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The Catholic presence stretches around the globe, and approximately 1.3 billion belong to the big Church, the Body of Christ. In many cases they are also living in one of the countless little “domestic churches” all throughout the world.

But what actually constitutes a “domestic church?” Let’s take a quick look at the beginning of the Church’s Founder’s life. Jesus Himself was born into the heart of a family, a little domestic church consisting of His mother, Mary, His foster father, St. Joseph, and Himself. Wherever the Holy Family set up their home –  in the stable in Bethlehem for a time, in Egypt or in Nazareth –  their  domestic church moved right along with them simply because their domestic church consisted of the three of them.

Down through the ages, as people were converted and became believers, “they desired that ‘their whole household’ should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1655).

“Every home is called to become a ‘domestic church’ in which family life is completely centered on the lordship of Christ and the love of husband and wife mirrors the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church, his bride,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his Feb. 7, 2007, general audience remarks.

These are wonderful ideals to emulate. However, because of the large number of single-parent families today, we know that not every Catholic family consists of a mother and a father. Broken families seem more like a norm rather than an exception. Grandparents are raising their grandchildren in many households. And we also know that even in traditional families, not every Catholic husband and wife “mirrors the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church, his bride.”  Even so, our Church summons Catholic families, in all their shapes and forms, to live in this virtuous way. Each unique domestic church can be a stable, loving and holy environment.

To be continued …