In this way, a Catholic family is much like a Catholic church. In this domestic church, as in the parish church, an atmosphere of truth and friendship is fostered, assisted by art and ritual, and ordered intrinsically to the worship and service of God. Like any parish, a family is a community devoted to each other through Christ and for Christ. Members of a church gather at a table for a meal, for Communion, just as members of a family gather at a table for a meal, for communion. The power and potency of the family meal is a sign and source of wellbeing in Christ.The Dining Room Altar
In the NCW, we are taught to eat our meals together as a family just as God's family eats together in a parish community. Unfortunately, many families are split during meal time. Rather than sitting at the family table for dinner, the father would eat his dinner in the living room watching the football game on TV. Mother would be eating her dinner at the dining room while the children eat their dinner separately in their bedrooms.
In the NCW, families are taught to eat their meals together at the dining table without any distractions (such as cell phones, TV, etc.). They are instructed to use real china instead of paper plates during meals. A family that prays over their meals together and dines together stays together. Thus, this dining room table is an altar in the domestic Church of the family and linked to the Eucharistic celebration of the Mass.
The Eucharist is also called a "nuptial sacrament." According to the Catholic Liturgical Library:
27. The Eucharist, as the sacrament of charity, has a particular relationship with the love of man and woman united in marriage. A deeper understanding of this relationship is needed at the present time. (83) Pope John Paul II frequently spoke of the nuptial character of the Eucharist and its special relationship with the sacrament of Matrimony: "The Eucharist is the sacrament of our redemption. It is the sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride."......... The Eucharist inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage. By the power of the sacrament, the marriage bond is intrinsically linked to the eucharistic unity of Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32).
Catholic Liturgical Library
St. John Paul II taught that the Eucharist is a sacrament between the Bridegroom (Christ) and of the Bride (the Church). At the Eucharist of the Mass, when we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we become one with Christ, physically and spiritually.
The union between man and woman in the marriage bed brings life (in this case a human baby). But the union between Christ (the bridegroom) and the Church (the bride) brings eternal life (John 6:54). Thus, the Eucharist in the Mass is called a "nuptial sacrament" because it brings into union Christ and His Church. In other words, we become one with Christ when we eat His Body and drink His Blood at the altar.
In the human family, which is the domestic Church, the marriage bed is the third altar. In many Catholic homes, a crucifix or cross is usually hung over the bed. This third altar recalls the marriage between Christ and His Church just as the second altar recalls the Last Supper of Christ and the Apostles.