The Domestic Church: Connecting to Marriage and Family

Where might the word of God be leading us when it comes to our family life?

The word of God leads us to the heart of what it means to be the Church, and therefore also to the heart of what it means to be a Christian family: For the Church and our families to be light, we must be centered on Christ and imitate Him, going out to the peripheries to bring the Gospel.

Marriage and family concerns everyone: Each of us comes from a family. Each of us is a son or a daughter. In God’s plan every child is meant to be the fruit of his or her mother’s and father’s love for each other in the sacred bond of marriage. This is why conversations about marriage and the family in the public square concern all of us, and this is why the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is important for all of us.

Acknowledging the experience and pain of broken marriages and families: Sadly, many of us have experienced or know family or friends who have experienced the pain of a broken marriage and family. Each experience is unique, and the Lord’s mercy is great. Even for those of us who find our family situation difficult –and that probably includes all of us at one time or another! –we each have a role to play in God’s vision of the family. Ultimately, all of us are part of the perfect family –God’s family –as beloved sons and daughters of God the Father.

“Domestic Church”: Very early in the life of the Church, the Christian family, founded upon the covenant of marriage between husband and wife, together with any children they were blessed with, became understood as the domestic church. This understanding has profound implications.

Two – Photograph by Frank J Casella on Fine Art America
Considering particular aspects of the family as the domestic church: What does it mean to call the family the domestic church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Churchspeaks of the family as the place where one learns endurance and the joy ofwork, fraternal love, generous – even repeated -forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. (CCC, nos. 1656-57). A particular aspect(s) of the domestic church might be highlighted. Concrete stories orexamples could assist as well. Here, let’s take three of the points mentioned in the Catechism as it relates to the family: love, forgiveness, and prayer:

Family as school of love: First, family life is where we are meant to learn to love. The family has its foundation in the promise of lifelong, faithful,and fruitful love between husband and wife.

Family as school of forgiveness: Second, the family, as the domestic church, is called to be a school of forgiveness. Every day, we are reminded that we are far from perfect. We are all sinners in need of mercy, forgiveness, and healing.

Family as school of prayer: And now for the third point, on prayer: to love and to forgive in the way that Christ calls us requires the Lord’s grace. We cannot be salt of the earth and the light of the world without God.

As adomestic church, the family is called to be a school of prayer, keeping the Lord at the center of the home, so that His light will shine brightly throughout the home, into the neighborhood, the community, and the world.

May the Lord be glorified in all our words and deeds, and may our families shine with the light of Christ for all to see.

Resource: World Marriage Sunday 2020 (PDF)

Love Your Enemies

How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt.

Watch Arthur Brooks’ Keynote Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 6, 2020 via. C-SPAN. Question: How can we do our part as Catholic men?

Click to view 15 minute video.

More about Arthur Brooks.

Full 2020 National Prayer Breafast Video.

Living as a Practicing Catholic Man

With some you can do yourself and others we can help, just ask.

Here are some ways to support living as a Practicing Catholic Man right now today:

Kindness: Help each other make it through life.

Prayer: Ten minutes each day, tell Jesus how much you love Him, and make time to listen to the Holy Spirit speak to you.

Reading: Subscribe to a daily Catholic devotional or read your Bible. Tip: Ask God to speak to you, and then open the Bible and start reading the first thing that jumps off the page at you. IT WORKS!!

Devotion: Spend time each day with the CMCS “A Man’s Prayer” and / or “A Prayer for Employment“. (PDF) Let the words speak to you, direct you. Men have said how much these prayers are transformational.

Virtues: Read Bishop Perry’s Virtues of a Catholic Man. Work on one at a time, but make it a goal to work on them. Okay, some guys don’t like goals, so look at them as solving a problem (to grow in virtue).

Support Yourself: Join or start a Parish Small Men’s Group. Join the CMCS Blog community and nurish your spirituality (“Follow” here). Be at the next Bishop’s Men’s Forum each year on the Saturday after Easter Sunday.

