Questions re: A Home Altar
#1
Question 
I'm what some of my old friends used to call a real "smells and bells" kinda guy. I love sacramentals as well as the art, architecture, statuary, etc. of our Faith. This being the case, I am working on putting together a home altar and I have a couple of questions regarding accepted practice, etiquette, etc.  

  1. My assumption is that the altar crucifix should be the central focus of the altar and should, therefore, be the largest thing on the altar. Is this correct? I ordered quite a large one at 16" for this reason. 
  2. My second question is whether I can/should have a statue of Christ on the altar as well as Christ already being present upon the crucifix. 
  3. My next question is whether the statue of the Blessed Virgin I buy should be the same height as the statue of Christ I buy, or should she be smaller? Or does it even matter? 
  4. Should my statue of the Blessed Virgin be taller than the statues of any Saints I purchase?
  5. I also assume that the bedroom would not be the best room in which to place my altar, as much that is private and/or undiginified goes on in there? 
  6. Would it be appropriate to put a small kneeler in front of my altar? 
  7. Would it be appropriate for me to pray the rosary and other prayers in front of this altar? Extemporaneous prayers as well? 
  8. Would it be appropriate to use a small bookshelf as my altar, with books, supplies, etc. on lower shelves? 
I hope these aren't silly questions, but I want to make sure that I'm showing due reverence and respect and doing all of this without any mistakes. 

Thanks in advance! 
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#2
I’m not aware of any actual rules pertaining to a home shrine.  As an aside, it is my understanding that what you’re proposing is actually considered a home shrine.  An altar is where a priest will say the Mass.  I'm sure someone here will correct me if I am wrong about that point. 

Quote:My assumption is that the altar crucifix should be the central focus of the altar and should, therefore, be the largest thing on the altar. Is this correct? I ordered quite a large one at 16" for this reason. 

At my prayer shrine, I have Our Lady of Guadalupe at the center, with some candles on opposite sides of her. 

Quote:My second question is whether I can/should have a statue of Christ on the altar as well as Christ already being present upon the crucifix. 

Again, as far as I am aware, there are no rules.  If you want an additional statue of Our Lord, that is fine.

Quote:My next question is whether the statue of the Blessed Virgin I buy should be the same height as the statue of Christ I buy, or should she be smaller? Or does it even matter? 

It doesn't matter.  Not in an objective sense.  If you like the symbolism behind Our Lord's statue being larger, that's fine.  If you want statues of equal height, nothing wrong with that, either.

Quote:Should my statue of the Blessed Virgin be taller than the statues of any Saints I purchase?

Only if that's your preference.  I also have an icon of St. Joan of Arc and St. Michael the Archangel on my prayer shrine.  They are smaller than Our Lady of Guadalupe but that wasn't a conscious choice.  I selected icons of St. Joan and St. Michael that I really liked and their sizes were just the standard from the company I purchased them from. 

Quote:I also assume that the bedroom would not be the best room in which to place my altar, as much that is private and/or undiginified goes on in there?

My prayer shrine is in my bedroom.  It is a natural place for it.  I rise in the morning and say my prayers there.  What kind of undignified things go on in a bedroom?

Quote:Would it be appropriate to put a small kneeler in front of my altar? 

Sure.  I don't have one but I have looked into getting one.  They seem kind of pricey but I'd like to have one, eventually.  Until then, a nice pillow suffices.

Quote:Would it be appropriate for me to pray the rosary and other prayers in front of this altar? Extemporaneous prayers as well? 

Yes and yes.  I usually light some frankincense and pray the rosary, or the Little Office of the BVM there.

Quote:Would it be appropriate to use a small bookshelf as my altar, with books, supplies, etc. on lower shelves? 

I keep a copy of the Bible and a rosary sitting on the altar, along with an incense holder.  My shrine is an old two tier bookshelf, and I keep appropriate spiritual works there.  I will sometimes read them while sitting in front of the shrine.  I also keep incense sticks, resin incense, charcoal, etc., all in the lower shelf.  It is a practical thing to do.
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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#3
Thanks so much, SeekerofChrist!
I knew that my ignorance would be on display, but I really wanted to make sure that I'm not accidentally doing anything disrespectful or incorrect. All of the information you shared is very much appreciated!
I continue to invite the input of others, as I would love to hear more about how others set up and make use of their home shrine.

(12-01-2020, 09:51 PM)SeekerofChrist Wrote: My prayer shrine is in my bedroom.  It is a natural place for it.  I rise in the morning and say my prayers there.  What kind of undignified things go on in a bedroom?

Well, it's just that I can't imagine maintaining a sense of reverence if I'm changing clothes after a shower, or clipping my toenails, etc. whilst standing near my home shrine. Or when my wife and I are being intimate.
But, again, I'm new to this whole thing so I may be way off base here.
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#4
Full disclosure, this priest is NO, but it's a decent-ish video on putting together a home altar.



Addendum: This priest apparently made a whole series on the Domestic Church.  I haven't watched them all, so no clue if there's any strange content. but there's weird content that you'd come to expect from a NO priest.  Some things I was actually surprised and saddened to hear a priest say...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...dIFk5PCUpz
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#5
(12-01-2020, 10:01 PM)Coti Tog Wrote: Thanks so much, SeekerofChrist!

