Building Your Domestic Church
February 08, 2021
Filed In: Faith
What’s the difference between a priest and a husband? In a word: scale. What the priest does for his community, a husband must do for his family. We tend to think of the Church in the macro: a global movement with hierarchy, structure, customs, and laws. In reality, the Church is both macro and micro: what happens on the large scale is closely mirrored in the daily lives of its families. In fact, when you consider just how closely the life of the family imitates the life of the Church, it becomes evident just how inseparable the two are.
The priest offers sacrifices, feeds his flock, counsels those in trouble, and tends to the needs of the community. In the same way, I am called to do the same for my family.
The Church consists of the Universal and the Domestic. The Universal Church is that macrostructure that we know. It’s the Pope, the Bishops, the ordained, the professed religious, the laity, and the collective good works that we do. Binding us together is the Eucharist and our shared, global liturgy. We’re encouraged and strengthened by the graces transmitted through the sacraments. Within that Universal Church is the myriad of domestic churches, that is to say, families. The life of the family flows from and gives life to the Universal Church. The life and grace of the Universal Church flows to and strengthens the family. In this harmonious union, the churches work together for the salvation of souls and the good of mankind.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we read about how the early Christians lived in community. They sold all that they had, put the proceeds at the feet of the apostles, and it was doled out according to need. This plays out so beautifully in the family. The parents deposit their paycheck into a shared account, and the proceeds are divided out according to the need of each member of the family.
We rely too much on those in the clerical state and the universal Church to provide for the spiritual needs and education of our family. In reality, they’re there to support husbands and fathers. It’s up to us to shepherd our families and catechize our children. Hopefully, your children have many wonderful priests, nuns, and brothers as examples in their lives. But their primary example of what it means to be a Catholic, what it means to live a holy and virtuous life, is you.
The Domestic Church may sound quaint, but it’s vitally important. It’s the training ground for saints, and the classroom of Catholicism. It may feel like an overwhelming task, but it’s the vocation that you were called to. Along with that calling comes the grace necessary to fulfill your calling.