Support Others: Donate to your parish first, then to CMCS your time, expertise, money (or subscribe to the sponsored Cell phone service – a great gift for Dad’s & Grad’s – Best of all supports Pro-Life!).

Worship: Worship the Lord Jesus Christ who makes life truly worth living, as opposed to the temporal things of this world – money, sports, food, cars, women / porn, booze, work, etc. – more of Christ, less of you. Keep it all in perspective and moderation, and remove what your conscience says is not good for you, as the Church teaches.

Courage: To be a great leader of people — inspire them to follow you, not your rules.

The Domestic Church: How to ‘Walk the Talk’

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 1666

There are thousands of men in our Chicagoland parishes needing help in how to “walk the talk.”  Catholic Men Chicago Southland helps us in our walk as Catholic men, fathers, husbands, and grandparents. Being a resource to educate, support, and strengthen households is the mission of CMCS.

Here are some more examples about ‘the domestic church’ from the Catholic Catechism:

1655    Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”166 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.167 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. (759)

1656    In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.168 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example… the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”169 (2204)

1657    It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.”170 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.”171 Here 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. (1268, 2214-2231, 2685)

1658    We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live—often not of their choosing—are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family, often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.’”172 (2231, 2233)

Please keep room in your prayers for struggling men, believing families, and for all Catholic men (in Chicagoland) to live out the CMCS motto: “Living the Goodness of a Catholic Man”.

How to make of yourself a sincere gift to your spouse

“Man finds himself when he makes himself a sincere gift.”

Saint Pope John Paul II

1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 13

1. If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

2. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

3. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,

5. it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,

6. it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

7. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

9. For we know partially and we prophesy partially,

10. but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

11. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

12. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

13. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Here are 5 ways to Be a sincere gift to your spouse.
Click here for the original article

  1. Prayer – At the heart of every good marriage is a relationship not only with one another, but with God. In order to be able to give fully of ourselves, we must come to the Lord and ask to be filled with the ability to give. If we try to do this on our own accord, we will quickly become overwhelmed and fail. We can’t give what we do not have. Give the gift of yourself to your spouse by making time to pray each and every day for your marriage.
  2. Intimacy – Enjoying times of intimacy with your spouse is an essential component to a strong marriage. It may sound strange to newlyweds, but over time the busyness of life gets in the way of time together as a couple. Be intentional about keeping the romance alive – in more than just a physical way. Create time in your schedules for date nights, meaningful conversations and having fun together. Make sure your marriage bed is a place where God’s free, total, faithful and fruitful love is expressed to your spouse. (For a more in-depth look at what this means, visit www.theologyofthebody.net) We cannot give ourselves more fully to our spouse in any other way than to practice holiness in the gift of intimacy, the gift God has given us through the Sacrament of Marriage.
  3. Be considerate – Every morning when you wake up, think to yourself, “What is one thing I can do for my spouse today?” Of course, you can do more than one thing, but really think about what you can do to make his or her day more enjoyable. It could be saving him the last piece of chocolate cake, doing a chore that is normally his responsibility, complimenting her in some way, or giving her an extra long good night kiss. It is helpful to know what your spouse’s love language is so that you can serve him (or her) in the way he (or she) will most palpably feel the love behind the it. Pope Francis also encourages us to be considerate in our marriages by frequently using these phrases: May I?, Thank you, and I’m sorry.
  4. Don’t expect things in return – This is a difficult one. A wife loves her husband for who he is, not for what he does for her… and he for her. Sometimes when we start to make the effort to be selfless towards our spouse we wait in expectation for them to return the favor. To truly make a sincere gift of self, we must give for the sake of pleasing God and not desire our spouse to reciprocate. Turn your labors of spousal love into a prayer to God. Seeing your actions as a prayer will help to avoid feelings of resentment or bitterness if your spouse does not return the favor.
  5. Submission and Sacrifice – This last idea is really two, but they go hand in hand. Both words cause us to be a little uncomfortable in today’s culture. However, they are necessities for every marriage. We must learn to subdue our own desires and to sacrifice our wants for the good of our spouse. Put the other’s needs above our own. It takes a significant amount of trust in God and in your spouse to be able to do this. In Ephesians 5:21-26, wives are instructed to submit to their husbands, but also note that husbands are called to lay their lives down for their wives just as Christ did for the Church. When we start to embrace this concept, we realize it is a drastically different definition than “50 Shades of Grey” would lead us to believe. A Christ-like type of submission is done out of pure love, with the intention of leading our spouse to heaven. We sacrifice and submit for the good of the other. How do we do this in everyday life? Decide that instead of putting up a fight over issues, you will yield and take it to prayer. Try to be the person who does not have to always get the last word in. Let go of minor things (not putting the cap back on the toothpaste!) and give them to God.

