The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1656 refers to Christian families, which are centers of living, radiant faith, as Ecclesia domestic or domestic church. The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the “domestic church” where God’s children learn to pray “as the Church” and to persevere in prayer. CCC #2685.
We can think of building our domestic church like a gardener who is very intentional in the planning, cultivation, and care of their plants, so that they may yield a fruitful harvest. Our spouse and children are far more valuable than plants, so the nurturance they need for fruitful lives requires deliberate actions and an openness to God’s will. Growing a domestic church takes the grace of God and our commitment to love.
Expanding on their personal faith commitments, a husband and wife unite to form a new joint commitment to their vocation of marriage. A Christian marriage is the foundation of the domestic church, where faith in God informs and forms the family.
Accepting children as gifts from God and fruits of their love, “parents, by word and example are the first heralds of the Good News of Jesus Christ to their children” (Lumen Gentium no. 11), making the family the first community of faith. Parents who are disciples of Jesus will in turn desire to disciple their children.
By prayer and Scripture reading, regular participation in Liturgy, spiritual and moral formation, community and missionary activities, parents create a Catholic culture in their homes.
In sowing the seeds of faith, hope and love in their children’s hearts, the family forms a Catholic identity that can take root. Furthermore, parents look to the sacraments of the Church for grace to effect continued growth and transformation. The work of the domestic church involves the education and raising of children in the Faith.
The life of Faith instilled by the family forms each family member into a disciple of Jesus Christ and a living member of the Body of Christ, the Church.
With openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, family members serve God and others in the world, bringing Christ to others.
Outcomes from the domestic church are experienced, not only interiorly and exteriorly by family members, but also ultimately leads to union with God – sharing the divine life of the Blessed Trinity in Heaven.
In the home, Christian parents cultivate for themselves and their children a spiritual life directed towards loving God and loving others in the Catholic way of life. The home becomes the base for Catholic culture where faith in God is exercised in real life.
Family is the first faith community where the knowledge, worship, and love of God informs and guides family life and relationships. Home life becomes the school for love and service to neighbor. In the little details of daily living, the training and practice of virtue and self-giving are taught, exercised, and affirmed.
Because the domestic church is a family living out daily the theological virtues of faith, hope and love in its relationships, aspirations, and actions, it requires grace to sanctify family relationships, to direct home life, and to share God’s love to others. God provides graces for the domestic church to equip us with building the Kingdom of God in our homes.
Our children are persons of infinite value with body and soul and they are placed in our care. God gives parents the authority and the grace to educate their children in the ways of the Lord.
If parents abnegate this responsibility and privilege, how will our children know that God cares for them, that He is active in their lives, and that they can respond with love to Him? How will they consider and realize God’s beautiful plan for their lives with the gifts they have been given to serve the Body of Christ? How will they experience true joy?
Strengthening the marriage relationship is strengthening the foundation of relationships in the family. Parent-children relationships and sibling relationships in daily family life form skills for other and future relationships.
Based on love, only the Christian principles bring true peace both to the individual and the “other” in interpersonal relationships. Who will model and who will teach our children about kindness, forgiveness, reconciliation? How will they learn to be generous? Will charity move their hearts towards others?
The family is the interface between the individual and society. Moral formation of our children consisting of instilling values and practice of Christian virtues form character.
It is this formation that will inform their choices and decisions as they grapple with issues of life. How will they order their lives if within themselves, there is no sense of order? Who will equip them with core values and encourage them in virtue that will act as their compass? How will their conscience be formed?