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Mar 23, 2020

A Rule for Your Domestic Monastery

Colin MacIver

Think about it this way—during this unprecedented time—Catholic parents have become the abbots and abbesses of 1000’s of domestic monasteries. Like all good monasteries yours needs a workable schedule and a focus. Unlike most monasteries, yours may or may not include brooding teenagers, sassy six year olds, or active nine year olds who have just had all of their team sports cancelled. 

In our home—so far—we’ve experienced lots of trial and error and reset. I’ve learned about weaknesses in my own leadership and have witnessed God’s grace bringing me along day by day. The elements we are trying to balance are: prayer, work, study, and community. 

They were vital two weeks ago, but with our way of life radically changed, and with our connection to the sacraments limited to digital communication, they are our life blood. 

  • Prayer: Root your home in prayer and find a schedule that works. Pray the Rosary. Pray chaplets. Designate certain times in your schedule as prayer times. (The horarium or schedule of any monastery is built around prayer.) Connect with others who are live streaming Mass and devotions. Maybe organize a Google Meet with your extended family to pray the Rosary. If something in the prayer of your domestic monastery needs tweaking, tweak it and be patient with your family as they grow in the art of prayer and intercession. 
  • Work: If you are working remotely or on the front lines, this is a challenge, but just as in the world before, be sure that your work, even your important work, isn’t everything. The other elements will give you the strength and balance to work more effectively. Also, there is the work of your little home monastery—chores and such. Even if this hadn’t been the norm up to now, invite all family members into the work of your household in a meaningful way. Kids may complain at first, but be patient. It will give them a sense of purpose and even help with behavior.
  • Study: Whether school is in or out—for children and adults—don’t just vegetate and stay glued to the news. Learn and connect to a learning community via Zoom, Google Meet, Facetime and through good old fashioned books. This is a time to study the Word of God in Scripture. You can do this through the daily readings, bite-sized lectio divina with children, or even a formal Bible Study. 
  • Community: First, work on the relationships in your domestic monastery: your family. Then, connect with your larger community through the tools we have because of technology. Don’t get too sucked into this, but think of it as an opportunity to claim the internet for Christ, to shift content and connection from mindless entertainment and angry commenting toward the sharing of faith, hope, and love. There is also the issue of finding ways to serve during this time of social distancing. Check in with your parish and with local organizations about ways to help.

Meet Your Host, Colin MacIver

Colin MacIver, host of the Tightrope podcast, with his family

Colin is an enthusiastic transplant to vibrant Louisiana, where he lives with his beautiful wife Aimee and two energetic children, Leo and Zélie. His juggling act involves being a husband, a dad, a teacher, a youth minister, a musician and a national Ascension content creator and trainer.

In his spare time, he eats too many crawfish, savors king cake, plays one-on-one kickball with his son, and tries, for the life of him, to properly load the dishwasher.

Check out Colin’s latest work with Ascension:  Power and Grace: A Guide to the Catholic Sacraments and Quick Catholic Lessons with Fr. Mike.

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