Marriage is a gift. It takes work, but produces great joy. The road to marriage molds our hearts and prepares us for heaven. Our weaknesses are revealed and many times it can be painful to see how much we need to grow in selfless holiness. Yet, at the same time, God grants us the ability to foretaste the joy of heaven here on earth through the love of our spouse. Apply these tips and begin to see the fruits of giving the gift of your whole self in your marriage.

Lord, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to look for any reward, save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

St. Ignatius

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.

Ephesians 5:21-26

A Man that Believes …. Hears the Word of God

By Deacon Alfred Coleman II

When I started going to church and wanting to understand the bible I had no clue to what to do or were to look. There are so many definitions of what a Christian man should be and was shared by both Christians and non Christians. Life has many ways to pull us away from God, church and of Family, do not let the world say what is a Man, God created us and only he can truly define us.

I went to Mass on the U.S.A. army base Fort Jackson South Carolina, it was a field mass. No choir, no seats, no building and the Mass was unbelievable. I wanted more, I needed more and God was real and this church the Catholic Church was my home. So, I handle my search for God the same way I did when I looked at the Military.

  • Made a commitment
  • Went to basic training
  • Went to A.I.T : Amy Individual Training
  • Joined my company and did my part

So, I

  • Committed to RCIA
  • Went to the Parish Bible study
  • Went to Leadership day for more faith development and jointed a men’s group
  • Asked the parish priest how could I help?

I began to learn a lot from the Christian men that have been where I was and done and seen it all and lived to talk about it. They shared their lives openly with wisdom and humor the way men share over coffee and donuts. They talked about family life, working in this world as a believer in God with friends and co-worker living worldly. I came to learn that at times the life of a Christian man feels and looks lonely but they reassured me the pain would pass. Also, family leadership is not based on who makes the most money; the presence of a Christian Man is priceless. Sadly our family will not truly fill the fullness of our life until we are back home with God, our presence shells our family for evil. Yes, the world has so many definitions of what a man should do, how a man should talk and how a man should lead his family. Our society is doing its best to direct and push men in to a mode that changes every time the current social trend bend to it’s worldly desires. We must always stay on guard, satan is a slick, slimy sucker and he will lie to us each time.

Fatherhood is a vocation a calling to a distinctive state of life that will bless, support and care for the family life, and the further of the Church. Men do not pray like women, we may not look like we are spiritually concerned or hurting and looking for God’s direction. But we are concerned about our love ones, our community and our place in this world. Yes we hold thoughts in and do not talk openly about our feelings but we do care and sadly at times to the point that it will look as if we do not care.

When our families turn to us in times of trouble we must turn our family troubles over to the lord, we can’t hold what is not ours. When they throw it to us – we must throw it to God, put it where it belongs.

