Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eve of Pentecost: Home life has its own rule of courtesy

Opening Sentence
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Commemoration: Augustine of Canterbury
O Lord our God, who by your Son Jesus Christ called your apostles and sent them forth to preach the Gospel to the nations: We bless your holy name for your servant Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, whose labors in propagating your Church among the English people we commemorate today; and we pray that all whom you call and send may do your will, and bide your time, and see your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 107:33-43, 108

Lessons: Ezekiel 36:22-27, Ephesians 6:10-24, Matthew 9:18-26

What chiefly distinguishes domestic from public conversation is surely very often simply its downright rudeness. What distinguishes domestic behaviour is often its selfishness, slovenliness, incivility – even brutality. And it will often happen that those who praise home life most loudly are the worst offenders in this respect: they praise it – they are always glad to get home, hate the outer world, can’t stand visitors, can’t be bothered meeting people, etc. – because the freedoms in which they indulge themselves at home have ended by making them unfit for civilized society. If they practised elsewhere the only behaviour they now find ‘natural’ they would simply be knocked down.

How, then, are people to behave at home? If a man can’t be comfortable and unguarded, can’t take his ease and ‘be himself’ in his own house, where can he? That is, I confess, the trouble. The answer is an alarming one. There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse’s neck. It will never be lawful simply to ‘be ourselves’ until ‘ourselves’ have become sons of God. It is all there in the hymn – ‘Christian, seek not yet repose.’ This does not mean, of course, that there is no difference between home life and general society. It does mean that home life has its own rule of courtesy – a code more intimate, more subtle, more sensitive, and, therefore, in some ways more difficult than that of the outer world.

Finally, must we not teach that if the home is to be a means of grace it must be a place of rules? There cannot be a common life without a regula. The alternative to rule is not freedom but the unconstitutional (and often unconscious) tyranny of the most selfish member.

C.S. Lewis
God in the Dock

Spirit Song