One of the most striking moments of my short time at the Cathedral happened over Christmas. I was quite struck by how busy the city centre got in the immediate lead-up to the ‘winter celebrations’, as many identify it. Then, there’s Christmas Eve, and the whole city is packed with those last minute shoppers, like me, who are attempting to gather together presents from the scraps left over From the mad rush, which started at the end of September. And then, on Christmas Day – nothing. The whole of the city centre falls silent; an eerie and rather awkward silence, reminding me that all of those people who had once packed out the shops and streets are now spending that one day with their families. Boxing Day, then, as you can imagine, signals the beginning of the sales, and the return of the mass of shoppers.
I reflect upon this dramatic contrast over Christmas because each day, during this time of self-isolation and lock-in, is akin to Christmas Day. An eerie silence has fallen over our cities, our towns, our streets, even. I was listening to the radio, and someone was saying how they are being ‘forced’ to spend time with their families. I think, on the whole, that this time which has been spent with our loved ones is a time which is being cherished; a unique opportunity for the family unit to come together for an extended period of time (other than Christmas Day!) and be together, play together, and pray together.
The Church speaks of the family as the ‘domestic Church’. It is within the framework of the domestic church where parents, as first teachers of the faith, lead their family in word and example, to build up a relationship with the Lord. This aspect of the vocation of parents cannot be overlooked or its significance played down. It is in the domestic church where all family members learn who God is, and prayerfully seek His will in their lives. It’s significance in the building up of the Body of Christ means that it continually needs to be renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Pope St. John Paul II, writing on the family, reminds us that “the little domestic church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelised”. What better time than this to evangelise the domestic church.
I have included in the newsletter, and will also include on a section of the Cathedral website, some tools to aid your families in building up the domestic church. I pray that you will find these useful.