What makes the formation of Domestic Church attractive is that it is not a novel approach to the faith or a new vision of Catholicism limited to a particular spirituality, but simply a way to access the treasures of the Church’s teachings on marriage, family life, prayer, Scripture, the Sacraments, etc. as spouses and parents, specifically utilizing the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony to do so.
The levels of formation within Domestic Church:
The best way to start formation in Domestic Church is to attend an Evangelization Retreat in order to experience the Good News in a deeper way, to have a personal meeting with Jesus and to invite Him to become the Lord and the Savior of your life. Afterwards, the couple may join a circle composed of a few couples and a priest.
Then, the period of pilotage takes place. It introduces the elements of marital spirituality and the methodology of the circle and the whole Movement. The aim of the pilotage period is to show the married couples the beauty of the vocation to holiness in marriage and to show them how to realize it in unity with your spouse. This period lasts for about nine months and a couple takes this time to decide if they will commit to continued formation.
Next, the basic path of formation begins. It is based on the following handbooks: “Domestic Church: The first year of formation” and “Domestic Church: The second year of formation” (part A and B). The former one deals with particular commitments while the latter one deepens marital spirituality. Then, the permanent formation begins.
After the above-mentioned two years or so, the couple becomes a fully functioning member of Domestic Church. The formation builds toward giving back to the parish what the Holy Spirit has grown in each couple during those first few years. This process follows the Church’s vision of Catechesis for adults.
The circle meeting
The circles of families meet once a month and they work on an annual basis. Each meeting includes sharing life experiences during a symbolic meal, prayer and Bible study as well as formation. Meetings take place from September to June and at some point during the year, usually during vacation time, families take part in a retreat.
Taking part in various kinds of retreats is an important part of formation in the circles of Domestic Church. The retreat may be a 15-day retreat of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level (oasis for families), a short, three-day retreat for the animators of the circles (1st and 2nd level of ORAR), an evangelization retreat, or a retreat devoted to a particular theme.
The main method of the movement, which is at the same time a help for the circles, is the 15-day retreat called the New Life Oasis. This retreat is based on experience. It is meant to be a sort of family holiday with the main goal of experiencing the mystery of Church in a fraternal community.
The 1st level of oasis retreat is of evangelization-catechumenal character; the issues connected with marital spirituality are also discussed.
The 2nd level of oasis retreat deals with the biblical basis of liturgical initiation; the ways of celebrating liturgical periods as families are presented.
The 3rd level focuses on the Church as a community.
The 1st level of ORAR underlines the essence, aim, spirituality, and methodology of the Domestic Church as the family branch within the Light-Life Movement.
The 2nd level of ORAR prepares the married couples for undertaking the service of animators. It focuses on the importance and responsibility of the tasks of animator couples.
The means – commitments
The following elements of formation – called commitments or promises, taken from the Teams of Our Lady Movement, are to build the community within marriage and family:
- daily personal prayer (the Tent of Meeting)
- regular study of Scripture
- daily couple prayer
- daily family prayer
- monthly couple dialogue
- rule of life (systematic work on yourself, your marriage and family)
- participation, at least once a year, in a formation retreat.