The domestic church is like an enclosed garden; a planned space
for the cultivation, nurture and care of the family.
The present is the only chance to build our family as a domestic church.
Even very small things that possess beauty move us. From one of his trips to China, my husband brought home a gift for me that I keep on my nightstand because it inspires me to reflect on saints. It is an inside-painted snuff bottle and I am fascinated by how they are painted. Snuff bottles are very small bottles (about 2 inches) that fit comfortably in the hand and used to carry powdered tobacco, which was believed to be medicinal, during the Qing Dynasty in China for the rich and influential people. They were usually intricately and elaborately made to reflect the user's status in that society. Today, they are made as souvenirs. An inside-painted snuff bottle has images painted on the cavity-walls inside a clear bottle, and the images are appreciated from outside of the bottle. Like these clear bottles, we marvel at the beauty that God has painted in the saints' interior lives that we can admire from their exterior lives.
While my son and I were praying, we got off on a little tangent. He asked me about the lyrics to a Christian song, The Proof of your Love by For King and Country. We listened to it and read the lyrics. I had heard this song many times. Funny how the refrain hit me like I’d never heard it before:
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You're made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love.
The Gift of Presence
I knew he was swamped with a to-do list three mountains high. I knew he wasn’t sleeping much as he raced against time to stay on top of everything he was responsible for, yet he stood there and listened to me as if that to-do list didn’t exist, as if he had nothing else to do that day, as if he’d been getting a full night’s sleep for a month straight. He listened to me as if listening to me was the most important thing he could do at that moment. He, a priest from my parish, gave me the gift of his presence in that moment, which is to say, he loved me. He gave me the gift of Jesus’ presence through his attentive listening.
The very first time I saw the movie, "Fiddler on the Roof," as a teen. I was very much impressed at how Tevye, the Russian Jewish peasant prayed to God in a very personal and familiar way while he worked in the barn or in the field. Growing up in a praying family and believing God to be good and loving, my experience of prayer had been mostly communal and when I prayed on my own, they were formal prayers, and an occasional, "Lord, help me do well on my test." I thought that Tevye talked to God that way because he is one of the Chosen People, and they must know Him in a genuinely personal way. I believed that God knew me because He made me, but that was the extent of it.
There were few occasions when my husband missed our son's games. I usually reported the games to him with the major plays and included the contributions our son made in the games. At home (or on the phone if my husband was out of town), he would ask our son, "How was your game?" Despite knowing the outcomes of the games, the high and low points, and particular details of how our son played, my husband always wanted to hear about the game directly from our son. They would proceed to go through a blow-by-blow account of the game with lively commentaries and earnest critiques.