An article in the "Living" section of our local paper recently caught my eye. The article was about the use of home altars as a means of helping individuals and families pray. The article made me think about some of the home altars I have seen.
When I was a little girl, my Aunt Kay had a little home altar set up in her living room. Aunt Kay never married or had children of her own, but she is godmother to many, many nieces and nephews and children of friends. On a little table, she had a candle, a picture of a guardian angel watching over children crossing a bridge, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a photo of each of her godchildren. I once asked her why she had these all set up, and she told me that it was a reminder to pray for the faith and safety of her godchildren each and every day.
Once John and I were asked to visit the new home of some friends, to take part in a house blessing. I was very intrigued by their beautiful and thoughtful home altar. It reflected their Filipino culture and was a real sign of their Catholic faith. As our friends explained what each item on the altar signified, I was struck by the importance of these symbols in their daily prayer life.
John and I often set up home altars during Lent and Advent. Each time we have done this, we have taken the time to carefully select items that will help our family members incorporate extra prayer into their days. Setting up these altars is always a powerful experience for us, and seeing our children actually using the candles or prayer cards or incense or booklets helps us to realize how important it is to give them these opportunities.