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The Domestic Church

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There are a lot of problems that are going on in the world. One problem is the attacks on religious beliefs. There are many types of religions that attack the Church, trying to corrupt it. The Church, however, is held up by people and their knowledge of their faith. If many people did not have a good knowledge of their faith, how will they be able to defend if from heresies and attacks by other people. The deacons, priests, bishops, and the Pope cannot defend the Church by themselves. It will just show that they are the only people who have knowledge about our faith, and just encourage them to constantly attack us with wrong beliefs. A person starts to learn about their faith from their family. It is the parent's job to educate their children about the Church and God.

The idea that a Catholic family is a "Domestic Church," is not that new. For many centuries, it was often thought that people who wanted to be "holy," would go into some form of religious life. The vast majority would simply have to settle for marriage and family life. The Biblical witness, however, is very different. Every person is called to become like Christ. Some are called to be priests, and some are called to the religious life. But others, who are also called to holiness, will live out their call to become like Jesus precisely through their marriage and family relationships. As Paul wrote, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Thus, in the New Testament, we are all called to be saints.

Through marriage, husbands and wives are capable of great holiness. As a matter of fact, it is marriage that Scripture uses to describe Jesus' relationship with His people. It is important to note that the New Testament, after addressing the nature of salvation, deals with family relationships. Families are where we work out our salvation. It is precisely in the joy, sorrow, rough, and troubles of family life that we grow in holiness. In the early Church, the life of the family was also closely linked to the life of faith that Augustine called the family "A domestic church." He felt that the father could be considered as carrying out the duties of the bishop in his own family. Chrysostom, on the other hand, called the family "A little church." He emphasized the need to make the family members acquainted with God's Word. In every Christian home, he said there should be "both altars, one for food and the other for the sacred readings." Thus we see that from the New Testament onward, the family was of critical importance to the life of the Church. After Augustine, however, the picture became somewhat foggy. The understanding of the family as a way of holiness began to weaken. This state of affairs lasted for centuries.

By baptism, we are all called to follow and imitate Jesus. Every Pope, bishop, priest, deacon, and even families are called to follow and imitate Jesus. Families are not made up of perfect people; nobody is perfect except for God. It is, however, made up of people on the road to holiness. In our family we learn to love, forgive, make sacrifices, and share. Even though our family is imperfect, we are still an instrument for Jesus' presence in the world.

A child's home is the first and most enduring place where he or she learns about love, God, faith, moral values, prayer and core beliefs. Parents are their child's first so called "priest." The first voice of love, spirituality and religion comes from a child's parents. The child is like a disciple, following the parent's teachings, and then teaching that to their children too. It is freighting at times to consider the gravity of the life altering impact a parent has on a child. A parent is probably the biggest person that shapes their child's life. When God created family through Adam and Eve, He gave parents the responsibility to be His representative to their children. God also confers powerful graces during their marriage sacrament to help mothers and fathers



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