In one of his many homilies on marriage, Saint Josemaria Escriva wrote, “Every Christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep-rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.”
Even the most mundane daily practices, like brushing your teeth together, feel infused with newness and promise during the first months of married life. In these small matters, as well as larger ones, foundational habits and routines are formed. Because it’s such a formational period, the start of your marriage is both an easy and exciting time to choose habits that facilitate a shared prayer routine.
An oratory is a place of worship not attached to a parish. Oratories are often inhabited by religious orders, but it’s not just our brothers and sisters in religious life who have the opportunity to formally worship in this way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends creating a corner for contemplation and worship in the home, a space for a “little oratory” in family life.
Whether or not your first home has room to accommodate an entire corner for prayer, the effort of designating a space for contemplation--alone and with your spouse--pays dividends in beauty and consistency in your prayer life. Here, four tips for designing and enjoying a prayer space in your home.
Choose a space.
At minimum, one to two chairs and a small table are effective starting materials for a prayer space. If your space is more limited than a corner of your living room allows, incorporating your religious items and prayer materials into a vignette on your coffee table or choosing a seated spot (even the kitchen table) in view of a crucifix or piece of religious art are worthy alternatives.
Set the scene.
Beauty inspires worship and reverence, drawing our attention out of the everyday and toward the sacred. Fill your space with a crucifix, images or icons of the saints, religious statues, a candle, and flowers or greenery.
Store your prayer resources close at hand.
Make use of a nearby drawer, basket, shelf, or table to stash or display the items you use for prayer: journals, Rosaries, spiritual reading, musical instruments, and/or devotionals.
Create a routine.
Choose a time of day, perhaps over coffee in the morning or before beginning your evening leisure activities, to be with your spouse in your prayer space. You might pray individually in silence, do a decade or more of the Rosary together, read spiritual books together or on your own for a designated time, or pray spontaneously and aloud.
Remember that establishing a prayer routine that feels comfortable, fruitful, and well-suited to your lifestyle and personalities can take time, and that’s alright! Learning the subtleties of your spouse’s spirituality is a beautiful fruit of a holy relationship, one that never reaches a point of perfect clarity this side of heaven--it’s in the learning, and the constant unveiling of who you are, before the Lord, that joy resides.
And if you aren’t a newlywed, but have been married for longer yet have never incorporated a prayer space into your routine, it’s never inopportune to begin. We love hearing about your prayer rituals with your husband and the ways you invite the Father into your home. Be sure to share about your prayer spaces and routines in the comments and on our social media!