In the latest issue of the Knights of Columbus’s Colombia magazine, a piece from Archbishop William E. Lori caught my eye. Excerpting:

More than 50 years ago, the fathers of Vatican II recognized that marriage was threatened by divorce and so-called “free love,” and that “married love is too often dishonored by selfishness, hedonism, and unlawful contraceptive practices.” The council also cited the economic, social, and psychological pressures facing families in the modern world. (GS, 47).

For the past five decades, societal support for marriage and family has eroded even further. … couples must make a conscious decision to make their homes truly a domestic church—a home built on the solid rock of faith. Families are made beautiful by a self-giving love that not only endures but flourishes amid sacrifices and sufferings…”

What is the “domestic church?” A short-ish answer:

From the beginning, the Church was formed from believers “and their whole household.” New believers wanted their family to be saved (Acts 18:8).

In our modern world (often hostile to religion), religious families are extremely important centers of living faith. They are “domestic churches” in which the parents are the first heralds of faith (Second Vatican Council). In the home, father, mother, and children exercise their baptismal priesthood in a privileged way. The home is the first school of the Christian life where all learn love, repeated forgiveness, and prayerful worship.

When we separate ourselves into discrete and severable bits, we become less than ourselves. Christianity, for instance, can’t simply be something we “do” but instead has to be reflected in who we are. A holistic, integrated lifestyle is the way to go.

A stronger sense of the domestic church is an important way to live out the truth that “all great change begins at the dinner table.” If our family, friends, and children only come into contact with prayer and the sacramental life through their priest, rather than primarily in the home, the faith dies.

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