Remember when we said we’d never take the Eucharist for granted again? When we had to watch Mass online or from cars in the church parking lot? When every part of parish life — from faith formation classes to Bible studies to doughnuts on Sundays — changed overnight.
Three years ago, the pandemic was just beginning. The world was shutting down. The vast majority of daily life suddenly centered around home.
As each of us grappled with seismic changes in society, an unexpected ripple effect was that the domestic church became the primary expression of faith for most Catholics. No longer could we gather for regular celebrations of the Eucharist in person, but we could join in prayer with the universal church from our kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms.
Do we remember how we promised we’d never forget?
The third anniversary of the pandemic lockdowns invites us to spend time praying through what this time brought to our lives, families and faith. Since home was where we spent most of 2020’s intense months, praying at home can help us continue to navigate a changed world.
To remember what Catholicism teaches about the domestic church, it helps to return to the Catechism: “In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the “ecclesia domestica” (CCC 1656).
Long before “Covid” or “quarantine” entered our daily discourse, we were called to remember that the church is not limited to the four walls of a holy building. Any time and place we gather as family can be a domestic church, too.
How was your own domestic church changed by the pandemic?
You might have spent every waking moment of 2020 or 2021 with your family, or you may have experienced deep isolation, wishing you could gather with children or grandchildren like before. You might have missed important celebrations: weddings, graduations, anniversaries, funerals or births. You may have been so overwhelmed by virtual work and distance learning, divisions in churches and communities, or anxieties about the future that you found it nearly impossible to pray.
Or, you might have found that regular routines of prayer amid the chaos kept you going.
No matter what you experienced, God’s promise to remain constant and faithful holds true. Christ has stayed with us, never abandoning us even as the world turned upside down.
In thanksgiving to our faithful God, we can commit ourselves to deepening our domestic churches as we seek to strengthen our parishes. One simple step we can take is to keep praying at home.
Set a special time and place for daily prayer where you live. Let yourself enjoy the physical presence of sacramentals like candles, rosaries, holy water or prayer cards that remind you of God’s presence at home. Place a crucifix, icon or holy artwork on your wall to remind all who enter that this is a place of prayer.
Let your prayer at home encompass those beyond your walls, too. Pray for your parish, community and leaders. Pray for all who still cannot receive the sacraments regularly. Pray for those who have not returned to church after the pandemic. Pray for new members who might still be trying to feel at home.
May we never forget the days when every prayer was uttered within our own walls.
May we give thanks each time we gather now, for the grace of worshipping together in person.
Most of all, may we never take the gift of the Eucharist for granted. May we savor every second of the sacraments and Scriptures we get to receive. May we stick to our promise never to forget.