Danielle Heckenkamp describes how the use of sacramentals and the liturgical calendar can help families grow in faith at home.
What is a Catholic home? I get this question a lot, especially since I am a cradle Catholic. Catholic images, traditions, sacramentals, weekly Mass, Adoration and the Rosary were integral parts of my upbringing. It didn’t feel forced, it felt right – as if everything was in its proper place. So, how do we attain this now with our own children in a world that is drifting farther and farther from the sacred?
As Catholic moms, that home life will look different for each of us as, we have our own specific talents, desires, and devotions. Personally, I have had a special devotion to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus from an early age. She is usually my “go-to” saint novena in times of trouble or hardship. Whereas, my mom prays her novenas to the Infant of Prague. There isn’t only one right novena or one right saint devotion – I do have several other “go-to” saints depending on the troubles we are facing. The saints are all so very different, but also very similar.
I was told as a child that a saint or two may just find you. And this is very true. It might happen in childhood or adulthood, but there are so many different saints and we are bound to make connections with several of them. If you don’t have a saint that you connect with yet, pray that one finds you and they usually do. Sometimes more than one will find you, so be prepared for a lot of heavenly love.
There is a foundation to every great building, and so it is with our spiritual life. As mothers, our work oftentimes revolves around the home. Even if we work outside of the home, we leave it in the morning and return to it at night, so make the home a special place that embodies faith, hope, and charity in God.
Pass on the Faith through example. Holy images bring our fallen natures back to God. As Catholics we do not worship these images, but we use them as a way to focus on the Divine. To lift our hearts and souls back to what matters – eternal life. This will look different for every person and every home.
Our family places a crucifix in the main living areas of our home and in each of the bedrooms. It is an integral part of our Catholic faith to focus upon Jesus’ redemption for our sins. Several bottles of holy water are important to have on hand. My mom and grandmother would each sprinkle their homes with holy water at least once a month. Sacramentals are items that we may use to bring us closer to God, such as blessed beeswax candles, Rosaries, scapulars, and medals.
As adults, our children closely watch our examples. Do we show our faith to their small eyes? Do we recite the Rosary? Read spiritual books? Find time during the day to pray the Angelus or prayers before meals? Do we wear a Brown Scapular? Are excited to attend Sunday or daily Mass? Do we discuss our love for the most important thing in this life – the Holy Eucharist? If we make small spiritual acts habitual, our children will desire to also follow these habits.
The Catholic liturgical calendar offers us an opportunity to contemplate a special feast every day throughout the year. Don’t feel pressured to honor every feast day: it’s just not possible. But find ones that fit well with your family’s life. We celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph very BIG every year, as each of our four boys (soon to be 5 boys) have Joseph for a middle name or first name. We also celebrate several monthly devotions, but I keep it simple: the Holy Rosary in October, Advent, Lent, the Blessed Mother in May, the Sacred Heart in June, etc. You can find foods, drinks, crafts, saint stories, and prayers online or in books that help enhance these days. It is wonderful to learn together a family.
Having a Catholic home should eventually feel natural. If you are a convert, this may take longer than those who were brought up from childhood as Catholics. Be patient with yourself. Know that repetition is strong in the Catholic Faith – God understands our limitations quite well. The Liturgical Calendar repeats itself each year, giving our fallen natures the ability to grow spiritually every year a little more. As you plan your monthly family schedules, take the time to mark your favorite saint days or feast days. This is an easy way to plan in advance, but not be overwhelming. Eventually, you may begin to celebrate those same feasts each year and possibly add new ones, when you discover new saints or cultural traditions that fit with your family.
Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. (St. John Vianney)
Fostering a Catholic home around the Liturgical Calendar will not happen overnight. It has been a slow process, even for my husband and I who were both cradle Catholics. What worked for my parents may not work for us and that’s okay. God has a special place on this earth for your family – find your place as you grow closer to Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother.
Copyright 2020 Danielle Heckenkamp
About the Author
Danielle Marie Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Wisconsin with her husband and five children. Motherhood has allowed Danielle to re-discover her love for writing. It is through her daily experiences as a mom and the love for her Catholic Faith that show forth in her writing. Danielle is the co-author of a nonfiction book about manners and common sense. She is a coffee-drinking, Midwest girl, who loves to spend time with her family, attempt outlandish recipes, and read any book she can get her hands on. You can find more of Danielle's writing at Loving These Days or step inside her daily life at her instagram account (@dmheckenkamp)