This new feature will contain activities that can be done at home on a weekly basis each month. A parent, educator, and cluster parishioner is contributing the ideas. We hope to reach all families. It can be accessed under the "Our Community" menu.
THE DOMESTIC CHURCH A GUIDE TO CATECHSIS AT HOME - 4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 19, 2021
Weary happiness is a strange feeling, but one that we have all shared in. It is in those moments right after birth, staying up with a sick child and them finally resting, a spouse finally coming home after a late day and night, finishing a hard day’s worth of work that really made the difference to someone, or in a lesser way the pleasure after a long and hard run. Mary probably felt the same thing right after Jesus was born-an immense sense of relief, happiness, and being just plain tired. Little did she know that her journey with her son to The Cross was just about to start and that shortly she would be fleeing to Egypt.
As a Domestic Church, we are invited to share these feelings with Mary. As the Stabat Mater prays: “Make me feel as thou hast felt; / Make my soul to glow and melt / With the love of Christ Our Lord.” Feeling her weary happiness is not for the faint of heart or something that should be done every year by our families, but maybe, if your family is feeling brave, they should try putting the Mass back into Christmas and achieve a weary happiness. Attend the Vigil Mass for Christmas the evening of the 24th. That night, celebrate the Midnight Mass of the Incarnation of Our Lord. The following morning, celebrate the sunrise Mass to welcome our Lord at Christmas.
To follow this practice, know your family and what they can realistically do. This activity is not great for families with very young children but is for older kids who can withstand the demands that three Masses will make on them. However, the feeling of satisfaction of making such a sacrifice of time for Our Lord will genuinely allow them what it means to be wearily happy for God.
THE DOMESTIC CHURCH A GUIDE TO CATECHSIS AT HOME - 3rd SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 12, 2021
“People, look East!” The command given in this lovely Advent hymn serves as a good reminder of some of the things we should be doing in Advent to prepare ourselves as He gets ready to come. The Church gives us examples of what we should do in our own Domestic Church. The churches around the world begin to clean and decorate the temples they have dedicated to the Lord. In much the same way, the temples in our charge should be made clean and prepared.
Often, we decorate our homes as a part of Advent. However, we should go a bit further and clean as well. This activity is great for everyone in the family to participate. The cleaning should not be one of those “shove in the closet” and wipe down cleanings. It should be a move and clean under the couch and behind the refrigerator cleaning. Along with cleaning, we should begin shedding. Taking the old toys and items we no longer use or need and donating the ones with worth. By doing this we unload ourselves to make room.
Along with our homes, we should clean the temples that God has given each of us: ourselves. A special guest is coming, so we should prepare our appearances to the best ability we are able (e.g. haircuts). More importantly, we should make sure that the spirits which reside in our physical temples are pure and clean as well. During the Season of Lent, the Sacrament of Penance is usually made much more available in our local parishes. Take the opportunity with the family to clean the temples of our bodies and confess. This activity is something that should be done as a family. By showing our children that we are sinful and need the sacrament, they are much more likely to follow because children do not listen, but they do watch and learn.
THE DOMESTIC CHURCH A GUIDE TO CATECHSIS AT HOME - 2nd SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 5, 2021
The phrase “Marantha!” is an ancient exclamation in Aramaic. Scholars have puzzled over it for millennia and the current consensus is that it can mean one of two things: “The Lord is among us” or “Lord, quickly come!” This double-meaning seems apparently contradictory but does make sense. God is always with us, but at the same time, He will come in a much more full and present sense at His Advent. Mary may have felt the same way about her pregnancy. Gabriel told her quite plainly that the Lord was with her, but at the same time the travelling she underwent pregnant surely made her wish that her child came sooner than later.
A way we as parents can demonstrate this feeling of travel and the hardships that Mary and Joseph underwent to bring Our Lord into the world is with the manger. Often, we set-up the manger scene somewhere nice and near the Christmas tree. If we are traditional, we don’t put Jesus into the scene until Christmas Eve. Instead, let us use the manger as a teaching tool about the journey to Bethlehem and the anticipation we should feel.
On the first Sunday of Advent, set-up the manger as far away from the Christmas tree as possible. This location can be a kitchen, a bedroom, a far back porch. The key is to make it a bit “in the way” and without Jesus. By putting it in our way, we show that the journey isn’t easy. Mary and Joseph had to accommodate their lives for the Lord, not the other way around. Each Sunday of Advent, move the manger scene closer and closer to the tree. As the star will eventually be placed on the tree, this gives a great representation of the journey to Bethlehem, particularly as the manger is placed in the room with the tree on the last Sunday of Advent.
Finally, wait until the children go to sleep before putting Jesus in his place in the manger. In the morning, Jesus, the true gift of Christmas is there to mark our joy and celebrations as He comes again.
THE DOMESTIC CHURCH A GUIDE TO CATECHSIS AT HOME - 1st SUNDAY OF ADVENT NOVEMBER 28, 2021
While it is apparent to most of us how the Modern Age has abused the celebration of Christmas and has transformed it more into a celebration of the economy rather than a celebration of the Incarnation of Christ, it is less apparent how the Modern Age has transformed the Season of Advent.
The meaning of Advent is anticipation. Not just of Christmas, but the return of Our Savior to reclaim this earth fully as His Kingdom. It should have a feeling of nervous anticipation, waiting, eagerness, much like that of a servant waiting in the dark for the bridegroom to come. We should follow Christ’s command and be like children in this regard-impatiently waiting. While the Modern Age teaches the importance of immediacy, let us pass to our children how to slow down and learn to eagerly wait.
One way we can do this is to slow down our own preparations for Christmas over the entire time of Advent, rather than a single day or weekend. A good example is how we decorate our Christmas trees. Rather than putting up the tree to admire the four whole weeks of Advent, let us do it in stages to show the slow preparation and anticipation.
1st Sunday of Advent: Put up the tree itself. Reflect how the evergreen represents the eternal life Our Lord promises to us.
2nd Sunday of Advent: Add the lights to the tree. Consider “all the worlds” His hands have made and how we are the descendants of Abraham who are as countless as the stars.
3rd Sunday of Advent: Decorate the tree with decorations. Remember the treasures of our life which we now put on display: love, family, hope, our daily bread-all that comes from the Lord.
4th Sunday of Advent: Move the manger scene into the room with the tree. In our final preparations, we must move things to make room for the Holy Family.
Christmas Eve: Add the star to the tree. The star is what calls us and focuses our attention. Finally, Love the Lord is on His way.