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.
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.