A resolution: Renewing Catholic family life in 2020

By:

Pope Francis has said that “the Church is a family of families” (Amoris Laetitia, No. 87). More than a statement of fact, these words assert that the Church can only be as strong, as faithful and as dynamically on fire for Christ as the families that make up the Body of Christ.

In this last year, we have seen many examples of the Church’s need for authentic healing, reform and renewal. While this is true on every level, one level that has been overlooked is the need to renew Catholic families — the domestic church. Research shows that Catholic families really don’t look or live that differently from our non-Catholic counterparts. Although many Catholics pray individually and have meaningful, personal experiences within our Catholic faith, generally speaking, we don’t know how our faith is supposed to make a difference in our homes. We haven’t been taught to think that our Catholic faith should help us draw closer to each other as husbands, wives, parents and children. We don’t know how to stop thinking of family responsibilities as distractions from living a holy life. We don’t know how to hear God speaking to us in and through our home lives. We don’t know how to turn the individuals that live with us into a dynamic domestic Church focused on living the Gospel and consecrating the world to Christ.

I would like to ask you to join me this year in changing that. Let’s make 2020 the Year of the Domestic Church by discovering how to celebrate the liturgy of domestic church life.

To the degree that we think of it at all, we tend to think of “liturgy” as a passive thing. We go to church. Liturgy happens around us. We receive the Eucharist. We go home. But that isn’t the way we are supposed to experience liturgy at all. Liturgy isn’t really a noun; it is a verb. Liturgy is the means by which the Church heals the damage that sin has done to humanity’s relationship with God and calls the world into communion with Christ. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, bread and wine becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. We receive Communion so that we can participate in communion with Christ and then be the source of godly communion in the world — by building Christian relationships.

That’s where what we might call the liturgy of domestic church life comes in. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the ministerial priesthood consecrates bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. In the liturgy of domestic church life, the common priesthood — a ministry we all receive in baptism — consecrates the world to Christ. I would suggest that families do this in three ways.

First, through what we might call the “rite of relationship,” the liturgy of domestic church life invites us to love differently and consecrate our relationships to Christ. We do this by challenging ourselves and each member of our household to love each other — not with a mere human love, but with Christ’s love. As theologian Philip Mamalakis explains, families “are church in their (turning toward) love, and it is Christ’s love that constitutes the church of the home.” When families actively challenge each other to live Christ’s self-sacrificing love at home, they provide ongoing formation in the priestly mission of baptism, which consecrates their household (and the world) to Christ and enables families to experience all the stuff of daily life as an opportunity to grow in holy love.

Second, through the “rite of family rituals,” families provide ongoing formation in the prophetic mission of baptism. A prophet calls people to live in godly ways. By having strong family rituals for praying, working, talking and playing together, Catholic families model how the Christian person is meant to relate to prayer, work, relationships and leisure. Family rituals are a catechism in Christian living.

Through the “rite of reaching out” families exercise the royal mission of baptism by looking for ways to bless others with the gifts they have been given. Those gifts include their witness of love as well as their hospitality in opening their homes and their generosity in sharing their time, treasure and talents with others.

In the next few months, I’ll be using this space to unpack this liturgy of domestic church life and the three rites of which it is comprised. For now, join me in asking God to make 2020 the year that your family becomes the domestic church it is meant to be and that all God’s families would learn to celebrate the liturgy of domestic church life fully for their good, for the good of the world and for the greater glory of God.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: John’s confession of faith

Friday, January 17, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley During Advent, the Church listened to John’s the Baptist’s inquiry from prison. As John suffered in prison, he... Read More

A resolution: Renewing Catholic family life in 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
By: Dr. Greg Popcak Pope Francis has said that “the Church is a family of families” (Amoris Laetitia, No. 87). More than a statement of... Read More

Realizing what we are affects our view of marriage

Monday, January 13, 2020
By:  Msgr. Owen Campion I should not have been taken aback, given the current, highly publicized demands apparently by many in the United... Read More

Opening the Word: Sharing in Divine Sonship

Friday, January 10, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley In Matthew, John protests the baptism of Jesus, suggesting that it is Jesus who should be the one who baptizes John. Yet... Read More

What’s the state of the pro-life movement?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
By: Russell Shaw As thousands of pro-life demonstrators fill the streets of downtown Washington on Jan. 24 for the annual March for Life, optimism... Read More

The uncomfortable history of Catholics and slavery

Monday, January 6, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion The birds are coming home to roost. Georgetown University, this country’s first Catholic college, and first Jesuit... Read More

Opening the Word: The gift of ourselves

Friday, January 3, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Church-going Catholics know the major themes of the feast of the Epiphany. We know the Wise Men represent the Gentiles... Read More

Throwing ‘prayer darts’ at God: How to make short, intentional prayers a part of our everyday lives

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
By: Father Peter Schineller “Pray without ceasing” urges St. Paul (1 Thes 5:17). This doesn’t mean we should be on our knees or... Read More

Parents are called to be the primary teachers of the Faith to their children

Monday, December 30, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion On a recent, rainy Saturday afternoon, in a sudden fit to rid myself of things unneeded, I found a treasure in a long... Read More

Opening the Word: The Incarnation of the real

Friday, December 27, 2019
By:Timothy P. O'Malley Secular critics of religion often offer the following assessment. They presume that religious people embrace their doctrines... Read More