From the Cell to the World

From the Cell to the World

A question I commonly hear from home educators (both men and women) is how to integrate spirituality with the mundane tasks of home and work life. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes said that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (3:11, NIV). At some time or another we all crave a deeper and richer experience of the eternal God. And so we find ourselves folding the laundry or balancing a spreadsheet and ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? Is this really the abundant life that Christ came to give?”

Charlotte Mason used the figure of the Old Testament tabernacle to model the human person. “Life,” she wrote, “like the tabernacle in the wilderness, has its three courts.” First, “there is the outer court where living things blossom and bear fruit, eat and drink, and sleep and play.” So much of our time is spent here, eating, cooking, and caring for our children’s bodily needs. Then, “there is the Holy place where not all living beings walk but only mankind, because men are able to think and love; this life also is sustained upon Christ, who is our life.” As Charlotte Mason educators, we believe that “ideas emanating from our Lord and Saviour, which are of His essence, are the spiritual meat and drink of His believing people.” And so we share the banquet of living ideas with our children and our friends.

But Charlotte Mason says that there is something more. She says that “within, there is the Holy of Holies, where man communicates with God and consciously receives in Christ the life of his spirit.” Here Christ is not just an influence or an idea. He is a Person! Mason writes that it is in “that holy of holies where man performs his priestly functions; for every man is of necessity a priest, bound to officiate in his most holy place.” We each carry within us, according to Mason, a “temple dedicate to the service of the living God.” But how do we officiate in this most holy place? How do we invite Christ in?

My local church hosted a women’s retreat and I was asked to speak about Catherine of Siena. I took a specific angle with the talk: I chose to speak on how to reconcile the desire for a peaceful and contemplative life with the call to ministry to the family and the world. It is the story of how one young woman discovered that the true holy of holies is not made of bricks or stones. It is a cell within our heart. She discovered her priestly function within that holy place. And you can discover it too. Listen on to hear the message I shared.


Scale How Meditations, p. 165

School Education, p. 246

Ourselves, Book II, p. 174

One Reply to “From the Cell to the World”

  1. Simply amazing! Thanks for sharing this talk. I’m going to be reading about St. Catherine of Siena with my kids next school term and am super excited to share some insights from your talk with them.

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