Liturgical living helps your family enjoy the traditions of the Catholic Church in your home.
My food-devouring tween holds his fork to his lips, about to take that first bite of deliciousness, when he stops in mid-air and looks up.
His youngest brother is screeching his name, pumping his folded, chubby little hands up and down as a reminder that we haven’t prayed yet.
As his stomach grumbles, my tween lowers his fork and folds his hands.
Would you like your kids to be so used to mealtime prayers it’s a habit? Maybe without the name-screeching, of course. These habits are formed when you live liturgically, creating a domestic church, which instills the importance of faith everyday, not just on Sundays.
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What is liturgical living in the home?
Liturgical living in the home is a way to keep your life focused on Christ by following the Church’s liturgical seasons at home. This can also be described as creating a domestic church.
Why would you want to live liturgically?
Liturgical living helps keep a focus on Christ in your home and on your mind. Additionally, when your children grow up in a home with this focus, they will know the importance of truly living the faith.
How can you begin liturgical living at home?
There are many things you can do to live liturgically. In fact, you may already be doing some of them. Start by thinking about what you already do in your home.
- Are there prayers you already say as a family?
- What types of sacraments do you celebrate?
- Do you have any Catholic decor?
Liturgical Living in Your Home Throughout the Year
You don’t have to wait until Christmas or Lent to live liturgically at home. Begin today by adding a new prayer at dinner, before bed, or say a family rosary. Look up the baptismal anniversaries of everyone and mark them on the calendar. Begin small, figure out what fits into your family, or what traditions you’d love to pass on to your children.
Need ideas? To start with a nice variety, choose one tip from each group below.
- Decor at Home
Praying with your children is a very simple way to live liturgically. Meal prayers are a great place to start. Our family says the “Bless Us O Lord” prayer before meals. Even our 2-year-old can follow along in his own way. He does his version of the Sign of the Cross (Father, Son, Father, Son, Father, Son) and folds his hands, with or without the name screeching to remind his siblings that it’s time to pray. 😉
Once your kids are used to praying at meal times, add in a Morning Intention and/or bedtime prayers. You can also pray for others (those living or who have died), which is a spiritual work of mercy.
Pray a daily Rosary together as a family. It’s easier to begin with a decade and then move onto a full Rosary. We made rosary hangers a few years ago and have our rosaries hanging from them in our learning area. My little one loves to grab his rosary so he can pray with us.
I have found that the best way to get kids excited about something is to include them. So make a big deal about your children’s sacraments.
- Baptism: Celebrate the baptismal anniversaries of all family members. Let the person of honor decide what to eat for dinner. Or give them a special plate. Anything to designate the day as something special.
- First Communion/Confirmation: When my kids received these sacraments, we celebrated with a party. You could also celebrate more simply with a special dinner.
- Reconciliation: Taking your children to confession often shows the importance of this sacrament. I try to take my kids every couple of months, but we definitely always go at least during Advent and Lent.
- Eucharist: Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation are absolute musts. It definitely can be tough taking small children to Mass, but it is so worth it when you see them start to understand and appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us!
To help my older children focus on the Mass, we discuss the readings in the car on the way there. Then many times we’ll relate the homily to our lives on the way home.
Additionally, each week at the grocery store we purchase extra nonperishable items for the needy. We bring them with us to Mass, and place them in the baskets our church has near the entrance. We are already going to the church, so we might as well practice one of the corporal works of mercy along the way.
Using the saints as role models in your home is an effective way to bring the Catholic faith into your home. The saints have such varied lives that any family can find one to show a devotion to.
Celebrate the Feast Days of Saints
Celebrating feast days of different saints is very easy to do. Again, use food! Food is such an easy way to incorporate anything you want to do because we all need to eat! Make sure you grab the free calendars at church each year…you’ll find the saints’ feast days on them!
On St. Patrick’s feast day, have an Irish stew for dinner. If making a special dinner is too much, just add a special dessert to celebrate. Or the simplest way to celebrate a feast day is to mention it at dinner.
You may be wondering what saints you should celebrate. With so many saints’ feast days throughout the year, there’s no way you could celebrate all of them.
I suggest that you begin by choosing saints that are special to your family. Perhaps there is a patron saint for your nationality. Or maybe you could choose saints that share your children’s names. You could start with just 2 or 3 saints to celebrate this year, and then can add more as you feel comfortable with those.
In our family, we hold a special devotion to Mary. Our school name is Our Lady of Fatima, so we remember her feast on May 13. Mary statues and a blue table runner decorate my prayer table during May and October. We eat grilled chicken and fettuccine Alfredo on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) as they are mostly white foods (to acknowledge that she was born without original sin).
Learn about the Saints through Books
It’s easy to learn about the saints by reading books about them. If you don’t homeschool (or even if you do), have your kids choose a saint book to read before bed. Or perhaps your family can do a read aloud together from a saint book.
If you are homeschooling, you can add a book about saints to your curriculum. I’ve done this two ways. First, I’ve assigned each child a different book to read on their own as part of their religion curriculum.
Additionally, I’ve also done a “Saint of the Day” with all of my children during our Group Time. Alternatively, learn about a “Saint of the Week” or focus on a “Saint of the Month” instead. The objective is to learn about saints’ lives and the virtues they demonstrate, so do what works best for your family without feeling overwhelmed.
4. Home Decor
If you are going to decorate your home anyway, why not add some religious items? I purposely have added religious statues and pictures throughout my home so that my children see it as part of their everyday life. Because our faith should be lived everyday, not just on Sundays at church.
Crucifixes throughout your house are a good reminder to you and your kids of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We have one in each bedroom, the family room and our living room/learning area. This crucifix is the one in all of my kids’ rooms, and is the one I now buy as a baptismal gift.
Just like we hang pictures of loved ones on our walls, you can hang pictures of Jesus, Mary & the saints as well. We have pictures of Jesus, Mary & the Holy Family hanging up in our family room. We also have this picture of the Last Supper hanging up in our kitchen. A framed poster of Our Lady of Fatima (our homeschool patroness) is hanging in our living room/learning area above our rosary hangers.
Lastly, a final way to display religious items in your home is a prayer table or similar type of prayer area. You could use a table or a shelf in the corner of a room.
In our home, we have a credenza on one wall in our family room that I have designated as a prayer table. First, I place a burlap table runner in green, white, or purple to follow the colors of the liturgical season. On that I add a table crucifix, our family Bible, and relevant statues for the month or liturgical season.
Holy Water is a sacramental that I like to keep near or on the prayer table. I fill this plastic bottle with holy water from church. My middle boys especially like me to bless them with holy water from time to time. The blessing helps calm them when they are fighting anxiety or don’t feel well.
Liturgical Living in Your Home Throughout the Church Seasons
Advent is a time of preparation, of waiting for the birth of Christ. We like to celebrate this liturgical season with an Advent wreath, Jesse tree, and confession.
An Advent wreath can be made with a premade wreath at a craft store where you just add candles, or you can make one yourself with pine needles. You’ll want to add 4 candles: 3 purple and 1 pink. You light the purple one across from the pink starting the first Sunday of Advent and then each week add another in this order: purple, pink, purple.
A Jesse tree is used to tell the stories in the Bible that lead to Jesus’ birth. Each day you read a story and hang an ornament representing that story. It’s a type of Advent calendar that counts down the days until Christmas.
With Advent being a time of preparation and penance, we always go to confession during this season. I find it a good way to remind my children that Christmas and all its celebrations aren’t here yet.
St. Nicholas’s feast day is December 6, which always falls during Advent. Many families celebrate by putting shoes out to be filled on the night of December 5. As a tradition carried down from my husband’s family, St. Nicholas fills our stockings.
I probably don’t need to add too much information here because Christmas seems to be a Church season that everyone already celebrates! The Christmas season is a time of feasting and celebrating.
Make sure you celebrate it at least until the Epiphany, or Feast of the Three Kings. Don’t take down your Christmas tree the day after Christmas and act like it’s over…it’s only just begun! Leave those nativity sets out too!
My family added in a fun tradition this year on Epiphany that I read about in the book, The Catholic All Year Compendium: a King’s Cake! To make this, you fill a bundt pan with cinnamon rolls from the refrigerated section of the grocery store and cook according to directions. Then before you add the icing, shove a tiny, plastic baby Jesus into a piece. Whoever finds baby Jesus in his/her piece gets to be King or Queen for the day!
Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at the Holy Triduum (the shortest liturgical season consisting of three days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). Lent is a great time to grow in your Catholic faith.
In my family, we try to begin with Mass on Ash Wednesday. It is not a holy day of obligation, but I find it a nice way to get in the frame of mind for penance. We also try to attend the Stations of the Cross at least once during Lent.
On Palm Sunday, we put all of the palm branches from Mass behind our crucifixes. If we haven’t had a chance to go to confession during Lent, we’ll go during Holy Week.
Depending on the year, we have also attended Mass on Holy Thursday to celebrate the Institution of the Eucharist. Some years we attend the Good Friday service. Again, that always depends on the year. We haven’t be able to attend as much since my youngest was born because his nap and bedtime are often during the times offered these two days.
Easter is a season of great celebration in the Catholic Church. One of these days, I’d love to attend an Easter Vigil, but for now my family attends Mass on Easter morning. After Mass, we check out the goodies left in our Easter baskets. Then we celebrate with extended family and hold an Easter egg hunt. All of the purple and simplicity from Lent is removed on Holy Saturday and in its place is colorful spring decor.
5. Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time in the Church includes the times that fall outside of the above-mentioned seasons. There are a few weeks of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent, but most of the time is after Easter through Advent.
Learning about different saints is a good way to keep a focus on the faith in your home during Ordinary Time. In fact, All Saints’ Day, which is a Holy Day of Obligation, falls during this season.
Creating your domestic church will inspire you to live liturgically throughout the year. Visual reminders of your faith keep Jesus on your mind daily. Hearing stories of those who exemplify virtuous lives motivate us to be moral and just. Living liturgically will become such a habit that you too can have your name screeched by your toddler if you dare take a bite of dinner before praying!
What traditions for living liturgically do your family celebrate? Please share in the comments!