In observance of International Day of Families on Friday, May 15, the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) Spiritual Adviser Fr Matthew Ragbir and Mental Clinician Crystal Johnson led a Zoom discussion on ‘How we can live Domestic Church during these times’. AFLC’s Episcopal Delegate Tricia Syms moderated the session.
Syms explained one of the reasons for the day’s discussion is to help persons understand the family and its role at home as a domestic church. “But a lot of people don’t know about that concept so we felt during the time of International Day of Families we would do several things to start raising awareness of that and what is our responsibility at home, in the Church and in the wider society,” Syms explained.
Fr Ragbir explained that COVID-19 has “forced” households to put a bit more emphasis on family, which, he said should have been there “all the time”.
“Because we realise if we can’t come to church, does it all fall apart? But we realise no, because in the heart of it we are invited to live church in our family life,” Fr Ragbir said.
The church is a family of families. It is the place where the church and the world “intersect”. The family becomes the vehicle for really taking the message of Christ out, and the space in which the Eucharist is really broken.
“If you think of what we do at Mass—we take, we bless, we break, we share. In family life, we have these people come together, born from each other, who are taken, blessed by God…their lives broken, open to each other as they receive and give who they are and share not so that they have life but that everyone around them has life,” Fr Ragbir said.
For Johnson, family serves many functions: for the purposes of socialisation, education—emotional and economic, cultural (how beliefs are passed on from generation to generation)— procreative (how we create families), and, of course, spiritual.
“Everything starts off in this institution that we call family. So family is such an important aspect in regard to society,” Johnson said.
Johnson asserted there was “a little toll” on family life but COVID-19 has provided a “pause button” to get it back right.
“So how do we move forward to really practise or reinstate the domestic church that we are to live? How can we gain from this pandemic to be better families together?” Johnson questioned.
Johnson suggested praying together as much as possible. “Prayer has been helping the family so far in regard to bringing us back together into this one space that is sacred and secure and of comfort. And I believe that is what we’re trying to do with the domestic church here, to come together as one with our family and to live out what we are supposed to do as a family,” Johnson said.
Participants engaged in the discussion with one participant adding that persons must have a vision for their families. Another participant mentioned that COVID-19 has given families time “to slow down”, pass on values, reconnect as a family, and reinforce values of having a meal at a certain time together. -KJ