In life there is the ideal, and there is reality. The ideal, for a Catholic, would be to go to Mass daily. The reality is with a 30 mile commute, it's just not possible. Another ideal would be to never have anger or fear...but sadly, yet again I am human.
The Church calls us to different places, but she places a high value on vocations, be they marriage or holy orders. I had never heard of the concept of the Domestic Church until I became Catholic although I had heard the "idea" in Protestant communities, but never in such a profound way.
"Christian spouses, in virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony,
whereby they signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love
which exists between Christ and His Church, help each other to attain to
holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their
children. By reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special
gift among the people of God. From the wedlock of Christians there
comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the
grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus
perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to
speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be
the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them
in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care
vocation to a sacred state.
"Fortified by so many and such powerful means of salvation, all the faithful,
whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way,
to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect." (Lumen Gentium, 11)
The USCCB's website concludes that Lumen Gentium 11 denotes that "this means that it is in the context of the family that we first learn who God is and to prayerfully seek His will for us" in their own article on the Domestic Church and ideas on how to make your own. If we seek God in our homes first, Christ becomes the Head of the home as we seek to follow His will.
There is no doubt that in our modern culture, marriage itself is under attack. To assert even further that a marriage should be a "traditional marriage", one in which the husband is the head of the household and head of the family makes one invariably look like a complete quack - or at least we are taught to perceive them that way at the very least.
Lately, I have felt the spirit moving in my heart to speak, and to speak what I believe to be the truth - regardless of what you, my potential reader, may believe of me for speaking it. I am tired of living half lies, hiding in shadows, and keeping up appearances. While I highly suspect this will be a process that evolves over time, in this moment, I wish to be completely and totally honest with you and declare the following statements.
My husband is the head of my household.
Okay, you're still here. In our home, this means that at the end of the day, the final decision on things, especially in spiritual matters, finances, and raising the children is HIS. Not mine.
Wow, you made it that far. Great! Glad to have you still with me. Breathe. I know - this is radical thinking for our time.
Now before you go off a cliff, I do have a say - a rather large one. There are many things my husband trusts my discretion in and in those things I make choices. When I don't know which way to go, such as with curriculum for our homeschooling, I seek his opinion on what he believes the children should be covering that year and what may or may not be the best options. I make the meal planning for the family but I also take the time before I go grocery shopping to ask him if there is anything in particular he would like to see on the menu in the coming weeks. I have my own money and I make my own decisions on how I will spend that money.
Now, back to the Domestic Church. You may be surprised to find that the head of our home has entrusted that primarily to me.
Uh oh....anyone still left? Because those who were nodding and smiling up until now are probably ready to hurt me - at least based on what I have seen and heard from friends, family, and strangers on the internet in the past. Apparently you get to be in one camp or the other. We have our feet firmly in both. I know....shocking.
I lead the family in the Rosary because he works and sleeps. We rarely see him most days of the week due to his job. I lead the children in their prayers, their religion work for school. Most weeks I drive to Mass with my children alone because he is not able to attend with us due to his work schedule. We are lucky to attend Mass as a family once every 2 months. At times we have been lucky to make it Easter and Christmas together.
So, after reading that, who is the head of our Domestic Church? Me? or Him?
First and foremost, it is Christ. Christ is the Head of this family.
Next, it is my husband. You will note I said above that he has "entrusted" it to me. Does that mean I make all the choices and decisions? No. Does that mean what I says goes and it has to be my way? No. Does that mean that if he comes in with a Rosary and wants to lead the family that I throw a temper tantrum and act like a 2 year old? I would certainly hope not!!!
Even if it has been entrusted to my care by him, he is still the one in charge of it because if he is not liking how it is being handled, he has every right and in fact responsibility, to talk with me about it and help me redirect and reshape our Domestic Church. My job, as a wife in this marriage, is to communicate with him about these things and follow his will, just like I communicate with Christ in prayer and through the teachings of the Church and Sacred Scripture and allow Him to direct and shape our lives.
I cannot see Christ every day, but He is always present in my home. He is always here, with me and my children helping to guide our family. Many years ago, toward the beginning of my marriage, my husband deployed to Iraq. Just because he was not physically there didn't mean we didn't still live our lives as a family. He was still the head of the household thousands of miles away. I didn't go out and live as a single person for an entire year - I remained a faithful wife, a good mother to our son. Even now, when he is not here, he is still the head of our home and our domestic church.
Blessings and Peace my friends. Thanks for making it to the end of this one. :)