativity and wonder in our homes. Wonder is important for the leisure of the family members. Wonder can be cultivated through reading, crafting, watching movies, playing games, building things, dancing, or learning to cook a new recipe as a family. One of my favorite authors on this topic is Leila M. Lawler. She has a new three-part volume book set called “The Summa Domestica”. In this book she offers great practical advice on how to create a home of order and wonder, with specific guidance on meal planning, laundry, house cleaning and organization to keep a thriving household.

A Home of Christian Virtues: Last but not least, our homes need to be a place where we practice both theological and cardinal virtues. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love can be nurtured through the practice of prayer and receptions to the Holy Sacraments as a family. The cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance can be cultivated through discipline and hard work ethic. We need both the supernatural and natural order of graces given to us by God to live a wholesome life. This can be done through accountability, correction, and forgiveness among the members of the home. Humans are frail; we are imperfect sinners, for this reason we must learn to forgive one another for our wrongdoings, but we must also seek to encourage one another towards a life of virtue and grace. This is our Christian calling to aspire to a life of higher morals and virtuous habits. Through mercy, forgiveness, and God’s grace the members of each household can learn together and grow together towards the theological and cardinal virtues, striving for sainthood one day at a time. The famous philosopher, Aristotle once said, “The more virtuous a person is, the better this person will be able to sustain a thriving relationship or friendship with another”. I love this quote because it reminds me that the more virtuous I am, the more virtuous my relationship with others in my home will be. The more virtuous one is, the better one is able to love and serve their neighbor.

Our culture desperately needs a restoration of a culture of home. We live in a culture that praises individualism more than the collective family unit. We need to raise a culture of virtuous families full of life-giving faith, hope, and love. A strong culture of home will eventually ripple into society and be a light of Christ to other homes building an even stronger culture of community within our Church and society at large. Be inspired to build your own “culture of home”. Let’s evangelize the world, one domestic Church at a time!