THE CATHOLIC SENSES by Katie Sciba
The domestic church is a family’s experience of being Catholic at home, but setting our attention on the things beyond this world can be a challenge when our to-dos are right in front of us. To focus your heart on faith, we recommend going through your basic senses. Humans are body and soul, so it makes sense that soulful self-care works beautifully with exterior experiences. Our churches are filled to the brim with sights, smells and sounds to stir us; bring that home with these few ideas.
Deck your halls with Catholic images and art to draw your eyes heavenward. Put a crucifix in every room to recall that love calls for sacrifice; place images or statues of Mary and the saints in your kitchen to remember that feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty are holy works. Decorative wisdom from scripture in frames or on chalkboards also helps us to think of the life beyond this one. Some of my favorite decorative pieces are a pair of anchor bookends, which remind me of the verse “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
When it comes to filling the house with sacred sound, music is immediately effective. Stream Christian radio to hear intimate experiences of forgiveness and love from Christ. Play Gregorian chant or instrumental hymns for a calmer tone. Teach your family traditional songs like “Immaculate Mary” and “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.” Listen to Catholic podcasts and meditations. We suggest praying out loud by yourself and with your family; just hearing your own voice speaking to God underscores the participation. Mass often begins with bells – ring some of your own at home to begin a meal or prayer.
Flowers, incense, candles and oil are fantastic go-tos to send the aroma of our faith wafting through the house. Many flowers carry Christian or Marian significance; for instance, gladiolus signify the ascension of Jesus into heaven, and Mary herself is often represented with roses. Burning incense during individual or family prayer time reminds us that our intentions and thoughts rise to the throne of God. Using scented candles and oils like frankincense make us more cognizant of our relationships with Jesus, especially if they’re used during particular times of celebration or prayer.
Now this is a fun one! When we think of upping our faith experiences, tasting isn’t usually the first idea to come to mind, but it certainly shouldn’t fall to the wayside. Make desserts for Sundays and feast days – make it simple or go with a theme. Bake bread for the feast of St. Benedict or crown-shaped sugar cookies for the Queenship of Mary. Normal meals can be elevated to holy ones with Pinterest and a little creativity. Above everything else, it’s paramount to our identity and life as Catholics to “taste and see” God’s goodness through the Eucharist. Holding the Sacred Host in our mouths, allowing it to dissolve slowly, keeps our attention on the miracle of the Son of God uniting Himself to us.
This article originally was published in the July 2020 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.