Catholic Dads & The Domestic Church


September 16, 2012 by eneubauer

Daddy Daughter Date

First, let me begin my thoughts with this important statement.  Catholic Moms rock!  There is just no better way to begin a discussion about Catholic Dads & the Domestic Church than to recognize the influence of our Moms.  They are meeting together at our parishes and in homes providing support for one another as they seek to raise the children.  In addition, Catholic Mom’s have a strong presence & influential role throughout the sphere of Social Media.  Finally, they are trying hard to encourage their husbands to engage – at home & in parish life.

Dads, its time to catch up and take our place of influence at home, in parish life & throughout the blogosphere – as dynamic & faithful Catholic Dads!

I write today in response to the lament I often hear from my parents generation reflecting on the state of their children’s (my generation) Catholic faith.  The lament that I hear comes from the fact that grandchildren, visiting their grandparents, don’t know their Catholic prayers & are often confused or distracted at mass.  Of course, some of this is age related but I propose that some of it is connected to this truthMany Dad’s have abdicated their own faith development and are unable to properly communicate that faith to their children.  Hence, Dads are not fulfilling the promises made at their children’s baptism.  This can and needs to change.  Let’s review:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: (1655 – 1656)

“Christ chose to be born & grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph & Mary.  The Church is NOTHING more than ‘the family of God.'”

Talking about the early believers (&  significant to our culture / society today) it states, “These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.”

In addition the CCC states, “For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression , calls the family the Ecclesia domestica (Domestic Church).

It is in example that parents are…”the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children.”  And finally, the “…home is the first school of Christian life…”

The implications of the Catechism & the Second Vatican Council’s statements are clear – the home is that beginning point from which our children are exposed to and learn about their Catholic faith.  The parents, not the local parish, have the initial responsibility to teach & train their children “in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) The parish & its educational resources are there to build upon that foundation the parents have laid in the formation of their children.  Therefore, the idea of identifying the home as the domestic church implies that both Moms & Dads will take active responsibility in the spiritual development of their children which includes encouraging the exploration of religious / clerical vocations.

Let’s just admit it Dads, we have grown rusty in our personal faith development.  We haven’t been as serious in the embrace of our Bishops call towards life long faith formation as we should have been.  In the hustle and bustle of work, extracircullar activities, and rest – our personal faith development was shifted to the “back burner”.  This has been the cause of a little “interior” embarrassment and because of it we have become inactive as spiritual guides to our children.  We happily gave that responsibility to “hardworking & intelligent” Moms and the staff of our local parish.

You know the truth – the staff at our parishes have been happy to develop programs that can make a lasting impact in the lives of our children.  They have given them much of what they need to understand the faith.  However, it is frustrating when the spiritual formation of children feels “outsourced” to the parish alone with little reinforcement from Dad.  Remember it is only in the development of a firm foundation & regular reinforcement in the home that our children become well formed, faithful Catholic adults.  Without the domestic church acting as it should we simply set our children up to fail in the development of their faith and the many moral decisions they will make throughout their lives.  We would never allow this in relation to our children’s academic education!

The truth: Our children are looking to their fathers to participate alongside their faithful mothers as the domestic church.  In this we give our children a fighting chance to truly embrace the faith ensuring a life of wholeness, fulfillment and moral clarity.  This is a task we were created for and a task that is just waiting for our embrace.

Here are some simple suggestions for those of us who feel a bit rusty and would like to be more involved:

  • Attend Mass regularly.  Grab the book and follow along in active participation.  In this you refamiliarize yourself with some of the fundamentals of the faith & sacramental life.
  • Eliminate one extra, non-religious activity and give yourself a bit more time for your own faith development.
  • Sign up for a faith formation class and attend it regularly.  Take notes, ask questions and do the “homework.”  You will GROW!
  • Meet with your parish priest.  Find a confessor that will also double as a Spiritual Director.  Bouncing the challenges of life off another who has been faithful for a number of years yields tremendous results
  • When you get home – close the laptop and turn off the phone.  Give your undivided attention to your children, read them a story from Sacred Scripture or the Saints and close the night in prayer.
  • Finally, tell your wife how much you love and appreciate who she is & what she does.

The results will be an invigorating reorientation of your faith to the person of Christ enabling you to become the man & father you have always dreamed of becoming.

Join me on the journey.  Catholic Dad’s Unite – we can become cool too!

5 thoughts on “Catholic Dads & The Domestic Church

  1. Active participation in faith formation is as essential a parental role as any other in a child’s life. If in our heart we desire to see our children flourish in life, then the responsibility to demonstrate our own faith commitment whilst competently and confidently teaching the basics of our faith in the home is a priority. So often men feel unable to do this and often for very simple reasons. We must set aside our embarrassment, sign up to parish classes that teach us the faith and ask questions on things we are uncertain of. The church is not there to catch us out but to catch us up with the rich heritage of truth and practice that has secured our opportunity lo love and serve God. Our children deserve no less. Well written, Eric. we appreciate this timely reminder.

    • eneubauer says:

      My favorite line and one to be remembered often, “The Church is not here to catch us out but to catch us up with the rich heritage of the truth…” A line to be remembered and quoted. Blessings,

  2. 4 years ago, at my dad’s funeral, while those assembled were praying the rosary, a friend of my parents watched with interest as my husband pulled out his rosary and standing with some of our kids, prayed along. Afterwards, she pulled me aside and remarked how wonderful it was to see a father leading his children in prayer. To her that was more effective than mom leading in prayer. My pastor, whom I respect very much, said much the same thing. I think it’s true. Kids expect mom to pray, but they (especially sons) take their cue from a father who unashamedly models Catholic life. Thankfully, I can think of many Catholic dads who are a guiding light for their families, my husband included.

    • eneubauer says:

      Thanks for your heartfelt comment. While I was writing this particular post I had in mind Catholic Dads who were examples of spiritual leaders in their “domestic churches.” My inspiration! I just realize more and more every day how important the partnership between a Mom and Dad actually is. In addition, in my heart of hearts, I also believe there are many Catholic Dads who have “lost their way a bit” and secretly want back. They want to rediscover their faith and be / become the leaders they were destined to be. So, this is the heart behind this post. For those Dads who want back – they just need some encouragement. I may not be perfect but I am trying to lead in community with my wife. Thanks Be To God!

  3. […] Catholic Dads & The Domestic Church – Eneubauer, 21 Century Pilgrim […]

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