Holy Week at Home- Building Your Domestic Church
A flash of hope caught my eye as I scrolled mindlessly through the latest newsfeed barrage of handwashing and social distancing reminders. Less than two weeks before Easter everything, including our churches, remains closed. Yet, hope remains.
“The church is not empty, the church has been deployed.”
Around the text, photos. Photos of families cooking together, a doctor caring for a patient, a grocery cashier suited up for what can now aptly be described as “front-line” service on the prevention front, a woman sewing a mask, Pope Francis blessing a world gripped with the terror of a sweeping pandemic. In the midst of our valley of the shadow of death, our valley of tears, the pictures serve as a powerful reminder that the light of Christ is ever present to the world in each of us.
Domestic church, wake up! It’s our time to shine!
This year’s Holy week comes with a special opportunity to invite God to breathe new life into your domestic church. The term domestic church has been making the rounds in Catholic mom circles over the past few weeks. If you’ve never heard of the domestic church before and/or weren’t aware this was a thing you were trying to build let me begin first with encouragement.
If you’re a Catholic mom, you already have a domestic church.
It’s your family, and the way you live your faith with them each day. The domestic church is alive when we serve one another, when we forgive, when we give thanks, when we pray and worship God.
So without any frantic, last minute googling or feelings of inadequacy because this is the first you’re hearing about it, it’s already yours. Extra prayers, catechetical lessons with crafts, sing-songs, or baking lessons are not required. You don’t need to recreate Mass in your house, though it’s a great idea to stay connected with the life of the Church by watching Mass offered by the priests who were ordained to do so. You’re a mom, not an entire ecclesial community. Inhale… exhale. The important things are the same as they were last month.
God is at the heart of your domestic church. Your relationship with him remains the most important thing.
As we enter into Holy Week, take time to pray. If you’re not in the regular habit of reading your Bible now is the time. Picture yourself in the Gospel of each day as you slowly read through it during your time in prayer.
Soak in the scene and become a part of it. You are there, next to Jesus in his final moments. From his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (Holy Thursday), to his death on Good Friday. The agonizing wait… Then the joy of Easter morning!
How do you see yourself in each of these stories? What do you most want to say to Jesus as you journey through the week? Talk to him, ask him questions, see what thoughts come to mind. What is he saying to you? How does witnessing his Passion make you feel? What is your first thought when you see the stone, rolled away from the empty tomb? Share these things with him in prayer.
Let prayer form the foundation of your family’s Holy Week. You can add palms on Sunday, wash feet together on Thursday, fast on Friday, light candles on Saturday (the night of the Easter vigil), and celebrate on Sunday. But most of all, embrace this time with God in the company of those you most love to embrace. Take note and rejoice in the signs of new life that only he can give.
The Easter story is a story of hope triumphing over fear and despair.
This year the fear and despair are for most of us more present than usual. Easter reminds us the story isn’t over. We keep going by God’s grace with our eyes fixed on him. We look forward to his promise of the kingdom. Right now, today, we can make the choice to live in hope, making choices that build up his kingdom in our world. This year, more than ever, let’s remember the words spoken on multiple occasions by St. John Paul II:
“We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
PS. Do you want some great spiritual resources and prayers during this pandemic?
Visit Teresa Tomeo’s website CLICK HERE for a ton of resources
Karen Keays returned to the Church in early adulthood after more than a decade of wrestling with God. She is a stay-at-home mother of three.