The Family as Domestic Church

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Some attribute this quote to St. Teresa of Calcutta, but whether or not she said it, it speaks volumes. Change starts at home, in our families, with raising the future generation to be virtuous and faithful people who will then go out into the world

Each day, Msgr. Stuart Swetland provides some insight and teaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in his Catechetical Corner segment on Go Ask Your FatherTM. Recently he spoke about the domestic church and its crucial role in the universal Catholic Church.

The domestic church is, for those unfamiliar with the term, a family. And it’s in the domestic church that we cultivate faith that will be equipped to bring the light of Christ to the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

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. 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.”

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.” Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” 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.

“The family that prays together, stays together,” said Msgr. Swetland, using the common adage. He emphasized the importance of our families being a witness to holiness and to Jesus.

Don’t underestimate the difference that one family can make. With the love and care that you display within your domestic church, you are starting a ripple that can move mountains.

“It was the witness of family life and the witness of the martyrs and the witness of generous taking care of the poor that converted the Roman Empire,” explained Msgr. Swetland. The lifestyle of Christians was radically different from the rest of society at the time. “It was opposed at first, but eventually won over the hearts and minds of the citizens of the Roman Empire.”

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Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.