What an awesome and magnificent calling families have, to show forth God’s superabundant love to the world through their holiness and love for each other! With His help and grace, and by taking baby steps, every family can build a vibrant Domestic Church. Here is a suggested plan to help focus your efforts as you begin this great and sacred work.
Step #1: Make a Home Altar
The first thing you need in your home for your Domestic Church is a home altar (a.k.a. a family prayer corner). Easily constructed in just a short time, the home altar will make the family’s efforts to deepen its prayer life both more concrete and more personalized. Let the children help! They will have excellent ideas on where to place it, how to decorate it, and will be excited to assist at the blessing and dedication.
1. LOCATION First you need a small space, a section of wall, or a corner. If you have a shelf in the living room, or can set up a small table with a lacy tablecloth, that will work well too. The location should be highly visible, convenient, and reachable for all (except perhaps the toddlers!). The right space will allow the children to spontaneously approach it for their own prayers, which will truly be a wonderful thing to witness!
2. DECORATION After you have found a good space, find beautiful and cherished statues, holy cards, and sacred images. (Since pictures are really worth an entire series of blog posts, here are plenty of ideas on Pinterest to get you started brainstorming on what you can do.) Images of Our Lady are particularly appropriate, as are the patron saints of various members of the family. Add other decorative elements to taste: maintaining a perpetual fresh bouquet of flowers as an adornment for a home altar, particularly when it is dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, is an especially appropriate idea. You’ll want to complete the altar with candles to light at formal prayer times.
3. DEDICATION Once everything is in place, and the altar is decorated with its images and flowers, light the candles and come together as a family to bless and dedicate it. The father should lead the family in a prayer invoking God’s blessing on the altar and on the family’s intentions to deepen its prayer life. After that, a communal prayer such as the Litany of Loreto or the Rosary would be beautiful and make it an extra special experience.
Ideally, the home altar attracts family members to gather around a center of prayer and holiness, the way they gather around a blazing fire together in the wintertime. Its presence will keep all of the family mindful of the presence of God in their lives. With a home altar created, you can easily move on into the next step–#2: establishing a Daily Prayer Rhythm–because you have just provided a beautiful and natural setting for it.
(For more information and ideas for home altars, see this helpful post at Catholic Icing.)
(All written content on this blog is copyright 2013-2014 by the St. Catherine Catholic Culture Center.)