What is the Domestic Church?
It seems clear that God is calling us to discover the power and importance of the family – the Domestic Church. The term “Domestic Church” refers to the family, the smallest body of gathered believers in Christ. That means YOU! According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: “The family, is so to speak, the domestic church.” (Lumen Gentium #11) This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek His will for us.
Though recovered only recently, the term dates all the way back to the first century AD. The Greek word ecclesiola referred to “little church”. Our early Church fathers understood that the home was fertile ground for discipleship, sanctification, and holiness. This is so true!
With churches closed for the most part, and masses limited in numbers or online, we simply don’t have access to the spiritual resources we normally rely on. We are, quite literally, stuck at home with little choice but to figure out how to encounter God as we shelter-in-place. Despite the very real limitations we’re all laboring under, we know that God has not abandoned us. We may feel very detached from everything, but in communion with Christ we can never be spiritually isolated from His Church. It is important to remember that all of the Church’s prayer and devotional life links us to the Mass and to the Cross of Jesus.
Every family is called to be a place of prayer, service, and love – a “little Church of the home.” Families naturally do this in their day-to-day lives: “The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures” (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 315). They do this by strengthening the bonds of love among their members, and by asking the Lord’s presence into their homes. There are so many ways to make your family a domestic Church, and the content offered on this site can hopefully provide some guidance, comfort and support.
As a “family of families”, we are together in spirit, joined by the Holy Spirit. Know you are not alone, and know that we are here for you. And we miss you! But we know we will be able to gather again soon. We are Presentation!
“The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (CCC No. 1666).
How can you “build” the Domestic Church in your home?
- Begin praying as a family and reading from Scripture daily, certainly before meals, but also first thing in the morning or before bed. Find a time that works for your family. Use the liturgy of the Church as a model for prayer, and try to include heartfelt unstructured prayer as well.
- Pray a Family Rosary (each member leads a decade, and everyone shares intentions).
- Have a crucifix in a prominent place in the home, and in every bedroom.
- Make the Sacraments a regular celebration – take the whole family to Confession and Mass!
- Begin family traditions based on the seasons celebrated in the liturgical calendar.
- Make your vacation a holy pilgrimage by visiting the shrines and saints of our land and the world.
- Make worshiping God a priority. Never miss Mass, even while traveling – go to: www.MassTimes.org to find a church near you!
- Teach stewardship and charity to your children, through word and example.
- Demonstrate love for your spouse, your children, your neighbors, and the world. Remind their children that they are loved by God and have been given gifts to serve others.
- Talk freely about the presence of God in the joys and sorrows of your life.
- Welcome into your home and support priests, brothers, sisters, deacons, and lay ministers in the Church.
- Participate in the lay ministries and activities of your parish community.
- Allow your children to witness you in private prayer. Encourage your children to pray daily on their own, to listen for God’s call, and if heard, to respond.