a Traditional Catholic Home
Traditions, Customs, and Practices
you wish to create and maintain a genuinely Catholic home,
we offer a few suggestions: The first two may surprise you:
There should be no profanity in the
house — and this applies
as much to women as to men! None, absolutely none of the ugly, shameful
words you hear as much on television as you do on the streets. St.
John Chrysostom called the Catholic home “a church in miniature.”
Would you speak that way in Church?
The husband and wife should never
argue in front of the children!
This is, as it were, the first “schism” that your children will
encounter. It is as traumatic to the children as it has been in
the Church. Disagreement should be polite. Arguments seldom are.
They are often venomous, vindictive, self-righteous, and for all
purposes verge on malice and hatred! This is the devil’s wedge in
the family: disunity, animus, malice. Take your arguments elsewhere
and far from the children! Remember that Christ’s relationship to
His Church is spoken of as that between the Groom and the Bride
(the Father and the Mother). “Husbands, love your wives, just as
Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians
5:25) How did He do that? He died for the Church. You must die to
yourself for your wife and your wife should die to herself for her
husband — out of love for each other and for the sake of the children.
Nothing is more frightening to a child
than to witness a loud, ugly, accusative, and vindictive argument
between husband and wife, wife and husband!
In an unarticulated way they ask, “Is this how God is? Is this how
Mary is?” — and then the terrible response to the ugly argument
in every child: I am frightened!” Hold your tongue! Reign in the
passion of anger! The storm will pass: spare your children the clap
of thunder! To whom can they run without being brought into the
division? Will you divide your children among yourselves — set daughter
against father, son against mother when they seek shelter from the
storm? If you are unwilling (you are never “unable”) to do this,
then abandon any idea creating a genuinely Catholic home. The Cornerstone
is Christ, and Christ is God, and God is Love. Love cannot co-exist
You, as a father, will have the most
important role in setting the example for your children,
especially your sons. If your sons see that Dad is a manly Catholic,
unafraid and unashamed to express his Catholic Faith in the home
and even, when called for, in public discourse, they in turn will
be very likely to follow your example. People — even children —
are not converted through intellectual arguments … but by
they see another doing something remarkable and good — and are deeply
impressed. They want to be like them!
This is especially true of what children
observe in your behavior when they know that you do not see them
watching you. We cannot
stress the importance of this. A child unexpectedly opening his
father’s bedroom or office door at home and finding father in prayer
on his knees will say more to the child than years of lectures on
the importance of praying. A mother found lying in bed or sitting
in a chair praying the Rosary when she thought the children were
out a play will strike them more forcefully by the example she sets
than by her words encouraging them to pray the Rosary.
In you, the father, they will first
encounter Christ … or not. In your wife they will see Mary … or
not. They will understand
the Fatherhood of God (which He has participated to you) and the
Motherhood of Mary (which is the exemplar for perfect motherhood)
through each of you. Please read a short story submitted to us at
Say grace before every meal — in the
house or at a restaurant:
if you are ashamed to acknowledge God … they will be, too. If you
have that strength, they will acquire it, too.
When you pray, make the Sign of the
Cross slowly and reverently
— the quick (lest, forbid, anyone see it!) half-hearted, rote, and
careless motion of your hands say much about what is truly in your
heart: if you teach them reverence by example … they will become
reverent. If you show them that it is no cause for shame to make
the Sign of the Cross in public at a restaurant … they will not
be ashamed … of Christ. Children are incredibly perceptive! They
can see through any short-cut you devise and will recognize insincerity.
There should be a Crucifix in every
room of the house (not
the silly “Children’s Crucifixes” of pop culture that do not depict
Christ crucified) and beautiful pictures of Mary and statues of
Saints special to you. They need not be overwhelming in number or
size; remember that you are not creating a monastery, but a devout
A Crucifix should be placed over the
inside entrance door of your home.
Pray with your children every night
before bed — again,
prayerfully, not quickly as though simply to “get it over with”.
The Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory be — and teach them when
they are old enough (which is fairly young) to say them in Latin
also. If you need to learn these prayers in English and Latin, contact
and we will send you a free CD.
Always bless each of your children
at bedtime: it is your
right as a father, and your duty as a Catholic. One such prayer
is the following:
May the blessing of Almighty God be with
you (name the child):
The Father ✝ (Making the Sign of the Cross over them)
And the Son ✝ (a second time Making the Sign of the Cross over them)
And the Holy Ghost ✝ (a third time Making the Sign of the Cross over
May the peace of Jesus Christ be in your mind ✝ (trace the Sign of the
Cross with your thumb over their forehead)
And the love and praise of God the Father be on your lips ✝ (trace the
Sign of the Cross with your thumb over their lips)
And may the joy of the Holy Ghost be in your heart ✝ (trace the Sign
of the Cross with your thumb over their hearts)
May you always walk in the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Francis and Saint Clare (or whichever
Saints are dear to you)
And all God’s Holy Angels, Saints, and Martyrs
Now and all the days of your life
Forever and ever.
