The Domestic Church
Being Catholic is about being part of a big international family. A family that encompasses people of every age and stage. One of the ways we learn to be a Domestic Church is by being a member of a Christian family. The Christian family is in fact often referred to as the Domestic Church. It is within the family that we first learn to pray, love and to belong.
The Ministry of Christian parenting is challenging, especially in today’s secularised world. Click here to learn more about being a Christian parent today.
This short video looks at the Catholic Church as an international family. Watch it together and discuss how your experience of Church membership is reflected. Consider the images and short stories that you would insert if you we making a video: We are the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church teaches that family is important. Sometimes family life doesn’t seem perfect. A Bishop shares some great overviews on how virtually anyone can enjoy a happy home life.
What is the Domestic Church?
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.