Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Joy of Ecclesia Domestica and A Question for Readers

Something remarkable has happened. Our home has become a gathering spot for neighbors and friends. The ability of my husband and me to welcome them and the joy our visitors bring to us are gifts from the Holy Spirit and signs of Christ's welcoming grace. (The picture here is of our neighborhood's annual block party)

I last remember folks stopping by like this when our two boys were toddlers. Generally the visitors were stay-at-home moms or dads who would drop by for a play date, adult conversation or a simple meal.

That was a decade ago; both our boys now are adolescents. The people dropping by now are my sons' preteen or teen friends, as well as young adults in their twenties who I have met through church or CL. They are older neighbors looking for companionship and young mothers whose children like our puggle.

Nothing on the surface is special about our home. It is one of the smallest in our neighborhood. Our glassed-in front porch has a table with chairs that I bought on clearance. Our younger son plays cards at the table with his friends. Our family room has two large sofas and an enormous TV that friends gave us when they moved to Maine. Our former dining room is now a music room for my son's basses (one upright and one electric) as well as the family computer. Our kitchen table is tiny, with just three stools.

Little is particularly Catholic about the way our home looks. Yes, every room has at least one cross or crucifix. But we don't have a holy water font by the front door, or a cellar of blessed salt, or a family altar.

Still, our home is the heart of our family: we pray here, we cook meals together, we welcome friends of all faiths and no faith, we bicker with one another and we try to forgive one another before the sun sets. We deal with the "concreteness of (our) daily existence."

Recognizing the centrality of family life to spiritual life, our Church calls our homes "ecclesia domestica," or domestic churches. John Paul the Great understood their value. "The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission." And yet, I always am looking for ways to make our home more welcoming, more reflective of the grace we are blessed with. 
Can you share with me what you do or experience to make your home more of an ecclesia domestica?

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