Understanding the liturgy of the domestic church


Have you ever thought of your family life as a liturgy? The liturgy of domestic church life. Does that seem odd? It shouldn’t.

The word “liturgy” describes the specific “work” the Church does to heal the damage sin creates in our relationships with God and others. The Liturgy of the Eucharist conquers sin’s power to separate us from God and gives us the grace we need to go forth and build a civilization of love.

And that’s where the liturgy of domestic church life comes in. It is this second, complementary liturgy that enables us to bring Jesus home (so to speak), empowering us to heal the damage sin has done to the very root of civilization: the human family.

Here are 5 ways the Christian family is a liturgy.

1. Instituted by God

In “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (before he became Pope Benedict XVI) wrote, “liturgy includes some kind of ‘institution.’ It cannot spring from our own creativity.” The Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood were instituted by Christ on Holy Thursday. The apostles didn’t make it up. Jesus gave these gifts to them and then commissioned them to “do this in memory of me.”

2. A priest presides

You can’t have liturgy without a priest. Likewise, a priesthood without a liturgy is meaningless. That’s why we celebrate Holy Thursday as being the institution of both the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. One can’t exist without the other. The ministerial priesthood consecrates the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

But did you know that, in a different sense, we are all priests? Through baptism, every Christian person is invested in the “common priesthood of the laity.” But again, there’s no such thing as a priest without a liturgy. What is the liturgy over which the common priesthood presides? The liturgy of domestic church life. It is this liturgy that enables us “common priests” to consecrate the world to Christ as we strive to live out Christ’s sacrificial love in our homes and in the world.

3. Conveys God’s love and blessing

Liturgy conveys God’s love and blessing in a special and unique way. The Eucharist does this by facilitating the most intimate encounter with God possible this side of heaven. But the liturgy of domestic Church life also conveys God’s love and blessing in a unique way. The Catechism (No. 2205) asserts that the love experienced in the Christian family is meant to model the love that flows from the heart of God himself. The last three popes have referred to the Christian family as an “icon of the Trinity” because it is uniquely equipped to convey and model God’s self-giving love to the world.

4. Facilitates transformation and healing

Liturgy helps us to heal and to grow into godly people. The Liturgy of the Eucharist draws us into communion with the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. It makes eternal life with God possible. The liturgy of domestic Church life also facilitates healing. A healthy Christian family serves as what St. Thomas Aquinas called a “spiritual womb.” It is God’s primary way of raising loving, grace-filled disciples of Christ.

5. Draws us up into the life of God

Liturgy enables us to participate in the life of God. The Liturgy of the Eucharist gives us God’s flesh and blood and enables us to achieve union with him. Likewise, by calling the family an “icon of the Trinity,” the Church asserts that the Christian family also acts like a liturgy. An icon isn’t just a picture. It is a portal that allows the viewer to enter into a spiritual mystery. The liturgy of domestic Church life enables Christian families to personally experience the love that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — the love each of us was created to long for and emulate.

The Christian family isn’t just a collection of individuals living under the same roof. It is a liturgy that enables the common priesthood to consecrate the world to Christ.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


With church shootings on the rise, what are Catholic parishes doing to keep the faithful safe?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
By: Brian Fraga The people in the pews next to Chris Pereira probably have no idea he’s armed with a loaded weapon. The handgun he carries at... Read More

Vatican homeless shelter continues long history of the Church’s charitable works

Monday, February 17, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Talk about a breath of fresh air. NPR spent some minutes reporting that Pope Francis had turned a one-time palace near... Read More

Opening the Word: The Law's horizon

Friday, February 14, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Many residents of the United States distrust law. Yes, Americans appreciate basic traffic laws, legal prescriptions... Read More

Understanding the liturgy of the domestic church

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
By: Greg Popcak Have you ever thought of your family life as a liturgy? The liturgy of domestic church life. Does that seem odd? It... Read More

Many lessons were taught at the first desegregated high school in the South

Monday, February 10, 2020
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Catholic Schools Week, observed not very long ago, caused me to think about my 12 years of Catholic education, in... Read More

Opening the Word: The light of the world

Friday, February 7, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Our Gospels proclaim the blessedness of the poor, the hungry and the thirsty. The Gospels demand radical poverty, total... Read More

Sisters in solidarity: Praying for an end to abortion

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
By: Deirdre A. McQuade Planned Parenthood clinics perform over a third of all abortions in the United States. They are known to schedule even more... Read More

A culture caught up in the ingesting of darkness

Monday, February 3, 2020
By: Kathryn Jean Lopez I had an intense March for Life experience, as I typically do. People from all sorts of stages of my life seem to converge... Read More

Opening the Word: The materiality of salvation

Friday, January 31, 2020
By: Timothy P. O'Malley On interstates, it’s normal to encounter billboards that announce to harried motorists, “Jesus saves.”... Read More

How to stay above the fray in 2020

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
By: Deacon Greg Kandra Is it over yet? Maybe you’re having the same feeling: 2020 has barely begun and already you want it to be over. If the... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!