Welcome to Full Homely Divinity, a website for the Anglican at the Altar and especially for the Anglican in the pew. The title of our website derives from the writings of a 14th century Englishwoman, Lady Julian of Norwich. We launched this website on her feast day in May 2005. We have now been visited by more than 1,000,000 viewers! These are not blockbuster numbers by general web standards but, since this is an entirely volunteer, unpaid effort, we find them to be deeply gratifying, particularly when we also take into account the comments and questions we receive from so many visitors. Your interest, as well as the pleasure we have in putting it together, are our only compensation, and you have made it all very worthwhile. Thank you for your support!
Lady Julian was an anchoress: she lived in a room attached to her parish church and said her prayers and shared her faith with anyone who happened by. As an anchoress, she never left the room she lived in, but she was not a hermit who avoided human contact. She welcomed those who sought her wisdom and advice. It could fairly be said that there was nothing at all ordinary about her lifestyle, but in fact she was a very ordinary person whose faith was nourished by a rule of life, by the sacraments of the Church, and by a remarkable insight into the ways God makes himself known to us in very ordinary things. In the icon in the banner above, she is holding a hazel nut because she once said that she believed that all of the beauty and mystery of God's vast creation was manifest in a tiny hazel nut.
In her life as an anchoress, Lady Julian was trying to do what all Christians try to do: she was trying to understand how to be a better Christian. Today we might speak of "holiness of life". In the 14th century, the term "divinity" meant much the same thing when used in reference to the devout Christian life. This was not something private and definitely not something otherworldly. Rather, it was, as Lady Julian described it, "full homely." For Christians who believe in the Incarnate God, holiness is not an ethereal, otherworldly state, and certainly it is not private. To be "homely", in the language of the 14th century, means two things. First of all, it signifies that which is here and now, like the Incarnation. Secondly, it denotes that which is habitual, a regular and practiced part of daily life.
Many things characterize our Anglican tradition at its best. We begin with the Book of Common Prayer, which is nothing more, or less, than a system for the daily, and thus very homely, practice of the Christian life. Our Prayer Book is a unique document. No other communion or fellowship of ordinary Christians has anything quite like it. Its essential message is that liturgy and daily prayer are the very heart of Christian living. As Martin Thornton wrote in an essay on The Anglican Spiritual Tradition, "To the seventeenth- or indeed nineteenth-century layman the Prayer Book was not a shiny volume to be borrowed from a church shelf on entering and carefully replaced on leaving. It was a beloved and battered personal possession, a life-long companion and guide, to be carried from the church to kitchen, to parlor, to bedside table; equally adaptable for liturgy, personal devotion, and family prayer: the symbol of a domestic spirituality--full homely divinitie."
It has sometimes been said that Anglicanism has a particular insight into the mystery of the Incarnation. Rome, it has been said, focuses on the glory of the Cross, and Orthodoxy on the mystery of the Resurrection; the Reformed Churches are transfixed by the Sovereignty of God and Pentecostals by the Coming of the Holy Ghost; but Anglicanism, in its homeliness, has found the center of its theology and spirituality in the stable at Bethlehem where the Word became flesh. These emphases (and that is all they are, for every family of true Christians embraces the whole faith) influence the way Christians of different traditions live out their faith.
So, for Anglicans, there is a particular tendency to incorporate what some might regard as the mundane into the practice of our faith. This website intends to celebrate that very tendency. We have as many questions as we have answers. And the answers we will give to many questions will be variable. This is not because the truth of our faith is variable, but because Truth Incarnate embraces all of creation and sometimes expresses itself in ways that may seem contradictory and that are certainly paradoxical.
Come and explore with us some of the various, wonderful, and particular ways that we Anglicans celebrate our faith, including things that we have borrowed from time to time from other traditions. If you have a question, send us an email and we will try to find an answer for you. If you have an idea that you would like to contribute, once again, send us an email. The sponsors of this site prefer to remain relatively anonymous. Occasionally you will notice that something is copyrighted, which simply means that we would like the website or a contributor to be given credit for something you found here. In fact, we would appreciate that courtesy for things that are not specifically copyrighted, as well. Otherwise, we do not want this to be about us, but about the Church. The principal contributors and sponsors of the site are parish clergy in country churches, with many years of experience in trying to live out our Christian faith, and working to teach others to do the same, in the context of the Anglican tradition. Through this website, we will continue to share our experience and ideas with a larger audience, and we encourage you to do the same.
Once again, welcome. If you find something you like or something that is helpful, be sure to tell a friend. And please come back yourself.
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Website updated on 1 February 2017