Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

The Family Altar

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 4 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

Lent has always been a time of increased reflection and prayer, a time for making new habits of prayer that we always hope will carry on into ordinary time. A family altar, or prayer table as some call it, helps not only to maintain a family habit of prayer, but serves as a physical reminder that our home is a place of worship. This is the whole idea of the domestic church, that we worship through our family life, in our homes. A family altar is the expression of that worship call.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

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This altar need not be anything elaborate, fancy, or expensive. If the home is full of small, inquisitive children with busy fingers, it need not even be a table-top altar. (For many years, our family altar was the top shelf of a bookcase, which in turn was bolted to the wall, because our hyperactive son was fond of climbing. I had nightmares about what would happen if he ever pulled it over on himself.) What is essential is that it be a place easily visible when the family gathers for prayers. A small table in a corner (where the TV used to sit?), or space on top of a bookcase or a mantel will work well.

Creating and maintaining a family altar is a simple activity but one that will make a difference to your family's prayer life and to the atmosphere of the home.

The family altar should include a few items to show that it is a special place: