The Basics: Prayer in your domestic church

In an earlier postwe saw that the Church recommends having a physical place in your home set aside for prayer. I’ve seen many interpretations of this ranging from an entire room furnished with a comfortable chair, bookshelves of spiritual reading, and beautiful inspirational art, to a small, crowded space on a shelf, carefully set aside in a dorm room.  I know families with a kneeler in their prayer space, a family whose small children crawled behind a large chair in their living room to set up a prayer corner (literally), families who have a small worship space set aside in each child’s bedroom, etc.  Many prayer corners are centered around some kind of family altar; a visual focus and a public witness.  No matter what your prayer space looks like, there are some common elements you may want to include:

Your prayer corner should be a place where it’s possible to find quiet. Elijah heard God’s voice in a small whisper (1 Kings 19:11) and it’s likely you’ll hear Him better in a quiet time also.  Encourage your kids to find a quiet, consistent prayer time for themselves.  Even the smallest children (and their parents) should have time in each day that is free of noise.

Your prayer corner should have some element of beauty. Saint John Damescene said:

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.” 

All beauty has it’s origin in God and holds the potential to point us closer to Him Who is true beauty.  Whether this little piece of beauty is some kitschy thing you found at a dollar store, a replica of a Rembrandt, or a picture your child drew of Jesus, if you see God’s beauty there, it likely has a place in your place of prayer.  Inversely, if you don’t like that statue Aunt Martha gave you, or if a piece of framed art leads to more distraction than contemplation, put it somewhere else (like the give-away box).

Your prayer corner should point to liturgical prayer. This is easily done by simply paying attention to the liturgical colors and changing your prayer table cloths to match those at church.   Right now you’d want green for ordinary time and at the end of November we’ll change to purple for Advent.  You’ll also need red, and white, and gold is an optional extra for the greatest celebrations of Easter and Christmas.   Use your Liturgical Calendar or Our Sabbath Scripture Book to know which days get which colors.  You’ll have lots of flexibility if you can sew a little, but if you don’t you can easily find placemats or cloth napkins in these colors.  An added bonus is that the periodic changes built into the Liturgical Year offer opportunities to keep things new and interesting.

Your prayer corner should be a witness to all who visit your home. Let it be a constant reminder to all who live there, and a witness to friends, relatives, neighbors, the mailman, your plumber, and everyone you come in contact with that you are joyfully and enthusiastically Catholic, and you are a family of prayer.

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