Breaking Open the Theme
The early Church understood the Christian family as an ecclesia domestica, or domestic Church. This idea recognizes that the smallest expression of the Church is not the parish, but the Christian family. The family, our first community, is the basic way God gathers us and forms us. Christian families not only draw sustenance from the Church; their daily life is a true expression of the Church. They manifest Christ’s presence to the world and share in the same mission that Christ gave to the entire Church. The domestic Church rests on the foundation of a baptized husband and wife. They establish a communion of love into which children are welcomed.
By creating a home where love, care and growth in the faith flourish among family members, married couples reflect the life of the Church in the world. In the family, parents teach their children how to pray, how to embrace God’s loving commandments, and how to grow in virtue and holiness. The Christian family that celebrates the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, establishes a reciprocal relationship between the family and the entire Body of Christ that is the Church.
Whenever he heard an ambulance siren, he offered a prayer for those involved in the accident or medical emergency. When the family pet passed away, she took care to bury it lovingly in the garden. Their Catholic faith was evident in the artwork on the walls and in the simple prayers offered at table and at bedtime. They celebrated the anniversary of their child’s baptism with ice cream sundaes, and always managed to pull together a group of neighbors for Christmas caroling. Their children saw and treasured these rituals of family life.
To Think About
(1) What does your family do that brings you together?
(2) What opportunities for passing on your faith are uniquely present in family life (that don’t usually happen at church)?
(3) In your home, identify some reminders of God’s presence. What can you add to or change about your home to increase your awareness of God in your daily life?
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.