Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beginning 2011 with Icons of the Saints

It's time to highlight another blogger. Today's blog post comes from Offer It Up. This Catholic blogger (Fr. James Kubicki, S.J.) loves icons and encourages all of us to turn our hearts to God as we pray with the icons of the Saints. Consider adding an icon of your Confirmation Saint to your sacred space during 2011.

Don't have a Sacred Space in your home? Check out this Catholic by Grace article from the 2005 archives:

My junior year of high school seems like a lifetime ago.  In reality, it was 1981. The place was Riceville, Iowa.  My sister and I ended up in a very small debate class comprised of five Catholic boys and two preacher’s kids. My sister and I were the preacher’s kids.
My sister and I were the only children of Protestant clergy in a predominantly Catholic student body of less than three hundred.  I remember a few of my Catholic friends asking me how it was possible for a priest (referring to my father) to be married and have children.  I’d laugh and tell them my dad wasn’t a priest. They usually stared at me in confusion while their minds created a new schema, one that accounted for strange Protestant ideology.
Bob Johanns was one of my Catholic friends and a fellow student in that debate class.  He was strong on personal apologetics, and we regularly debated the Protestant-Catholic question with all the goodwill of two friends.  A year later, I had the pleasure of meeting his mother at their house.  I liked her immediately. 
Her faith and charity radiated from deep inside her.  She gave me a brief tour of their ranch-style home on their large Iowa farm.  I remember walking through the doorway of a little room in the back of the house.  It was a prayer room, complete with a little kneeler, a few sacred objects hanging on the wall, and a book or two close at hand.  As my foot crossed the threshold, I immediately sensed something sacred and holy about the place.
The desire for holy things and a holy place for prayer is not part of the Protestant mindset.  Protestants believe holy objects like the Ark of the Covenant, Elijah’s mantle, and the hem of Christ’s garment became completely unnecessary once the Holy Spirit could dwell in the human soul.  That’s a tough concept to argue against, but sacred places and prayer are not mutually exclusive.  I have learned that when all the senses are invited to the moment of worship, something incredible happens.  We are souls with a body, and we bring the whole person with us when we worship our God.
In addition, many Protestants bristle at the idea of visiting holy shrines or making pilgrimages, because they believe the human soul has become God’s holy sanctuary; so shrines and sacred places are obsolete.  The notion that the Lord is found only in the recesses of the human soul is a difficult concept to refute, but Protestants readily admit that there are unholy places.  If that is true, then there must be holy places too.  I may have been only a teenager at the time, but I sensed even then that Mrs. Johanns’ little room was a very holy place.  I simply remember wanting that sacred room in my own house.
Finally, I have it.
I spent some of Christmas vacation (2005) preparing one bedroom for prayer and worship.  It has my mark on it, but more importantly, it has Our Lord and Our Lady’s mark.  I remember the moment when it went from being an empty room to being God’s room.  After an hour or so of cleaning and arranging sacred icons about the room, I suddenly realized that the room had that indescribable something about it. The Lord had transformed the space into a place of prayer.
If you have a space in your home for something like this, I encourage you to set it aside for something holy.  If you do not have a room available, consider designating a favorite chair or corner as a place for prayer. 
Of course, we are to pray without ceasing; so your prayer life will not be limited to this space, but it is a blessing to have a place set apart, a place where you can go and meet Our Lord without the distractions of this world vying for your attention. 
Blessed New Year to you, and blessings on your sacred space.



  1. I like that idea! :) Happy New Year Denise and may many, many blessings come your way (and your family too!)

  2. My recent neck surgery was the occasion that brought me a "proper" place for prayer. We moved a recliner into my room so I could sleep in it and it has remained because it created a wonderful corner in my bedroom for prayer, angled perfectly so that my eyes can rest on holy images scattered across the walls and dresser-tops. For me, it is not just the presence of the images, but also the presence of my favorite spiritual reading, stacks of it surrounding me with the wisdom of centuries, like being surrounded by good friends encouraging me along my journey. You're right, it is a blessing to have that type of special place for prayer. I didn't realize what I was missing until I suddenly had it!

  3. Jennifer and Amanda, thanks so much for your thoughts and comments! I like the sense of going into this new year together as Catholic women, just as the women raced to the tomb that first Easter morning. It is good to know that we enter a new year and will find Him already in it, waiting.