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Neuhoff Musings

Let Them Have a Purpose: The Domestic Church

By Luz Maria Gutierrez-Olvera, MTS '19

Date published: April 17, 2020

go boys

A crucial aspect of passing on the faith to our children is found through encouraging their participation in the life of the Church. As a mom of four boys, I have often wondered what that means. Sure, my boys attend Sunday mass every week with us, and even one of them assists as an altar server. But when my son confessed that he chose to serve because the mass went by faster and easier, as he was allowed to move during the celebration, I landed on the hard question: “How well were my husband and I really passing on the faith?”

In light of these challenging times, having the opportunity to stay together at home as a family, sounds promising as we have been gifted many invaluable reminders of the value there is in being together. There are, as my family has found, countless opportunities for great teaching moments. Even so, with my husband and I attempting to work from home while assisting our boys with their online schooling, we have been immersed in nothing else but chaos. The sharing of PCs, laptops, and finding spaces away from each other that are free from distractions so that we can do our work has left all of us frustrated and stressed. To add, our family had to make the tough decision to bring our oldest home early from serving as a missionary in Louisiana. As a result, our son, like many of us, went from having a strict and orderly schedule, to a daily routine of chaos with the added overwhelming sense of “loss of purpose.”

With all of the chaos it did not take long for me to feel a sense of distress out of feeling responsible for everyone and everything at home (and constantly feeding 5 hungry guys!). It did not take long for it to hit me: I need help. So, I pivoted away from my plan of action and began trusting in my husband’s contributions and delegation – and what a blessing it has been! The boys got interested and participated more willingly than I would have anticipated, and my 16-year-old was unceasingly making sure that everyone showed me appreciation. But my favorite God-inspired-idea that came to me was to ask my oldest son to take over the homeschooling of my youngest. Apart from taking a big load off my shoulders, I love seeing them working together. It makes sense. And now I see that it is all about

In order to experience a sense of belonging, everyone needs to contribute. You see, when we are invited anywhere as guests, we get to be served, which is an honor. In return, we show our appreciation by being well mannered and respectful. But in order to incorporate into a community, we must be allowed (and expected) to serve. If the home is the domestic Church, then, we have to let our children know their role in the “community.” Are they guests or participants?

In the midst of finding purpose in the chaos, I also have been moved to return to my altar server son and ask him to consider two things: whether he was serving for the right reasons, and, if he wanted to keep doing it. With a sad frown, he immediately told me that he does not wish to stop any time soon. He said that it is a privilege to be “part of the mass.” And there it was! He does have a sense of belonging. He too has found a sense of purpose. He too has become a servant. Tonight, we will offer a prayer of thanksgiving. 

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