Can’t We All Get Along?
Fr. Ross Kimball
At Home, As the Church
Being away on vacation has its attractions, but returning home holds—for me at least—a deeper kind of refreshing.
During vacation, I’ve been making my way through a splendid book by Martin Thornton called, English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetically Theology According to the English Pastoral Tradition. It’s a lumbering title for a helpful and “homely” description of a way—a tradition—of being Christian. English Spirituality (expressed in a variety of ways of being Anglican) has at its core, pursuit of life in Christ as “the art of living as fully, creatively, and indeed as joyfully, as mankind is capable” (p. 25). It’s attuned to the “homely” character of life in Christ.
“Homely” needs a bit of explanation.
In the 14th century English tradition where that term comes into focus, “homely” means: “habitual, and therefore constant, calm, and, . . . stable. … Christian joy is truly expressed, not primarily in ecstasy but in tranquillitas, in domestic harmony, in sure hope and devotion.”
It’s day-to-day home-goodness, not exceptional vacation excitement.
“Homeliness” means that the reality and truths of the faith “are to be taken seriously as the constant background of Christian life. It underlies the fact that Christian living and Christian prayer are concerned not so much with the fulfillment of aims as the the expression of what Christ has achieved in us” (p. 215).
This means that, both for individual and communal life in the Church, Christian duties “are not the dictates of a tyrant but the joyous customs of a privileged family: all [are] ‘homely’” patterns for flourishing in Christ (p. 184). “The Church is ‘our Father’s house’ where we should be ‘at home’, implying the comfortable stability of sons and daughters rather than the fleeting visits of guests” (p. 184).
In other words, the most satisfying Christian life involves dwelling in the hospitality and “homeliness” of God’s Family. “The Church is what we are, the parish church is where we belong” (p. 184).
I trust that even when you’re away on vacation, you’ll remain at Home, as the Church, in regular prayers and fellowship with God.