Building the Domestic Church

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7/1/2014

Every Christian family is called to be a privileged place of evangelization, where love is revealed and communicated

by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

Carl A. Anderson

In my column last month, I discussed Pope Paul VI’s great encyclical on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi, in which he cites the Second Vatican Council’s description of the Christian family as the domestic church. For Paul VI, the title “domestic church” means that “there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church.”

A central teaching of the Second Vatican Council is that every Christian is called to holiness. And since the family is the primary community in which a person matures, it is clear that the Christian family should be a place in which we are helped to grow in holiness.

As the saints have shown throughout history, holiness leads inevitably to witness in our daily lives. In our time especially, the work of evangelization is not reserved only for an elite few, but is the responsibility of all baptized Christians.

In a very real sense, we are all called to be missionaries. We are all called to “proclaim” the Gospel to those around us through our lives each day, and the privileged place for most of us to do this is within our own families.

Because of this reality, the Christian family is essentially missionary in character. In the words of St. John Paul II, “The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love” (Familiaris Consortio, 17). In living out this mission, the Christian family is itself called to be an image of the loving communion that exists among the three persons of the Trinity.

Indeed, the Christian family is able to reveal and communicate this love in a special way because it is founded upon sacramental marriage. Christian spouses first receive this love as a divine gift — but they also receive this love as a task. The task of Christian spouses to live and communicate this love, first to each other and to their children and then to others around them, is at the center of the family’s mission in the world.

For this reason, when the Christian family takes up the task “to become what it is” — a living icon in our world of God’s own communion — the family stands at the heart of the Church’s mission of evangelization (cf. FC, 17). And when the family responds in this way to the design of the Creator, it truly becomes a “domestic church.”

Recently, Pope Francis reminded us that Christian families “are the domestic church where Jesus grows in the love of a married couple, in the lives of their children.”

In the months ahead, the Knights of Columbus will launch a new initiative in which I invite every Knights of Columbus family and council to participate. Titled “Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive,” this initiative will help our families better become what they are called to be.

Through this program, our families can embrace more fully their mission to be authentic domestic churches through daily prayer, catechesis and Scripture reading, as well as through monthly charitable and volunteer projects that they can do as a family. More information will soon be forthcoming in Columbia, on kofc.org and in materials sent directly to local councils.

In this way, the Order will undertake a yearlong preparation for the 8th World Meeting of Families to be held Sept. 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia.

With this initiative, the Knights of Columbus turns in a special way to the Holy Family. We make our own the prayer of St. John Paul II that “every family may generously make its own contribution to the coming of his kingdom in the world” and “through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and through the family.”

Vivat Jesus!