The Church is not the only place for the practice of religion. The home is also a sacred place in which God must be especially honored and where the faith of Christians must be planted and fostered.
“Your home is your Church.” (St. Augustine). If religion is not taught and practiced at home, the church and school will scarcely be able to preserve it.
Let your home be Catholic by the presence of the crucifix and of other sacred images. Do not be content to have such articles only in the bedroom; but let the whole house show the character of your religious faith. If your parlor or reception room is distinguished by the elegance of its furniture, let it show also your taste for religious pictures and ornaments. Some Catholics spend considerable money over expensive furniture and costly bric-a-brac, but upon religious articles they expend only sufficient money to purchase a few cheap prints and objects which they are ashamed to place side by side, with their more elegant furnishings.
Keep out of your house pictures and representations of love- scenes and nudities, whether they be works of art, ornaments or mere advertisements. Have holy water in constant use. See HOLY WATER and Its Significance for Catholics. Have the Bible in the principal room in an honored position, and have nothing else lying or placed on top of it.
Have all the religious articles necessary for sick calls. It is a sign of poor Catholicity in a household, if, on occasion of a sick-call, people must run to their neighbors to borrow the necessary articles for the sick-room table. These articles ought to be found in every Catholic home for other purposes besides that of supplying the sick-room. There are special sick-room services, however, now sold for a trifling sum and easily procured. But every family can make up its own service. Catholics ought to take a pride in securing the mo t handsome articles for the sick-room table.
What more appropriate ornament could be purchased for the house, or what more befitting present made to a Catholic friend or relative, than a beautiful crucifix, a pair of candle-sticks, a silver spoon for the communion-service of the sick, and the like ; instead of so many meaningless and expensive vases, souvenir- spoons and other kinds of bric-a-brac. How sad for the Priest to enter Catholic houses of great elegance, with the august Sacrament of the Altar and to see a service intended to honor the King of Kings, hurriedly improvised with some cheap articles borrowed from neighbors and with others brought in from the kitchen.
See that all the members of the household, especially the children, say their morning and night prayers. Attend to the children’s prayers personally. Do not merely ask them whether they say their prayers, but go and see for yourselves. If children attempt to come to the breakfast- table without having said their morning prayers, make them return to their rooms. Say the prayers frequently with them, especially the night prayers. Always insist on all members of the family saying grace before and after meals, and on reciting the Angelus at the sound of the church-bell.
Have special devotions in common in the evening, especially during Lent, Advent, during the month of October, on Ember days, and at other times. Say the rosary, the litanies and other prayers according to time and circumstances. If you are able to furnish your house with comfort, provide the bedrooms, or at least the room in which the family devotions are performed, with suitable prie-dieus or kneeling benches. How strange, that among the innumerable forms of furniture with which our homes are supplied for every family function and for every kind of comfort, there should be found so few kneeling-benches for the most important and particular function of the Christian, that of daily prayer.
Houses of Catholic church goods usually supply these, but it is to be regretted that the demand for them on the part of Catholics, does not enable the average furniture-dealer to keep them on hand. Even the Turk has his special prayer-rug. Whilst the spirit of penance should not be wanting to our prayers, want of due comfort on the other hand, should not be made the cause of the discontinuance or total neglect of them. How much more prayer would be said, and how much better would it not frequently be performed, if there were more comfort connected with it, especially when one is illdisposed or fatigued as is frequently the case in the evening? It is hard to kneel on the floor for any length of time, especially when one is fatigued, without any support, such as a prie-dieu affords. A chair, much less a bed, is not a very appropriate support during the sacred function of prayer.
Many Catholics confess forgetness as the cause of their frequent neglect of prayer. Would not a special article of furniture for prayer be a constant reminder of that indispensable duty? Let a part of the family-devotions consist in a reading from the Bible, especially from the Gospels and Epistles, or from the small Bible-History. Let only those passages be read to the family with which the parents are familiar. Read also from the Catechism, the Lives of the Saints, and from other books of instruction and edification. Especially should this be done on Sundays and Holydays by such as cannot from some legitimate reason attend the sermon in church.
Read these rules of “Catholic Practice” at stated times, so that all may become familiar with the practice of their holy religion.
Make sure that the children learn their Catechism, by hearing their lessons either before they retire at night, or before they go to school to recite them.
Accustom the children to works of charity and mercy by supplying them with alms and means for the relief of poor and suffering neighbors. Make them do chores for poor and aged neighbors.
Try every day, if possible, to have one member at least of the household attend Holy Mass, so that the family may always be represented at the Holy Sacrifice during the week.
Do not dishonor the Catholicity of your house by having uncatholic and disedifying socials and drinking-parties in it, or even innocent amusements during Lent and other penitential times.
CATHOLIC PRACTICE CHURCH AND AT HOME
The Parishioner’s Little Rule Book
A GUIDE FOR CATHOLICS IN THE EXTERNAL PRACTICE OF THEIR HOLY RELIGION. (Angel Guardian Press, 1898)
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