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.
The Chinese missionary priest unlocked a small windowless room on the second floor, and we all took off our shoes as our family followed him into the room with the floor covered by a nylon mat. The room was empty except for a low table at one end of the room, and on the table was a small box, and on each side of the box was an electric candle that was lit. He bowed very low with his forehead almost touching the mat, and we did the same gesture. On closer look, the table was an ordinary coffee table and the small box was a cheap jewelry box like a miniature armoire with a clock on it that did not have the correct time. In fact, the clock was not running. Our children asked, "Where is the tabernacle?" The priest pointed to the jewelry box as if he understood what our children asked. The children tried to restrain their giggles. Their gleeful amusement at an unexpected tabernacle with a clock was muted by a great effort to be reverent in the presence of Jesus.
What is there more to do after Gaudete Sunday? After the rose candle of the Advent wreath is lit, many of us almost abandon the last purple candle. The preparations for Christmas start to reach fever pitch as lists, presents, wrappers, home decorations, recipes, guests, and family traditions all vie for our imagination and attention. But it is still Advent. There is one more candle waiting to be lit.
We lit the second candle of the Advent wreath and I don't know what I did differently last week besides lighting the first Advent candle. How can we make this Advent be different from all the past ones? "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His path," we heard at church. One of the most intriguing passages in the Bible for me goes, "More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) Because tortuous means full of twists and turns, I imagine the the topography of my heart to be circuitous, tangled and meandering. "Make straight the way of the Lord." HOW?