Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Importance of Creating a Catholic Culture in Your Home

I am very passionate about bringing my Catholic faith into my home and teaching it to my children.  Our faith is not just something that our family does for an hour on Sunday; we try to bring it into every aspect of our lives.

We have many reasons for this.  The big one is that we want to show our children how important God and Catholicism are.  Children learn from their parents what is important mostly by what we show with our actions is important to us.  We are hoping that, with the Bible reading, the praying, the activities, and the Catechism lessons that we are setting our children up for a life of strong faith.  Although I plan to send my children to public school, this year I'm homeschooling them.  I chose the preschool program from Seton Homeschool Study, and I've been very pleased with the religious subject matter.  It's helped me figure out ways to explain our complex religion to toddlers.  If you know of anywhere else with great resources for teaching Catholicism to children, I'd love to hear your comments.  Anyway, I'm happy to say that my work is paying off.  My children are imitating me.  Here is my daughter praying at our altar.
Complete with my Totally 80s scarf to cover her head while praying!

I must confess that I haven't always had a Catholic culture in my home.  You see, I am very anti-clutter and knick-knack.  I just can't stand having a lot of stuff.  (Yes, having children with toys brings me many chances for redemptive suffering!)  I thought that having Catholic things in my home would create a feeling of messiness and wouldn't look nice.  I have since found out how foolish I was being, as I find my home even more beautiful now with tasteful touches of Catholicism around it, which brings me to the secondary reason that I am passionate about having a Catholic culture in my home.

The honest truth is that I have had a serious Dark Night of the Soul over the past few years.  God, Who I never questioned and always felt near to me, became distant and impossible to feel.  I lived with constant anxiety, questioning everything.  All I wanted was to feel Him again.  I pushed and analyzed and tried to force him back into my intellect with no avail.  I researched and studied and still could not make my frozen heart feel His love again.  I prayed.  I asked Him what He wanted from me.  I found brief periods of relief, usually with a surge in orthodoxy and a strengthening of faith, but it never lasted very long.  I started falling into despair.

This led to an epiphany of sorts.  How could I expect to feel God in my life if I didn't invite Him into my home?  If He isn't welcome in my home because of some crazy aesthetic ideal, how in the world could I let Him in my heart?  I made myself a personal altar.  I started finding statues and other Catholic items that would allow God into my home in a way that was beautiful and tasteful.  My mother got me some wonderful gifts as well, including a book about how to create a Catholic home.  I finally bought myself a statue of Our Blessed Mother.  I didn't find complete relief from my Dark Night by doing this, but I felt like I was finally going in the right direction.

A Christmas present from my mother.

I absolutely adore this piece.  John and the Virgin Mary taking Jesus down from the cross.  How beautiful!

I've made a lot of Catholic friends through Facebook, mostly through a Catholic comedy page, if you can believe that.  Most of them are about a decade younger than I am, but interestingly, wiser than I am in matters of faith.  I repeatedly had it recommended to me by many of them to enlist the help of our Holy Mother.  I'm ashamed to say that I failed to listen to these recommendations for a long time.  You see, my overall experience with women hasn't been a positive one, and I have a hard time forming close relationships with women because of this.  Our Blessed Mother many times has scared and intimidated me, even though I love and respect her and believe everything about her that our Church teaches.  A couple months ago, I finally reached my limit and broke down and listened to my wise friends. 

Honestly, I didn't know how to approach and speak to someone as holy as Mary is about my problems, so I did the only thing I could think of.  I drew a self-portrait for her.  I never draw when I am sad, so a stylized portrait with large eyes and an exaggerated crooked nose came out.

I feel nothing but despair when I look at this picture.
I then left it for the day with the Mary statue saying, "I don't know what to say, Mary, but please help me.  This is all I've got left and you are my only hope."

Things started to turn around.  I felt inspired to stop intellectualizing and trying to force myself to feel my faith.  I took time to breathe.  After a couple weeks of just appreciating the Catholic culture I'd created in my home and praying at my altar, taking time to remember how much God loves me at my beautiful crucifix that serves as a reminder of His passion, and, most importantly, having my Mary statue remind me to try to foster a relationship with Our Blessed Mother, I finally felt relief.  Glorious, true relief.

God wanted me to bring Him and Mary into my home and into my heart.  He withheld himself for so long so that I would learn how important she is and also how He is more important than a clutter-free home.

This is why I will offer tips and suggestions on how to bring Catholicism into your daily life.  I think I'm supposed to tell people that, if you don't live your faith, it's easy to lose it.  Also, Mary is our greatest intercessor to her Son.  Let her into your heart, even if you feel like you'll never live up to her.  Gosh, I want to be like her.  If only I were a better mother and wife!  Mother Mary, please pray for me!

How to you create a Catholic culture in your home?  Do you have a similar experience?


  1. Memoria Press makes an excellent classical curriculum. We just bought the pre-k curriculum, and our two-year-old daughter has already learned the entire alphabet from using it.

  2. Thanks! I'll check it out for next year for my eldest daughter.