Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The domestic church—where we’re used to not getting what we want

My desire for conversion happened days before my first child was born, so my Catholic journey and motherhood are inextricably linked. Both have taught me a thing or two about delayed gratification, self-control, and discipline—all of which appear to be lacking in the culture at large.

But in the domestic church were learning (and teaching) all those hard lessons—that “our way” isnt always Gods way, and that what is hard is often good, and for our good. As a wife, I am called to love a husband, considering his good before my own, and be subject to him as to the Lord. As a mother, I contend with 5 a.m. wake-up calls, vomit, and one million questions a day. The other night I slept for four interrupted hours. 

But children are a blessing beyond compare.

In this vocation, it is readily apparent that hopes are often dashed. Infertility and miscarriage are a reality. Life is tangible, and death is all too real. When prayers, tears, and doctors dont change things, youre reminded (once again) that you dont always get what you want.

And even when we do get what we want in the big things (e.g., a perfectly timed pregnancy, the dream house) or in the small things (7 straight hours of sleep), there is still the constant tension of our battle with sin and the devil. No amount of anger, therapy, or protesting changes the reality that life is hard, especially for those taking up their Cross.

The domestic church teaches parents all kinds of lessons, which we do our best to pass on to our children. Each time we kneel down in prayer or line up for confession, we provide that example again: we can’t do whatever we want; getting our way isn’t paramount.


The Naughty Drummer Boy by Nicolaes Maes, 1655

Its increasingly obvious just how important these basic lessons of childhood are to society. These are the means by which children grow into adults who are capable of handling adversity. 

And every man that strives for self control is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 1 Corinthians 9:25
As Christians, we have the shield of faith. We remain oriented toward that which is eternal, true, and unchanging: God Himself. “We were by nature the children of wrath,” says St. Paul, but have become the disciples of Christ. And because of this we have an increasingly rare and refreshing perspective, one that is directly opposed to the passions run amok in our world. 

The Church is the sacrament of Gods love... In the same way the family is a community of life and love. It educates and leads its members to their full human maturity and it serves the good of all along the road of life. In its own way it is a living image and historical representation of the mystery of the Church. The future of the world and of the Church pass by way of the family. —Pope Saint John Paul II's Homily, November 30, 1986