Words of encouragement for parents working to build true “domestic churches.”
Sharing our beliefs with our children is not just a matter of exposing them to a variety of ideas. For Catholic parents, it is often our primary act of evangelization and is absolutely essential to our vocation. The Catechism reminds us that “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith” (1666), for which reason it is rightly called “the domestic church.” Here parents are called not only to speak the Gospel message to their children but also faithfully to live out Christ’s commands of love and sacrifice.
This call to “preach the Gospel always, and use words when necessary” in the home is a very tall order even for the saintliest among us. How are parents to live up to this challenging aspect of their vocation? Not by relying on our own strength of character, surely, as each of us will fall short at times. It is only by throwing ourselves again and again on the mercy of Christ and showing his mercy to our children that parents can model his love—as Pope Francis reminded families at the recent World Meeting of Families, “Small and simple acts of forgiveness, renewed each day, are the foundation upon which a solid Christian family life is built.”
These acts of humility and forgiveness form a bond of kindness that holds families together even in difficult times. In turn, these families become beacons of light and hope: “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). Cultivate your own relationship with God through daily prayer, love your children unconditionally, and never be afraid to get back up and try again when you inevitably fail—this is how to pass on the faith to your children, and how to build a true domestic church that shines in the darkness and draws souls to Christ through its light.
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