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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.”

Likewise, as current cultural debates about the family illustrate, the Christian vision of family as one man, one woman and the children they raise together isn’t obvious from a purely human perspective. The Christian vision of “family” wasn’t invented by mankind. It was instituted by God (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2202).

In the Garden, the Father gave Adam and Eve the first Great Commission to “go forth and multiply.” By choosing to be born and raised in a family with a mother and father, Jesus conveyed a special dignity to this family arrangement. Finally, by choosing the wedding at Cana to initiate his public ministry, Christ raised marriage and family life to the dignity of a sacrament. The Christian understanding of family is not invented; it is revealed and instituted.

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