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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Establishing a Home Altar or Shrine

There are some who put up wood cabinets, either free-standing or in the wall. These can be quite nice but also expensive. The top of a small wall table, mantle or shelf might do as well. The use of a cabinet makes it easier to store additional religious items.

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The home altar is a place for family and individual prayer but is also a visible reminder of our Catholicity. Every home should make room for Jesus and have visible signs of faith and divine protection. What does one place upon the altar? There should be a standing crucifix or one attached immediately to the wall behind the shelf or table. Often there is a statue of the Blessed Mother although one might substitute a statue of the Holy Family.

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If Mary is depicted alone then a parallel statue of St. Joseph might be in order. I am also a proponent that every home should be consecrated to the Sacred Heart. Either a statue or picture of the Sacred Heart should be displayed. Candles are traditional and some would add flowers. There should be Holy Water (font and bottle). Medals associated with devotions could be placed on the altar. The rosaries of family members may either sit upon the table or hooks adjacent in the wall or mantle itself. Various Holy Cards of special patrons could be set there. There should always be a Bible and individual prayer books. Many also include a missal so that if Mass attendance is impossible, the readings of the day can be studied. If a table is used, then a nice linen cloth should cover the top.

Here are a few suggestions that can be purchased online:

Large Standing San Damiano Marble Resin Cross Crucifix

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Holy Family Jesus Mary Joseph Religious Figurine

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Design Toscano Blessed Virgin Mary Statue

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12 Inch Sacred Heart Of Jesus Holy Figurine

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Saint Joseph with Child Statue

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Holy Spirit Holy Water Font

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Votive Candle Holders (use inexpensive tea lights)

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St. Joseph Daily & Sunday Missal

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The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible (RSV-2CE) Edition

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Catholic Prayer Books

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8 Oz Holy Water Bottle / 5 oz Stainless Steel Round Holy Water Bottle

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San Damiano Corded Wood Rosary / Madonna and Child Hematite Rosary

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3 Responses

  1. Peace, Father Joe:
    My husband and I had a very large altar in our tiny apartment. This was our focal point for prayer throughout the day.Since he passed away three years ago, I have lived with relatives and will have my own place in a troubled women’s community/disabled women’s community. We are not allowed to have burning candles, for obvious reasons since there are women with small children and so on.
    Would an electronic candle suffice for my prayers to be lifted up? This is rather important to me as it was a very difficult decision to move into this particular community but the administrator has already voiced that she hoped I would be open to spiritual guidance for some of the very troubled souls there.
    Thank you for your kind attention and for your life devoted to us,

    FATHER JOE: Military chapels often require an electric sanctuary light, particularly on Navy ships. You do what you have to do, even if candles are preferred.

  2. Hello Father Joe,
    This post is so timely! My wife and I are getting ready to move into a new home and we had been having a mild debate over the idea of dedicating a spare bedroom to a home shrine for prayer rather than using our bedroom as we do now. I had mentioned that I had seen this suggestion on a Catholic site sometime in the past and would look for ideas. The very next day your post went up! The Lord moves in mysterious ways!

  3. SAMPLE SET UPS (Families of 5)

    Large Standing San Damiano Marble Resin Cross Crucifix $22.36
    12 Inch Sacred Heart Of Jesus Holy Figurine $23.75
    Holy Family Jesus Mary Joseph Religious Figurine $25.01
    Holy Spirit Holy Water Font $04.99
    Votive Candle Holders $02.95 each x 2 ($5.90)
    St. Joseph Daily & Sunday Missal $103.95
    The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible (RSV-2CE) Edition $39.98
    Catholic Book of Prayers $07.96 each x 5 ($39.80)
    8 Oz Holy Water Bottle $01.99
    San Damiano Corded Wood Rosary $03.00 each x 5 ($15)
    TOTAL $282.73

    Large Standing San Damiano Marble Resin Cross Crucifix $22.36
    12 Inch Sacred Heart Of Jesus Holy Figurine $23.75
    Design Toscano Blessed Virgin Mary Statue $38.59
    Saint Joseph with Child Statue $29.95
    Holy Spirit Holy Water Font $04.99
    Votive Candle Holders $02.95 each x 2 ($5.90)
    St. Joseph Daily & Sunday Missal $103.95
    The Didache Bible: Ignatius Bible (RSV-2CE) Edition $39.98
    Catholic Book of Prayers $07.96 each x 5 ($39.80)
    5 oz Stainless Steel Round Holy Water Bottle $12.00
    Madonna and Child Hematite Rosary $05.99 each x 5 ($29.95)
    TOTAL $351.22

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