Focusing on the Domestic Church[i]
Time and time again in the Scriptures loving human relationships drew people to seek Jesus. Whether it was Mary and Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth, the first apostles, the centurion pleading for his son[ii], or the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, human relationships can draw people toward the Lord. Those relationships can be the places where people share their encounters with Jesus and others learn about Him from witnesses. They can also provide the yearning for healing, hope, and love that drive people toward Jesus. In either instance, those close human relationships are avenues to the Lord Jesus. Stage Two will focus on these close human relationships.
According to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church.” [iii] This means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and how to prayerfully seek His will for us.”[iv] It is in and through family life that the wondrous discovery of God-with-us can be made, over and over again. It is through family life that countless unplanned encounters with the Risen Lord, with the beauty of the Paschal Mystery, and with the mystery of love incarnate take place. They are extraordinary in their very ordinariness, and the New Evangelization imagines the domestic church as the place where the unplanned wonder of God-with-us is recognized, named, celebrated, and shared. It is within the domestic church that the New Evangelization imagines daily encounters like those the disciples had with Jesus around the table, transformative encounters!
The New Evangelization seeks to help married couples develop their Trinitarian relationship with the Lord so that they can be living signs of His presence. Jesus created a new covenant, and sacramental marriage reveals characteristics of that covenant. The New Evangelization seeks to help develop the marriage covenant so that the domestic church is flourishing with Christ’s presence: prayerful, merciful, and celebratory; that Christian homes are places of healing and havens for the stranger and the guest alike. It is in the daily activities of the domestic church that Jesus is present, opening the scriptures, and helping hearts burn. So, for this reason, the focus of Stage Two is on the Domestic Church: Marriage and Family. The fruit of Stage Two: Jesus encountered in daily life within the domestic church, so that the Holy Spirit gently blows upon the faith of everyone in the family, turning sparks to embers and embers to flame! The focus on personal encounters and families tending the fires of faith does not fade as the theme of Stage Three begins. Evangelization imagines the domestic church as the place where the unplanned wonder of God-with-us is recognized, named, celebrated, and shared. It is within the domestic church that the New Evangelization imagines daily encounters like those the disciples had with Jesus around the table, transformative encounters!
[i] Dovetails with the US Bishop’s suggested parish/diocesan roadmap where the first year focuses on faith.
[ii] Matthew 8:5-11
[iii] Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Vatican II, November 21, 1964. (11)
[iv] “Tools for Building a Domestic Church.” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, DC.