In continuing with our series “Passing on the Catholic Faith to Your Kids“, I wanted to touch on setting up a home altar. When I first heard the term “home altar”, I felt a little scared. I didn’t know what I was doing, and the idea of setting up an official “altar” felt out-of-my-league. Sometimes home altars are also referred to as family altars, or prayer tables, or altar tables. Don’t let these names scare you either.
I’m here to tell you that setting up a home altar is not the complicated task that it may seem! It’s simple to do, there aren’t any “rules”, and it’s a great way to set the scene for the Domestic Church in your home.
What You Need to start a Home Altar:
- A Surface to set it up on. This could be any surface- the top of a shelf, a mantle, a desk, a shelf that hangs on the wall, a section of your china cabinet, the back of your piano… just find something that works for you. I like to use a little cabinet so that our extra religious items can be stored underneath.
- Some religious items to place on top. Try pooling objects you already have around your house such as a Bible, candles, rosaries, statues, crosses, flowers, prayer books, medals, pictures, etc. If you don’t have many things, your kids can color pictures, craft a crucifix or crosses, make rosaries, or make their own medals. And you know all those dried out palms in the shape of crosses you have left from Palm Sunday? You can put those there, too.
That’s is. Just set it up and you’re good to go.
Once you have the basics down, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to branch out creatively. (At least I always do). Here are some more ideas to use once you get your home altar going:
- Provide some kneelers in the area for praying.
- Get several sheets of felt, place mats, or table cloths in liturgical colors (green, purple, pink, red, white) and switch them out throughout the year to match the current liturgical season.
- Make a cross with liturgical garments to switch out.
- Use it as a place to display the latest religious craft your children have made (like giant miraculous medals, giant rosaries, or even normal sized crafts like Jesus’ name)
- Make a pretty chalk board to display a new scripture verse each week.
- Choose a patron saint for your family each year and display a statue, candle, or prayer card on your family altar all year.
- Make rosary display hooks for easy rosary organization.
- Check out display ideas for home altars to make your arrangement more appealing to the eye.
- Add a basket of religious children’s books and plastic statues and rosaries for the youngest members of the family.
- Provide some incense and/or matches for the candles if your children are old enough.
- Battery operated candles if your children are young. (My kids love these, and they’re really cheap at the Dollar Tree.)
- Get a special intentions crucifix for displaying religious medals.
- Prayers in frames for reading aloud.
- Relics (if you have any)
- Include a holy water font, or a bottle of holy water.
- Switch out the objects to fit the liturgical year. Maybe during Advent there’s a nativity set, and during Lent a crown of thorns, and during Easter a resurrection set. For May, you can make an altar that has mostly Mary things, and whatever Saint statues you have can come out for the month of that saint’s feast day.
- Make a novena counter with something that gets added each day, or something that moves each day.
I just keep our extra religious stuff under the cabinet, and pull it out when I want, but I’ve seen people around blog land store their liturgical items in plastic boxes labeled by the month. This way, you know exactly what to pull out when. Only you know if you’re that kind of organization nut or not. You could also keep well made children’s crafts in these boxes to come out (such as shamrocks to put around for St. Patrick’s day, Trinity triangles to come out on Trinity Sunday, Holy Spirit doves on Pentecost, Divine Mercy statues for Divine Mercy Sunday, etc. Find all my Catholic crafts here.
I also have a post on creating a portable prayer table for a classroom environment, but if you live in a home with limited space, this might also be a good option for you. You can also make small altars for your kids to each have in their room. This has been on my to-do list for awhile!
Setting up a home altar can certainly be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, so remember to choose something that is “doable” for you at your current stage of life. Sometimes we get so excited about something that we over-complicate it, and then it doesn’t end up happening. It’s ok to start small.
Today was a continuation of our series “Passing on the Catholic Faith to your Children”. We have already covered:
- 6 Ways to Pass on the Catholic Faith to Your Children
- Leading By Example- Examine Your Own Relationship with God
Check out the Whole Series! “Passing on the Catholic Faith to your Children”Pin It