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Building The Domestic Church

Themes and Monthly Family Activities


For Families

The photo shows how simple yet sacred this prayer corner can be.

Since this program is rooted in prayer, the first step is to set aside a space in your home as a prayer corner. This area should be the focus of the home prayer portion of the program. The icon for this initiative is “Holy Family,” a drawing by Giovanni Balestra, based on a painting by Sassoferrato. Copies of this image (8×10 and 5×7) suitable for framing are included in this booklet. Also, two prayer cards featuring this image (“A Family Prayer” card, #10086) are included in this booklet. Additional copies of the icon and the prayer card may be ordered from the Supply Department.

The prayer associated with the program is “A Family Prayer,” composed by Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William Lori. Your family should include this prayer in your daily prayers.

Along with this prayer, you will find in the pages of this booklet monthly themes, projects, songs and psalms for your family to undertake together as a way to strengthen the faith of your family and each member’s individual faith.


Pope Paul VI, in his great apostolic exhortation on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi, quotes the Second Vatican Council’s description of the Christian family as the domestic church. For Pope Paul VI, this means that to truly become a domestic church “there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church.”

The Second Vatican Council also taught that every Catholic is called to holiness. And since the great majority of Catholics live out their lives in families, it is clear that the family should be a place in which each family member can grow in holiness.

As the saints have shown throughout history, holiness in life leads inevitably to witness in our daily lives. In our time, the work of evangelization is not reserved only for an elite few, but is the responsibility of all baptized Christians.

In a very real sense, we are all called to be missionaries. We are all called to “proclaim” the Gospel to those around us through our lives each day, and the privileged place for most of us to do this is within our own families.

The Christian family is essentially missionary in character because of this reality. In the words of St. John Paul II, “The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love” (Familiaris Consortio, 17). In fulfilling this mission, the Christian family is itself called to be an image of the loving communion that exists among the three Persons of the Trinity.

The Catholic family is able to reveal and communicate this love in a special way because it is founded upon sacramental marriage. Christian spouses first receive this love as a divine gift, but they also receive this love as a task. The task of Christian spouses to live and communicate this love first to each other and their children and then to others is at the center of the family’s mission in the world.

For this reason, when the Christian family takes up the task “to become what it is” — a living icon in our world of God’s own communion — the family stands at the heart of the Church’s mission of evangelization. And when the family responds in this way to the design of the Creator, it truly becomes a “domestic church.”

Recently, Pope Francis reminded us that Christian families “are the domestic church where Jesus grows in the love of a married couple, in the lives of their children.”

To help our families better become what they are called to be, the Knights of Columbus has launched this initiative entitled: “Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive.”

Through this program, our families can realize more fully their mission to be an authentic domestic church through daily prayer, catechesis and Scripture reading, as well as through monthly charitable and volunteer projects they can do as a family. Please visit to view the materials sent directly to local councils.

As we all know in our modern society, marriage difficulties can be a source of great suffering as well as a time for reconciliation and true inward renewal. As Pope Francis has stated, “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open, […] where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47). Separated or divorced persons who remain faithful to their marriage vows call for the Church’s attention in their situation, which is often lived in loneliness and poverty. People in canonically irregular marriages should not consider themselves as “separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life” (Familiaris Consortio, 84).

“Pastoral charity impels the Church to assist people who have suffered the breakdown of their marriage and are living with their situation relying on the grace of Christ. A more painful wound results when these people remarry and enter a state of life which does not allow them to receive Holy Communion. Clearly, in these cases, the Church must not assume an attitude of a judge who condemns (cf. Pope Francis, Homily, 28 February 2014), but that of a mother who always receives her children and nurses their wounds so they may heal (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 139-141). With great mercy, the Church is called to find forms of ‘accompaniment’ which can support her children on the path of reconciliation. With patience and understanding, she must explain to these people that their not being able to celebrate the sacraments does not mean that they are excluded from the Christian life and a relationship with God” (Synod of Bishops, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization: Instrumentum Laboris, 103).

This initiative can help all families, whatever their difficulties, deepen their relationship with the Lord. It can especially help divorced parents meet their obligation to raise their children in the Catholic faith and reassure them that their communion with the Lord is not severed, but rather can continue to grow stronger through prayer, scripture reading, participation in the parish community, service to others, and evangelization. In these ways, they too can be a part of our initiative and grow in their faith.

In this initiative, the Knights of Columbus turns in a special way to the Holy Family and makes our own the prayer of St. John Paul II that “every family may generously make its own contribution to the coming of his kingdom in the world,” and “through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide mission in the family and through the family.” In this way, the Order will undertake a yearlong preparation for the 8th World Meeting of Families to be held from September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia.

In founding the Knights of Columbus, the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney sought to respond in both a temporal and spiritual way to the crisis in family life affecting Catholics in 19th-century America. As a young man he witnessed firsthand the challenges his mother faced as a single parent raising a family after the tragic death of his father. Later, as a priest he confronted on a daily basis the problems affecting the families of his parish community arising from poverty, violence, substance abuse, prejudice and discrimination. With creative genius and determination, Father McGivney responded to this situation with a variety of pastoral initiatives within his parish and most importantly by empowering generations of Catholic laymen to support the practical Catholic life of their families in founding the Knights of Columbus. By advancing this new program, the Knights of Columbus continues to advance Father McGivney’s mission and remains true to his vision.

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