The pandemic may have disrupted our beloved religious practices (imagine limited live Masses and no Holy Week activities for the second year in a row), but it hasn’t robbed us of any opportunity to pray. Indeed, with God constantly in our midst, prayer is possible anytime and anywhere—you just need to be honest, open, and sincere with your thoughts and feelings.
Still, it’s also nice to set up a little oratory or home altar for prayer and reflection. Said to be a “visible sign of spiritual awareness and devotion, it extends the Eucharistic worship of the Mass into the heart of your home, spiritually nourishing your family and preparing them to transform the world through prayer and charity,” notes an aleteia.org article on home prayer spaces. (Read: Online Masses: Meet the Men and Women Behind the Camera)
But it can also be a spot to seek calm and comfort when you’re angry, sad, frustrated, or confused. And a home altar can be the first place you think of going to when you want to share good news with God or thank your patron saint for successfully interceding for your intentions.
After assigning a spot for your little oratory in your home, set it up with these five must-have items.
Home Altar Items: A table
Photo from Dimensione Facebook
A small table light enough to move around yet sturdy enough to place things on it like your Bible or a crucifix is ideal. Convert an existing table in your home to an oratory, or check out Our Home, Blims, or Dimensione for a wide array of choices and price points.
Home Altar Items: A mantle
Prettify your little oratory with a table runner that doesn’t have to be solemn white. The choices in Cotton & Canvas go from printed to pops of color, while the selections at Anthill—traditionally hand-woven and embroidered by partner communities all over the Philippines—add a touch of Filipino pride to your home altar. (Read: 5 Tips to Setting up Your Prayer Space at Home)
Home Altar Items: A candle
Use it to focus during prayers and reflection. Learn about the different types of candles here (from scented and votive to taper and pillar—who knew there were so many kinds?) and where to buy them.
Home Altar Items: Spiritual books
Besides the Holy Bible, are there books that you like to turn to for reflection and guidance? Our Daily Bread is a popular pick for devotionals and other uplifting Catholic reads. So too is OMF Literature, which markets and distributes originally published, imported, and locally acquired materials that are Christ-centered, biblically sound, and culturally relevant. And then there’s the reliable St. Paul’s, still one of the best sources of Catholic books around. (Read: 3 Books to Feed Your Curiosity About Catholic Saints)
Home Altar Items: Religious images
The crucifix is a given, of course, but you can also personalize your little olfactory with images that hold special meaning to you. How about a statuette of Mama Mary or a Sleeping St. Joseph? Again, St. Paul’s is the place to score traditional images of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and popular saints. If you want to inject a whimsical or playful vibe, try @chibisaints_ph, which has child-like fiberglass resin representations of Jesus, Mary, and even Pope Francis. And Casa San Pablo Clay Storytellers livens up your little altar with colorful terra cotta clay figurines of the Holy Family and your favorite saints.