main prayer altar

I’ve been collecting things for a long time to work into my main area where I pray if I’m at home and I’m alone. I pray in the living room with the kids, this is when it’s just me and God. I’ve had many good moments here, and I’ve worked hard to get it how I want it. I have other altars, I have a specific Marian shrine on the top of a bookshelf, and some others on top of other shelves. I’ve worked hard to surround myself with holy items and ideas, to help me to have Jesus on my mind and so that I will continue to walk in the light of Christ now that I’ve renounced the unholy.

Up the top in the frame are three of the saints I’m named for. On the left is St. Catherine of Siena, whose name is my middle name, St. Francis of Assisi is in the middle and of course I’ve gotten my last name from him, and I’ve been exploring his spirituality as a guide for my own. On the right is St. Clare of Assisi who is the last half of my first name. Underneath, on the left, is a modern icon of Mother Mary, and then of course Jesus in the middle, and a modern icon of St. Mary Magdalene (my patron and who the first half of my first name came from). Yes, Mary Magdalene is depicted with a nose piercing, which is totally cool. It makes her even more human.

Underneath Jesus and the saints, I’ve hung two rosaries, one made by me and one not, that I use in prayer almost nightly, my prayer rope that I use every day, a set of Anglican prayer beads I made and have written some prayers for, a stations of the cross chaplet that I intend to use weekly, and a St. Michael chaplet that I made and use a minimum of weekly but usually more. I have a small holy water font with Mary on it, and of course a crucifix. All of these are things that I need on hand.

On the altar itself I have my journal which is a book I write everything spiritual and psychological in. So stuff I learned in prayer, or studying spiritual things (right now is the sacred stigmata), or even things I learned in therapy, horror stories, and recovery work. I scribble my prayers in here before I ever put them on my computer, I keep track of my multiple personalities and their stories and wishes in there. I write a lot of meditations from praying the rosary. Sometimes I have the books I’m studying on this altar, and sometimes on my desk. Sometimes my Kindle is there because I have multiple prayer books on my Kindle. I also have a shelf right next to the altar with other prayer books. I used to collect tarot cards and crystals, it seems like I’ve replaced those with prayer books, rosaries, and icons.

The framed text says “keep calm and say Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” which is the Jesus prayer. The three candles symbolize the Light of Christ, and I use those during my longest prayer time of the day. In front of the candles is a small white bowl of rose buds and rose petals for Mary. The black book is the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book, which is my favorite and there are several parts where the paper is wrinkled and the words have faded because of my tears on the pages. The brown bin has random things I use all the time such as prayer cards of saints, and some extra holy water. In front of the bin is St. Michael, whose protection I ask for in the evenings. He’s in that spot because that’s next to my bed and so basically St. Michael is guarding me in my sleep.

I love this space, many sacred and holy moments have happened there. Many frustrating and angry moments have happened there also. I’ve sat, stood, knelt, and bowed in this place, speaking with Jesus and the saints. I’ve had Jesus speak to me in this space. I’ve cursed God out in this space, spoken to Mary and Mary Magdalene, sung hymns, studied mysticism. It’s my favorite space in my apartment, and I meet Jesus there. I meet Jesus in many other places and many other ways, of course, but this is the special space I’ve set aside for us to meet the most often.

Published by Mary-Clare St. Francis

Mary-Clare St. Francis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. Mary-Clare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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