Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sacred Spaces in Casa Andrew: Altar in Grandma's Room

Here’s another edition of Sacred Spaces in Casa Andrew.


Recently, the Crescat posted some recent photos of her home altar. It has loads of icons and has a very Eastern feel to it. In response, other bloggers posted on their home altars as well. Surprisingly, many of these home altars have icons as their primary devotional focus rather than being predominantly based on statues as is the Western Catholic tradition. Hmmm….

Icon of the Yaroslavl Mother of God which hangs in my room

Don’t get me wrong. I have a deep love for the spirituality and meaning of the icon. In fact, I have a pretty good collection of icons myself and they help me greatly in my spiritual life as windows to Heaven. I do plan to post more on my icon wall soon, but I am Western Catholic, where the devotional development has tended towards statues in it’s expression. And as such, the prayer corners of my home primarily have statues of Christ, the Mother of God and the saints as the focus of devotion rather than icons.


So, since the Crescat has expressed surprise over the lack of statue oriented home altars, I present to you the main altar in my grandmother’s room, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Like all typical Catholic altars, this one is centred on the Crucifix.



The crucifix is a smaller version of the one which hangs in my room.



As you might have guessed from this altar and the one in my room, we’re pretty big Sacred Heart fans.



The altar is also dedicated to St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Protector of the Holy Family, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster Father of Our Lord Jesus, the man He called His Father on Earth. St. Joseph has a special place in our hearts as our special patron and protector and to his intercession we place the protection of our home, that he may pray for us and protect us as he once protected the Holy Family in Nazareth.



The white statue of the Sacred Heart with outstretched hands is supposed to go over our front door. But I haven’t managed to get the pedestal set up yet, so temporarily, it’s venerated here.


Anyway, there you have it. The main altar in my grandmother's room. It has been a great help and focus of prayer and I hope you have been edified in sharing this sacred space with me.

Past posts on the Lady Altar, the Altar of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the little altar in my room can be accessed by clicking the links.


Have a sacred space at home? Do share! Post a link in the combox.



Lawrence Lew OP said...

Thanks for sharing. Here's mine.

As you can see it uses many images from the iconographic tradition, namely as they are found in the 13th-century Roman basilica of San Clemente... so icons are not just an Eastern tradition!

Br Lawrence Lew, OP

Andrew said...

Wow, Bro. Lawrence! Way to go!

A truly worthy sacred space whose beauty lifts the soul to ponder the Divine. I recognize the crucifix from the front cover of Fr. Lang's Turning Towards the Lord. Thanks again for sharing the wonderful photo, Brother.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Andrew said...

Thanks, Mrs. Parkes.

anthony said...

Dear Andrew,
I've never been able to create a home altar that was to my satisfaction. There are no official rules, and that's good and bad. Good because it gives a lot of freedom and flexibility. Bad because sometimes we don't have a clue. Usually, we do what we see other people do. There is no "How to construct a Catholic altar for your home" guide. Is there an ideal? What does a successful or effective altar do? Mine always seems too clutered with books like Bible(s), prayer book(s). And should we be concerned if a statue of our Lady is bigger than the crucifix? Or if your altar has a crucifix, does it make sense to have St. Joseph carrying Baby Jesus next to it? I could go on. Desperately seeking advice.

Andrew said...

Anthony, the most basic thing you have to remember is that the home altar should be a place of prayer. Everything should orient you towards that. Personally, having the Bible ON my altar does not help me in that and neither does having prayer books. For me, personally, the altar is a holy spot in my house which I have set aside and dedicated to God in a special way.

The Crucifix always dominates and is the central focus on the main altars in my house, such as the one in my room, in the main hall or in this case, in Grandma's room. Other altars are dedicated to the Virgin or to the Sacred Heart, but for the main altars, I have found that having the crucifix as the main focus of prayer to be the most helpful setup.

I try not to put books or Bibles on the surface of the altar. They are nearby but never on the altar. I also find having candles and lamps helpful to make the environment conducive to prayer.

These are the things that help me to pray and help me focus. And these differ from person to person.

Ultimately, it all boils down to yourself and what helps you to pray, because that's the most important thing.

But if if I may be so bold, I'd like to suggest getting a nice goodly sized crucifix as the centre point. Of course images if the Virgin, St. Joseph and any or all of your favourite patron saints should be there as well. God in Heaven is always portrayed as being surrounded by His angels and His saints. And a lamp or candle holder to light when you are formally praying is a good idea as well.

There's no wrong or 'right' way to put up a home altar and there are as many variations as there are Catholics, I'm sure. But the most important thing is to pray and all these are helps.

Do let me know once you have it up, I would love to see it!