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)

Bishop Joseph Perry: Our Families

Each day gives us a moment to contemplate our families and what we really want them to be… to ask the blessing of God who has brought us together and appointed each one of us to be in this family.

Referencing  our religious roots … in Jesus’ day… each member of the family did something to produce food, practically the only industry.  Carpenters like Joseph would have spent as much, if not more, time building or repairing farming implements.  Jesus would have learned his father’s trade.  Jewish society was a lot simpler than anything we know.  From the moment they were physically able, children worked.  The men ploughed and planted, made repairs, shepherded the flocks and whatever else was needed.  Boys stayed with the men learning the crafts and trades of their fathers and other men in the family.  Girls stayed with the women learning how to turn wool into cloth and grain into flour.

In Jesus day, people lived in very small dwellings in extended family groups. They survived only by recognizing that their survival depended upon each other.  They lived in the same rooms, ate and worked together, prayed together.  It was the values of their religion that created their strongest bonds. Except for daughters who married, few left the home.

Our scriptures and church teaching emphasize the need for exemplary behavior on each our part in order to survive.  This call to proper daily behavior is a Call rooted in faith.  A strong family relies on its faith to guide and direct it.

A family is a living, breathing organism.  Members of the family live off each other; they cope, assist each other and aggravate each other.  They make the best of a situation; they invest in it, get to like it, maybe even need it.  Sometimes families live with situations they shouldn’t; and make bad human investments; and learn to tolerate unlikable things.

Families must be flexible, but within limits. Nothing is ever what it used to be, nor is it entirely different.  Each member needs room to grow.  Families need to expect change and crises as a way of life.  Our Church teaches that the purposes of marriage are mutual love and raising children.  Love is always stretched.  We have to discover new ways to express old love or loved ones begin to feel taken for granted. And children are naturally bundles of constant change. This makes the family a change agent, a growth industry!

Sometimes, families need to face the truth, to avoid a future catastrophe by bearing a present pain or embarrassment.  We need to allow ourselves to be in trouble.  If Mary was found a pregnant teen and Jesus was a runaway teen then we are allowed a scandal or two in the family.  A good rule in family life – all life – is to play the problem where it lies.  We almost always make it worse by trying to improve on our lie.

And, of course, families, like individuals, live on appreciation, without which even the best arrangements fall apart.  Because the family is not an institution; it is an occasion if not an unfolding drama of love.

We worry about our families.  We desire our children to have the best influences, the best education and a reasonable walk through adult life free of trauma and pain if at all possible. We want our families to be wrapped in the blessings of God.  These are good things to ask for.  For these reasons we fall to our knees asking God to keep us in His care.•

Bishop Joseph N. Perry

JNP 2009

St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, Model for a Man With a Family

By Bishop Joseph N Perry

None of us likes to have our plans changed be that provoked by an accident, downsizing at work or layoff from the job, some unforeseen happening with our children or grandchildren, a spring storm or a natural disaster, sudden death of a family member.  All of these things can intrude on our lives.

St. Joseph might be called the patron saint of changed plans.  In a culture where there were strong predictions, set patterns and long established customs Joseph chose for a spouse a beautiful girl in his village and things started happening.  He awaited the birth of a mystery child and then had to take the expectant mother on an unexpected trip upon news of a government ordered census.  He witnessed the birth of Jesus then had to flee for their lives because of news of a deranged regent by the name of Herod.  He heard strange words in the temple from perfect strangers about the child’s future then had another heart wrenching experience in the same temple 12 years later with the same lost child.

As a parent Joseph may have had many more surprises not recounted in scripture. What we do know of him is that he always responded, made the necessary adjustments and took action all the while with an appropriate degree of faith and surrender to God. 

There was context for this in Jewish culture, namely, Joseph was open to hearing the word of God expressed in what can be described as an active dream-life within a lively sense by his own people that God walked with them and was concerned about them despite Roman legions marching through their streets.  Scripture presents Joseph as a just and upright man, sensitive, in tune with the Will of God.  In retrospect, chosen to protect God’s secret – the origin of God’s Son and the integrity of the child’s Mother.  Joseph must have been a special man for all this.

In this he was a worthy descendant of his ancestor King David of Israel who had to change his plans regularly to fit God’s purpose, for the promise of an everlasting dynasty.  Even more, Joseph is a son of Abraham, the great model of our heritage in faith, another man whose plans were constantly getting changed for the better by a baffling God.  Joseph was submerged in Jewish yearnings for a Messiah whose reign would be forever. He learned to hope against hope and thereby saw some interesting things take place.

Joseph doesn’t seem to have had many accolades or glory days or a Father of the year award.  Joseph simply exits the scene after doing his duty.  I find that is true with a lot of seniors if not an older generation given to duty and responsibility raising children, washing dishes, going to work till they retire or are pushed out, getting sick and dying or following hum-drum routine that carries the blessing of God.  God is found in the ordinary day-to-day rhythms of our lives.

Joseph exhibits a credible manhood, a religious disposition not unfamiliar to his times, but indeed a model for today’s Christian man who searches earnestly for the Will of God in his life and family.

The twists and turns of our lives may not be so momentous as Joseph’s but they can be equally as uplifting.  Life guarantees us its ups-and-downs. We will all have our lot of suffering in this life.  There is no escaping that.  The question is how to benefit from it personally unto our everlasting glory and happiness in heaven.  Suffering and death are part of our debt due to original sin. therefore, they are necessary for our good.

We can imitate Joseph’s uprightness and faith as we address the ways God asks us to shift gears.  Discerning God’s will is not easy. We need to think things over consistently in a spirit of religious faith.  Sometimes we have to dream. Sometimes we have to suffer. The Lord often has a better idea than we do.  Joseph found that out. So can we.


