I believe that being intentional is the key to having a thriving domestic church. Creating an authentic atmosphere of faith in our homes or living according to rhythms of the liturgical year don’t happen by accident. We must intend to do such things. But what if we are struggling with a concept of what that looks like in our families? Vision is imperative.
If we lack vision for our domestic churches, then we will probably struggle to be intentional about building habits and culture in family life.
Scripture gives insight to this phenomenon in Proverbs 29:18:
“Without a vision the people lose restraint; but happy is the one who follows instruction.” (NABRE)
The footnote in Bible Gateway reads: “‘Vision’ and ‘instruction’ mean authoritative guidance for the community.” We need authoritative guidance for our domestic churches; we can’t begin being intentional until we know what it is we are going for, what it should look like — both theoretically and practically. Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit working through Church tradition, the Catechism, and a wealth of encyclicals to inspire vision within us!
But part of constructing a vision involves deconstructing old habits, patterns and norms. And sometimes we need both the Church’s inspirational and prophetic voice to help us in this process. The RSV translation of the above passage reads like this:
“Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint, but happy are those who keep the law.”
We sometimes misunderstand this word “prophecy” to only mean “predicting the future.” While some of the prophets did foretell things in Scripture, that is not the complete purpose of the prophetic. An important role of the prophetic, both in individuals given the gift of prophecy and the Church’s prophetic voice, is to correct us when we lose our way.
If our domestic churches lack vision, the solution may indeed involve two parts: correction and inspiration. Sometimes our life rhythms get quite imbalanced. We can easily let habits and norms set in that are not ideal — to the point that we are living in a way that is not cultivating abundant life and joy, but we don’t really know why. This is where we need to press into the voice of the Holy Spirit through the guidance of the Church.
I will give you a recent example from my family. My husband and I came to the realization this summer that our family spent far too little time in nature. It occurred to us that the default was not to be outside for extended periods of time — some days not at all. We are intentional in many ways in our domestic church, but this was not really one of them. Through a variety of sources we heard this corrective message for our domestic church confirmed. One source of vision for me was praying the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. God’s creation is certainly emphasized in the Psalms, and I became aware that spending time in nature cultivates a posture of attentiveness to the Lord and stillness required for hearing his voice. My husband was being nudged in the same direction simultaneously.
Suddenly we had vision for this aspect of our domestic church — we saw that extended time in nature would grow in us and our children a deeper union with our Creator and a primed space for hearing Him speak to us, individually and collectively. We now had a clear direction for this area of family culture. We saw what needed corrected (what we were spending our time doing instead of being outside) and we were inspired with specific vision for what needed to change. We could now be intentional about how we would spend time in the outdoors, particularly during seasons where it is less pleasant to do so.
Do you find your own domestic church to be lacking in vision in certain areas? I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you and to be attentive to the Church’s prophetic voice to help you identify something that may be blocking vision in your family life and culture. Without vision the faith culture in our homes won’t thrive, but God in his generosity has offered us many sources to renew vision and give us the ability to live with intention.
Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey