A Quarantine Guide to Building Up Your Domestic Church

Prayer, intentionality, and grace. These are the ingredients to successfully navigating the constantly changing environment that our families have experienced these past weeks, says Licensed Independent Clinical social worker Jim Otremba. Jim and Maureen Otremba joined Morning Air® on Relevant Radio® to share some advice for building up the domestic church while you’re spending more time together than ever.

If you’re really struggling, it’s okay. This isn’t our normal routine and our families aren’t used to being cooped up together for weeks on end. And if you’re really enjoying this extra time at home, it’s okay to feel that way too. Jim wants to validate your feelings and assure you that it’s not wrong to feel either way about the changes this pandemic has thrown your way.

He spoke of a recent conversation with a client who admitted feeling guilty about how enjoyable this unexpected family time has been. “This is a quote from the client: ‘It took a pandemic to do this, Jim.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it did. That’s true. But let’s not go back!’” He challenges all families to consider how we can continue to spend quality time together, to be joyful in each other’s presence and journey together.

If your kids are home from school and your usual activities and meetings are cancelled, now is the time to really focus on the family dinners that you might have been missing. Take the time to bake or prepare meals together, and then sit down with one another (and no electronics) and make the most of that time to learn from and support one another.

As you navigate this once-in-a-lifetime situation, it’s important to not overwhelm your kids with what’s happening. Be aware of what media you’re consuming because, as Jim and Maureen point out, kids are little barometers who pick up on the anxiety or worry you might be showing. Jim recommends that you work at highlighting positive news for your family from media sources such as Relevant Radio.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for the faith life of your domestic church is the inability to attend Mass in person. “I want to give our kids some room to be confused and it’s okay if they can’t sit there the whole time and attend to liturgy on a screen. I mean, technically, we’ve all been dispensed of our obligation to participate in liturgy and if it’s a really difficult thing to keep them there, let’s find other ways to pray as a family right now,” said Maureen. Maybe you want to pray the Sunday Mass readings together and discuss what it means for your family right now.

“We just want to navigate these waters with a lot of prayer, a lot of intentionality, and a lot of grace. To be grace-based with each other right now is critical,” said Jim.

Holy Family, pray for us!

Hear more of the conversation here:

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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.