How to turn ordinary moments into sacred moments
As the mother of twin boys, Lucas and Aidan, I realized that God was calling me to devote 100 percent of my time to my children, but I underestimated how holy that could be.
Donna Marie Cooper-O’Boyle’s book, The Domestic Church: Room by Room – A Study Guide for Mothers, helped me realize just how important the domestic church really is. Motherhood is a vocation, a way that I can live out the gospel.
Every home is to be 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)
Our Lord sees the many selfless acts of loving service performed by the mother in the home. All of the seemingly unimportant or mundane tasks are actually the “holy glue” the keeps the family unit together and moving in the right direction! It is not how much we do that is pleasing to God, but how much love we put into the doing. (Cooper-O’Boyle)
The daily Works of Mercy
This was a little hard to wrap my head around in the beginning. Just think about it for a minute….
The Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.
I had previously assumed that I was called to do these things for people outside of my family, maybe even people outside of my church. But I quickly observed that I accomplished most of them in any given day. (Does visiting them in “time-out” count for “imprisoned?”)
The Spiritual Works of Mercy: admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, bear wrongs patiently (I usually need to say that one twice), forgive all injuries, and pray for the living and the dead.
Again, one day with my boys and I had most of those covered. Not that we shouldn’t perform the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy for those outside of our family and our church, but it was very affirming to know that I could still serve God and His kingdom, all without leaving the house.
Turning ordinary moments into sacred moments
As my boys got older, I began to make a more conscious effort to involve our faith in discipline. We have our own rules… like, when the doorbell rings, you can’t open the door unless you look out the window and you know who the person is.
God has rules too and His are the most important. I talk to Lucas and Aidan about their treatment of others because they, too, were created in the image and likeness of God.
I don’t think they quite understand that phrase yet, but they have it memorized, so it is in their psyche. Someday true understanding will follow. I remind them that, like Santa Clause, Jesus is always watching.
We try to turn “ordinary” moments into “sacred” moments by saying a prayer. We pray….before meals, at bedtime, when we hear an emergency vehicle or Life Flight (we have personal experience with this), when there is bad weather, at the beginning of a long car ride, when we are reminded of loved ones who don’t live near us, when we recognize one of God’s many blessings, and for specific intentions from friends and family.
The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called the domestic church, a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Countering the culture
As much as I can, I try to celebrate the current liturgical season rather than the season the retail stores think we should be celebrating. During Christmas this is especially hard, but we DO keep our nativity scene and most decorations up until the Epiphany.
At the beginning of Advent, the nativity scene starts with just Mary Joseph and the donkey. Then they spend a few days “traveling” to the stable where the animals are.
We add baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the angel on Christmas Eve as we read the Biblical account. Then the wise men and camel start “traveling” to join the nativity scene a few days after Christmas. We usually do an Advent Wreath or Jesse Tree as well.
For Easter, that means preparing through Lent and doing some guided “self reflection.” This is a perfect time to talk about forgiveness – both recognizing when we need to ask for it and what to do when someone asks you for your forgiveness. We also use the resurrection eggs to tell the story of the Passion and Resurrection.
My grandmother died when the boys were three years old and that was the perfect time to introduce them to the idea of Heaven. I’ve also told them about people close to us that have died. Aidan’s middle name is Christopher, after a boy I was close to who died when he was just nine. The boys know those up in Heaven can be asked to pray for us and carry our prayers straight to Jesus.
Lifelong faith formation
As the boys get older, I’ll be looking for more age appropriate ways to teach and celebrate in my domestic church. I have been blessed with a wonderful group of women in my Faith and Friendship group to learn from. I have also found myself on the mailing list for almost every Catholic publisher. Sometimes I just can’t resist buying something; other times I find myself turning to the internet for cheaper resources.
I know that through the support of others and the intercessions of Mary, our Mother, my domestic church will grow and change just as our family does.
(Cindy Clefisch, St. Luke the Evangelist Parish)