Christian homes should reflect God's presence, monk teaches

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According to Benedictine Father Eduardo Lopez Tello, an expert in architecture and liturgical art, a few small details are enough to make any home a place to encounter God.

In an interview with EWTN News on May 3, Father Tello said objects such as the Bible, a crucifix or statues of the saints can help to create a special place of prayer in the home.

“Structurally all houses are the same, which doesn’t mean that the home of a Christian cannot convey or show God’s presence,” he said.

“I always point to the example of the monastic cells or those of the desert monks, who reserve a part of their room for the mystery of God, a special space where God is present through the decorations, the icons, the Bible and other decorative elements that remind us that that part of the house transmits God’s presence.”

Fr. Tello is professor at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of the University of St. Anselm, where he teaches courses on Architecture and Liturgical Art.

“In our faith,” he explained, “we propose the visibility of the invisible, God became man, and from that moment, all things visible can show us God’s presence. That is what we try to make others see, that with visible, formal and structural elements one can experience God.”
Fr. Tello recommended the crucifix, which he called the “greatest sign of our faith,” as well as sacred images, particularly those depicting “the mysteries of redemption and salvation, such as Christmas, Easter or Pentecost.”

Exterior images of these central mysteries can help “bring about interior transformation in us,” he said.

It is also important to have images of the saints, the priest continued, because “they are examples of living the Gospel in an exceptional way.” And among all the saints, “the Mother of God stands out, for the special role she has in all homes.”

Another essential element in the Christian home should be the Bible, because “it is the book that transmits to us the message of how God comes to us at every instant of our lives,” Fr. Tello said.

While many different buildings can bring us closer to God, he continued, nothing brings us more into communion with God than the church.

“The atmosphere of the church is a place of privilege for Christians, because is the place of the Sacrament, the place where we encounter the very presence of God’s mystery,” he explained. 

For this reason, it is so important that architects “know the faith well when the time comes to design both their structural as well as their celebrative elements,” he said.

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