acceptance experience

Home Sweet Home

6:00:00 AMClarissa Traub

In a scene from the classic movie White Christmas, Bing Crosby is a soldier at war singing that he’ll be “home for Christmas, if only in [his] dreams” We know that he’s not referring to a two-story brick house, but rather the familiarity of being “home.” In The Nature of Love, Dietrich von Hildebrand discusses the primordial experience of 'being at home,' rooted in the concept of 'mine.' The connotations of home here are familiarity with surroundings, being shielded in an environment, and childhood experiences, to name a few. These all, in some way have an element of love. There is deep-rooted sentimentality about a country, city or town that we call home.


Von Hildebrand explains this concept by familiarity. In this context, familiarity is not being used to something rather it is seen as the opposite of foreignness. Foreignness is content that does not resonate with me or I have no feel for it. It is distinct in its character because it is always in relation to something. Something is familiar to me. It goes beyond knowing something well because there is an element of delight. It doesn’t matter if this familiar thing is formally embedded in my life or if I am used to it, but the worth is its congeniality to me. With this element of comfort, there presupposes an intimacy as of an old friend. It’s the sweet sound that beats along to the rhythm of our life.
We return to the idea of “being at home” and see the element of familiarity in a place. There is shelteredness, comfort and a mutual familiarity. Von Hildebrand says, “A home is not only familiar to us, but we also experience that we are familiar to it.[1]” He reflects on coming home after a long period of time and experiencing a subjective impression of being greeted by the surrounding environment of trees, lakes, and mountains. In addition, with being rooted in a place, there is a form of belonging. But belonging to a family differs from being a part of something in that being rooted in something means “coming from there.”
Your home is where life unfolded, you experienced growth, you invested time, you had experiences that “permeated your daily life.” We form these sentimental relations by our particular experiences with that place. “This is where I was baptized, This is where we always came after school when I was a kid, This is where I got engaged.” These are, of course, examples of historic places in ones life but really a home is any place dear to us. To “experience a place as a home requires continual investing of our life in the place.[2]”

Von Hildebrand claims that the Church is the true home for Catholics. Their membership in the church through baptism is extended to the supernatural receptivity to grace throughout their whole lives. Mother Church is a shelter and reaches beyond any earthly existence. One may experience this internal familiarity by smelling incense, hearing Gregorian chant, or by walking into a church on a visit to a foreign country and yet, feeling at home. A cultural or spiritual home, which is the most profound home, may come on the first time as a deep affinity to us. For example, if someone is exposed to the Church and becomes a convert to Catholicism, they have found their “true home” without even being exposed to it for years. The reason why the Church is supreme in its “homeliness” is because it reflects the ultimate shelter of our true home in God’s love. We feel His security as we are held in His loving arms.



[1] Von, Hildebrand Dietrich. The Nature of Love. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's, 2009. Print.
[2]  The Nature of Love., Page 189.


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