Living liturgically doesn’t have to mean a house or life straight out of Pinterest. What does it mean, exactly? Growing and nourishing your beautifully imperfect domestic church.
I have a tendency to dream big.
Case in point? Lent, 2015. My second daughter was six months old. I decided to take her and her four-year-old sister to daily Mass at least once a week. It would be part of our path to family holiness, the path I was charged to lead as their mother.
Daily Mass at our parish starts at 8 AM. As any Catholic mommy worth her salt knows, if Mass is ten minutes away, you need to be headed out the door at least forty minutes ahead of time. It’s that child-induced time warp, where half an hour disappears in a tidal wave of sippy cups, missing shoes, man-eating jacket sleeves, and fifteen requests for pretzels and goldfish.
I wasn’t feeling worth my salt that first morning, though. An exploding diaper and a my-pants-are-too-pantsy preschooler had me collapsed in the rocking chair at 8:15, tears of postpartum rage streaming down my face.
The babe was nursing.
The four-year-old was reenacting scenes from Horton Hears a Who in her underwear.
I was losing it, cursing myself and my inability to get out the door on time.
How could I raise Catholic children? How would I ever teach them to love the Church? Why couldn’t I get my act together to get them to mass when other moms did it so easily?
I was a failure. Worse yet, I was a failure in charge of the physical and spiritual well being of two little people who had been dropped on my doorstep, delivered by a God who never gives anyone more than they can handle.
God, this is way more than I can handle.
And He said: “This is your domestic Church. This is my plan for you.”
I Stink at Liturgical Living
We made cupcakes once for Mary’s birthday. I think we put three (maybe four?) ornaments on last year’s Jesse Tree. I’ve never once made Divine Mercy Sundaes on Divine Mercy Sunday. And I’ve only made it to daily Mass with all (now three) kids once in the past two years.
But this is still my domestic Church.
And I can still raise good, holy, Catholic kids who remain faithful to the Church and her teachings without all the living liturgically things.
At the moment I sat in that rocking chair tearing myself to pieces, God gave me grace. He reminded me that I had been raised in my parents’ simple domestic Church, a child of a pre-Vatican II Catholic father and a convert mother who shared their faith in the most natural of ways. My parents’ faith life wasn’t Pinterest-worthy, and mine doesn’t have to be, either. It just has to work, for my family and for the propagation of the faith to our children.
So we’ve made our faith authentic.
It’s a part of who we are, from the words we speak to the decisions we make. We offer up our suffering, from scraped knees to annoying siblings. We weave prayer throughout the day, whether we’re making a mess or cleaning it up. We approach friends and neighbors from a Catholic perspective, whether they share our beliefs or long for the truth. We practice putting our faith in action no matter how small the opportunity.
We’ve made our faith accessible, encouraging questions and opportunities for discussion.
My father knew a great deal about the Faith and made sure that my sister and I understood its truths. He answered our questions from a sound theological background and if he didn’t know the answer he consulted a trusted priest. We try to do the same with our children, explaining the hows and whys of Holy Mother Church in an age-appropriate manner. Because the more they know about the reasons behind the teachings of the Church, the more likely they will be to remain faithful as adults.
We’ve been honest about our failings.
Neither myself nor my husband is perfect, and we’ve made plenty of mistakes. But we seek out the sacrament of Reconciliation with our children. They may receive absolution if they desire it, or observe from the pew if they are too young. Our children know that when we fall, we can pick ourselves up through the grace of the sacraments.
It’s true – I don’t excel at living liturgically, but I am the woman God designed for my kids.
Together we walk the path of sanctification toward heaven.
God willing, our domestic church will get us there.
Do you excel when it comes to liturgical living? Or is it something you struggle with, as well? How do you make it work for your family?
Copyright 2018 Ginny Kochis