Tools For Building a Domestic Church

According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: “The family, is so to speak, the domestic church.” (Lumen Gentium #11) This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek His will for us. In the following bullet points, you will find some suggestions on how to build your “domestic church” through a life of prayer that can help all the members of your family.

  • Begin praying as a family and reading from Scripture daily/weekly, certainly before meals, but also first thing in the morning or before bed. Find a time and make time that works for your family. Use the liturgy of the Church as a model for prayer, repeat litanies or prayers from the liturgical services and try to include heartfelt unstructured prayer as well.
  • Pray a Family Prayer Rope: depending on the number of knots in the rope, each member leads a certain amount: five or ten with each person specifying his/her intention for prayer before the numbered set; all then together recite the Jesus Prayer: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!
  • Create an icon corner on a wall or a table with a crucifix, a few icons, especially those of Christ, the Mother of God, incense burner, prayer book, holy water and prayer rope in a prominent place in the home and pray before it regularly.
  • Place an icon of the Mother of God, especially the one called “The Portal or Gatekeeper” on the wall closest to the door of your home. Greet it with a reverential gesture in your comings and goings.
  • Mount a few icons in every bedroom, especially those of Christ, the Mother of God, the person’s Patrons Saints and Guardian Angels.
  • Make the Sacraments a regular celebration – take the whole family to periodic Confession and Sunday Divine Liturgy and celebrations of the special Feasts during the week!
  • Begin family traditions based on the seasons celebrated in the liturgical calendar.
  • Celebrate the family members’ name days.
  • Make one or more of your trips a holy pilgrimage by visiting other Eastern Christian churches, shrines and places dedicated to saints of our land and the world, especially the Near East or Greece or the Slavic countries.
  • Make worshiping God a priority. Never miss Divine Liturgy on Sundays except for a very grave reason, even while traveling – go to: . . . to find a Melkite or other Eastern Christian church near you while you are away!
  • Teach stewardship, charity and giving to the needy to your children, through word and example on a regular basis throughout the year.
  • Demonstrate love for your spouse, your children, your neighbors, and the world. Remind their children that they are loved by God and have been given gifts to serve others.
  • Talk freely about the presence of God in the joys and sorrows of your life.
  • Periodically invite and welcome your pastor into your home and support him in different ways throughout the year; do the same also for other priests, brothers, sisters, deacons, and lay ministers in the Church so that these individuals mentioned are part of the thread that makes up your home life.
  • Participate in the lay ministries and activities of your parish community. Volunteer to learn to chair or shadow an existing chairperson of an activity in their work.
  • Speak positively about priests, especially your pastor; share with family members what your priest does for the church, for families, individuals, for you yourselves. Engage them in discussions about what it would be like if they were to become a priest or a nun or a monk. Obtain resources for discussion in advance from your priest.
  • Allow your children to witness you in private prayer. Let them see you in front of the icon corner by yourself at different times of the day and evening. Let them see you venerating icons. Encourage your children to pray daily on their own, to listen for God’s Call, and if a Call is heard, to talk about how you/they can respond.
  • For more ideas on how to build your home as a Domestic Church, acquire:  “The Domestic Church” from your parish gift shop.