You Need a Home Altar!
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
The domestic church has taken on a new meaning for many of us in this challenging and unofficial lock down mode. Not being able to gather to worship our Lord, receive the Eucharist, and be with our communities can be a very difficult sacrifice. The virus brought turmoil, panic, and discomfort into our lives by disrupting our routine and leaving many of us feeling powerless. While Covid is creating a lot of discord, God has used it to bring about something good, something that we so desperately needed and that is a reemphasis on our families. It has also given us the opportunity to work from home, do more things that we find enjoyable, and hopefully spend more time in prayer. I see many families seeking ways to unite themselves to the Church from home as more parishes have chosen to suspend Masses and services during this time. As "little churches", we can use this time to establish a prayer routine that will not only sustain us right now, but for the future. This is a blessing in disguise, giving us the perfect opportunity to reprioritize our faith and daily vocation to the people we love. No great saint went without seeking God in the midst of struggle and suffering, God is calling us too! If we are the domestic church, that means that our homes should be places that we go back to after being in the world where we find peace and the presence of Christ. Yes, I know that this sounds crazy, you may be thinking "you haven't seen my home" or "you don't know my kids" but Jesus wants to dwell with us. I have personally learned that Mass once a week and a few minutes of daily prayer is not enough for me to truly conform myself to His love, I need more than that! However, since many of us have not been called to consecrate ourselves, that means that it has to be integrated into our daily life. In other words, your life becomes the prayer as a wife or husband, mother or father, sister or brother. I always look to this quote from St. Gianna Molla, who was a wife, mother, doctor, and one of my favorite intercessors.
Imitating the Saints
St. Gianna Molla had a life just like us, a husband who traveled a lot for work, several children, was a working doctor, and actively volunteered in her community and Church. In fact, the child that she sacrificed her life for actually goes around now doing speaking engagements about her mother. Imagine that being your child saying, "my father or mother... the saint!" This didn't mean she was perfect, this means that she made a decision to dedicate her home to Christ so that He could reign over all that they did. Let's imitate this by letting God have control over our lives and our families because our community and culture needs this. St. John Paul II says, "when the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the world in which we live." When you can't go to Mass, go to that peaceful and beautiful place in your home to be with God. Schedule a time in the day, now that your children are home from school, to pray and learn about the Faith. Let there be a space in your home that acts as a reminder that He is there!
Home Enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
A couple of years ago we did a Home Enthronement to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I reorganized our home altar. Hands down this was the best thing that we have ever done for our little church. I use our altar almost daily and it has become one of my favorite places to pray and recharge. If you don't have a home altar I want share with you what I have created and where I got things. Religious items can be adapted to fit your private devotion but for a Home Enthronement you must have the Sacred Heart of Jesus image. I have attached the link for the Home Enthronement Prayer Companion that I have created for you with the entire ceremony written out with prayers and blessings. You can also find other easy, printable PDF prayer companions in my digital shop.
Definitely take a minute to check out the link and let me know if you have questions, this is a truly beautiful dedication of your home which I highly encourage you to consider.
Let's Get Started!
Find a corner of your home that can be dedicated to prayer. I recommend a room or place where you usually don't do work and there aren't any electronics.
These Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary images were purchased off Amazon, they are canvas and turned out to be great quality. I took them both to Hobby Lobby while they were having a 50% off sale to have them nicely framed. We needed these for the home enthronement, the Sacred Heart of Jesus image has to be in a prominent place of the home.
This is our relic of St. Padre Pio! The shadowbox is working for me now until we can save up for a beautiful reliquary. The brass double candlestick holder behind the shadow box was found at a Church rummage sale and has gorgeous floral detail on it. You can find a lot of antique, vintage items at your local thrift shop, I love finding little treasures on the cheap.
The lanterns are special because they were used at our wedding. I bought them on Facebook Market but I made the floral toppers myself. They are a lovely reminder of that joyful day and I firmly believe all married couples should have reminders from their wedding in the home. I think it acts as a powerful reiteration of the vocation that we have committed to. Do you have something boxed up from your wedding that you can add to your home altar? Get creative!
The tall, slender, bronze candle sticks came from Goodwill, I got a set of three for next to nothing. The small image of St. Therese of Lisieux was a gift to me. She was a powerful intercessor in my discernment process and remains a dear Heavenly friend. The lace runner was purchased off of Amazon and adds a nice touch to give it that altar look.
I bought this image of St. Dominic already framed from a local Catholic gift shop and the home incense kit came from an online Catholic Supply company. The power of scent can help to put me in a prayerful state of mind, especially when I smell those delightful fragrances of the Church in my home. It also brings a smile to my face to open the windows, light the incense, and blare Gregorian Chant... the neighbors love me.
This Life of Christ book is a gem, it’s actually signed by Ven. Fulton Sheen and stands in our prayer table as a reminder of his saintly life and well, the life of Christ!
The much needed Rosary holder is a part of most prayer tables. I have also seen a lot of people using rosary hangers which you can make yourself with a board and hooks or purchase from a Catholic vendor. Either way, you will certainly need a place to keep your sacramentals.
Saint statues can also be added, especially those saints that we frequently ask the intercession of or want to be reminded of their example. I’m in the process of getting a couple more because I find that a beautiful statue can help elevate my soul closer to God through art and craftsmanship.
Altar cross can be purchased online, Amazon or Church supply store, for a fairly reasonable price depending on size and detail but this is a simple one that I keep on a floating shelf. The shelf came from At Home but you can also find them at TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Ikea, or Home Depot.
The Mary statue was given to me and she’s placed below the crucifix because as St. John Paul II often talked about, we can get to Jesus through Mary. During many feast days we will offer her flowers and I frequently ask her to intercede for me and draw me nearer to her Son. She is my daily reminder to true and authentic femininity so I couldn’t imagine a prayer table without her. White pillar candles came from the dollar store!
The furniture that is acting as the prayer table itself is an old dresser that came from my family. It’s a great piece and also acts as a place for extra storage. You can find something like this for very cheap on Facebook market, local Goodwill, or resale shop. If you don’t like the color of the dresser or table you find but the price is right you can always paint it or put a nice table cloth over it.
I think that this would be a great project for you and your family while there is some time off. It is certainly something that will provide more opportunities for spiritual exercises in your home and hopefully help to draw your family closer to the Lord to give you strength and hope. “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.” (Psalm 73:28)
Stick around for more liturgical living where you can find resources, picture by picture feast day recipes, printable prayer companions for your domestic church, and more of my Catholic adventures!
Did you create a Home Altar after reading this? I'd love to see it, share it in the comments section or send it to me on Facebook @HisGirlSunday.