My husband's cousin, a good friend of mine, became a realtor in the last couple of years. At one point, we were considering a move back to our home area, and she was showing me a couple of houses. The one I liked best was owned by an Italian-American, Catholic couple in their early nineties. That they were Italian was obvious, to me, because of the decorating scheme, the lace curtains and plastic table cover, the propriety of the kitchen, the double wall ovens, the family portrait of them from 45 years ago, and as cousin pointed out, the "Catholic pictures" all over the house.
Now this cousin happens to have been brought up Catholic but joined a Protestant church in her early 20's. As such, she is a wonderful example of charitable Christian virtue, but does not feel the Catholic church is quite a valid branch of Christianity. We have discussions about this from time to time, as you might imagine.
So when she made the comment about the "Catholic pictures", which portrayed, along with Jesus, the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph and a host of other saints, I stopped to reflect on the idea that one used to be able to tell immediately if they had entered a Catholic home, by what was on the walls.
The biggest giveaway would undoubtedly be a crucifix hanging somewhere. Then, you might see a statue of the BVM, or even Saint Anthony. Or holy cards stuck onto dresser mirrors. Maybe even a small holy water font hanging in a bedroom. In the neighborhood where I grew up, many people even had small shrines set up in the yard for Mary, surrounded by flowers and pretty stones.
Though this is still most often the case in the homes of elderly Catholic folks, it probably does not figure prominently in the homes of most Catholics today. Except in mine. And I'm flirting heavily with "elderly" now anyways, but most baby boomers would probably not have this kind of thing, either.
Pictured above is a painting of the Holy Family, which hangs in our foyer. Notice the palms stuck up on top of it, from last year's Palm Sunday mass. The rest of the house contains a couple of crucifixes, and the aforementioned statuary, holy cards, and even the little font.
In the back yard, my husband has built a fountain, and next to it, is Saint Anthony. Come to think of it, a lot of non-Catholics do allow Saint Francis into their back yards, he being a nature lover and all, and so he has become a cross-over yard decoration, much as someone like Faith Hill or Shania Twain have successfully made the crossover from country music to pop.
I guess it might seem kind of corny to have these things up, even to fellow Catholics. And maybe even offensive to others. I don't know, but I do know I find it comforting and inspiring to have these holy reminders around me. And I guess I am not ashamed to self-identify. Most importantly, though, is I feel that people who live in a home are influenced by what surrounds them in that home. And I pray that what surrounds my family and visitors would comfort, influence, remind and inspire them.
So, welcome to my home and may the love, peace and joy which the Holy Family enjoyed dwell in each home and heart today.