Building The Domestic Church

Important Message from

West Virginia State

Family Activities Director

Sam Gross

 

 

 

FEBRUARY – THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE 

          The foundation of the domestic church is the sacrament of marriage. It is therefore important to reflect often on the mystery and calling of this sacrament. Also, our children may be called to become spouses and parents, so it is important to help them understand the type of love that is necessary in marriage and family life.

 

Meditation

                               From a homily by St. John Chrysostom on Marriage and Family Life

          How is marriage a mystery? The two have become one. This is not an empty symbol. They have not become the image of anything on earth, but of God Himself. ... They come to be made into one body. See the mystery of love! If the two do not become one, they cannot increase; they can increase only by decreasing! How great is the strength of unity!

                                          From Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio

          The Spirit which the Lord pours forth [in the sacrament of marriage] gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross. ... Spouses are therefore the permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross; they are for one another and for the children witnesses to the salvation in which the sacrament makes them sharers

  1. Do we think of marriage differently when we remember that Christ is present in the sacrament of marriage? How does this change or challenge our personal views of love?

  2. What do we think of St. John Chrysostom’s principle of Christian married love — that spouses and family “increase” by “decreasing”? How does this principle relate to the words that we hear from John the Baptist: “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30)?

  3. Have we loved each family member by sacrificing for them as Christ has done for each of us? In what ways do each of us do this? In what ways could we be better at this?

 

Scripture Reading - Psalm 128

A prayer of the happy home that follows the Lord

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
   and who walk in his ways.
What your hands provide you will enjoy;
   you will be blessed and prosper:
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
   within your home,
Your children like young olive plants
   around your table.
Just so will the man be blessed
   who fears the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion;
   may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity
   all the days of your life,
   and live to see your children’s children.
Peace upon Israel!

Family Project

       Read the below nuptial prayer from the Order of Celebrating Matrimony. Share memories about your wedding day with your family over a nice family meal. At this meal, have each child share one thing they appreciate about their parents’ marriage. Then, each spouse should share one reason why they are grateful for their marriage and how each one sees Christ as present in their marriage.

Nuptial Blessing

             Holy Father, who formed man in your image, male and female you created them, so that as husband and wife, united in body and heart, they might fulfill their calling in the world; O God, who, to reveal the great design you formed in your love, willed that the love of spouses for each other should foreshadow the covenant you graciously made with your people, so that, by fulfillment of the sacramental sign, the mystical marriage of Christ with his Church might become manifest in the union of husband and wife among your faithful. ... May they also sustain, O Lord, by their deeds the home they are forming and prepare their children to become members of your heavenly household by raising them in the way of the Gospel. ... Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

JANUARY – FAMILY

          The Christian family needs to put first things first by cultivating a relationship with God together through prayer. Prayer is essential for families to develop Christian joy, faith, hope and love.

 

Meditation

                   From Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio

          Family prayer has its own characteristic qualities. It is prayer offered in common, husband and wife together, parents and children together. Communion in prayer is both a consequence of and a requirement for the communion bestowed by the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony. The words with which the Lord Jesus promises His presence can be applied to the members of the Christian family in a special way: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” 

          Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself, which in all its varying circumstances is seen as a call from God and lived as a filial response to His call. Joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, births and birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries of the parents, departures, separations and homecomings, important and far-reaching decisions, the death of those who are dear, etc. — all of these mark God’s loving intervention in the family’s history. They should be seen as suitable moments for thanksgiving, for petition, for trusting abandonment of the family into the hands of their common Father in heaven.

 

          The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.

  1. Is prayer at the center of our family life? If not, why?

  2. How can we better build a rhythm of prayer into our family’s life? In what way can we mark significant family moments throughout the year with prayer?

  3. What are our family members’ preferred ways of praying — vocal, meditative or contemplative? Is there a way to incorporate each family member’s preferred way of praying into family prayer?

 

Scripture Reading - Psalm 65:6-14

A prayer of gratitude for God’s blessings

You answer us with awesome deeds of justice,
   O God our savior,
The hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of those far off across the sea.
You are robed in power,
   you set up the mountains by your might.
You still the roaring of the seas,
   the roaring of their waves,
   the tumult of the peoples.
Distant peoples stand in awe of your marvels;
   the places of morning and evening you make resound with joy.
You visit the earth and water it,
   make it abundantly fertile.
God’s stream is filled with water;
   you supply their grain.
Thus do you prepare it:
   you drench its plowed furrows,
   and level its ridges.
With showers you keep it soft,
   blessing its young sprouts.
You adorn the year with your bounty;
   your paths drip with fruitful rain.
The meadows of the wilderness also drip;
   the hills are robed with joy.
The pastures are clothed with flocks,
   the valleys blanketed with grain;
   they cheer and sing for joy.

