ColumnsNaming Grace

Looking at the sky

“Why are you standing there looking at the sky?” The disciples’ world had turned upside down from Jesus’ death and resurrection, and now this, His departure. Their mouths gaping, brows furrowed, eyes squinting, the disciples wonder, “Now what?” During this pandemic, with Churches closed, and lives and livelihoods threatened, many of us are standing, looking at the sky, shaking our heads and wondering, “Now what? Where do we go from here?” Yet we know, in every time and in every age, we are to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth, making “disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ….” But how?

Nothing could be more important than for the Christian family to rise up and answer God’s call, in this time, in this moment. In the early Church, the Christian family served as a witness to love in an often-brutal pagan culture. Christians looked radically different because of their tender care for the youngest to the oldest. Eventually, men and women noticed and sought the peace, joy, and love of the Christian home.

In his book, “Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manuel for the New Evangelization,” Scott Hahn writes: “Millennia ago, the witness of Christian families in the ordinary course of life made countless converts in pagan Rome. By showing ‘love in the little things’ — in the way spouses cared for each other, tended their children, performed their daily work, and showed kindness to their neighbors — these families testified to the transforming power of grace and the beauty of Christian life.”

Today, Christian families make a big difference through the little ways of listening to the other, praying for each other, going on walks together, playing games, reading books, making cookies for neighbors, visiting grandparents (if even through a window), and writing notes to shut-ins.

Stephen Bullivant, author of “Catholicism in the Time of Coronavirus,” asserts the growth of the Church will depend upon the family: “[The pandemic] forces us to focus on this crucial sphere of Christian life. Parents simply cannot outsource their or their children’s religious lives to their parish (or school, for that matter). They’ll need to homechurch as well as homeschool.”

There is an urgent need for parents to pick up the torch of leading their own domestic churches. Nothing could be more important than families to “make disciples” of their children by gathering to pray, attending Mass in the parish (or virtually during this time), breaking open Scripture, serving the poor, and naming grace — God’s loving, healing, guiding presence — in the home.

The grace, the good news, of this pandemic is everyone has had to stop, take a breath, be together, and assess their lives, their families, and their faith: What’s important? What matters in the long run? How will we spend our time and resources? How will we become more intentional in living our faith? How will we love?

Why are we standing looking at the sky? We have received the power of the Holy Spirit to go forth as witnesses of the Risen Lord. We trust the Spirit, God’s creative love, to usher in something new for our Church and our families. We know, in Christ, we will rise from this pandemic, for Jesus is with us until the end of the age. Now, that’s good news!

How will you become more intentional in living as the domestic church?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on Scripture through the lens of a parent/grandparent. To read more reflections or to connect with Mary Pedersen: