I had a handyman in my home recently to remodel my kitchen. As he came into my house that very first time, he saw the holy water font by the front door, the crucifix hanging in the foyer and the image of Our Lady that hangs in my dining room.
“I can tell I am in a Catholic home,” this worker – who also happened to be Catholic – said. He reached inside his shirt and showed me the brown scapular he wears around his neck and he told me that he was a seminarian in his native country who determined that a religious vocation was not for him. He told me that he sometimes recites the rosary to himself as he works.
Recitation of the rosary, religious articles in our home and even prayers to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Eucharistic processions and other practices particular to the Catholic Church are “a means of permeating everyday life with prayer to God,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The bishops note the importance of traditional Catholic devotions in its document, Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers.
“Properly used, popular devotional practices do not replace the liturgical life of the Church; rather, they extend it into daily life,” the bishops said in their document. Examples of Catholic devotional practices addressed by the bishops include pilgrimages, novenas, processions and celebrations in honor of Mary and the other saints, the rosary, the Angelus, the Stations of the Cross, the veneration of relics, and the use of sacramentals, such as scapulars, holy water, blessed items and the like.
The bishops stressed that Mass is “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed the font from which all her power flows.” However, they note “spiritual life is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy… The faithful have always used a variety of practices as a means of permeating everyday life with prayer to God.”
Devotional practices help us focus on God and His saints, and they remind us of Jesus’s promise to remain with us to the end of time. These practices help us live prayerful lives.
In my case, these holy items and the traditional Catholic practices that I find comfort in bring me closer to God and help me recognize that Jesus is with me in the ups and downs of day-to-day living.
I have to admit that I was happy the workman recognized my home as “a Catholic home.” I would hope that everyone who crosses my threshold would recognize that fact.
Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers is available online at: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/popular-devotional-practices-basic-questions-and-answers.cfm