“Catholic parents must learn to form their family as a “domestic church,” a church in the home as it were, where God is honored, his law is respected, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and everyone shares the hopes, the problems and sufferings of everyone else. All this is not to advocate a return to some outdated style of living: It is to return to the roots of human development and human happiness!”
– Pope John Paul II
Review and Thoughts
I am blessed to have a wonderful mother who through the course of my life has kept Christ the center of our lives and our family. The rotating calendar of our church was reflected in our lives at home. We were sure to celebrate Lent and Advent, we celebrated mass each Sunday and on Holy Days. My parents both helped us grown in our personal relationships with Jesus by giving us opportunities to pray alone, with the family, and with them. And most of all, my parents made huge sacrifices to make sure we attended Catholic schools where we learned our subjects through Catholic eyes. I had a childhood blessed by God and I understand what a domestic church can look like.
Fast forward and now I am a mother gifted the task of creating my own domestic church for my children. The realization that God has given me four innocent souls to lead to heaven is not something to be taken lightly.
In today’s world, this task can seem incredibly overwhelming, so I feel lucky to have found Kendra Tierney from Catholic All Year. First of all, if you don’t already follow her blog, you should. Secondly, her Compendium has been such an enormous resource for me and I feel like it could be amazing if all families could incorporate a few things into their families from this book.
She begins her compendium with Advent and follows through the liturgical church calendar and provides activities and suggestions for things you can do with your family to celebrate. It’s one of the most comprehensive books of this kind. Tierney has countless saint feast days with ways to celebrate, and such cute ideas to celebrate traditions that most of us don’t celebrate anymore. This can seem pretty overwhelming if you don’t currently celebrate too much with your family. So she suggests starting out slowly and incorporating a few things here and there.
Since I already had some traditions in my own home, I added some things I didn’t normally do. For instance, I looked up the anniversary of each of our baptisms and marked them on the calendar. We started putting up a slideshow of the baptism pictures on the tv while we ate dinner and then each kid whose anniversary it is gets to choose a dessert. Then we pray over that person that night. This has become a huge hit in our home.
Another big thing we added was the backyard Stations of the Cross. We colored the stations and hung them in our back yard. Someone carried the crucifix and another a candle as we prayed the stations. We invited our cousins over and made it a big event.
These are just a couple of the things I’ve incorporated this year. I’ve heard some people complain that the book is just too much, but when you look to add a few things here and there in your family tradition, it can make a huge difference in the end.
I hope that every Catholic family can their hands on a copy of this book and my biggest prayer is that it would begin some new traditions with our kids to carry on with their own families someday.
Further Discussion and Resources
- Follow Kendra Tierney at Catholic All Year.
- Read this bullet pointed list from the USCCB, ‘Tools for Building a Domestic Church’
- Discuss with your spouse some ways you can enhance your domestic church.