Building a Domestic Church: Going Deeper

In my last post, I outlined what I believe to be the essential practices for living family life as a domestic church. However, many of you may already be doing these things and are looking for inspiration on how to deepen the practice of your Christian faith in your family. This post is for you!

Although every Christian family images the love of the Trinity (in a distant, but still real, way), families are still made up of unique individuals, so it makes sense that each family is unique as well. Every family has its charisms, gifts, favorite hobbies, and, of course, idiosyncrocies too. This means that, after the essentials, how we live as a domestic church is going to vary somewhat from family to family. Which is a beautiful thing! I imagine a tapestry of families making up the body of Christ, with different patterns and colors, and all of them glorifying God in their own unique way.

With that said, here are some examples of how a family might live out life as a domestic church. I encourage you to pray with your spouse and kids about which practices to incorporate into your family life (you don’t have to stick to this list).

    Go to daily Mass. This is such a transformative practice, and it can be done, even with young kids! The more you go, the easier it gets. Daily Masses are shorter than Sunday Mass so your kids might even do better. I have a friend who goes every single day with four kids (she’s my hero). If this seems crazy to you, maybe just start with one extra Mass a week, or even a month, and work your way up.
    Say the rosary together. Outside of the Mass, this is one of the most powerful and transformative prayers you can pray to change the world and sanctify your families. And it only takes about 15 minutes! Pope Pius XI said, “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” If you have younger children, it will likely be hard for them to focus, but a quick google search will produce a ton of free printable rosary coloring pages for them to work on while you pray. Don’t be afraid to try it! Your family rosary will not be perfect; in fact, it might be a complete mess, but it will still be efficacious. And if this seems too overwhelming right now, just start with a decade a day.
    Decorate your house according to the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Most people decorate for Christmas, but have you thought about the other seasons as well? As bodily beings, it helps draw us deeper into the life of the Church to have visible reminders around us that constantly remind us of the current liturgical season.
    img_0150-2.jpgEnjoying our “hole-y” and “Spirit-filled” donuts for the feast of Pentecost!
    Celebrate holy days and the feast days of the saints . You could do this just for big holy days (such as Pentecost, which we just celebrated), for your favorite saints, your confirmation saints, the saints who are your namesakes, or even every feast day on the calendar if that’s your thing! Catholic All Year is a fantastic place to reference for resources and ideas on how to incorporate saints’ feast days, holy days, and the liturgical seasons into your family. The creator, Kendra Tierney, also wrote a book on concrete ways to live liturgically – definitely check it out!
    Celebrate Sacrament anniversaries. My kids are young, and we just started this practice for my oldest, who is a newly-minted 5 year old. I kept it super simple and bought a white cake from the grocery store. During dinner, we lit his baptismal candle. I tried to make him feel special and talked a little about what baptism means and how he was baptized on that day. You could definitely be more creative if you want, but it doesn’t have to be complicated!
    Volunteer together, specifically focusing on the corporal works of mercy. This is an amazing way to live your faith within the context of your local community. It also helps to instill in your children, and foster in yourself, empathy, kindness, self-sacrifice, gratitude, and an understanding of the dignity of all human life. If your kids are babies or you don’t have children, you can do this with your spouse and individually. One of the greatest plagues of our western society is our obsession with ourselves, which makes us miserable, of course, because we are created to give ourselves in love to others. Volunteering is a wonderful remedy for this!
    Make a pilgrimage together. A pilgrimage is an ancient practice of traveling to visit a holy site of our Lord, our Lady, or the saints. It can be done to honor God, in penance for a sin (this was more common in the middle ages), or to ask for a particular favor. Of course, it would be amazing to make it Fatima, Rome, or the Holy Land, but that’s not feasible for every family. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a pilgrimage though! There are several sites than can help you find one local to where you live. This is one I’ve used before and like.
    Invite people over for dinner! This should include your friends, but I encourage you not to limit yourself only to those you feel most comfortable with. Invite new neighbors, acquaintances, your parish priest, people you know of who are going through a hard time, the families of your children’s friends, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in knowing who God wants you to reach out to. I love this post from Haley Stewart about the significance of hosting people for meals, and it may address some of the objections that are popping into your head. (I know it did for me).
Family hike in the Berkeley Hills
    Get outside and talk about God. Since the beginning of time, people have been drawn to God through the beauty of His creation. I know many people for whom this is the reason they believe in God’s existence. For those who are already Christians, being in nature is a way for us to draw even closer to our Creator, by admiring its beauty, which is a reflection of Him, and by seeing the complexity and grandeur of nature as a sign of His love for us. My family loves to go on hikes and explore the wildness of creation. But even just spending time in a park full of trees and green grass can be a way to teach your children about God and His great love for us.
    Foster a love for beauty in art and music and teach your children that beauty draws us to God, because God is beauty itself. You can do this in so many different ways, but some examples are to listen to music in your home, create art, go to museums and art shows, and attend concerts together. Sacred music would be especially appropriate, but beauty can be found in many genres!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways that your family can live as a domestic church. It’s also not meant to overwhelm you. Some of these practices are more important than others. Read through this list, pray with your spouse and children about it, jot down ideas that aren’t listed, and ask God to guide you in deciding what practices you want to begin as a family. You can always start small. God loves to do great things with little, and He will surely multiply your efforts!

How does your family live life as a domestic church? Please share below in the comments!