TESTIMONIES OF YOUNG MARRIED COUPLES
WHAT IS DOMESTIC CHURCH GIVING US ?
Each other! And better knowledge of God, who is a Living Person, not a visualization from the old pictures. Such a God brought us up as free and responsible people to set up a family as our way to Him. The Movement for us is not only prayer, but, to a large extent, the school of life that prepared us for everyday duties, cooperation and taking up responsibility for ourselves and our relatives. In the Domestic Church we discovered that our belonging to the family branch of the Movement is a valuable and real help in married and family life – a tool that you cannot find in newspapers or on the internet. It is a tool to build a happy marriage and a happy family. It helps to bring up children that we won’t be ashamed of in front of God and people. For such a Movement, we thank God !
Justyna and Łukasz
WHAT DOES THE DOMESTIC CHURCH MEAN FOR US?
For us the Movement is a way of staying beside Jesus and in the Church. We belong to a community where it is easier to live your life. Here we meet families for whom it is God, prayer, and faith that are most important. For several years, we were members of a Renewal in the Holy Spirit community, so we had a relationship with God all the time; however, we were lacking something and seeking more. A familiar priest invited us to a Domestic Church circle in our new place of residence. We understood that invitation to be the sign from God, and we accepted it. We are still here and are getting closer to each other and to God all the time. It is the Domestic Church formation and the commitments that support us. God blesses us and our three children in our daily life, work, and relationships with others. He allows us to stay optimistic about life.
Justyna and Grzesiek
HOW THE DOMESTIC CHURCH CHANGED MY LIFE
TESTIMONY FROM THE USA
More than two years into our journey with Domestic Church, this movement has been a great, great gift to our marriage. God used Domestic Church to begin a slow, but sure healing process that has unified Michael and me through the simple and faithful practice of our faith–together. We don’t have the perfect marriage, and we won’t be writing a book any time soon about how to have the perfect one. What we do have is good foundations, built on habit and faithfulness rather than just ideals or nice ideas. What we have is the gentle accountability of our circle and priest–and one another–to help us keep always trying, trying, trying to connect with one another and with God, and not give up.
Domestic Church actually uses the wheel–it doesn’t reinvent it
I want to share some of the nuts-and-bolts of Domestic Church, so many of which are surprisingly familiar, basic spiritual habits that don’t reinvent the wheel–they just actually use it. Daily personal prayer, couple prayer, daily study of Scripture, daily family prayer (and no specific prayers or ways you have to do it). Basic, fruitful, and surprisingly difficult sometimes! For this post, though, I want to focus on the prayer commitments of Domestic Church that were most helpful for healing my marriage.
First off, so often Christian couples have very separate and different prayer lives and spiritualities. That sure was Michael and I, and to a great extent, still is. Couples just don’t have a place to meet in the middle spiritually. To keep God at the center of your marriage, we learned–and are still learning–that you have to talk about God together as well as to God together. Domestic Church has given Michael and me several powerful ways to intentionally, habitually meet in the middle with our faith lives, literally and spiritually.
One commitment couples make with Domestic Church is to plan a date once per month for a marriage dialogue. Often, issues flare up in marriage at times when one or both of you don’t have the energy, state of mind, or right disposition of heart to have a fruitful conversation. For a few days before a marriage dialogue, we pray individually about the conversation we will have, and we each work on a list of things we need to discuss. We actually bring a written list of things to cover when we go. The monthly marriage dialogue has given us a space to come together consistently and prayerfully to work out our problems, to plan out how to overcome obstacles, and to really listen to how the other person is doing emotionally and spiritually.
Another place we meet in the middle now comes with the monthly circle meeting. We meet with a group of six other couples–and a priest–to share the ups and downs of life, to pray with and for one another, to share how we have been doing with prayer, and to discuss a new piece of spiritual formation. There are six other couples–and a dear priest friend–who really know us. Who in our struggles and failures and successes, know our hearts. That is a gift.
