It seems like everyone has a TV as the focal point of their living room.
It’s either mounted on the wall or erected on a TV stand. The furniture is centered around it. Even home decor is organized to accent it.
But when I was a kid, my mom showed me there’s another way.
We had one of those big box TVs that’s built into a cabinet.
As we waited for the bus every morning, we would sit on the floor, clustered around the screen, watching cartoons to pass the time.
Slowly, my mom began to make subtle changes to the room, to deemphasize the TV.
First, she put a tablecloth over the cabinet to hide the screen. We’d have to pull the tablecloth back when we wanted to watch a show.
She rearranged the couches to center around the fireplace, and moved the TV to a side wall.
Then, she added decorative Catholic elements on top of the cabinet, as well as on top of the fireplace mantle – which became the new focal point of the room.
Finally, the TV cabinet was eventually removed and replaced with a decorative table that served as a home shrine.
My mom intentionally and effectively transformed our TV-centered living room into a beautiful and peaceful prayer space.
To this day, it’s my favorite room in her house.
Kick the TV Out of Your Living Room
Many Catholic parents recognize the power of screens to distract from life – whether from active play, work, or prayer time.
Often, we seek solutions to limit screen time.
One way to do this is to ask yourself: what’s the center of my home?
Not your home life.
But your home itself – the layout and décor of your physical living space.
The way you arrange your home reflects and influences the way you will arrange your home life and your time.
If your TV is the center of your family room or living space, it makes it much easier to default to screen time.
But what if we intentionally centered our living spaces around something other than the TV?
I saw, firsthand, the impact of removing the TV from the main living space, and re-centering the room around faith and leisure (the home shrine, and the fireplace).
When I grew up, got married, and began to grow a family and arrange a home of my own, I knew I wanted to follow my mom’s example.
I wanted to make sure that screens did not dominate our lives.
But rather, that we build faith and true leisure into our living space, and that screens remained a secondary option that we’d have to seek out intentionally, rather than instinctively.
Once the decision was made, the home layout could begin.
We kicked the TV out of our living room, and decided to rearrange our space around a home shrine.
How to Create a Home Shrine
Once you commit to removing the TV from the focal space of your living room, the transformation into a prayer and leisure space can begin.
You don’t need to dump a ton of money into your home shrine all at once.
You may already have all of the items on hand which I will recommend, around your home in various places.
But I will include HolyArt links to recommend items in case you’re starting from scratch, or want to add on to your existing collection.
Begin slowly, and build and add to your home shrine over time.
Your New Focal Point: the Crucifix.
If your TV was mounted on the wall, you’ll have an empty wall space to fill in.
The best focal point for a Catholic prayer space is a wall-hanging Crucifix.
Over time, you may add to your holy-wall as your personal decorating style dictates. You may want to create an icon wall, or add prints and art of various saints or other religious décor.
Add a Piece of Furniture: The Prayer Shrine.
A bureau, table, or other piece of furniture may be placed under the Crucifix on your wall.
If you already had a TV stand, this piece of furniture will fit seamlessly into your existing living room layout.
Any piece of tabletop furniture around your home can be used as your prayer shrine and the new focal point of your living space.
Alternatively, if you have a fireplace, use the mantle or hang a wall shelf above it to serve as your new prayer shrine.
In our home, we use a bureau – which serves as tabletop space to put our statues, candles, and other devotional elements, as well as added storage for seasonal liturgical living décor.
Pray Always: Votive Candles.
Sacramentals are important to any home shrine.
Votive candles, in particular, are a powerful sacramental – a beautiful symbol and reminder of constant prayer.
On our prayer shrine, we always have a votive candle.
We set one on our shrine, unlit, until we have a special intention to pray for.
Then we light the candle to remind us to keep that prayer intentional intentionally on our hearts every time we see the flame.
I ask my Guardian Angel to stand vigil with the votive candle, and to offer a continuous prayer for my intention, even while I’m busy at work or other tasks.
When I’m up in the middle of the night, the glow of the candle in the darkness is a comfort as well as a reminder to pray at all times.
I feel that candles are a must for any home shrine!
You can light tea candles during Rosary time, novena candles leading up to feast days, or have a pillar candle constantly burning for your family’s special intentions.
Intercession: Prayer Intentions Booklet
We keep a prayer-intentions notebook on our home shrine.
