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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

413

1654

Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nev-

ertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and

Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity,

of hospitality, and of sacrifice.

VI.

T

he

D

omestic

C

hurch

1655

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the

holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than

“the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church

was often constituted by those who had become believers “together

with all [their] household.”

166

When they were converted, they

desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.

167

These families who became believers were islands of Christian life

in an unbelieving world.

1656

In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to

faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living,

radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an

ancient expression, calls the family the

Ecclesia domestica.

168

It is in the

bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the

first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should

encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, foster-

ing with special care any religious vocation.”

169

1657

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children,

and all members of the family exercise the

priesthood of the baptized

in

a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and

thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active

charity.”

170

Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a

school for human enrichment.”

171

Here one learns endurance and the

joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness,

and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

1658

We must also remember the great number of

single persons

who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to

live—often not of their choosing—are especially close to Jesus’ heart

and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the

166 Cf.

Acts

18:8.

167 Cf.

Acts

16:31;

Acts

11:14.

168

LG

11; cf.

FC

21.

169

LG

11.

170

LG 10.

171 GS 52 § 1.

759

2204

1268

2214-2231

2685