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The "Domestic Church"

“Believe in the Lord Jesus [Paul said], and you will be saved, you and your household… and he was baptized at once with all of his family… and he rejoiced with all his household that he believed in God.” (Acts 16:32-34)

Here, as in the story of St Peter with Cornelius’s household in Acts chapter 10, we see that living and proclaiming the gospel in and through the family has always been a part of our Christian tradition. With this in mind, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council presented again the idea of the family as the “domestic church” – the body of Christ in the home (Lunem Gentium #11).

In both his Letter to Families and in the Apostolic Exhortation, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World (Famillaris Consortio), Pope John Paul II emphasised the importance of the family both to the vitality of the Church and the good of society.

“The family, which is founded and given life by love, is a community of persons: of husband and wife, of parents and children, of relatives… [The family’s] inner principle is love. Without love the family cannot live, grow and perfect itself… without love man remains incomprehensible to himself, his life is senseless if love is not revealed in him” (FC #18)

It is through the family that each of us learns of love. To the extent that the family - that “school of love” as John Paul II also called it - is broken down, so too is the natural means by which we come experience and understand love. Without that environment in which we experience and practice love, we can never truly understand or be ourselves. Whatever undermines the family therefore, hurts its members and indeed, undermines our whole society.

In her love for the whole “family of humanity” the Catholic Church seeks to support and encourage every family, in every time and place, to become what it was intended to be from the beginning - a community of life and love. To the extent that each of us open ourselves within our own “domestic church” to life and to love, we becomes like the Holy Family of Nazareth, a family through which the light of Jesus Christ becomes a real presence in the world.


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