Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sacred Domesticity

Thinking about "Hallowed Be This House" reminds me of the idea of the family as a Domestic Church

The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Christian family as follows:

Christ not only restored the family to its original type as something holy, permanent, and monogamous, but raised the contract from which it springs to the dignity of a sacrament, and thus placed the family itself upon the plane of the supernatural. The family is holy inasmuch as it is to co-operate with God by procreating children who are destined to be the adopted children of God, and by instructing them for His kingdom.

Continuing to look into etymology, which is one of the most delightful parts of a study like this, I find:

  • Domestic -- "belonging to the household", from "domus", house.
  • Church, "house of the Lord", tracing through Old English to Goth to Greek, "of the Lord"

cf Joshua 24:15

choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..
.But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Pope John Paul II wrote

The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called "the domestic Church."(58)

All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building, day by day, the communion of persons, making the family "a school of deeper humanity"--  this happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service every day; when there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows.
The US Bishops have a pastoral message called Follow the Way of Love that reflects on these teachings:

Baptism brings all Christians into union with God. Your family life is sacred because family relationships confirm and deepen this union and allow the Lord to work through you. The profound and the ordinary moments of daily life—mealtimes, workdays, vacations, expressions of love and intimacy, household chores, caring for a sick child or elderly parent, and even conflicts over things like how to celebrate holidays, discipline children, or spend money—all are the threads from which you can weave a pattern of holiness.....

A family is our first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us, and acts in the world. The early Church expressed this truth by calling the Christian family a domestic church or church of the home

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