Growing up, many of us had hideaways or special spots that felt enchanted: places like quiet treehouses, book-filled libraries, or shady park benches that helped us get away from the hustle and bustle and ignited a sense of wonder. The internet, cell phones, and social media certainly haven’t made our lives more peaceful… but what if I told you that technology can be used as a tool to make space for a sense of wonder?
Some of us might be familiar with the concept of a home altar: a space in the home that families transform into a vibrant place of prayer with uplifting religious art, relaxing candles, Bibles on bookstands, and other tools that give family members a safe haven to encounter God.
Physical home altars can include resources for prayer, tools for learning about faith, and items such as religious art that remind those who pass by of God’s presence in their life. Similarly, we can create digital home altars, building a go-to list of Catholic resources to help us live our lives more connected to God.
Here are a few suggestions you can use to build your own digital altar:
Set captivating images as your computer desktop/phone background, so that the first thing you see on your screen will call God to mind. My absolute favorite Catholic desktop images are from Cassie Pease Designs, which include powerful quotes from the Bible and saints, designed with breathtaking colors and images. Dynamic Catholic also provides beautiful phone wallpapers with uplifting messages.
Pray, work, or study to the tune of Pints With Aquinas’s “Catholic Lofi” (playlists of soothing music accompanied by animations). My favorite one features St. Thomas Aquinas scribbling with a quill pen and listening to his tunes on headphones, a bubbling glass of beer resting beside his laptop.
Make or join a virtual space for prayer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, my family formed a virtual prayer group with our homeschool group via Zoom. Having that community motivated my family and I to form a habit of praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet daily and brought us a lot of peace.
Listen to podcasts at home, or as you commute/do chores. The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) is absolutely life-changing. There are so many Catholic podcasts out there, it’s hard to keep count – and they cover every imaginable topic, from Lourdes miracles (Catholic Exchange’s CE Podcast), to apologetics (The Counsel of Trent), to human love and Theology of the Body (Ask Christopher West).
Pray with music. There is nothing more relaxing than praying along with Robert Kochis’s “The Complete Rosary,” which includes hymns sung after each decade, along with soothing background music played throughout on instruments such as the oboe and harp. DivineOffice.org provides a spectacular way to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with relaxing background music and talented musicians singing the hymns.
Build a digital bookshelf. Most books nowadays also come in e-book form, so you can stock up anything from classics like Augustine’s Confessions, Catholic fiction like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and inspiring poetry like Anthony Esolen’s The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord.
Immerse yourself in Catholic audiobooks and audio dramas. Don’t miss Augustine Institute’s stunning, cinematic Audio Dramas about the lives of saints, featuring prominent actors like Hayley Atwell, Derek Jacobi, and John Rhys-Davies.
Subscribe to Catholic blogs to receive prayers and articles. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention subscribing to Catholic Exchange for articles about anything from prayer, to Catholic book reviews, to food recipes!
Use the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website to follow the church’s liturgical calendar. This helpful resource will help you stay up-to-date every year.
Use technology as a call to prayer. Set a time on your calendar to pray and stick to it even when you don’t feel like praying. Think of it as a meet-up with your best friend – that’s how Jesus sees it!