The third and most important way that Domestic Church helps Michael and me to meet in the middle is through our commitment to daily couple prayer. Yes, we pray every single day together. It is not always profound, or easy, or even comfortable. Praying out loud was difficult for us at first–particularly for Michael. Honestly, we still have trouble sometimes in couple prayer! I have so respected Michael’s daily effort to overcome his shyness in prayer. And in the process, I have learned to pray with more simplicity so that I don’t “take over” our prayer together as much. I think he appreciates that in turn. We usually include in our prayer praying aloud spontaneously about what is on each of our hearts. Praying like that brings out the fact that you don’t really know everything going on in your spouse’s heart without prayer. I’ll admit that sometimes praying with Michael is the last thing I feel like doing. Prayer is intimate. In my anger or my hurt, sometimes I don’t want to let my husband in like that, and vice versa. And sometimes it’s difficult to pray when you don’t know if you have the words to explain what’s going on in your heart. But at the end of day, Michael and I choose to zoom out, to be faithful to couple prayer, and to keep trying. God multiplies that kind of faithfulness.
Grace acts as soon as the soul cooperates. For Michael and me, the prayer commitments we’ve made with Domestic Church have helped our souls to cooperate with the grace of this very difficult, very beautiful vocation to marriage. We don’t have a perfect marriage. We don’t do all of our prayer commitments well. But we’re getting better, little by little. Having to admit to a group of wonderful couples (now dear, dear friends) that you didn’t pray much together last month because we’ve just been lazy is a helpful kick in the pants when you start to slip.
Domestic Church helps married couples utilize the grace of their sacrament. It’s that grace that we read about in marriage prep, the grace that we desperately hope is there when disillusionment and struggle try to settle into daily life, and the confidence and hope of our wedding day seem far away. The Domestic Church movement believes that a grace-filled marriage overflows–into grace-filled families and grace-filled communities. That’s the long and short of it–and the beauty of it.
God bless your sacrament!
Erin and Michael,
THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC CHURCH ON MY SPIRITUALITY
- THE TESTIMONY OF A PRIEST
Being with the families of the Domestic Church is enormously strengthening for my priesthood. I see it, as it is stated in Catechism of the Catholic Church, that these two sacraments, marriage and the priesthood, are complementary (the Sacraments at the Service of Communion CCC, 1534). When I experience the great effort of the couples, their personal prayer, reading the word of God, etc., I myself cannot neglect it. Since they, having so many, many obligations (children,
work) can find the time, then the more so can I. It motivates and inspires me. The couples motivate me to a continuous effort not to be a mediocre man, a superficial Christian, or a partial priest. The families of the Domestic Church can be challenging. They challenge me without even saying a word, but when I see their involvement in evangelization, retreats, and many other issues, I know that I should be prepared well, very well, for the homily. I cannot be late or fail in my commitments.
The spouses could have many legitimate reasons justifying themselves if something is not done as it should be. But, they do not use these excuses. It makes me embarrassed, and it motivates and inspires me. It reminds me constantly, every step of the way, that they need me as a priest and not just a secular friend with whom to chit-chat. Rather, they want me as priest-friend-companion.
Being with the couples in different situations and circumstances of life helps me to recognize well their daily problems, their worries, anxieties, and fears, but also their joys. It makes me more humble. Sometimes I think that our, priests’ problems are nothing compared to the challenges married couples must deal with living in the world.
Each meeting of the circle or other meetings within the framework of the formation is a great enrichment and help for me in the confessional, in conversations with other married couples, or during a homily. When I refer to the experiences of different couples, while stating the evangelical requirements for marriage, I become more reliable as a source of truth. When I say that I know very well families who try to live the Gospel, and that it is possible for them, it’s a great treasure and motivation for others.
Domestic Church as a movement of the laity in the Church lets me, in the clerical Church in Poland, experience the vision of the Church according to the documents of Vatican II. What I used to know as a theory here becomes something concrete, something very vivid and active and not just a theoretical or constantly unfulfilled idea. I admit that this is a lot harder than doing everything yourself (instrumental treatment of lay people) because it requires taking the road of dialogue and sharing the responsibility with others on the basis on mutual trust.
This was supposed to be a short testimony; therefore, I conclude. I have come to be sure that the work of priests in the Domestic Church is an opportunity to strengthen our priestly identity, and to deepen, cleanse and sanctify our priestly vocation.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1534……Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. CCC 1534
Fr. Peter (Łodź, Poland)