Before the Jews failures in the desert caused God to assign the Levites as the official priests of the Jewish people and sole carriers of the Ark of the Covenant, it was up to the head of the household to transfer the knowledge of faith, belief and understanding to their family.
They were the domestic priests.
Today, even though we have priests and pastors, our role as a domestic priest has not diminished. If you are a parent, you are still called to transfer the faith to your family through your example, through your prayer life, through your sacrifice and through your education.
Just as the best students in schools often have the most involved parents, the same holds true for faith. It seems, through the last few generations, that our society has turned a belief in Christ into a Christian lifestyle. Most of us don’t really know the tenets of our faith, we simply go to church because our parents did. We think it gives us a quick ticket to heaven, as if Jesus is waiting up there with an attendance sheet.
No, we are all called to be domestic priests to our family. It is our responsibility. We will be held accountable before God as to how we are raising our children in the faith.
St. Paul says we each bring different talents, different skills to the mix and, as a whole, we all represent the full Body of Christ. I’ve prayed a lot about that and looked deeper into how that plays into my role as a domestic priest.
One of the amazing things for me about being a parent is just how different your children can be from each other. My daughter is very creative artistically and is also an excellent writer and actor. My son is extremely compassionate and is also very athletic. I contemplated their differences, those unique gifts that only they possess, and how that plays into what St. Paul was telling us.
I believe that, as domestic priests, we are not only called to live our faith and teach our faith to our children, but that we are also called to recognize those unique gifts in our children and foster them for what they are, God-given and individual, so that our children may develop and use those gifts to praise the Creator. Those are the talents they bring to the Body of Christ.
If my daughter was given the gift of the arts, then I should do everything I can to let her explore her natural talents. I should show her how to use them to praise God, to make her constantly aware of the rarity of that gift and to help her succeed with that gift, not only in this world, but for the next.
If my son was given the gift of athletics with an acute talent for baseball, I should do everything I can to let him chase his dreams, no matter how remote or how difficult.
After all, if they are God’s gifts to them, who am I to get in the way? If they are God’s gifts to them, who am I to say where God will take them when they use those gifts?
Sure, being a working actor or writer is a one-in-a-million shot. Sure, playing baseball professionally is a one-in-a-million shot. To me, it’s not about their end goal, but supporting them in their journey to achieve them.
Their talents are unique. Their paths will be unique. Their faith journeys will be unique.
I believe it is my job as domestic priest to show them how to live their faith through their gifts and to rely on God to lead them where those talents will take them. To teach them to trust in God’s divine plan, that God must have given them those talents for a reason.
If I don’t, I fear that I will get to heaven and Jesus will ask, “Why didn’t you let your daughter explore the arts? I had so much planned for her! She was going to lead so many people to me with that gift I had given her. She was going to act in a series of projects that would have led thousands of souls to me.”
Or “Why didn’t you let your son pursue baseball? I had so many plans for him! He was going to be a high school baseball coach and teach hundreds of young men not only about team work and responsibility, but he was going to teach them, through his example, how one lives everyday for me.”
My children never have to win the Academy Award or sport a World Series ring.
They simply need to live their faith by using the gifts God has given them to praise his holy name. If they do that from now on, then I’ll consider my role as a domestic priest a success.
I hope the Lord would consider that a success as well.