Holy Week is a good time to reflect on Scripture. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catolico

Living out our Domestic Church at Easter

By  John B. Kostoff and Patricia Dal Ben, Catholic Register Special
  • April 10, 2020

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as a test of our commitment to answer our call as Catholics to express our faith beyond the bricks and mortar church building and organized gatherings. 

So how do we celebrate this holy season without the gift of Church? What are you doing on Easter Sunday to mark this most holy moment in our faith tradition and in the days leading up to Easter? 

Our book, One Home at a Time, outlines ways that our Domestic Church should celebrate throughout the year. Regardless of societal challenges but also in light of these trying times, we are called to live out our baptismal call in our homes and in our community.  

It is interesting to note that with the closing of many of our churches, and the limiting of our gatherings, many parishes have been scrambling to shore up our Domestic Church, which throughout the centuries has functioned in all sorts of challenging times. Now we need to take up our cross and find our way to Easter together. 

Here are some suggestions for your Domestic Church during the joyous days of Easter:

  • Start the day off with morning prayer and end the day with evening prayer as a family. Make Liturgy of the Hours a part of your home activity. Daily Mass is also available on the Internet and on television.
    There is no reason you can’t take advantage of this and participate in these new liturgical formats of proclamation and celebration. Salt + Light provides a number of programs worth watching as a family and there are several Internet sources for the Catholic community. 
  • Open the Bible and read Scripture. Reflect on the Holy Week readings that take you from Holy Thursday to Easter:
    Holy Thursday: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and John 13:1-15
    Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and John 18:1-19:42
    Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday: Isaiah 55:1-11, Romans 6:3-11, Matthew 28:1-10, Colossians 3:1-4, John 20:1-18, Luke 24:13-35.
  • Pope Francis has reminded us that we should confess our sins in prayer and recite the Act of Contrition until such time as the Sacrament of Penance is available. Provide quiet time for you and your family to enter into a prayerful reconciliation period.
  • Recite the rosary as a meditative prayer for one, or for the family to gather and pray. Your Domestic Church might join the many online forums that are participating in perpetual rosaries.
  • Colour eggs using food dye and make it an activity for the young and the old, reinforcing those traditional ways Easter has been celebrated.
  • If we have learned anything during the pandemic, it is the need for interconnectedness, so keep in touch with family, and reach out to neighbours who might be anxious or lonely. See if you can assist them by buying food, taking out the garbage, collecting their mail.  
  • Give blood. The need for blood hasn’t stopped. Canadian Blood Services arranges appointments and is ensuring social distancing procedures and safety precautions. 
  • Visit the web pages of your diocese and parish for news and updates on resources and supports, as well as Catholic media and websites.
  • Write Easter cards or e-notes for people, and remember to thank service providers.
  • For families, have children help prepare a meal and make extra for someone who might appreciate a homemade meal.  
  • Mark your home with a red sash on Good Friday and a white sash on Easter. The liturgical colours change in our Church so why not in our homes.
  • Set aside a special candle that will be used for your prayer gatherings. Offer it up as the paschal candle, united with our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. 

While this is not an exhaustive list of activities for your Domestic Church, remember that throughout the season of Easter we are called to live out what we celebrate in our parishes on Sunday. With our churches closed, one might feel alone and isolated, but our global community has experienced hardship before. Perhaps not to this magnitude some might say, but we have to believe that our faith will lead us through. 

It is normal to feel uncertain and worried. This most certainly is not the way we have typically spent the most holy time of the year, but this unique time gives us the opportunity to pause and think about what it means to be Catholic in our homes and beyond.

(Kostoff and Dal Ben are the authors of One Home at a Time: Realizing and Living out Our Domestic Church published by Novalis.)

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