Creating and Maintaining
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:
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?
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.
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
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 example: they see another
doing something remarkable and good — and are deeply impressed.
They want to be like them!
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.
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
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.
you pray, make the Sign of the Cross slowly and reverently —
the 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.
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 Catholic
Crucifix should be placed over the inside entrance door of your
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 us:
and we will send you a free CD.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.”)
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?
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”).
should have a small container of Consecrated Salt. Holy Water
and Consecrated Salt protect your house from the evil one.
Rosary for each family member
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.
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.
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
If you 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 Garden
should have a Holy Bible (the Catholic Douay-Rheims version only)
and it should be both in Latin and English.
to celebrating birthdays, Catholics should always also celebrate
the day of their Baptism.
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.
can keep a library of Catholic videos. Among these we would
Bells of Saint Mary’s
Song of Bernadette
Passion (Mel Gibson)
Scarlet and the Black
of Nazareth (the television mini-series)
Stein — the Seventh Chamber
and the Gladiator
Ninth Day (Volker Schlonorff)
Prefer Heaven (Saint Philip Neri)
Pio — Miracle ManThe Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
Man for All Seasons
a Wonderful Life
(Richard Burton, 1964)
Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
Knows, Mr. Allison
With Dirty Faces (1938)
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 traditions.
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.
Boston Catholic Journal
Boston Catholic Journal
Printable PDF Version