Just what is a Catholic Home Altar ?
by Rita Davidson
Catholic Home Altars are a must for every Catholic family today. A place they can go to with their devotions, concerns and needs. A place they can dedicate to God and give glory to Our Lady and the Saints – a Catholic Home Altar.
During a time that seems to be attacking our faith from all sides, we must fight back. Pressure from governments to betray our faith, should not take away our joy. The traditions of our faith have stood the test of time. During difficulties in the past it was the faith that comforted and protected people. I see many websites today too busy scaring people about the next crash and the end of the world, so they can make another sale. Granted we are living in frightening times. And yes, perhaps a crash is just around the corner. But has not the Church always had crosses that tried the faith? We are told that we have been living in the end times since Our Lord returned to heaven. These times have been dwindling down since His ascension. As God’s grace weakens because of the lack of faith from people. More and more we see society falling away from commonsense and asking for more government control.
But, your home should be the sanctuary that gives you comfort during difficult times. It is not a time to be stocking up on canned goods to wait in fright for the day to come. No, now is the time to have hope. Now is the time to work, while there is light, for the salvation of your family. Now is time to put your trust in God and know that if you are faithful He will take care of you no matter what may happen in the world. Even if you could not afford canned food, or couldn’t afford a garden. Even if you didn’t buy all the sacramentals you needed, your faith alone can save you. It does us no good to fear, worry and doubt. That is what the devil would have you do. The devil is always seeking out whom he can devour and believe me he is working to take away your joy if he cannot take away your faith.
So, just what is a Home Altar ?
A home altar is simply a corner shelf, a tabletop, a cupboard, where you keep your home altar supplies. Things like blessed candles, blessed incense, holy water and various linens.
Linens can be changed depending on the liturgical season like purple for advent and lent.
Candles should be 100% beeswax as this was always the tradition in the Church. Lighting them before a statue gives honor to that statue. Saying a prayer while lighting asking God to hear your prayer is the way to make sure God hears your prayer. That is why you can light candles in Church. For all the while that candle is lit, your intention is brought up in front of God. You can say more formal prayers once you have prepared the altar.
Incense; is tradionally used during Mass. Resin nuggets are distilled from trees. Burning of incense pellets are used to bless a Church. By using them at home, it helps to bring some of these traditions home. The smell of authentic incense can set a mood for prayer and bless your house. It will give memories to your children they will appreciate as they get older.
Coal disks are required to use authentic incense as they have no way to burn on their own. Some places sell incense sticks or cones that are not Catholic. I would warn people against using incense sticks or cones since other faiths such as Buddhists, and east Indian make those and also use that kind of incense in their worship. I would be concerned using incense from those faiths.
Prayers; can come from any traditional Catholic prayerbook. Depending on your need your prayers will change. The rosary should become a mainstay in your home. Now when everything seems to be tearing apart families. The rosary can be that one weapon you use to keep your family together. No family should neglect this one devotion. Rosary books can be found easily. Picture rosary books for little hands are ideal. Even for adults rosary books with pictures help to keep your attention.
Statues: can be found easily. After a while you’ll find you collect quite a few of them. They can then be rotated, or start a little shelf in another room. Statues can be changed based on the feast day or the time of the year. Nativity displays can be used during Advent and Passion displays used during Lent. Other times of the year simple displays for Our Lady can make an Our Lady altar in May, or a Sacred Heart altar in June. July is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood so a good time to use any statues of Jesus you may have.
Our Home Altar is the centerpiece of our living room and visitors see that our Faith is the main source of strength and is the centerpiece of our life. It has carried us through joys and sorrows. We must persevere in renewing the Traditions and practices of our Faith. We have lost so much. Families are suffering and society is becoming more and more anti-Catholic each month. To restore the family we must restore those traditions that sustained families in the past. We must fight back with the most powerful weapon we have, our faith. And the rosary.
We never know who may be watching us. Our children, cousins, friends, neighbors. We can never tell whose life may be changed forever, for better or for worse, because of how devoutly we are, or are not, practicing our Faith. It is so vital that we love our Faith for it is our lifeblood. Our children are the one’s who will inherit what we pass on to them. May God help us all to pass on to them, and others, a Faith that is on fire for Him who redeemed us.
May the Precious Blood of our Sweet Savior, continue to shower blessings on all your families!
“Watch for my upcoming, How to Start a Home Altar Tradition: Sacramentals & Devotions for the Catholic Family” – manuscript also found on one hardrive salvaged from the ashes after our July 2013 fire… Watch for it in 2016!
©1998-2015 Rita Davidson. All Rights Reserved.
Rita is a Catholic wife and mother of seven children. She reverted back to the faith when her oldest was making her First Communion. In 1996, Rita began ‘Little Flowers Family Apostolates’ to reach out to other families with her new found faith.
In 1999, she wrote the bestselling, ‘Immodesty; Satan’s Virtue’. She was editor of ‘The Catholic Health Letter’ for 7 years. A homeschooling mom for 20+ years, she has been honored that families have trusted her with their questions, needs and concerns over the years. S
he continues to write and reach out to Catholic families with her husband, Mark and their 4 boys. Rita is working on a much anticipated new book: “How to Start A Home Altar Tradition: Sacramentals & Devotions for the Catholic Family”. Visit their website for more information: http://www.LittleFlowersFamilyPress.com/