The Domestic Church The Catholic Home

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					The Domestic Church:
 The Catholic Home
   Every Catholic home
  should be considered a
microcosm of the Church,
   with the Father as the
 Mother as the cherished
(both equal before God in
    dignity and, always,
    treating each other
     equally in charity),
   and with the children
 brought up learning how
 to know, love, and serve
    The true head of the
  Catholic home is Jesus,
 just as He is Head of the
but appointed a Vicar in the
      Supreme Pontiff,
      our Holy Father.
The constant awareness of
     Christ's Kingship,
   with the family's week
  centered on the Mass,
    and day centered on
           is key.
    At a minimum, in addition to
     being encouraged to pray in
     his own words, prayers that
     every Catholic child should
              know are:
• The prayers of the Rosary:
    – Apostles' Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary,
      Glory Be, and Fatima Prayer, Sign of
      the Cross
       • (the very smallest of children should
         know how and when to sign themselves)
•   The Nicene Creed
•   Blessing before Meals
•   Blessing after Meals
•   Prayer to Guardian Angel
•   Act of Contrition
•   Hail Holy Queen
•   The Eternal Rest Prayer
  Prayer should be further
   encouraged by placing
Holy Water fonts near your
          front door
  and in each child's room.
   They should be taught
     what Holy Water is,
   what using it signifies,
      and how to use it
-- and parents should bless
    their children with it,
    signing them on their
Each child's room
 should also have
 a crucifix hanging
    over the bed
(these crucifixes
     should be
    blessed by a
  bishop, priest or
  Ideally, every
  family should
 consecrate their
   home to the
  Sacred Heart,
overtly stating their
   intentions of
 making Christ the
   King of their
 You should ask a
priest to bless your
 home as soon as
  you move into it
   (aside from the
   blessing of new
 homes, there is a
 tradition of having
one's home blessed
also on the Feast of
   the Epiphany).
In opposition to the typical
 modern home which has
   a television set as its
    the focal point of a
 Catholic home should be
      the family altar
-- a place where the family can
gather to offer up their prayers
to the Most Holy Trinity and to
    ask the Saints to pray for
    Morning Offerings, family
 Rosaries, prayers for special
   intentions, family novenas,
 Lectio Divina, etc., can all be
           made here.
A few key items to be placed
    on or around the altar
           table are:
• Crucifix
• Sacred Scripture
• Icons (statues and/or two-
• A Holy Water font
• A cellar of blessed salt
• charcoal incense burner
• Rosaries
• vigil candles, candles blessed
  at Candlemas (to burn on All
  Saints Day and in times of
• and Baptismal candles (for use
  at weddings and during
 Other things one might want
         to consider are
• the Breviary or the Little Office of Our
• Holy Cards,
• flowers,
• prie-dieux,
• the names of dead family members
  printed on beautiful parchment so we
  may be reminded to pray for them
  (having their funeral holy cards there
  would be nice, too),
• pictures of the Stations of the Cross or
  the Mysteries of the Rosary,
• something with which to play sacred
  music and Gregorian chant,
• Sick call sets,
• Palm branches from Palm Sunday,
• certificate of a papal blessing, etc.
   It would be especially
     good if at least a small
    library could be built up
   containing books to feed
            the faith:
• traditional Catechisms for children
  and adults,
• Butler's "Lives of the Saints,"
• Thomas á Kempis's "Imitation of
• St. Thomas Aquinas's "Summa
• St. Augustine's "City of God" and
• the writings of St. Thérèse de
  Lisieux (the "Little Flower"),
• St. John of the Cross,
• Teresa of Avila, etc.
• "Coffee table books" that include
  beautiful pictures of Christendom's
  great works of art and architecture
  would be very inspiring, too.
Family altars, like
    the rest of the
    home, can be
  according to the
 liturgical season,
 sacred images,
    and flowers
 according to that
 Season's liturgical
      colors and
  Buy one of those little
  tiny 6" easels made to
  display small pictures,
      and then buy an
    assortment of Holy
    Cards to place on it
   according to liturgical
     season or Feast.
• For ex., on the Feast of st.
  Nicholas, a Holy Card
  bearing his likeness can be
  set out;
• on Good Friday, a card
  depicting the Crucifixion;
• on the family's Name Days,
  depictions of their patrons
  can be placed on it, etc.
   Artistic mothers or
fathers can embroider
    altar cloths with
appropriate Seasonal
 symbols and colors.
   Another idea is to
embroider phrases or
  appropriate verses
 from Scripture along
 the borders or at the
 center of altar cloths
  that summarize the
   Season's "mood."
 The Seasons' colors
                        •    Advent candles;
and some appropriate    •    Advent wreath;
symbols for them are:   •    empty crib;
   Advent (purple)      •    St. John the Baptist;

