“Retreat with Pope Francis” Day Three: The Family is the Domestic Church
“Families are the domestic Church, where Jesus grows; he grows in the love of spouses, he grows in the lives of children.” (National Convocation of the “Renewal of the Spirit,” June 4, 2014)
Breaking open the theme:
The family can be seen as a domestic Church in two main ways, as explained in the bishops’ pastoral letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan (pp. 38ff). First, the family is a community that is nourished by the Church, especially through the Sacraments. Second, the family is a reflection of the life of the Church. It is called to be a place of faith, hope and love, just like the larger Church. The love of Christ abides and “grows” in the family, as Pope Francis said. In the domestic Church, spouses and children learn how to share Christ’s love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Here [in the home] one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous — even repeated — forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life” (no. 1657).
When Dave and Katie were dating and engaged, they often went to Mass together or prayed a rosary together. As they started their journey as a married couple, they quickly realized how essential these times of prayer were. They noticed that when they slacked in their faith life together, their marital happiness decreased too. But when they relied on the Sacraments and participated in the life of the Church, they found it easier to mirror that life of love in their own relationship. As Dave and Katie’s first child Maria grew, she began to imitate the loving and prayerful acts that her parents demonstrated, and the family grew together as a domestic Church.
Put it into practice:
- Pray: Read Philippians 4:6-7 together with your spouse.
- Reflect: How do you incorporate prayer in your marriage? In the lives of your children?
- Do: If you don’t have prayer as part of your nighttime routine, add it tonight. Consider the Ignatian “examen” in honor of Pope Francis’s Jesuit vocation.
Prayer for Married Couples:
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
So that we might reflect the union of Christ with his Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.