For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domes- 2204 tica.’66 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, fostering with special care any religious vocation ~‘167 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 1268 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’.’68 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and ‘a 2214—2231 school for human enrichment’.’6~ 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 2685 of one’s life. i6~8 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 Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family, often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbour 2231 in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the ‘domestic churches’, and of the great family which is the Church must be open to 2233 all of them. ‘No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who “labour and are heavy laden”.”7°


1659 St Paul said: ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church... This is a great mystery, and I mean in refrrence to Christ and the Church’ (Eph 5:25, 32).

166o The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children.Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament