I’ve been reflecting a lot about the behind-the-scenes efforts of raising a Catholic family. Since it is winter, and I have been hunkered in my home, I am noticing all the little ways we have nurtured our Catholic faith through environment. It is a delicate balance with the goal being that Jesus fills the places and spaces of our home initiating a spontaneous discussion or providing an interior awareness. I believe Jesus can be encountered in our home not only through the conversations that we share, but also through the visuals purposefully placed throughout our home. Each of these form memories for the souls in my home; from the worn paint on a handheld little Franciscan cross that has been teethed, slept with, brought to the playground and glued back together, to an image of the Sacred Heart that has evidence of a late-night mother’s vigil.
Here are ten ways we do that in our home:
In our den we have an icon of each member of our family’s patron saint. I begin my mornings there often and ask for their intercession as I pray for each person. I also frequently have found myself standing in front of them to ask their intercession for a particular child in challenging moments.
SACRED HEART ENTHRONEMENT
We placed the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a place that is most travelled in our home. As you go up or down our staircase, you see Jesus and Mary.
Our Catholic faith is so rich, and music is a great part of that wealth. From my turning on the worship music in times of praise and in times of sorrow, my children see this as a way to turn to Jesus. Over the years we have also sung or chanted our Divine Mercy Chaplet as a family. I don’t think consistency is as important as exposure. However, there is something to small acts of consistency. Each night as we shut down our home, tucking small children into bed, and nudging older ones towards that goal, we sing the Lourdes’ Ave. It is simply a sweet melody reciting the words, “Ave Maria.”
I have never been to Lourdes, but I learned this song and have sung it as part of bedtime routine both at home and on vacation. There is something peaceful about closing the day with the protection of Mother Mary sung upon the hearts of my children. Some of my most cherished moments are when I pause and hear them singing along or when I hear them humming this tune as they go about their tasks. We parents plant seeds of faith.
SCRIPTURE ON WALLS
I’ve always wanted to be a person who memorized scripture and could call upon it in times of strife and praise. One strategy towards that goal is to hang it upon my walls. There is not one room in my home where Scripture is not displayed in some form. One sweet family moment occurred during Covid when we were all staying home. My youngest daughter Sarah used the Scripture on our walls to create pictures and practice her handwriting for our neighbor, Mrs. Margaret. She copied each plaque upon her drawing paper, colored it sweetly, rolled it up, and tied it with a ribbon to deliver in our neighbor’s mailbox. My favorite was Song of Solomon 3:4: “I have found the one whom my soul loves.” While only nine years old, this girl is being led towards a goal for her life. These are holy words written upon their souls pointing them to what is good and true.
FAMILY PRAYER TABLE/ALTAR
This is placed at the base of our staircase underneath our Sacred Heart images. Here we rotate different prayer cards, relics, photos of clergy, seminarians, and sisters close to our family’s heart. This reminds us to pray for them.
CRUCIFIX IN EACH ROOM
When our home was blessed, we placed a crucifix in each room. I will admit that there have been times I have needed to feel the tangible closeness of Christ and have taken that crucifix off the wall and held it close, uniting myself to Jesus on that cross.
STATUES AND HOLY IMAGES
Over the years, I have brought into our home statues representing biblical scenes from the Annunciation to Peter receiving the keys to the Church. We as Catholics believe that art can draw us into the holy. For me, these pieces help me tell stories to my children. Exposure to these stories draw us into an encounter with Jesus.
Our rosary hanger is a simple coat rack hung on a wall. It is not super fancy but has become ever so beautiful as a reminder of our devotion to Mother Mary. Easy access is key. When we go to pray our Rosary as a family, I don’t want to wait for everyone to find/gather their rosaries. We have been gifted over the years also with very special rosaries, either handmade or brought from holy places. This is a wonderful way to keep them special and to always have an extra rosary for those who are in our home when we are praying.
FAMILY PHOTOS OF SACRAMENTS
We all make sure that pictures are taken at each sacrament. By printing them up and placing them in a place of prominence we tell our children that these are important. I love the idea of celebrating my children’s Baptism day and taking their Baptism photo and placing it on our dining room table alongside a special treat as we celebrate.
This is similar to the above, except with one caveat that I feel is very important. With sacramental marriage being under attack by secular society, the celebration of holy matrimony within the family is crucial. We do that by pointing out the joy that comes from being married. We celebrate it with pictures from our wedding Mass. We speak words of love out loud bearing witness to that fidelity and place a holy marriage as a goal worth striving for.
There is no quick and easy way to form Catholic families. Having one, two, or all ten of these in your home does not guarantee a faith-filled, strife-free home. It does, however, plant seeds upon their hearts of our children. It imparts knowledge and wisdom, and points them towards the good and true.
This post first appeared at CatholicMom.com
Images copyright 2022 MaryBeth Eberhard, all rights reserved.