The Office of Family Life and Spirituality is here to serve and support the families in our midst (The Domestic Church), along with the wider Family of Families (The Church).
Your Family As Domestic Church
We are created by God to be and live in communion with each other. The earliest Christians continued Jesus’s model of fellowship not by constructing walls and stained glass, but by breaking bread with each other in their homes. In the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom made this connection more explicit when he referred to the family as the micra ekklesia or “little church.” This image of the family as Domestic Church was lost for many centuries in the Christian imagination only to reemerge in the writings of Vatican II. St. John Paul II offered his vision in Familiaris Consortio, where he speaks of the family as “a living reflection of and a real sharing of God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride.”
The principle and foundation of being Domestic Church is about becoming aware of the permanent and constant presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in our homes. Out of that awareness and from the experience of God’s loving presence in our homes, the desire arises to pray, read the Bible, sing, dance, forgive, serve neighbors in need, celebrate, cook, clean (home liturgies) and give thanks for the gift of life and faith.
This process does not occur by spontaneous generation; rather, it must be prepared, requested, and desired with an open heart. In the end, it is a grace that is already offered to those who seek it. Being the Domestic Church is not a straight or continuous path, it has its ups and downs, but throughout there is the breath of the risen Lord who lives and constantly reminds us, “Do not fear”, “peace”, “I am with you” until the end of the times.
Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia offers us a pastoral guide as to how to continue to build the Domestic Church. Regarding raising children in faith, Pope Francis recommends that parents “need symbols, actions and stories” and “moments of family prayer and acts of devotion…which can be more powerful for evangelization than any catechism class or sermon (AL 288). Utilizing these areas of growth, families can continue to build the Domestic Church in their own homes.
Prayer: Prayer is fundamentally about deepening a relationship with God; although there is no style of prayer that is “holier” than another. Are families “checking in” with God regularly perhaps at bedtime or before meals? Do families pray together before certain events or to mark special occasions? Do parents expose children to different forms of prayer, intending to spark their spiritual imagination?
Actions: Several research studies have indicated that parents’ involvement in church has a profound effect on whether their children will remain Catholic. Is mass attended regularly? Are parents involved in parish ministries and share in parish community, especially with other families? Does the family volunteer for community organizations that serve the vulnerable and honor the dignity of life? Does the family have a mission statement?
Stories: Children are alive with imagination and crave stories. Do families read the Bible together and explore the lives of Jesus and the prophets? Are children familiar with the stories of the saints, who model paths to deepening our relationships with God?
Symbols: The symbols we use communicate our values and our priorities, especially those in the physical space of our homes. Is there religious imagery on the walls? Is there an obvious “sacred space” created for prayer and communion with each other?
provides a wonderful variety of content to guide and support your family in forming your domestic church.
Missionary Families of Christ is an international private association of lay faithful whose primary work is evangelization, founded on family renewal. It focuses on renewing the family and defending life, as well as participating in the work of building the Church of the Poor. MFC is active in the Diocese of San Diego.
is a parish-based national network of small groups of Catholics and their families. Members of all faith traditions are welcome. CFM builds community, strengthens families and builds a parish into a family of families. Individuals, couples and extended families of all ages and stages grow in discipleship through learning to live the methodology of observe, judge, and act.
helps families access the treasures of the Church’s teachings on marriage, family life, prayer, Scripture, the Sacraments, etc. specifically as a spouse and a parent, utilizing the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony to do so. Couples participate in an Evangelization Retreat and then join a Family Circle that meets once a month.
Dr. Gary Chapman presents a simple truth: relationships grow better when we understand each other. Everyone gives and receives love differently, but with a little insight into these differences, we can be confidently equipped to communicate love well. This is true for all forms of relationship – for married or dating couples, for children and teenagers, for friends and coworkers, for long-distance relationships, for those brand-new loves and for the romances that are older than the hills. Click here to learn more.
is dedicated to assisting families in making the home the living heart of the church.
Tools for Building a Domestic Church from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Family Fully Alive, from the Knights of Columbus, helps families place God and the Catholic faith at the center of their lives.
Loyola Press provides resources to nurture Catholic family life and to recognize the grace of God in daily living.
Growing Up Catholic provides resources for parents in the faith formation of their children at home.
offers ways for parents to practice the “Corporal Works of Mommy and Daddy” to experience and encourage a more meaningful spirit of service in the home.
Nurturing your marriage is one of the best way to lay a strong foundation for your Domestic Church. Click here for marriage enrichment resources.
Resources for Families during COVID-19
Catholic psychologist, Dr. Christauria Welland has called domestic violence a “pandemic within a pandemic.” If your family needs assistance or would like to learn how your parish can help, please see our Domestic Violence page for more information.
- Elementary Resources from St. Mary’s Press
- Teen Resources from St. Mary’s Press
- Early Childhood Resources from Our Sunday Visitor
- Loyola Press: Family & Faith Activities at Home
- MagnifiKid! Resources
- Ignatius Press Online Faith Formation
- Teaching Catholic Kids (including “Helping Kids Cope with the Coronavirus Outbreak”)
- Sadlier is providing free eBooks of regular print programs and related videos in Spanish and English for the remainder of the school year (Grades K-8). Learn From Home (Username: SadlierStudent Password: ReadyToLearn!)
- Faithfully Navigating Coronavirus with Your Kids (English) (Español)
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (National Association of School Psychologists)
- San Diego State University has created a comprehensive list of general resources for their student and local community during the COVID-19 pandemic. If help is needed in the following areas (food, employment assistance, healthcare access, financial assistance, transportation, housing/utilities, assistance for the undocumented, etc.), this is a helpful guide.
“Authentic spirituality is not something above or beyond everyday life but embedded in messy midst of it”
– Tim & Sue Muldoon, Six Sacred Rules for Families
“It is true that there is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things. Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them.”
– AL, 35
“Neither of the spouses will be alone in facing whatever challenges may come their way. Both are called to respond to God’s gift with commitment, creativity, perseverance and daily effort.
Associate Director, Separated & Divorced Ministry
Phone: (858) 490-8292