In our old house, our Mary Table/Family Altar was in the living room just as you came in from the front door. When we moved to the midwest, this house was set up very differently from our old four-square. The first question was where, in this house, would it be? What better place than the first place your eyes fall when you walk in the house? By the kitchen door, in the living room. After all, everyone who comes in the house ends up in the kitchen! This is the place we decided to create our Family Altar.
After setting everything up as we had it before, we realized that with a new house and a new life maybe we needed some new things. While searching the net, I found tons of ideas.
We have since learnes that the focal point of a Catholic home should be the family altar. For us, it is a place where our family gathers to offer up our prayers and to ask Mary, and the Saints to pray for us. Morning Offerings, family Rosaries, prayers for special intentions, family novenas and Lectio Divina are all made here.
Family altars, ideally, should be on the Eastern wall of a home, in the same orientation as church buildings.As “luck” would have it, ours is on an east facing wall/ The altar can be as simple or as elaborate as your familiy desires, but should be beautiful and conducive to contemplation. We also like to have enough room for flowers for Our Lady.
A few key items to be placed on or around the altar table have been:
our Family Bible
Several icons (statues and two-dimensional)
a Holy Water font or a cellar of blessed salt
charcoal incense burner
Rosaries, Rosaries, Rosaries
vigil candles and candles blessed at Candlemas. We burn them on All Saints Day, Patron Saint’s Days and in times of trouble, (for me it’s the storms)
Other things that have made their way to our Family Alter are the Breviary or the Little Office of Our Lady, Holy Cards, flowers, the names of dead family members (printed in a little book) so we may be reminded to pray for them, pictures of the Stations of the Cross or the Mysteries of the Rosary (ours are hand drawn), something with which to play sacred music and Gregorian chant (under the table in the basket and palm branches from Palm Sunday.