Most Reverend Joseph N Perry is Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, and Episcopal Liaison of Catholic Men Chicago Southland, and Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum


Forgiveness is Key to a Happy Life

“Forgive me for the times I have not been a dutiful son, obeying the commandments, and making my life a sacrifice in tribute to your sacrifice on Calvary to forgive my sins.”

These are the words from A Man’s Prayer (PDF).  God loves us that He sent His only Son into the world to save us from ourselves. As Jesus was on the Cross, as an expression of His love, He looked up to God and said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

How much more should we forgive others?

We not only live in a war-torn world but, more so today, in a country that seems torn apart. With all the shootings, protests, and how people think nothing to crucify each other, especially on social media, not to mention the tone of Politian’s today. Yes, we need a large dose of forgiveness in our society.

So, I have a plan for you ….

I don’t know if you would call it a resolution, because I think resolutions are like going to the dentist twice a year. Unless you brush your teeth every day, it doesn’t make a difference.

So here is the plan ..

About a year ago I decided to practice forgiveness. The result came to be that I started to experience a more happy life. I didn’t let things bother me as much. I didn’t let people know my mind unless they asked my opinion (that took some time!). When my wife or kids did those things that drove me nust (c’mon guy’s, you know what I mean) I just said a little prayer “Lord forgive them and me” and handed it to Him.

If you think about it, anger, and lack of forgiveness, happens mostly when things are not going our way. When we reach out to others in forgiveness we become a better person, instead of letting things eat us up inside. People also respond in a more positive way.

So, as a picture action and reminder, when something called for my attention to forgive, I picture in my mind to ‘open my fore arm and give’ = for give.

So I challenge you to make this a plan, and in a few weeks I’ll do a follow up post and then let me know in the comments how things are going, or contact me directly if you prefer.

Also, some other ways to practice forgiveness is with confession, or maybe with, or for, your spouse and the prayer for a broken marriage and other resources on the CMCS website.

The list to forgive is endless as I’m sure you can imagine.  Forgiveness is key to a happy life … think about it.

Frank J Casella is a photographer, and co-founder of the Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

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On Living Our Lives To Bring Goodness Into The World

Branch Out
Photo © Frank J Casella All Rights Reserved here

 

Branch Out

By Frank J Casella

When I saw this moment of the golden hour morning sunlight illuminate the twisting branches of a tree, it made me think about family, friends, and the (end of year) holidays.

Our lives are a work in progress, they take many twists and turns, and each of us takes a different direction in life.

As we gather for the holidays, sometimes it can be very trying. Said another way, sometimes our friends can be more like family than our own family.

My take on it — branch out.

My late brother used to pick on me often at family gatherings, almost to the point that I didn’t show up at times. After he passed away it hit me in a big way what he was doing. That he was trying to express how much he believed in me but didn’t know how say it or show it. He really loved me as a brother.

Two days before he passed, it was he who called me to tell me how much he loved me.

If we allow the actions of others to build resentment towards them, we face the danger of spending the rest of our lives judging them instead of loving them for the person they are.

It is said that ‘hate corrupts the container it is in.’

All this to say, we branch out when our actions are what bring Family together or not. Be patient and try to see what others are saying or where they are coming from.

I learned from a very important friend the hard way, that every person has a right to their opinion. We also have a right to accept it or progress on without it.

For those of us who live our Faith, to branch out means that He is the vine and we are the branches. See everyone through the eyes of Christ. Love them, don’t judge them …

Yes, easier said than done. But unless we are on the edge of our chair, then we are not depending on God’s will and living our faith.

 

Frank J Casella is a professional photographer and co-founder of Catholic Chicago Men’s Forum.

 

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Every Catholic Man Wants to Learn how to Pray to Prepare for Advent Better

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

How do you wait in a culture that is instant information? Every Man I talk with it seems tells me they don’t pray as often as they aught to.  If you are married, when it comes to our Faith we usually depend on our wives to set the tone.

Amidst the holiday noise and chaos from the commercial industries, the Advent season is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Christ.  If you are a husband and father, your family looks toward you especially at times like this for spiritual leadership and direction.

We hear about providing for our families financially and in other ways but, rarely do we hear about, or focus, provision and protection as prayer.

“Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God,” Pope Benedict XVI said. “In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.”

It’s not so much then about learning to pray to prepare for advent, but leading an example of silence that makes a positive and lasting impression on you and your family. Like the Nun’s used to tell me in 1st Grade ”God gave you two ears and one mouth, so that you listen more than talk”

Prepare your heart and minds for Christmas with daily resources, prayer and activities at usccb.org/advent.

What would it take for you to have the best Christmas of your life?

Learn about BEST ADVENT EVER from Dynamic Catholic.

Spend your time with Advent Gospel Reflections from Bishop Barron.

Advent provides a reason to try new habits. One we strongly suggest is the “Family Prayer Before Meals” by Bishop Joseph Perry.  Statistics tells us that when a family breaks bread and prays together at least 3 times per week, it makes a noticeable difference in your children’s stability and security as a family unit.

This Advent, GIVE yourself deliberate time of silence and resolute to bring yourself  – and your family – closer to Christ!

Frank J Casella, Catholic Men Chicago Southland

 

PS. Now it is your turn. What are some ways that you practice Advent in your home?  Please write a comment below.

 

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This is something VERY special

A special message on Giving Tuesday. Sent to me by a friend. It will make you happy and might even bring tears to your eyes.

Deacon John Rangel, CMCS Director of Mission

 

 

 

 

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Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Click the Follow button to receive an email from each blog post, or elect to receive daily or weekly digests of all of new posts.

 

Catholic Chicago Men Blog is a labor of love. If this blog or its content has helped you or someone you love, please consider donating.