When I was a catechist, year after year my class was filled mainly with children whose parents were raising them to believe that Catholicism is only a Sunday thing: Mass in the morning and maybe some Sunday School afterward. That was it. Year after year I thought, “What a terrible lesson to teach! If only these parents understood the incredible gift and mission given to them to model the Church within their families!” Although I was a catechist, I always knew that my work was simply to be an assistant to the parents–because the teaching of the Faith can only truly start in the family. Catholic writer Helen McLaughlin put it very well: “[Catechists] teach Christian doctrine, it is true, but parents must teach “religion.”
Parents teach religion by establishing a “Domestic Church” for their family. Perhaps this phrase sounds intimidating—but it simply describes the holy place all families are called to be. By meditating on the implications of it, it becomes easy to see its simplicity and beauty. What are other ways the word “church” is used? The Church Herself is the institution founded by Christ to provide souls with the channels of grace for redemption and sanctification that He purchased for them; a parish church is a building dedicated to God to administer the sacraments to souls that live near and around it; and from these ideas it naturally follows that a Domestic Church is a family living the faith day by day, participating together in the life of constant prayer that each Catholic is called to. Beautifully foreshadowed in the family-like love among the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, and the communion of the members of the Catholic Church, the Christian family has the special work of leading each family member closer to sainthood. The home is the place where children first experience God, the Christian life of prayer, and are brought up to understand the purpose for which God made them.
Building the idea of a Domestic Church into your family life requires setting up a Catholic Culture in your home. Perhaps this sounds abstract–it is anything but abstract, really. This is so exciting to ponder! God made us spirit and flesh. Then He redeemed us—not with a blinding flash of light or an insensible flash of grace—but by taking a human body and sacrificing it in a very real, very bloody, very painful way on the Cross. And then, in order to apply the salvation of the human race to each individual soul, He founded a Church that administers His grace through the Sacraments–physical things that actually transmit invisible graces of redemption and sanctification. It only makes sense, in light of all of this, that in the 2,000 years the Church has been tending souls, that She should be overflowing with physical ways to participate in the life of prayer and grace that is the Christian life!
The resources on this site provide ideas for you to start your sacred endeavor to foster a Domestic Church. Our Faith is a beautiful gift. It is a lifestyle, really! The Catholic Faith should be lived out every day of our lives, in a way that leads us to a closer relationship with our Redeemer by uniting our bodies and souls in His service. Within the Domestic Church, children will get a solid preparation for their holy mission to serve God and to one day join His saints.
(All written content and original photography on this blog is copyright 2013-2014 by the St. Catherine Catholic Culture Center.)