By Barb Arland-Fye
Outside the ice rink, I locked eyes with my son Colin, who was in the rink seated in a sled, wearing his hockey uniform. His helmet with facemask obscured everything but his eyes. He held a sled hockey stick firmly in each hand. They were a Christmas gift from his beloved brother Patrick.
Colin did not expect to see me on the last day of Sled Hockey season because I participate in a Bible study that overlaps his game time. It was possible to make the last half-hour of Sled Hockey, if I moved quickly after Bible study. It is easy to make excuses to stay at home but a series of excellent, thought-provoking columns on the domestic church published in our Catholic Messenger convinced me to go to the rink.
“Ask yourself, ‘How much time does our family need each week to feel close and connected?’ Work toward prioritizing that amount of family time every week. Schedule everything else around this. Not the other way around,” advises Greg Popcak, executive director of the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life (PeytonFamilyInstitute.org). “Just imagine the difference we could make if every Catholic family put family connection first. Not only would our home lives be more joyful, we would be working toward a more orderly world as well.”
Popcak speaks about intentionality. “[A] domestic church must also be committed to ‘living out the Christian/Trinitarian vision of love in their relationships with each other and the world,’” he says in this week’s concluding column (see Page 5).
A huge component of Christian/Trinitarian love is giving of ourselves to others, placing their needs before our needs. I think this capacity to give is woven into my husband Steve’s DNA. If someone needs assistance, in or outside of our family, Steve leaves behind his plans to lend a hand (but try not to ask when he has a commitment to his railroad historical society).
One night last week, I arrived home late to find the house empty. Steve arrived about a half-hour later from Colin’s apartment, having spent time calming down our autistic son who was in distress over a nonfunctioning dryer coupled with worries about his part-time job. Steve resolved the laundry issue by taking the load of wet laundry home, assuring Colin that his clothes dryer would be fixed and that he was doing a good job at work.
Back at the ice rink, when the game ended, all of the participants quickly maneuvered their sleds to the exit doors, eager for the pizza party and trophies awaiting them, no one more so than Colin. He barged ahead of everyone else, which embarrassed Steve and me. When we asked him to explain himself, he said, “I wanted to be the first one off the ice!” So much for the “holiness” of our domestic church! He did turn toward the first person behind him and apologized.
During the pizza party, he redeemed himself, intentionally or unintentionally. When the coaches called his name to present his trophy, he profusely thanked everyone for their hard work and all they do for him. Steve and I smiled at each other in amazement.
In his homily on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1, 2019), Pope Francis described Mary as “a mother who generates in her children the amazement of faith, because faith is an encounter, not a religion. Without amazement, life becomes dull and routine, and so it is with faith.”
Our domestic church grows on encounters like the ones we recently experienced with Colin and that makes our faith life anything but dull.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)