Family Project

       The Catechism recommends that we find places favorable for prayer. One of the places it suggests is a “prayer corner” in the home. If you do not already have one, make a prayer corner in the home in order to facilitate prayer. This sacred space could be a simple table with a nice cloth over it, a Bible, religious images and statues, rosaries, candles, prayer cards, a family prayer intention book, a vase for flowers, etc. Make the corner unique to your family and have each family member contribute one religious item to the prayer corner. For further ideas, see the following resource: The Little Oratory: The Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler.

 

NOVEMBER

Because the Lord is the God of our ancestors, we want to strengthen the relationships between our family's generations.

Our family defines each and every one of us. Because our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents chose life, we are here today. This month, thank God for the gift of your family.

 

FAMILY PROJECT

Making a family tree is a great way to celebrate your ancestry and learn about the past events that have shaped each family member to be who he or she is today.

During this month, research your family history, seeing how far back you can trace. Gather copies of old photos and era-related items to accompany your information.

Further connect with your family by corresponding with grandparents or other relatives who do not live nearby. Send them photos, letters, or a "Thinking of You" card signed by the whole family.

Set aside time to regularly visit the graves of deceased relatives and to pray for them.

 

MEDITATIONS

Because the Lord is the God of our ancestors, we want to strengthen the relationships between our family's generations.

Our family defines each and every one of us. Because our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents chose life, we are here today. This month, thank God for the gift of your family.

 

FAMILY PROJECT

Making a family tree is a great way to celebrate your ancestry and learn about the past events that have shaped each family member to be who he or she is today.

During this month, research your family history, seeing how far back you can trace. Gather copies of old photos and era-related items to accompany your information.

Further connect with your family by corresponding with grandparents or other relatives who do not live nearby. Send them photos, letters, or a "Thinking of You" card signed by the whole family.

 

Set aside time to regularly visit the graves of deceased relatives and to pray for them.

From Pope Francis' message to participants in the 47th Social Week of Italian Catholics.

For the Christian community the family is far more than a "theme": It is life, it is the daily fabric of life, it is the journey of generations who pass on the faith together with love and with the basic moral values. It is concrete solidarity, effort, patience, and also a project, hope, a future. All this which the Christian community lives out in the light of faith, hope and charity, should never be kept to oneself but must become, every day, the leaven in the dough of the whole of society for its greater common good.

 

Hope and a future presuppose memory. The memory of our elderly people sustains us as we journey on. The future of society … is rooted in the elderly and in the young — the latter, because they have the strength and are of the age to carry history ahead; the former, because they are a living memory. A people that does not take care of its elderly, its children and its youth has no future, because it abuses both memory and promise.

  1. Who is one person in our family whose faith shaped my own? What strengths does each member of our family have?

  2. What are some ways our family tries to live out belief in God and his Church? Which virtue seems to be particularly strong in our family — faith, hope or charity?

  3. Why is keeping alive the memory of our history, our family roots, important to shaping the future?

 

Scripture Reading of the Month

Psalm 105: 1,6, 8-11, 44-45

Praise to God, who is always faithful to his promises

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;

make known among the peoples his deeds!

You descendants of Abraham his servant,

offspring of Jacob the chosen one!

He remembers forever his covenant,

the word he commanded for a thousand generations,

Which he made with Abraham,

and swore to Isaac,

And ratified in a statute for Jacob,

an everlasting covenant for Israel:

"To you I give the land of Canaan,

your own allotted inheritance."

He gave them the lands of the nations,

they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,

That they might keep his statutes

and observe his teachings.

Hallelujah!

 

August 2016

 

 

Building the Domestic Church

August

 

 

        Because  no one should be isolated, remember that our parish and communities are a larger family in which we must share our love and service.

        As faithful Catholics, we have an obligation to be good citizens in our larger communities. Our responsibility to serve others comes from the Lord, who called us to love our neighbor. When we follow this call, our society becomes a better place as a result of our service and concern for our neighbors.

We must show the world that it is love that motivates us to help and protect people in need.

 

FAMILY PROJECT 

            Discuss with your family the importance of Christ's words: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20). As a family, reach out and invite another family member or someone who may be alone to join your family for Mass, a social event or another activity.