Go to Mass as a family every Sunday
(a Tridentine Latin Mass whenever possible —
this is very important given the lack of reverence and the inane
homilies prevalent in nearly all “Novus Ordo” Churches and offer
yourselves and your children up to God in union with the Sacrifice
of Jesus Christ at every Mass (uttering, “I die with Thee, O Christ
on Calvary!” as Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen exhorted us).
Your house should be blessed by a
priest (there are specific
prayers for a house, each room, and even your car!) There is a formulary
for this that a priest should have (and a Traditional priest will have one), or lacking one, his blessing in his own words.
There should be a font of Holy Water
attached to the wall on the right of the front door to the house,
and beside the door of every bedroom.
You can replenish it at any Catholic Church which always has a container
for dispensing Holy Water into small vessels. You should use it
each time you enter the house or bedroom and leave it, signing yourself
in the Name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and
if you wish, followed by: “Asperges me Domine”
(From the Antiphon: Asperges me,
Domine, hyssopo et mundabor, Lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.”
(Thou wilt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop and I shall be cleansed;
Thou wilt wash me, and I shall be washed whiter than snow. Pity
me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.”)
Whenever you pass a Crucifix in the
house, you should bow your head
and utter the short prayer, “Gloria tibi,
Domine” (Glory to You, Lord!”), and if it is easily in
reach you should kiss it. Are you ever in such a hurry that you
cannot spare God literally two seconds?
Whenever you leave the house
to go to work or shopping or for any length of time, you should
sign yourself in the Name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy
Ghost, saying: “Deo fidens proficio”
(“Trusting to God I go forward”).
You should have a small container
of Consecrated Salt. Holy
Water and Consecrated Salt protect your house from the evil one.
A Rosary for each family member
Pray the Rosary together as a family.
Set apart a time of the day or night for this. After Rosary, each
family member should mention a special intention and the family
should respond, “Amen”. It is a time to unite your family in prayer
under the protective veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Go to Confession as a family.
None of us are free from sin, especially venial sins, and so the
need for weekly or at least monthly Confession is for all.
You should have a copy of Butler’s
Lives of the Saints, and
every family member should be encouraged to read one of the lives
of the Saints each week. They are typically brief and very inspiring.
You can get used copies for under a dollar at
as of this writing. You can also download it as a free PDF file
are fortunate enough to own your own home and have an area in the
yard available, create a Mary Shrine. It need not be a large
area, but sufficient for a statue of the Blessed Mother, a Crucifix,
and perhaps some small statues of Angels and Saints. Remember that
it will be place for prayer and reflection and made beautiful in
your own way that is befitting the Mother of God. You can have a
bench there or simply bring a chair. Pictured below is a more elaborate
one, but the simplest statue and smallest Crucifix in the most humble
arrangement is as pleasing to God and our Holy Mother Mary as the
grandest one possible. It should be blessed by a priest.
A Simple Mary Garden
A More Elaborate Mary
You should have a Holy Bible (the
Catholic Douay-Rheims version only) and it should be both in Latin
In addition to celebrating birthdays,
Catholics should always also celebrate the day of their Baptism.
A careful record should be kept with
the names, dates, priests and bishops who conferred the Sacraments
on your family members:
Baptism, First Penance, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage
or Ordination or Profession of Vows, and Extreme Unction (Last Rites).
Also the dates of each of your Patron Saints. These should become
special days for you throughout the year. There is much more to
celebrate in a Catholic home than a secular home.
You can keep a library of Catholic
videos. Among these we
The Bells of Saint Mary’s
Going my Way
The Song of Bernadette
The Ten Commandments
The Passion (Mel Gibson)
Miracle of Marcellino
The Scarlet and the Black
Jesus of Nazareth (the television
For Greater Glory
Thérèse (Leonardo Defilippis)
Edith Stein — the Seventh Chamber
Demetrius and the Gladiator
The Ninth Day (Volker Schlonorff)
I Prefer Heaven (Saint Philip
Padre Pio — Miracle Man
The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S.
A Man for All Seasons
It’s a Wonderful Life
Beckett (Richard Burton, 1964)
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
Quo Vadis (1951)
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Tolkien)
We hope that these few suggestions
are useful to you in both keeping your home — and your children
— for Christ through His Holy Catholic Church with its beautiful
See the following links for more resources, especially if you wish
to create a home altar (no you will not be celebrating Mass there,
nor keeping the Holy Eucharist in a Tabernacle, although it can
be used by a Catholic priest in necessity.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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