                               "Veni, veni Emmanuel"
                             (O Come, O come Emmanuel);
                               "Ecce Dominus veniet"
                             (Behold, the Lord our God shall
                                      "Ero cras"
                            (the O Antiphon acrostic meaning
                                    "Tomorrow I come");
                        the titles given to Jesus in the
                                   O Antiphons:
                           Sapientia, Adonai, Radix
                          Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens,
                            Rex Gentium, Emmanuel
      Chrismastide (white)
•   star;
•   manger,
•   candles;
•   bells;
•   mother and Child;
•   angels;
•   Christmas candle;
•   Holly or ivy;
•   Christmas rose; poinsettia;
•   Christmas tree;
•   mistletoe;
•   cardinals; robins;
•   yule log;
   "Glória in excélsis Deo"
(Glory to God in the Highest)
 Time after Epiphany
• water and wine of miracle at
• fish and loaves;
• Scallop Shell;
  "Benedícitus Dóminus
   Deus Israel, Qui facit
   mirabília magna solus
        a saeculo"
(Blessed be the Lord, the God of
      Israel, Who alone doth
     wonderful things from the
  Lent (Septuagesima) (purple)
• chains;
• tears;
• Cross;
• crown of thorns;
• nails;
• Chalice;
• Host;
"De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine:
      Dómine, exáudi vocem meam"
 (From the depths I have cried to Thee,
   O Lord: Let thine ears be attentive to
         the prayer of Thy servant);
             "Kyrie eléison"
           (Lord, have mercy);
    "Immutémur hábitu in cinere et
 (Let us change our garments for ashes
               and sackcloth)
        Eastertide (white)
•   empty Tomb;
•   egg;
•   lamb;
•   the Paschal candle;
•   bells;
•   peacock;
•   butterfly;
•   phoenix;
      "Christus Resurrexit"
         (Christ is risen)
                                            • the number
  Ordinary Time                               1,000 (the
                                              letter "M" in
   (Time after                                Roman
Pentecost (green))                          • Church;
                                            • Peter's
                                            • crown

                     "Christus vincit, Christus regnat,
                               Christus imperat"
                      (Christ conquers, Christ reigns,
                              Christ commands);
                            "Vive Christus Rex"
                        (Long live Christ the King)
Also in keeping with the liturgical
    Seasons and Feast Days,
• icons and statues can be covered with
  purple cloth during Passiontide (the last
  two weeks of Lent);
• statues of Mary can be crowned with roses
  in May; lilies (especially blessed lilies) can
  be placed there on the Feast of St Anthony
  of Padua (13 June);
• Advent wreaths can be set up on the first
  Sunday of Advent; the crèche ("nativity
  scene") could be set up here during
  Christmastide, etc.
• Some families even clothe statues of Our
  Lady according to the liturgical season, for
  example, dressing her in a black veil for the
  Feast of the Seven Sorrows and Good
  Friday, in white or gold for Christmas and
  Easter, etc.
     It is very important for
      parents to make the
liturgical year come alive for
           their children,
    to make it a part of the
   rhythm of their children's
    This will help them pay more
     attention at Mass during the
         Gospel and sermons.
It has the psychological benefit of
    helping the children feel both
"grounded" in a stable, traditional
  family, and a part of something
"bigger than they are" in terms of
    the Church, the cycles of the
  liturgical year being something
shared by Catholics for millennia.
These "little things" connect
    you to your children,
your children to each other,
    and your family to the
   Customs for particular
 Feast Days and Seasons
     are as varied as the
   number of families and
     countries that exist.
  These customs touch on
 everything from prayers to
 food to things like Advent
 calendars, skulls made of
     sugar, and bonfires.
 During family
                       Turn down the lights, burn
                   incense, light candles, play sacred
"set the scene."
                      music when appropriate, etc.
                    Use sensory cues to let everyone
                   know that what will be done now is
                         set apart and sacred.
     Of course,
  throughout the
 day, aside from
  special sacred
times, should be
   too; our lives
    should be a
Catholic children should
  be taught about our
    virtuous Saints!
   Give your children
  heroes, inspire their
 imaginations and feed
  their will to do good.

                              They could be taught
                            about the Saints as their
                           Feast Days are celebrated
                            throughout the Sanctoral
                              Cycle, as the family's
                                 Name Days are
                                 celebrated, etc.
  The family as a group
  should adopt a patron
Saint for their home just as
each particular church has
    its own patron and
       guardian angel
(St. Joseph, patron of families,
  is a natural for this cause!).
      Some families,
like some religious orders,
 choose a different patron
 each year on the Feast of
       the Epiphany.
    Call on Saints who have
patronage in various situations,
such as sickness, traveling, etc.
 Hang an icon of St. Martha in
          your kitchen,
 an icon of St. Barbara for use
      during storms, etc.
  No matter what, the Church
     Triumphant should be
experienced as being as real to
  your children as the Church
   ...And the reality of the
 Church Suffering should be
 clear and relevant to them,
Though we all have the hope
     that our dead family
   members are already in
  Heaven, it is possible that
 they are in Purgatory for a
  These dear ones should
   never be forgotten, and
prayer for them should be a
 part of your children's lives.
Praying the Blessing After Meals ensures
 that the souls of our dead ancestors are
       prayed for every time we eat.
  Parents should also bless their
children, at the least on the Lord’s
The traditional way of doing this is
  for the children to kneel and for
 their parents to either place their
 hands on the child's head and/or
     trace a Cross on the child's
        forehead while saying:
 May Almighty God, Father, Son,
   and Holy Spirit, bless you, my
      child/children, for time and
   eternity, and may this blessing
  remain forever with you. Amen
St. Ambrose wrote of this
 “You may not be rich;
 you may be unable to
   bequeath any great
  possessions to your
 but one thing you can
       give them;
  the heritage of your
  And it is better to be
blessed than to be rich.”
                        There should be plenty to feed
                           the mind and heart, and to
                                engage the body.
                           A well-trained child should
                         rarely speak of "boredom" or
                             offer it as an excuse for
                        getting into trouble or whining;
                        they should learn to entertain
                          themselves, to imagine new
                         games and to marvel at and
On a different level,     learn about the world about
  Catholic homes                        them.
should be filled with
 books, art, music,
  the necessary
  things to make
     crafts, etc.
 Young children never hate to
          read and to learn!
    That comes later, after bad
      teachers who ignore the
importance of phonics and don't
  know how to engage a child's
 interest make them feel stupid,
and when television has robbed
 them of imagination and taught
   them to think in sound-bytes
    and quick-moving images.
   It is too much television that
    trains them to feel restless
    unless pounding music and
 rapid-fire motion are assaulting
             their senses.
For the love of all that is holy,
 keep your children far away
 from the television, at least
   far from large doses of it
(and, most certainly, far from
  programming that assaults
    basic Christian morals).
A mellow-paced "Mr. Rogers"
  type show or a good movie
    never hurt anyone, but
     incessant quick-cuts,
    relentless soundtracks,
commercials, etc., especially
 in large doses, are killers of
            the soul.
  The other killer of the ability to
  marvel is the bored adult who's
    lost that ability themselves.
• Cynical teachers who hate what they
  do and treat children like inmates;
• uncultured parents who haven't
  picked up a book in years;
• Pharisaic parents who forget that the
  purpose of rules is to serve charity
  and who sap the joy out of a child's
  life with their drive for power, inane
  rules, and lack of humor;
• older teenagers around them who do
  nothing but express dissatisfaction
-- if this is what your children see,
       this is what they will model
             themselves after.
  If you don't: read, draw, paint, play a musical
 instrument, embroider, knit, purl, tat, whittle, carve
wood, dance, make furniture, build model airplanes,
   birdwatch, brew beer, ferment wine, stargaze, or
 make mosaics or learn foreign languages or shoot
 guns or camp or do archery garden, bake, work on
  cars, write stories, model in clay, fly kites, develop
 screenplays, play sports, collect something, walk in
the woods, write poetry, learn about astronomy, etc.
          -- I think you get the point –
     then turn off the T.V., pick something,
                  and begin now.
 If you've lost your child-like love of learning
    and sense of wonder, pray to regain it!
   The growing child
  must also have the
  space, silence, and
    tools to marvel,
   create, think, and
  learn in addition to
 having their desire to
 do so unmolested by
television and bad role
   Prepare a space
 where they can be a
And on a final note, keep your sense of humor!
                  Life is serious
                -- quite serious –
   but it is also wondrous and sometimes
                 hysterically funny.
    If you are so stressed, so cynical, so rigorist or
  "educated" that you can't laugh, then something's got
                             to give.
Deal with it before you pass that trait on to your children
                or let it infect your marriage.
 Pray about it and talk to a spiritual director or
                other wise person.
 You will be happier and healthier, and so will
                   your family.

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