MEDITATIONS

            From St. John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio

         Among the fundamental tasks of the Christian family is its ecclesial task: the family is placed at the service of the building up of the Kingdom of God in history by participating in the life and mission of the Church. ... It is, above all, the Church as Mother that gives birth to, educates and builds up the Christian family, by putting into effect in its regard the saving mission which she has received from her Lord. By proclaiming the word of God, the Church reveals to the Christian family its true identity, what it is and should be according to the Lord's plan; by celebrating the sacraments, the Church enriches and strengthens the Christian family with the grace of Christ for its sanctification to the glory of the Father; by the continuous proclamation of the new commandment of love, the Church encourages and guides the Christian family to the service of love, so that it may imitate and relive the same self-giving and sacrificial love that the Lord Jesus has for the entire human race.

  1. How has the parish enriched our family through its activities, various services, and the great gifts of the sacraments?

  2. How can our family take advantage of what is offered in the Church, opening ourselves more fully to the graces it provides?

  3. How can our family become more involved in the parish, as a way of returning a small amount of love to these parishes that bring us so much grace through the sacraments?

 

Scripture Reading of the Month
                               Psalm 8: 2-6, 10

A praise to the Divine Majesty reflected in each human person

O LORD, our LORD,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!,
I will sing of your majesty above the heavens
with the mouths of babes and infants.
You have established a bulwark against your foes,
to silence enemy and avenger.
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place —
What is man that you are mindful of him,
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god,
crowned him with glory and honor.
O LORD, our LORD,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!

Sam Gross

DD2

Family Activities Chairman

 

June 2016

 

 

Building the Domestic Church

June

 

 

        Because families play an important role in the new evangelization, we want to share our faith with other families.

 

Everyone — no matter their role or station in life — is called to holiness. As the saints have shown so well throughout history, holiness in life leads inevitably to witness in our daily lives. This witness is the primary way to evangelize in our time.

 

It is through living our lives as Catholic families, devoted to our faith, to each other and to helping those in need, that we best evangelize in a world that so often seems reluctant to hear this good news.

 

FAMILY PROJECT

 

Write down ideas for small sacrifices/offerings on individual pieces of paper. Place these in a small bowl. Every day, have each member of the family randomly select one piece of paper to offer the sacrifice listed for the intentions of a relative or friend. At the end of the month, each family member might send a note to the person for whom they made the offering, telling him or her about their prayers and sacrifices.

 

MEDITATIONS

 

From an address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

 

The new evangelization depends largely on the domestic church. ... The family is indeed the way of the Church because it is the "human space" of our encounter with Christ. Spouses "not only receive the love of Christ and become a saved community, but they are also called upon to communicate Christ's love to their brethren, thus becoming a saving community." The family founded on the sacrament of marriage is a particular realization of the Church ... called to welcome, radiate and show the world the love and presence of Christ. The reception and transmission of divine love are realized in the mutual commitment of the spouses, in generous and responsible procreation, in the care and education of children, work and social relationships, with attention to the needy, in participation in church activities, in commitment to civil society. The Christian Family to the extent it succeeds in living love as communion and service as a reciprocal gift open to all, as a journey of permanent conversion supported by the grace of God, reflects the splendor of Christ in the world and the beauty of the divine Trinity. 1. How can our family better communicate Christ's presence to others in word and action, and thereby become a "saving community" that shares the love of Christ? 2. Remembering that the "new evangelization" is an evangelization which is not new in content but "new in ardor, methods and expression," what are some ways our family can "evangelize," and what truths might we express? 3. Why is family such an effective voice for things that matter?

 

Sam

 

February

 

 

Because love is filled with hope when it is communicated, our family wants to promote the life-giving spirit of our families. Parents see the fruit of their lives in their children, who become living witnesses to the great hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Men and women who do not have children of their own similarly participate in the life-giving spirit of God, for they, too, generate new life in the world through their work, mission and other acts of spiritual parenthood. Each of us, whatever our state in life, are “in the world for a purpose — to receive God’s love ourselves and to show God’s love to others. God seeks to heal a broken universe. He asks us to be his witnesses and helpers in that work.”

 

Meditation

 

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi. Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. He
begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await“ eternal life” — the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance, has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we“live.” 1. How would our family life be different if we did not love at all? 2. In what ways has the faith and God’s love shown me how to love? 3. Why is having a relationship with God so important to really “living”?

 

Family Project

 

To celebrate the life-giving spirit of your family, discuss times in your family’s life when you grew together in faith or love. Discuss moments of your relationship, courtship, engagement and wedding celebrations that helped you grow as a couple. Share stories of your children’s births, and discuss the gift that each of their lives has been to your family. Gather photos or various mementos of these events for a
scrapbook or memory box that your family can cherish, or consider compiling them into a slideshow that can be shared with relatives.

