Confession: I’ve been on a major Matthew Kelly kick lately. It has been invigorating to read his work, and one particular message has really been haunting me. In The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, he points out that many Catholic communities are overly concerned with maintenance and not mission—they are playing defense and not offense. He believes that the Church can change the world, but we need to mobilize and not obsess over “survival.” This really resonated with me in relation to the domestic church. How often are my thoughts consumed with trivial matters and I lose sight of our purpose? I get weighed down, and I fail to allow myself to be inspired by the family mission. So… why not expand on that mission in light of the particular unit of personalities that God has brought together under one roof? This is my tutorial on how to create a family mission statement (family covenant).
Now, the actual how-to:
- Openly discuss your personality and core values as a family – I created a series of questions (provided below) to get the conversation started between you and your spouse. You can answer the questions out of order and go off-topic, and your answers can range from serious to silly. Disclaimer: not everything you discuss will end up in the family covenant and that’s okay! While discussing, I highly suggest getting comfortable—maybe talk over your morning coffee or have a glass of wine in the evening together—and be positive! See this as a chance to experience from an outside perspective your family unit—what do you stand for and who do you want to become? Bickering and differences of opinion happen, but hear each other out and search for harmony. Note: You can involve the little ones. We did not because the Flash and Buzz Lightyear would end up as our household patrons… but we certainly hope to revisit the covenant once they’re older!
- Write/type everything – Figure out whether you want to type or write, and whether you want to have one person be the writer while you discuss or you both record your answers. Do what suits you best. What my husband and I found was that even though we were saying different things during the discussion, I kept recording certain keywords repeatedly.
- Decide on what to include and put it into a format – Your covenant can take many forms. Maybe an acrostic of your last name with words and phrases that inspire (an example of ours is below). Perhaps you will settle on one quote or a motto that summarizes everything you stand for. (Example: “I shall spend every moment loving.” –Saint Bernadette) If you want a lot of detail, I do provide a template below (as well as our full covenant as an example). Since I am more comfortable being the “writer,” I wrote a rough draft on my own after we had a lengthy discussion, and then my husband and I edited it together.
- Decorate and display – Unleash your DIY skills for this one. You can use a wood board with paint, use a white board with dry-erase markers, have the kids help with stickers and colored paper—I mean, go crazy.
(Get your FREE template in the form below)
DeVille Family Covenant
My husband and I created a fully detailed covenant, which we keep in our family binder in the laundry room. We also have an acrostic that we display in a decorative frame as a friendly reminder.
With the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Archangels, we commit to being a domestic church and making our home one filled with joyful harmony. We value fervent involvement with the Catholic Church and hearty celebrations of seasonal festivities. We believe that all mornings must include coffee and that all family members are entitled to personal time alone to pray or pursue interests.
We will, collectively and individually, work on improving our patience and our perceptiveness with one another. We will strive to lift one another up instead of bringing one another down, and we will practice an attitude of gratitude.
As the leaders of the household, Andrew and Brooke state the following requests for the other family members:
- Treasure and cultivate your independence, while learning balance and responsibility
- Seek self-knowledge (and thus, knowledge of God)
- Be passionate and generous about your gifts and talents
- Take care of your body and your surroundings with diligence and love
The mission of each member of this household is to pursue holiness. Do so with the tenets of this covenant in mind.
Our Lady of Lourdes… pray for us.
Saint Joseph, the Worker… pray for us.
Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel… pray for us.
“Love is indeed ‘ecstasy,’ not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God.” —Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI
Drink lots of coffee (until it’s time for wine!)
Exude joy & gratitude
Value seasonal celebrations & your interests
Invest yourself in the Catholic faith & community
Love in every moment—no matter your mood
Lose yourself in a good work of art
Enjoy Heaven together