Porches, Kitchens and the Domestic Church

Perhaps it's my physical touch love language talking, but I love how the Catholic faith is tangible. Some of my favorite Masses during the year are those celebrated with all of the 'smells and bells' of Catholicism. I love watching the candles flicker during the Easter Vigil, smelling the incense, hearing the chanted hymns, reveling in the beauty of the word made flesh through the Eucharist. 

Throughout the whole liturgical calendar, we're still able to experience the embodied faith of Catholicism. The rosary invites us to pray with our body and our soul. Sacraments themselves are outward signs of inward graces. And gloriously, the source and summit of our faith is the celebration of the Eucharist - a God who comes down into our messiness and invites us to consume His body and blood. He asks us to interact with Him in a real, raw, and tangible way. 

Even the building of Catholic churches themselves speak to this tangibility. Catholic churches don't look like coffee shops because the Church calls us into something savagely beautiful - architecture that calls our hearts and souls upward and inspires awe at the ultimate beauty of God.

Read more: This is why Catholic churches don't look like coffee shops

In our worship, the Catholic faith is made tangible - from the sacraments to the soaring heights of cathedral ceilings. But that tangibility is not reserved just for Sunday at Mass. We should sense the same tangibility of our faith when we enter the family home - the domestic church.

Thus the little domestic Church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith. . .the family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. . . the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home.
— Saint Pope John Paul II

We're called to give our entire lives to Christ and His Church - not just Sundays for an hour. We're called to eat, sleep, and breathe with Christ, even in the menial daily jobs of folding laundry, driving to work, or helping a little person into their pajamas at the end of the night.

Saint Teresa of Avila once said that "God walks among the pots and pans." But I'm pretty sure that He strolls among all of the aspects of our daily lives, not just the kitchen tasks. We encounter God in our worship at Mass, but we also teach and learn the lessons of humility, love, and mercy within the four walls of our own homes. 

When Joseph and I moved to Kansas City last January, we moved all of our belongings into a one bedroom apartment that we've come to call home. We joke that it's just big enough to be comfortable, and small enough to prevent us from having a lot of unnecessary junk. But as our lease comes to a close, we've put a lot of thought into moving to a small home closer to Joseph's work. Moving would give Joseph a short commute in the morning, and would give us a little bit more space to grow when God blesses us with a little person here on earth. 

While apartment or house shopping may stress some out, Joseph and I both thrive in the hunt for the right spot to live. Looking through maps to find the best commute route and sifting through floor plans is an exciting adventure for us. 

Now the packing and unpacking? Eh, that's not nearly as exciting as finding a new home. But it's okay, I guess picking a new home and moving there are kind of a packaged deal. 

Because there are quite a few options for us, I began to think of some things that I would love to see in our new place. I quickly wrote a few down: 

  • A kitchen that opens into the dining room
  • A front porch that we can put our rocking chair on
  • A comfortable front room with a cozy fireplace

But when I took a closer look at my dream home, I realized that behind all of the wishes I had for our future home lay a desire for a beautiful domestic church. 

What was behind the desire for an open floor plan that allows for conversation between the dining room and the kitchen? When we have friends and family over for dinner, I don't want them to feel shut off from the kitchen while we prepare dinner. 

Why was a beautiful front porch area with space for sitting in rocking chairs at the end of the night on my list? I love the idea of how front porches foster intentional community (especially with new neighbors). By sitting out on the front porch, people say hello and ask how your day was.

Why did I want a homey front room with a welcoming fireplace? Joseph and I love spending time with each other playing board games - and inviting friends to join us on weekend evenings. During the winter, we lit the fireplace and spent quality time together in our cozy front room together, having heart-to-heart topics about our life together. 

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We're still house hunting (keep us in your prayers!) but I love thinking that instead of looking for just a home, we're also looking for a space to continue to build our domestic church. The Catholic Church calls us to a tangible faith life within our home. Our homes should be ablaze with love for God. It's within these homes that we foster vocations, encounter our brothers and sisters in Christ, and live out our vocation. How can you make your home a domestic church today?