The color-coded books first caught my eye.
It’s become one of my favorite flourishes in interior design, one that always stops me in my Instagram scrolling. And here it was, on the cover of a book titled “Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday.” Four built-in shelves held coordinating books: reds, whites, greens and blacks. From there, my eye wandered to the massive stone fireplace with a Blessed Mother icon above it and a crackling fire below.
Ahhh! It was as beautiful as any issue of “Magnolia Journal.” And yet…could it be? The content was aimed at Catholic women, to help them embrace their homes. It featured more than 100 professional photographs of the homes of Catholic women across the country.
“Home, by its nature, is meant to be a foreshadowing of heaven,” reads the introduction, written by the book’s three authors, Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering and Megan Schrieber.
They then quote G.K. Chesterton, who described home as “something much smaller in size and much larger in scope” than any business.
They hooked me with the color-coded books, they kept me with the Chesterton quote.
I wasn’t the only one drawn to “Theology of Home,” which was published last September by TAN Books. Word spread quickly – text by text, post by post.
“I’ve had people say, ‘I opened the book and I was in tears,’” said Carrie Gress, 47, a Catholic mom of five from Virginia. “They finally see themselves in media, in something concrete.”
Little did Carrie know that, in a matter of months, a pandemic would find us trapped in our homes. The uplifting images and wise meditations on home would be needed more than ever.
“We had no idea how timely it would become,” Carrie told me. “It’s one of those things where the Holy Spirit is out front.”
Soon she found herself mapping out the book’s sequel. If the first edition focused on the elements of home – light, nourishment, comfort, balance – the second one, she figured, could focus on the homemaker.
Carrie had just arranged a bowl of lemons in her dining room and was struck by the idea of fruitfulness. “It’s such a foreign concept, and yet we can’t really understand the Blessed Virgin Mary without understanding fruitfulness, and I think we can’t even understand ourselves as women without understanding it. It’s written into us biologically, spiritually and mentally.”
To begin, Carrie was determined to reclaim the much-maligned term “homemaker.”
“We have all this antagonism toward being a homemaker, and yet everybody loves their home and they want it to feel like a sanctuary,” she said. “We’re trying to connect the dots. This doesn’t happen just because you have a well-furnished home. There’s got to be someone bringing this to life.”
The book makes clear that being a homemaker applies to all women — including those who are not biological mothers but spiritual ones, including the many faithful moms who work outside the home. It lauds homemaking as “a life spent developing not just a specific skill but the very skill of being a human in full.”
Titled “Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking,” the book will be released later this month. Carrie and Noelle will also be releasing a Theology of Home planner and continuing their daily e-newsletter, available through TheologyofHome.com.
It’s the perfect season to dig deeper, breathing in the beauty of autumn and finding ways to reflect it inside, said Carrie, a prolific author. “Out of all of my books, this is the one I could give to just about anybody and have them appreciate it. I’m excited.”
Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn.