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Faith by Design View Comments
By James Breig

AS HOME DESIGNERS known for specializing in “downtown chic,” Bob and Cortney Novogratz can be seen applying their talents during their HGTV series, Home by Novogratz, which has added to the couple’s phenomenal success as interior designers and house flippers. Their success has brought them international fame, loads of money, and three houses scattered from New England to Brazil.

They’ve also received effusive compliments on their work, such as national publications that have praised “the design duo [who] create downtown magic” and lauded how they “have infused entire city blocks with sophistication and style.” But the Catholic pair—married for two decades and counting—looks much higher than lighting fixtures. As they raise their seven children to be religious, they also apply their faith to their work. Bob comments on the latter when he tells St. Anthony Messenger that their TV program de-emphasizes frivolous spending.

“You can have good design on a budget,” he states. “You don’t have to break the bank. Good taste and money don’t always go hand in hand. We have a European design philosophy. Americans are consumers and have too much stuff, so we use a little less stuff.” To that end, they often employ found objects, large family photographs, and unusual flea-market finds to decorate rooms.

The religious side of the family has occasionally been displayed on their TV series, which originated on Bravo and moved to HGTV. One episode, for example, dealt with the Baptism of their seventh child in a house crowded with relatives, friends, celebrities, and a priest.

Cortney’s blogs on their room designs are often packed with words like “chic,” “pop,” and “bold blasts of color,” but she is equally enthusiastic in talking about prayer, Church, and faith.

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James Breig is a veteran writer for Catholic newspapers, magazines, and books. He now authors a syndicated media column for dozens of Catholic  papers.

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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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