There are four things that we must do for our family:

  • Protector: Shell our family from the world; we should always be on watch.
  • Provider: Be a giver of Wisdom, friendship, and to add to our family life
  • Promoter: Help your family look good, help their light shine better
  • Prayer: We need a prayer life

To be true and live healthy, men need to stay connected with the Church and other Christian men so they can stay fed spiritually. Men’s prayer groups, Men’s Choirs, Knights of Columbus, Knights of Peter Claver and other group that openly share the faith are a Blessing to any man wanting to hear the word of God. Every CMCS conference provides Christian men with support, wisdom and a place to see and feel what a Christian mans life is about. It is great for a new seeker to men with great wisdom to share to take some to time to give time for your family and community. The better you are in your faith, the better your family and community will be so, let God use you to Bless his people.

Deacon Alfred Coleman is Director of Zacchaeus House, and a member of the CMCS-Team as nonprofit advisor.


“Where Are The Men?” Thoughts From A CMCS-Man

Below are some thoughts sent to us from a brother Catholic man here in the Chicago Southland, he gave us permission to share with you. Comment below with your reply or Contact Us privately. The CMCS-Team has agreed to keep the author ID anonymous.

Just some thoughts on men and men’s groups as well as our forum.

I am seventy four years old and thus have a pretty good sample size regarding men, their reaction to religious sharing groups, and what discourages them from attending. The attendance at our forums has grown over the years, but often when I attend I look around and ask where are the rest of the Catholic men in the Chicago Southland. If all the Catholic men in the Southland attended or even a small percentage we would be sold out and the hall would be full. I know you advertise aggressively reaching out to the Southland Catholic parishes so where are they? [My wife] attends many women’s forums like ours and attendance at these gatherings are much larger.

The answer to “Where are the men” is not simple. There is not one root cause but several causes some that link to each to other. Just a few are:

  • I am uncomfortable sharing my deep inner feelings with other men and in some cases my wife or other loved ones.
  • I don’t want anyone else to see my emotions.
  • I don’t know how to speak about my feelings and emotions in front of other men. In fact I hardly talk about them with my wife.
  • Men don’t cry.
  • I don’t have time.
  • My wife wants me to attend in hopes I will change in some way. I’m afraid nothing will come of my attendance
  • This kind of meeting is for women not men.
  • I go to church on Sunday why do I have to spend time doing this?

So where do all these excuses, if you will, come from? In some cases it may be that they are modeling their father. They have been told men never cry. To express feelings and participate in sharing is a sign of weakness and makes them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. There are many more reasons I know that come into play.

OK let me get back to my observation of men over the years. I do not do this in any self righteous way, nor hold myself up as some example of good religious behavior which is not correct. Over the years I have known many couples in which the husband or wife dies. In the case of the man dying, after a time of grieving, the wife immediately turns to her network of friends for support and encouragement and it works. She has built up her network over time of personal conversations and that network responds to her with an outpouring of love. She has links and friends within her church. After all church is not just a building but a community. All these networks have been built over decades not just years. Why and how did this happen? By spending time with these friends while her husband was alive and sharing her deepest feelings. In almost all cases I have seen after a time of grieving these widows respond to her friends and move on to their new phase of life as widows

With regard to men, let’s face it, we can be lone wolfs. Most men do not have networks which they have lovingly built over the years. They are completely lost and confounded by what has happened to them. They have no one to turn to. Many times their children are thrown into a situation they do not know how to handle. After all “Dad never shared his feelings with us. I don’t know what to say” The faith of these men is tested to the limit because of the loss of their wife. Sadly to say many of these widowers wither actually die after a few years. In some cases I have seen their purpose in the widower’s life is to wake in the morning and then visit the grave site of their wife and even after death ask her why she left him.

I wish I had a magic bullet that would help. I do not. All I can say is love God and love your neighbor. Have a friend? Let it go and let God. Talk to him about who you really are in terms of your feelings and emotions. Remove that mask of manhood and show him the real you. ALL OF YOU. You need to spend time with that person. Take time away from watching TV cutting the grass, playing golf, or doing household chores and spend time with him.. Let that friendship grow and let your network of friends grow.

God Bless you,

[CMCS-Man]