The Domestic Church
We are the living Church. The People of God creating communities of faith, reaching out to others, praying. Our Living Church is the Domestic Church.
We are the Living Church
In the Catholic tradition, the family holds a special place–especially in the formation of faith. Parents are recognized as the first formators in faith. According to the Second Vatican Council
The family, is so to speak, the domestic church. Lumen Gentium#11
This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek God’s will for us.
Families whatever they look like and whoever makes them up are important to our own sense of identity and to the life the Church. Pope Francis affirmed this in 2016 in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).
The pope acknowledges that families are essential to the life and mission of the Catholic Church, “the Church is good for the family, and the family is good for the Church (87).” Pope Francis uses the phrase of the Second Vatican Council calling the family the “domestic church,” he s tells us that the Church is, in fact, “a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches.”
Throughout The Joy of Love, Pope Francis provides examples how families are the domestic church. It is in the family that “children are brought up in the faith (16),” where children first hear from their parents the story of God’s wondrous love. It is parents who first share the faith with children. It is in the family, the pope notes, where children learn “the joy of work, fraternal love, generous–even repeated–forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer (86).” In the family, we learn to be Christian community. We learn to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, to care for the poor, to protect all creation, to be open to other ideas and insights, to have “moral and material solidarity with other families, including those most in need (290),” to work for the good of all, and to work for justice through the practice of the “corporal and spiritual works of mercy (289).” “When a family is welcoming and reaches out to others, especially the poor and the neglected,” Pope Francis writes, “it is a symbol, witness and participant in the Church’s motherhood (325).”
Dr. David Thomas, an expert in the field of Catholic family life has identified ten simple things that families do that proclaim to the world that they are the activity of the domestic church:
- They speak with each other regularly and with respect.
- They eat together whenever possible.
- They take a conscious interest in what each person does and likes to do—we show that they care about each other.
- They stay connected with the extended family—parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles—so that they learn family stories.
- They respect and support all family members throughout their lives.
- They help each other whenever help is needed, but allow people to do things on their own when help isn’t needed.
- They celebrate holidays and major family events (births and deaths, birthdays and anniversaries) throughout our lives.
- They come together in times of need to offer support and guidance for each other.
- They respect and value (not just tolerate) the gifts of each family member no matter how different they might be.
- They treasure the time spent together as family, laughing and crying together as appropriate.
In the busy nature of our lives sometimes its good to stop and think what can we do? As Catholic parents, how can we do our best to teach our children to know, love and serve God? How can we grow faith as a family? Well for starters… (and then there is all the other ideas on this site)
1. Pray together
This doesn’t have to be for hours each day. It is about building the habit of praying daily. Before meals (grace), before bed, at the conclusion of the day. It doesn’t matter the why or the how long but practice makes perfect.
2. Read the Bible together.
As parents, you know the importance of knowing the stories of your family-whānau. It is no different with the story of our family of faith. And the best place to learn about the love of God for all is the Bible. Reading the Bible together and having discussions about your readings will help foster a love for God and the Sacred Scriptures. If this task seems daunting to you, don’t fret. Start small, read a short passage a day from an “adult” Bible or a story from a children’s Bible storybook, or look up a video of popular Bible stories. Check the Gospel passage that you will hear on Church on Sunday with kidz activities.
3. Talk about God, Creation and Church
Our faith is the matter of the everyday. Don’t just talk about God, God’s created world and the Church on Sundays or when something special happens. Make the dialogue of faith the conversation of the everyday. And enjoy it. As Pope Francis reminds us in Joy of the Gospel that no-one wants a sourpuss evangelist. We are called to share the Joy of the Gospel.
Pray as a family and read from the Scriptures daily, certainly before meals, but also first thing in the morning or before bed. Find a time that works for your family. Use formal prayer, and try to include heartfelt unstructured prayer as well.
Pray a Family Rosary (each member leads a decade, and everyone shares intentions).
Create a prayer space and practice where you gather as family to praise, petition and thank God
- Talk freely about the presence of God in the joys and sorrows of your life.
Demonstrate love for all members of the family and your neighbours and the world, including creation.
Pray for your neighbours as you pass their homes even if you do not know their names.
Encourage each other by reminding yourself of the gifts each person has. At the end of the day have a gratitude time when each person takes a turn to thank everyone for something they have done or said that day.
Remind children that they are loved by God even when they make mistakes
Pray Mass as a family on Sunday.
Kid's Korner is a weekly resource produced by the Faith Formation Team for families. It is a journey through the Bible through stories, prayers and song incorporating recipes and fun activities. All centred around Jesus - his life, death and resurrection.
This week's fun
Open the PDF and explore the links
Reflecting on the role of Christian parenting.
Inspiring ideas for caregivers and children