 

 

Scripture Reading of the Month Psalm 139: 13-18.

 

A prayer to the all-knowing and ever-present God You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be. How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands; when I complete them, still you are with me.

 

Sam Gross WV State Council DD2, Family Activities DirectorJanuary Because the family that prays together stays together, we want to learn to pray as a family. There is something very powerful about praying together as a family. Jesus reminded us that where two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them (see Mt 18:20).Jesus also revealed to us that our children possess guardian angels who always bring their prayers before the face of the Father (see Mt 18:10). Prayer needs to become a regular habit in the daily life of each family. Prayer is thanksgiving and praise of God, as well as a means of asking for forgiveness, supplication and invocation. In all of these forms, prayer may unite the entire family. “In prayer everyone should be present: the living and those who have died, and also those yet to come into the world. Families should pray for all of their members.” Meditation:From St. John Paul II’s general audience on Sept. 10, 1997. Mary appears therefore as the supreme model of personal participation in the divine mysteries. She guides the Church in meditating on the mystery celebrated and in participating in the saving event by encouraging the faithful to desire an intimate, personal relationship with Christ in order to cooperate with the gift of their own life in the salvation of all. … By following her model, the Church learns to be bold in her asking, to persevere in her intercessions and, above all, to implore the gift of the Holy Spirit.1. During my day, what are some times when I could take a minute to connect with God through prayer, perhaps asking his help or simply thanking him for his love and his presence?2. Just as talking can build a relationship, different kinds of prayer are different ways through which we grow closer to God. What type makes me most aware that God is near?3. How is our family touched and shaped by the prayers of all its members? Family Project: Praying together as a family is a great way to experience the presence of God in the midst of our everyday lives. While there are many ways to pray, consider using the Bible as the center and focus of your family prayer time. You should begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking for guidance and understanding, and then read a chapter or verse aloud. Discuss those passages that might personally relate to your family situation or spirituality. Then, conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of God’s Living Word. Scripture Reading of the Month:Psalm 84: 9-13 By our prayers we show a desire to live with God, our Beloved LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; listen, God of Jacob. O God, watch over our shield; look upon the face of your anointed. Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked. For a sun and shield is the LORD God, bestowing all grace and glory. The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach. O LORD of hosts, blessed the man who trusts in you! 

 

January

 

Because the family that prays together stays together, we want to learn to pray as a family. There is something very powerful about praying together as a family. Jesus reminded us that where two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in the midst of them (see Mt 18:20).Jesus also revealed to us that our children possess guardian angels who always bring their prayers before the face of the Father (see Mt 18:10). Prayer needs to become a regular habit in the daily life of each family. Prayer is thanksgiving and praise of God, as well as a means of asking for forgiveness, supplication and invocation. In all of these forms, prayer may unite the entire family. “In prayer everyone should be present: the living and those who have died, and also those yet to come into the world. Families should pray for all of their members.”

 

Meditation:

From St. John Paul II’s general audience on Sept. 10, 1997. Mary appears therefore as the supreme model of personal participation in the divine mysteries. She guides the Church in meditating on the mystery celebrated and in participating in the saving event by encouraging the faithful to desire an intimate, personal relationship with Christ in order to cooperate with the gift of their own life in the salvation of all. … By following her model, the Church learns to be bold in her asking, to persevere in her intercessions and, above all, to implore the gift of the Holy Spirit.1. During my day, what are some times when I could take a minute to connect with God through prayer, perhaps asking his help or simply thanking him for his love and his presence?2. Just as talking can build a relationship, different kinds of prayer are different ways through which we grow closer to God. What type makes me most aware that God is near?3. How is our family touched and shaped by the prayers of all its members?

 

Family Project:

Praying together as a family is a great way to experience the presence of God in the midst of our everyday lives. While there are many ways to pray, consider using the Bible as the center and focus of your family prayer time. You should begin with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking for guidance and understanding, and then read a chapter or verse aloud. Discuss those passages that might personally relate to your family situation or spirituality. Then, conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of God’s Living Word.

 

Scripture Reading of the Month:Psalm 84: 9-13

 

By our prayers we show a desire to live with God, our Beloved LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; listen, God of Jacob. O God, watch over our shield; look upon the face of your anointed. Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked. For a sun and shield is the LORD God, bestowing all grace and glory. The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach. O LORD of hosts, blessed the man who trusts in you!