You've probably heard it said that the Catholic home is the Domestic Church. Two main reasons for this very true saying is that parents are primarily responsible for children's catechesis, and of course, families spend much more time in the home than they do at the parish. So, why not bring some of those same elements from Church that draw souls to God and incorporate them into your home? You can do this easily by creating your own home altar with saint statues, icons or framed Catholic art, catholic candles, and, of course, a crucifix.
Setting a small place aside for a home altar is a great idea for families. It's also a great idea for your friends and loved ones who live alone, so encourage them to do this as well. Home altars function as an encouragement to a life centered in prayer and faith. While the world outside the home threatens to destroy faith, your home can be a sanctuary where it is nurtured. Home altars can also be a lovely way to display and enjoy the beautiful artistic heritage of the Catholic Church.
Now, when you're creating a home altar, it seems to me that you have two choices. You can either create your home altar in a prominent, centrally located place in your home where the family always passes by. This can be an encouragement to pray while you're going in and out of the house, right in the mix of the hustle and bustle, and where visiting guests can appreciate it. Or, you can set up your home altar in a more secluded and quiet place in the home where it truly can be a place of escape, a place to pray in silence, again with the beautiful art assisting in lifting the soul to God. This may be an especially good idea if you have older children and teenagers who may really connect with this kind of sacred space in the home. If you can't decide which location for your home altar, maybe set up both. You can do this very simply and easily.
It's not hard to get up a home altar. Just start with a crucifix (don't forget to have it blessed) and add things from there. Here is a list of simple things to include in your home altar. All of the items listed below can be acquired very inexpensively. You can always upgrade each later to more beautiful, lasting, heirloom-quality pieces.
Home Altar Basics
- Holy Water font or Holy water bottle
- Catholic icon or other Catholic art
- Statue or image of Our Lady
- Your favorite saint in statue or image
- Your favorite rosary
- Catholic Bible
- Prayer cards and/or prayer book
Of course you can continue to build out your altar over time with other additions to make it a truly special place for yourself and the whole family. Better yet, have each person in the family choose something that they love and connect with to be incorporated into the altar (for example, a special devotion like the Divine Mercy or a favorite saint). For additional ideas, check out this Catholic Home Decor Pinterest Page.
Do you already have a home altar? What items have you included to make it a special place to encourage a life of faith?
Copyright 2012 Gretchen Filz
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