UNLESS THE LORD BUILDS THE HOUSE, THEY LABOR IN VAIN – Ps 127:1
Building a domestic church is a collaboration, a joint project, a partnership between God and Christian parents. With God’s grace, parents create a home base for discipleship that makes living the Catholic faith as a chosen way of life.
Like team sports in their home court or field, a number of variables contribute to the home-court advantage effect. The idea refers to an explicit strategic advantage for a team because the players are comfortable and familiar with their physical environment. Playing at home gives them a level of confidence and the expectation to win the game. The support and cheers of the home crowd encourage them to put in the extra effort in their performance.
Christian parents, who build a domestic church and make their home as a base for discipleship, will find that they hold the home-court advantage in raising their children. It is intuitive to understand this finding from a longitudinal study:
“No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth.”
Parents have the home-court advantage. God ordained the parent-child relationship to be the most influential early relationship in the lives of children. The authority that parents have on their children is natural and innately recognized by them.
This is the good news that parents should understand and capitalize on. No matter what they and their children face in today’s culture, the love for their children and the natural respect that children have for parents can form the basis for a golden opportunity. Most importantly, God is on their side. God, on His part, provides many graces for the domestic church.
The loving and faith-filled formation that Catholic parents can provide through the sensitive formative years of each child can have a lasting impact. It is like planting a mustard seed in their children’s hearts and minds that will take root and bear fruit.
The family is a miniature church where family members have a shared faith in the Trinitarian God.
Because the home is the base for discipleship, Christian parents build the family as the first community of faith. A relationship with God is explicitly expressed and lived out in the day-to-day family life.
Home as school of prayer: The family is the “domestic church” where God’s children learn to pray “as the Church” and to persevere in prayer. CCC #2685
Parents and children not only grow in their relationship with God, but also in their participation in a faith community – the Church. Prayer and worship are integral to their family life.
The family is the first community where every person is an essential member of the family because of the relationships they form with each other.
Family bonds are shaped and strengthened by family life in a shared space, with shared time, and through shared experiences that promote the interdependency of family members in a communal life.
Family as school of love: Living as a Christian community, family members learn to give of themselves, to make sacrifices, and to promote the good of others. The learning of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy begin with family members.
The family is the first team with its own specific operations to reach its goals. When sports teams are in their home town, they are able to maintain their routines of practice, rest, and regular body clocks unlike the traveling team who may have long travels or adjustments in time.
Family life has rhythms and seasons that follow the calendar or stages of development. Parents establish regular routines, rituals, family traditions and celebrations to help family members practice and develop healthy habits of mind and body. These repetition of activities or actions transmit Christian principles and human values.
Family life as school of virtues: Family members practice virtue when they are taught and encouraged to practice virtues with intention and frequency. The choice to do good becomes easier with practice when moral muscles are exercised.
The family is a miniature society.
Living the Catholic life has many challenges and every family member needs the love, support, and encouragement from loved ones to persevere. Parents and children need each other as companions in the Christian journey. The good example of family members can significantly influence and motivate other family members to give extra effort in loving behavior.
Family relationships as school of solidarity: When a family member rejoices, all rejoice. When one suffers, all suffer. Family members learn to extend hospitality, encouragement, and hope to those who are facing difficulties. They celebrate the joys together and carry burdens together.
A Catholic home culture sustains a Catholic family identity. Family culture is the collection of attitudes, ideas, ideals, actions, values, and rituals of a family that make them unique.
The most significant way to nurture the Catholic Faith and live out a Catholic culture in the family is to express an attitude of openness to God and the teachings of His Church.
Home as an environment for human development: The home life, family relationships, and Catholic culture all contribute to the “building” of a human being, the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.
When Catholic parents assume their role as the primary educators and teachers of the faith to their children, their commitment inspires them to do their best for their children and family. Parents take on Jesus’ mission for the salvation of the world to their family. This requires parents to act as missionary parents with a clear missionary path.
Marriage and Parenting as a school of sacrifice: Catholic parents actively lay a foundation of faith, hope, and love in their children’s hearts and minds. With God’s grace, they hope that the light of faith their children received at Baptism will keep burning brightly.
Like Jesus, husbands and wives give their lives up so that their spouse and children can bear fruit and have abundant lives.
When Catholic parents understand that they hold a home-court advantage with their family, they feel encouraged and empowered to build their family as a domestic church.
Along with a sincere desire, parents need a clear vision and a missionary path towards that vision. This book will help parents learn the what, why, and how of fulfilling their mission to their family.