Your Domestic Church Can Be a Refuge From the Chaos

“In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith.” [CCC 1656]

Luc Olivier Merson, “Rest on the Flight to Egypt,” 1879
Luc Olivier Merson, “Rest on the Flight to Egypt,” 1879 (photo: Public Domain)

The domestic church was always important, but it might matter even more now.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock — which, frankly, sounds pretty nice right about now — you know that our culture has been plunged into chaos. Perhaps worst of all, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. And regardless what theory you subscribe to as to the reason for the aforementioned chaos — or who you believe is guilty of doing the plunging — you know that things are, simply, just not right.

If we believed we were in control before, we know now that we are clearly not.

As a bit of a control freak myself, I’ve admittedly been wrestling with All of the Questions. Why did the churches all close? Why did no one speak up? Why did my city burn? Why did someone deface the cathedral downtown?

And while I’d love to tell you that I, mother and blogger extraordinaire (cough), have successfully determined All of the Answers, the truth is that I really, truly have no idea. I see the way things are devolving in nearly every possible way and I just don’t know what the future holds for our society, or for the Catholic Church, or for my children, or for our ability to live and worship freely.

It would probably be more appropriate for me to write something asking for your input, dear readers, because I’m just plain drawing a blank over here.

But I will instead do my best to tell you a couple of things I do know, and the first is simply that your domestic church is somewhat independent of whatever is happening outside of your door. You can still pursue love, justice and peace within your family. You can sing hymns, read great spiritual writings, and pray a nightly Rosary. You can teach your children real, objective truth, marvel at a small infant’s fingers and toes, and pursue the good and the beautiful. You can live out your faith, become more like a saint, and lead your children to do the same. Regardless how the news stories or tweets of the day play out, you can have a home marked by faith, hope, and love.

Of course the second thing I know is that we are not completely immune to or insulated from what’s happening around us in our communities and the world at large. God has placed you and me and our respective families, here and now, for a reason. We are not disembodied creatures floating around outside of space and time. No, on the contrary, we are designed to be in (but not of) the world, pursuing mercy, justice and love. That is, after all, the reason why we wrestle with All of the Questions in the first place. We must ask ourselves, what does it look like to be a Christian in the now notorious and much-disdained 2020? How do I prepare my children to face a restriction on religious liberties? Is our Catholic faith worth fighting for? How do we reach and love the lost? What does our Church teach about the dignity of the human person?

As my husband and I have mulled, prayed and discussed these questions over the past several months, we’ve decided that ultimately, we must rededicate ourselves to the long work of loving our Lord and shaping our family the very best we know how. We’ve recommitted to a nightly family Rosary. We are setting aside more time for catechism instruction and discussion with the kids, from toddlers to teens. We bought a flock of chickens (we got them as baby chicks, and are now adolescents), and my husband and teen sons spent dozens upon dozens of hours together out in the hot sun with hammers and shovels, renovating the old chicken coop on our property. We’re reprioritizing the importance of community and connection with other like-minded families. Digging into the important stuff and letting go of what we don’t need.

Basically, we have to be able to inform ourselves (and call out problems) without falling into despair, see things as they are without giving up hope. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is as active in the world as ever, and we are called to do his work. Best of all, we are called to be in relationship with Christ, and to be part of His Church, the fullness of the faith!

There is always, always good news to be found, even in the dark. And your domestic church can absolutely be a refuge, even (and maybe especially) when the proverbial sky is falling.