You're quite welcome!

Quote:Well, it's just that I can't imagine maintaining a sense of reverence if I'm changing clothes after a shower, or clipping my toenails, etc. whilst standing near my home shrine. Or when my wife and I are being intimate.

But, again, I'm new to this whole thing so I may be way off base here.

Oh, I see.  Once I've finished my morning prayers, I don't usually return to my bedroom until late evening, at which point I'll say my evening prayers and go to bed.  I usually perform most of the daily tasks of living elsewhere.  I'm also not married.  I wouldn't think there's anything inherently wrong with keeping your shrine in your bedroom, all things considered, but like the rest your options here, it is probably just a matter of your preference.  If you're more comfortable with the shrine elsewhere, then that's a fine choice.  It might even be a better one, if you have (or end up blessed with) children.  You could lead your family in prayer around your family's home shrine.  That might be easier in a larger "communal" room in the house.
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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#6
(12-01-2020, 09:25 PM)Coti Tog Wrote:
  1. 5. I also assume that the bedroom would not be the best room in which to place my altar, as much that is private and/or undiginified goes on in there? 

If you are married and not committing sexual sins, then what is undignified about what goes on in there?

It is not pious to call undignified what is a part of God's created order, and what he designed as an objective good.

ETA: Reading the rest of the thread, it seems that wasn't your primary concern. I'm leaving the comment for other readers who may have had the same impression as I did. It is not good for inquirers to begin to think Catholicism has the same erroneous teachings on human sexuality as many Protestants do.
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#7
I have a shrine of sorts in my bedroom. It sits atop a rather tall dresser, so it is the highest point in the room. On the wall behind it is an old Crucifix that came from a room in a now secularized Hospital, once run by the Diocese. My mother's scapular is there as is a first class relic of St. Seton and a relic of St. Cabrini and it is where I store my Pixes. It is opposite from the bed, so when I pray, I can use the bed and floor as a kneeler.

I'd like to add that most every home had a special place where they displayed the family Bible and it was located in the living room. Mother Seton said, in the 19th Century, that people would have boxes in their homes where Satan would talk to them through. Curious, I've often felt, how these 'boxes', the first, radios and then TVs and computers, have supplanted the places of worship in our homes.
One should have an open mind; open enough that things get in, but not so open that everything falls out
Art Bell
  
I don't need a good memory, because I always tell the truth.
Jessie Ventura

Its no wonder truth is stranger than fiction.
Fiction has to make sense
Mark Twain

If history doesn't repeat itself, it sure does rhyme.
Mark Twain

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
C.S. Lewis

Political Correctness is Fascism pretending to be manners.
George Carlin

“In a time of deceit…truth is a revolutionary act”
George Orwell
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#8
(12-01-2020, 10:14 PM)Pandora Wrote: Full disclosure, this priest is NO, but it's a decent-ish video on putting together a home altar.

LOL I recognized this priest right away.  I met him at his parish fundraiser just before the whole covid lockdown started.  Seemed like a good man to me.
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#9
(12-01-2020, 10:01 PM)Coti Tog Wrote: Thanks so much, SeekerofChrist!
I knew that my ignorance would be on display, but I really wanted to make sure that I'm not accidentally doing anything disrespectful or incorrect. All of the information you shared is very much appreciated!
I continue to invite the input of others, as I would love to hear more about how others set up and make use of their home shrine.

(12-01-2020, 09:51 PM)SeekerofChrist Wrote: My prayer shrine is in my bedroom.  It is a natural place for it.  I rise in the morning and say my prayers there.  What kind of undignified things go on in a bedroom?

Well, it's just that I can't imagine maintaining a sense of reverence if I'm changing clothes after a shower, or clipping my toenails, etc. whilst standing near my home shrine. Or when my wife and I are being intimate.
But, again, I'm new to this whole thing so I may be way off base here.
Marriage and therefore sexual union is a Sacrament instituted by God.
The Word became flesh. I'm pretty sure he got dirty and sweat and bathed. He also had toenails. He also washed the no doubt smelly and filthy feet of 12 men. He's seen it all.
He'd much rather we be finicky about sinning where He can see us -- that is, everywhere
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#10
(12-02-2020, 10:21 PM)Matas Wrote:
(12-01-2020, 10:14 PM)Pandora Wrote: Full disclosure, this priest is NO, but it's a decent-ish video on putting together a home altar.

LOL I recognized this priest right away.  I met him at his parish fundraiser just before the whole covid lockdown started.  Seemed like a good man to me.

I was into it (I had his series playlist going in the background) until I heard him talking about "our Reformed brothers" and "continue this wonderful tradition from Martin Luther"... and smudging sage leaves to the Great Spirit... and ringing Hindu bells.  I was waiting for him to bring out a Koran and a pachamama...

I'm sure he's a nice man, he looks like Polish Santa.  He's in the business, however, of saving souls, not doling out warm fuzzies.  We can be joyful and part of a distinctive culture and must still proclaim the Truth.

That being said, he does have an awesome video about the how's and why's of putting together the Easter basket for blessing on Holy Saturday.  11/10 highly recommend - no buddhist drums used.
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