Every time I have a special intention for our family, or somebody asks for prayers, we add them to our intentions notebook.
Members of our family and guests are always free to add intentions, as well as to visit the booklet to find intentions to pray for.
Build Your Prayer Space: Other Devotional Items.
Everyone has their own personal preferences on which devotional items best help you pray.
Honor your preferences and tastes, as well as your family’s needs.
We have a bookstand that I picked up at a yard sale.
On our bookstand, sometimes we place:
- an open Bible (check out the RSVCE from TanBooks, use coupon code TJS10 for 10% off)
- an illustrated Catechism (check out this one from Angelus Press)
- the book pictured above: My Catholic Faith (available from Angelus Press)
- a liturgical calendar / prayer planner (check out this one from Reverent Catholic Mass)
We also keep a Rosary dish and an assortment of Rosaries, to make it easy to be faithful to our daily family Rosary.
Finally, the centerpiece of our family shrine is a marble altar stone. This altar stone is a family heirloom that was passed down to me from my mom.
It’s such a gift to have this stone in our house, and to be able to invite a priest over to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass right here in our living room.
If you have a religious family heirloom, your new home shrine is the perfect place to keep it and venerate it.
Use Your Home Shrine to Enter into Liturgical Living
Once you have your home shrine established, you can begin to collect special items to help you enter into the liturgical calendar, either by purchasing special new pieces, or picking up thrift store finds.
By rotating out the devotional items on your shrine, you make sure that special prayer space doesn’t become overly-familiar and fade out of your attention.
Whenever you switch things up for a new liturgical season or feast day, you and your family will be drawn again to the renewed prayer space.
Feast Day Statues
Over the years, we have purchased small statues or icons of our favorite family Saints.
These statues remain in storage until we begin a novena leading up to that Saint’s feast day, at which time the statue is placed on our shrine and a candle is lit for the duration of the novena.
The Big Liturgical Seasons
Your home prayer shrine can also be updated to help you enter into the bigger liturgical seasons.
In Lent or Advent, you may want to add a purple table runner or tablecloth.
For Lent, you may want to display the Stations of the Cross.
Whatever your favorite feast days and liturgical seasons, focus on entering into those through an intentional prayer shrine in the focal point of your home.
Your Home Shrine Promotes Peace and Prayer
I can’t count the number of times a guest has come into our home and expressed the sense of peace they’ve encountered.
I attribute this largely to centering our home around our prayer shrine.
Our home shrine is the center of our living room, the space where we gather to talk, relax, and pray.
Our screen time is now confined to a lesser-used room in our home, whereas we are intentionally forcing ourselves to limit and be selective about our media consumption.
If you want more peace and prayer in your home, consider kicking the TV out of your living room, and re-centering your home around Christ and a home prayer shrine or altar.
How Your Home Shrine Passes on the Faith
Our home shrine is key to modeling and passing on the faith to our children.
They see the reverence and excitement with which we set up the shrine for various feast days and liturgical seasons.
With our shrine, we show them that the faith is truly central to our lives as Catholics.
Since we supply our children with a collection of religious toys and other fun, kid-safe devotional items, it’s easy for them to emulate our love for a beautiful prayer space.
We’ll often find our prayer shrine bedecked with the kiddos’ mini icons, prayer blocks, rosaries, holy paintings, and more.
They sometimes pull out their kneeling pads and pray before the setup they’ve created.
If it promotes prayer and love of the faith – then we allow it! Even if it means that our prayer-space is not always picture perfect.
If you truly want your kiddos to learn that the faith is central to family life, and be inspired to make the faith their own, a prayer shrine is important for your home.
Start Your Home Prayer Shrine with Holy Art
HolyArt, the sponsor for this blog post, is a beautiful Catholic supply company with items both for liturgical use in churches, as well as promoting liturgical living at home.
I thank HolyArt for reaching out to me with the desire to bless our home and our home shrine with their products, in exchange for review.
I love the 6-day Sanctuary candles they sent me, to keep my home shrine stocked for many weeks, and to help me enter into the practice of praying always.
Definitely check out HolyArt for beautiful items to help you start your home shrine, or add new special pieces to your existing home shrine.
STAY IN TOUCH:
Join the To Jesus, Sincerely mailing list to stay in touch, and grow in the Faith together.