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376 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived

society to foster family values and to strengthen the family in every

possible way.



The Catholic family as a domestic church is the fundamental commu-

nity or cell of the parish, the diocese, and the universal Church. Christ

has called all family members to union with God through Baptism and

the other Sacraments and to share in the mission of the whole Church.

Family members carry out the Church’s mission by fostering mutual love

in the home and, through that love, by building up the community of the

Church and society.

The Christian home is the place where children receive the first

proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is

rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace

and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.

(CCC, no. 1666)

The Christian family forms an environment within which faith is

professed and witnessed. When family members pray together, engage in

lifelong learning, forgive one another, serve each other, welcome others,

affirm and celebrate life, and bring justice and mercy to the community,

they help each other live the faith and grow in faith. Some families may

not understand themselves as a domestic church. Perhaps they consider

their family too broken to be used for the Lord’s purposes. They need

to remember that a family is holy not because it is perfect, but because

God’s grace is at work in it.

What is a family? “A man and a woman united in marriage, together

with their children, form a family” (CCC, no. 2202). A family as defined

in the


may be found in a considerable portion of the house-

holds in our nation. Other familial arrangements have developed, such

as single-parent families, blended families, and families in which adult

children care for their parents as well as their own children. All families

are beset with many challenges. They deserve compassion and the hope

that they can be faithful to Christ’s way of love.