Sunday, August 2, 2020

Chapel Tour

I have not posted about our Chapel in a while.  We have a few new icons.  Towards the beginning of the tour is an Icon of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan.  Below Rublev's Trinity and next to the Icon of the Pantocrator is a new one of the Crucifixion.  Finally, over with our patron Saints (near the green lantern) is one of the 12 Apostles with  Jesus.  The new ones came from an estate sale of Archimandrite Frank Milienewicz, so I am not sure where they originally came from.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Family Altar

We have seen a bit of an evolution in the focal point of our Chapel, our family altar.  I would say we are 75% - 80% finished.  I still want to build a gradine, shelf, in the back 

In the beginning, when we started using this room as a chapel, we used the buffet and a fairly simple piece of gold fabric to cover the top.

This was the setup we had when we had friends pass through and we had Mass celebrated in our home.  Father used a Greek corporal, but I always figured we could do better than a buffet.

In late 2019 we acquired an old rectory altar that was brought from Michigan for a group of friars, but then became orphaned.  It does not have an altar stone and had doors when we got it.

I removed the handles and the old feet so that I could raise the whole altar.

We raised the altar to be more in line with St. Charles Borromeo’s instructions on ecclesiastical design.  I painted the bottom with a tile design from Augustus Pugin.

We are still debating whether or not we will remove the doors altogether for the two days out of the year that it is completely exposed, or leave it the way it is.

Right around the beginning of Lent, we got an antependium from Altarations along with a mounting cover.

A friend of ours made us two altar linens one that is just the size of the top of the altar and has lace along the long edge, and the other goes all the way to the ground with lace along the edge.

The linen fabric and lace came from Communion Linens, and I can heartily recommend them.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Easter Vigil 2020

Easter Vigil 2020 will be one for the books. Never would have imagined we would celebrate it remotely in our home chapel.  While certainly not the same as being in Church, we have tried to make the best of a difficult time.  

As we have had to experience Sundays without going to Mass, I have had plenty of time to reflect on how much structure Mass gives our Sundays.  We have had to find new ways to keep the Sabbath holy.  While we are separated, for a time, from most of the Sacraments, we still have our home chapel and our sacramentals.  Before the pandemic, we used our chapel for Liturgy of the Hours and personal prayer.  I could never have foreseen this new need we have of sacred space.  I am grateful to be surrounded by images of our Lord and His Saints, to sit in the glow of our blessed candles, and listen to the voices of my children singing along and responding to our call to prayer.  This time together means more than anything, these days.

While we can not participate in Mass, I am appreciative of the televised options; it seems to add a sense of sacred time to the day.  There is a comfort in seeing and hearing something that is so familiar, and yet feels so distant.

As it were, it was a nice way to begin the Easter season, even if it feels like we are still in a type of lent.  

Khristós voskrése! Voístinu voskrése!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Holy Saturday 2020

Holy Saturday is always like a mini Lent for us.  In the way we spiritually prepare for Easter all Lent, we prepare for Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.  Every year, I think I will most of the Paschal Candle before Holy Saturday, but it never really works that way.

We do MAKE the candle ahead of time so that it can be blessed at Candlemas in February.  The gold we use is blessed as part of the Epiphany blessing.

We started making a Paschal Candle for Easter when our oldest was little.  Back then I freehanded everything and used a nail to carve the candle.

 For a 3 x 9 inch candle I use a 4x6 image printed on sticker paper.

I use a craft knife to cut the pattern into the wax.

Then, I trench out the wax with one of the wax carving tools.

The kids use tempera paint to cover the areas that are carved.

We then wipe off the excess.

Some fine work.

To get the gold leaf to stick well, I use two types of gesso.  One of them is to prepare the surface of the wax, the other is to build up a sandable surface.

While the gesso was drying we worked on the chapel.

We use a fitted cover over the altar to attach the antependium.

Chapel set up for Easter Vigil.

The gesso gets sanded down and gold size gets applied.

Gold applied.

Everyone got candles this year...

Friday, April 10, 2020


Tenebrae is a haunting and unique liturgy in the Church year.  It is a combination of the Office of Readings and Morning prayer.  During the recitation of Psalms, readings, canticles, responsories, and intercessions, candles are extinguished from the Tenebrae candle hearse, a candelabra made specifically for the occasion.


Born from a time when Churches were lit by candlelight, and the Triduum Services took place in the day time, before electric lights.  Tenebrae took place at night, often ending around midnight.  Throughout the service, everyone was cast into darkness.

Tenebrae factae sunt, Darkness fell over earth, was, traditionally, the eighth responsory for Holy Week and the fifth responsory of Matins for Good Friday.

Towards the end of the service, the last candle would be placed behind a sheet, to represent Christ going into the tomb, and then extinguished.  At that time, a loud ruckus would be made. The crotalus is a fairly traditional method for this noise.  The crotalus is also used to replace bells during the Easter Triduum.  I have seen two versions.  One is more of a gavel on a hinge, the other more of a rachet noisemaker.


This year seems a perfect time to celebrate Tenebrae at home to commemorate Good Friday.  While we do not have a Tenebrae candle hearse, we arranged the candles on the altar in an appropriate fashion.

There are six of us, and six psalms (three for the Office of Readings, three for Morning Prayer) so each person will get to extinguish a candle after a psalm.  At the end, I'll take the Easter candle from last year into the adjoining room, and extinguish it.  The kids will then go to bed in silence.

While our home celebration does not use the same responsories and rubrics that would have been used in antiquity, it is an opportunity to descend into the tomb and help all of us participate more fully in the mysteries of the Easter Triduum.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Candlemas 2020

Candlemas is easily one of my favorite holidays of the Church year.  This year was delightful.  I am afraid I only have pictures of some of the candles and not all the pageantry.  This year, the Feast of the Presentation was also a Sunday and was the Sunday that we celebrate the consecrated religious of our Dioceses.  The Bishop blessed the candles and led a candlelit procession with all the religious men and women being honored this year.  It was wonderful

For our part, I have gotten into the habit of only making the candles we need at a time, and getting them blessed, as needed.  For Candlemas, I made sure to make our Advent candles and our Easter candle for this year.  

We even got out the fancy self-fitting mold maker to fix the ends so they fit our advent wreath a little better.

Infant of Prague

We have talked about our devotion to the Infant of Prague before, but we have a bit of an update.  Over the last few months, Hannah's mother has made a few new cloaks and we crowned him Christmas Eve.  He also received a white gold Ex Voto heart after our youngest son's baptism.

The velvet and trim were from Hobby Lobby and the lining is silk from Dharma Trading Posts.  

Such a royal purple, It is a shame we don't have better lighting overhead, the purple is sooo dark.

I must admit, I rarely miss an opportunity to celebrate a Martyr's feast day.  They deserve the celebration, and I get to use my favorite cloak for the Infant.

We were amazed at how big the crown was.  We bought it from the shop at Our Lady of Victories in Prague, where the Infant is enshrined, so we knew it was the right one for the size statue we have.

Ultimately, it turned out very well, and we were glad to be able to give the Infant a fitting crown.

For more information, novenas and prayers see our earlier post: