Introduction: Bringing Sacramentals into the Home

(from Building Home Shrines: Bringing Catholic Culture into our Homes & Schools by Constance Malewski)

Follow me as we open the heavy doors and enter our church. Just inside, we can feel the cool water from the font as we dip our fingers into the holy water to bless ourselves. Moving forward, we are aware of the pungent aroma of the incense smoke which has curled upward in this sacred space for many years. We savor the rich smell and the welcoming light of the candles which burn along the perimeter of the church. Our eyes are drawn to statuary of Jesus, Mother Mary, and the saints, which seem to invite us to their friendship. We are treated to the clear and singing colors of the stained glass windows—homilies painted in light.

Any Catholic knows that these are the sacramentals, and we love them because they aid us in our worship in a most pleasing way by involving our senses. The sacramentals help to instill a sense of reverence and peace in us, and prepare us to receive and cooperate with God's grace.
I am a convert to the Church and I have certainly come to love and appreciate the sacramentals. Over time, I began to want to bring them more into my life and our home.

It all started with a statue that I purchased, but grew into the building of home shrines. Friends saw these little shrines in our home and seemed to enjoy them. They also had questions concerning how to put things together in order to produce something pleasing to the eye. That is one reason I decided to write this book. Also, I believe Catholic art and culture deserves a prominent place in our lives.

I have been in homes where various kinds of art is displayed depicting nature, movie stars, or race cars, for example. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of art, it does strike me that the Catholic faith should receive at least as much representation in our homes. In this effort, I will illustrate the ways in which anyone can build a beautiful home shrine. I will discuss theme, materials, color, and construction. I hope that you will be more than anxious to get started on your first home shrine. (continued below)

A Note to Parents

Firstly, I congratulate you on the following of your calling to parenthood. As the mother of five, I know parenthood to be one of the most important, fulfilling, and terrifying of vocations. As parents, you are aware that today's children live in a media-driven world, and are exposed from a very early age to media-influenced culture.

I implore you to begin as soon as possible exposing your little sons and daughters to images of Jesus, the Blessed Mother and the Saints. Hang good Catholic art in your home. Have fun together setting up a home shrine. Tell the children the stories of the holy martyrs, and provide them with real heroes to admire and emulate.

I hope this book can be of some use in helping you to bring some Catholic culture into your home. If you do so, I know your children will feel warm and loved as the arms of Holy Mother Church extend, even more, into their lives. -- from Building Home Shrines
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