The Domestic Church
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1656):
In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centres as living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia Domestica.
Pope John Paul II said:
“Catholic parents must learn to form their family as a ‘domestic church’, a church in the home as it were, where God is honoured, his law is respected, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and everyone shares the hopes, the problems and sufferings of everyone else. All this is not to advocate a return to some outdated style of living: It is to return to the roots of human development and human happiness!”
From Pope Francis:
“The Synod Fathers emphasised that Christian families, by the grace of the sacrament of matrimony, are the principal agents of the family apostolate, above all through “their joy-filled witness as domestic churches”. Consequently, “it is important that people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that ‘fills hearts and lives’, because in Christ we have been ‘set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 1)”
Tools for Building a Domestic Church
Here are a few tools for building a domestic church at home. These tools are taken from the US Bishops’ Conference website.
Begin praying as a family and reading from Scripture daily, certainly before meals, but also first thing in the morning or before bed. Find a time that works for your family. Use the liturgy of the Church as a model for prayer, and try to include heartfelt unstructured prayer as well.
Pray a Family Rosary (each member leads a decade, and everyone shares intentions).
Have a crucifix in a prominent place in the home, and in every bedroom.
Make the Sacraments a regular celebration – when we are able, take the whole family to Confession and Mass.
Begin family traditions based on the seasons celebrated in the liturgical calendar.
Make your vacation a holy pilgrimage by visiting the shrines and saints of our land and the world. There are shrines around the Archdiocese to visit.
Teach stewardship and charity to your children, through word and example.
Demonstrate love for your spouse, your children, your neighbours, and the world. Remind their children that they are loved by God and have been given gifts to serve others.
Talk freely about the presence of God in the joys and sorrows of your life.
Welcome into your home and support priests, brothers, sisters, deacons, and lay ministers in the Church.
Participate in the lay ministries and activities of your parish community.
Allow your children to witness you in private prayer. Encourage your children to pray daily on their own, to listen for God’s call, and if heard, to respond.
Here are some resources to help you: