Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery 413 1654 Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nev- ertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice. VI. T he D omestic C hurch 1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.” 166 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved. 167 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. 1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. 168 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, foster- ing with special care any religious vocation.” 169 1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” 170 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” 171 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life. 1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live—often not of their choosing—are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the 166 Cf. Acts 18:8. 167 Cf. Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14. 168 LG 11; cf. FC 21. 169 LG 11. 170 LG 10. 171 GS 52 § 1. 759 2204 1268 2214-2231 2685