It is important to equip our children with a strong faith as they grow. We can do that at home through liturgical living, by creating a domestic church. (Please welcome guest writer Christy Jacob from Homeschooling In Progress).
In the still of the night, with a hint of muffled conversation down the hall, I reclined in the hospital bed, gazing at my firstborn through fatigue-laden eyes. I pondered her future as she peacefully nursed in my arms. Would she become a teacher, a nurse, an Olympic soccer star? Would she marry and have children of her own someday?
As I dreamed about the kind of woman my daughter would become, I never had to contemplate her faith. I knew we would have her baptized Catholic. But I had not grasped at the time the challenge ahead of me to keep her living her faith throughout life.
As she-and our family size-grew, I realized the extreme importance of teaching my children from a young age to love and live their faith, to make it a natural part of themselves.
But we can’t just baptize our children and call it a day, crossing it off our to-do list of parenthood. In contrast, as parents, we should be a daily example of living the faith. Our children look to us to help them understand the world and their place in it.
5 Secrets to Liturgical Living in Your Domestic Church
- Start small to create your domestic church.
- Be authentic to your family’s interests and personalities.
- Make your own family traditions.
- Don’t be afraid to change traditions.
- Be intentional when incorporating liturgical living in your home.
1. Start small to create your domestic church.
Last summer, my husband and I cleaned out our garage. I glanced up at the sound of exasperation in time to observe the contents of a massive storage tote spewing all over the garage floor. As we picked up pack after pack of scrapbook paper, stickers, and fancy scissors that cut zigzags, I realized that maybe I should have started my hobby on a smaller scale. Especially considering in the 10 years I’ve owned those supplies, I’ve only made 2 scrapbooks.
Just like my excursion into the world of scrapbooking, sometimes we try to rush through the beginning, heading straight for the finished product. Many times, though, we give up before we make it to the end. If you read about liturgical living ideas and try to incorporate every idea mentioned at once, you are likely to get overwhelmed and not do any of it.
Instead, start small. Take one idea to integrate into your daily life. For example, pray together before dinner. Another idea is to pray a family Rosary on Sunday evening. Perhaps attend a daily mass one extra day a week.
Starting small keeps you from getting overwhelmed and throwing in the towel. You want to live your Catholic faith at home everyday, not be picking up the pieces you boxed up ten years from now.
2. Be authentic to your family’s interests and personalities.
I’ve been on Pinterest since you had to have an invitation from someone on it to join. Yeah, a long time. Through those years, I’ve noticed the pins on there get very elaborate. So much so that I started to feel discouraged every time I logged on. I felt I wouldn’t be able to pull off the Pinterest-worthy ideas myself.
However, the point of living liturgically, of bringing your Catholic faith into your home, isn’t to impress someone else. It’s to help your children, and yourself, remember to keep Jesus the focus of your day.
If you aren’t a crafty family, don’t do crafts. If your family doesn’t like to sing, don’t sing hymns at home. Do what is authentic to your family, not the family who sits in the pew next to you on Sunday morning or the family behind the gorgeous Pinterest image.
Think about your family’s interests and try to incorporate your faith around that. My kids love to eat, so many times I’ll make a special dinner to celebrate a saint’s feast day or someone’s baptismal anniversary. On a similar note, I like to decorate my house with sentimental items. So you’ll find crucifixes, religious pictures and saint statues passed down through my husband’s family or received as gifts on my walls and shelves.
3. Make your own family traditions.
Along similar lines of staying true to your family, don’t feel like you have to do what other Catholic families do in their homes. Everyone is in a different spot on their faith journey. We all had different experiences and traditions we grew up with, and those differences are what make our domestic church unique.
Our family is pretty low-key. We don’t like making elaborate crafts or holding big parties for celebrations. Many times I incorporate our faith into dinner, with the food I prepare and our conversation.
You also don’t have to celebrate holidays or saint’s feast days like others. Growing up, my family did not celebrate St. Nicholas’ feast day on December 6. Therefore, my husband and I decided to continue his family’s tradition. However, at our house St. Nicholas fills the stockings, not shoes like most families who celebrate that feast day.
Making your own family traditions, or carrying on meaningful ones you grew up with, creates fond memories of your domestic church’s celebrations and is a great way to surround your children with the Catholic faith at home.
4. Don’t be afraid to change traditions.
However, just because you’ve done something a certain way in the past doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. Traditions can change, or even end, as your family grows.
For example, when my older kids were little, I would commemorate Good Friday with a special lunch. I wanted to have a visual way to teach my children about the events of that day in Jesus’ life.
To do this, you read a part of the Passion while your children eat something representing that story. For instance, two pretzel rods made into a cross with peanut butter represent the crucifixion. The kids and I looked forward to that lunch for years. However, once my youngest was born a couple of years ago, it became too much to prepare. Additionally, they are getting older now and I want them to focus more on the somber, penitential aspect of the day.
We were all sad to discontinue that tradition, but we still hold fond memories of it even if we no longer celebrate in that way.
5. Be intentional when incorporating liturgical living in your home.
Now that you have decided to start small and focus on your family’s interests to bring liturgical living to your home, you should be intentional in the choices you make for your domestic church. Make your faith a focal point of your life.
First, add Catholic decor to your home so that your family has a visual reminder of your faith around them. In my house, for instance, we have crucifixes in each of the bedrooms and living areas. We also have a prayer table in our family room that holds our family Bible and statues of saints.
Next, be intentional about discussing your faith when your family is gathered together. Many times, we have faith-filled discussions over dinner or in the car. One of my favorite parts of Sunday mass is discussing the homily in the car on the way home.
Finally, plan ahead to decide what traditions you want to add in your family. Are there certain feast days you’d like to celebrate at home? How do you want to celebrate the liturgical seasons of the Church? Think about what will make a lasting impression on your kids and be something they’ll likely continue with their families. What traditions will they be excited to continue as they gaze into their newborn’s eyes?
Kids that grow up with a strong Catholic home life will likely continue to practice their faith as adults. Creating a domestic church can be easy and effective when you start small and are intentional with what you incorporate into your home. Remember to stay true to your family and establish traditions that your children will want to continue with their own families. It may take some effort to plan, but it will always be worth it to see your children love their Catholic faith.