Liturgy is a lot like parenting. No. Liturgy IS parenting.
Jesus Christ is the groom and His Church the bride. Together they have done a wonderful job of cosmically birthing a multitude of Christians. In an effort to raise their children to the heights of charitable virtue, they provided us with the rhythmic order of the cannon Liturgy so that someday, we might choose to follow in their perfection and become like the Son in virtue, character an zeal.
If you are a parent, perhaps you can relate? Our goal is similar in that we desire our kids to be happy, successful and Christ-like. To ensure that this occurs in my house, we lay down some rules, establish procedures and ultimately spend a lot of time together in these practices.
Hence, I try to make my domestic Church as liturgical as the Catholic Mass. Here’s how I do it:
The opening hymn
- This is the sound of my alarm clock. Depending on my alarm’s tone, this can be pleasant or annoying in the same way my Church choir can be melodious or off-key.
- Me actually standing up. At Church this is the first step in Catholic aerobics, at home its more like dragging myself out of bed.
Rite of Blessing and sprinkling of holy water
- My morning shower.
- After the cleansing of my body, I cleanse my soul by asking forgiveness for all I had done the previous day/week.
- I dry off both physically and spiritually and ask for God’s mercy.
- I begin to unwrap my day by recognizing God’s presence in all I do. I praise Him by reciting the Divine Office and pre-plan ways I can practice virtue in the next 24 hours.
- If you are like me and are unable to attend daily mass in the AM, I defer to Father Larry Richard’s famed quote, “No Bible? No breakfast!” The Sacred Page provides me with spiritual nourishment in much the same way my stomach enjoys a nice bowl of cereal, sunny-side-up eggs and a side of bacon.
- This is the morning high. From the kids’ commute to daycare to the work I do, my AM is typically filled with refreshed motivation to complete the tasks that God gave to me. I am most well rested at this point (at least, I should be) and a certain flow or rhythm is easily practiced during my morning routine.
- Again, reading from the Sacred page feeds my soul. Therefore, lunch.
- The heart and soul of my vocations is to promote the Gospel of love beyond the church building. After lunch, the PM food coma finds me on a personal Calvary with the pressures of my job, spouse and children weighing on me. This is when it is most crucial to practice the be-attitudinal lifestyle that Christ mandates if I wish to achieve true happiness.
- This is me constantly reflecting on what matters most in life. This is when I hug my crosses and realize that the closer I hold the heaviest ones, the stronger I become.
Profession of Faith
- When work is over and I begin to think about the love that awaits me at home, I share in a sense of completeness. Having completed the first part of my mission at work, I look to the second part with renewed energy. I do the same when I reflect on the Liturgy of the Word and look forward to the Liturgy of the Eucharist while I pray the Creed at Mass.
Prayer of the Faithful
- This is my evening commute where I contemplate how everyone else’s day went and whether I need to bring the baggage from work into the home tonight or not. If I’ve had a particularly rough day, this is my last moment to disown the negativity that could potentially drag my family down with me.
Presentation of the Gifts
- This is when either my wife or I begin to prepare dinner.
Preparation of the Altar
- This is me, setting the dinner table with the help of the most adorable 3 year-old assistant I know.
Prayer over the Gifts
- “Bless us o Lord, for these thy gifts, which we are about to receive through thy bounty through Christ, our Lord, Amen.”
- “The Lord be with you.” And with my family as I begin to feel the togetherness that only a family meal can create.
The Lord’s Prayer
- This is a subliminal act of thanks that we all do while at the dinner table. The fact that we eat this meal together is the basis of our family routine. It is the anvil that keeps us steady amidst the stormy sea of our busy days. The Lord’s prayer does much the same for our prayer life.
Sign of Peace
- The arbitrary conversation that always begins with “How was your day?” unites us in communion with each other. It is the eternal dialogue that reaches out to touch our souls in order to bring us into each other’s world.
Breaking of the Bread
- Finally, we place of food on our plates, divvy it up and anticipate its deliciousness.
- Hailed as the most fulfilling of all American meals, dinner satisfies me in a way that breakfast and lunch cannot, for it provides me with the energy necessary to “sleep.” Death is synonymous with the word “sleep” in some translations of the Bible. Dinner, then, can be compared to the eternal banquette of Christ’s Body and Blood that sustains our lives even after we “go to sleep.”
Prayer after Communion
- These are the evening activities I take part in. The best are those that we share with each other as a family such as story time, tickle fights and playing catch. However, personal reading, homework completion, hobbies and/or sports help sustain a healthy family life.
- We meet together once more for nightly prayer time as a family.
- This is when the brushing of teeth, the goodnight hugs and kisses and the tucking in to beds occurs.
Recessional and Closing Song
- We end our days with a snuggly lullaby or a tired “Night night, Jesus.”
How do you run your domestic Church?