ARTICLE – Doing Church at Home

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers: ‘together with all [their] household.’ When they were converted, they desired that ‘their whole household’ should also be saved. These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.” (COC #1655) 

This is how the early Church, after Pentecost, organized itself into families or groups of families. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Christians met in private homes for prayer, the teaching of the Word, the celebration of the Eucharist and displayed a rich fellowship and interaction. (Acts 2:42)  The house church was the cornerstone of the local church and was instrumental in the growth of the early Church.

St. John Chrysostom, a Church father, writes:  “Make your house a church, where there is psalmody, prayer, and the songs of the prophets; he is not mistaken who wants to call such a gathering a church”. (St. John Chrysostom, Exp. in Ps 41:2; PG 55:158)

Our model for the house church is the Holy Family of Nazareth: “the house of Nazareth is a school of prayer where one learns to listen, meditate on and penetrate the profound meaning of the manifestation of the Son of God, following the example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, Wednesday, December 28, 2011)

 “The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.” (Paul VI, speech at Nazareth, January 5, 1964)

Pope Paul VI teaches that “the family, “ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. (…) such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi # 71) Pope John Paul II also stresses the missionary nature of the family, explaining that “the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love.” (Familiaris Consortio # 17)

Therefore, to make Church at home is to emulate the Holy Family that had Jesus at its center.  By doing this, we will embody the diverse dimensions of the Church: prayer, catechesis, evangelization, fraternity, mutual support, and solidarity.

As a final point, let us know that to keep Jesus at the center of our homes is primarily an attitude and an interior disposition, to stay with him, think about him, love him, and to share his mission. For where the love of Jesus is, there is the Church!

Pierre-Alain Giffard

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