October 7, 2021
|A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the prayer garden of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Mineral Wells in this 2019 file photo. (NTC/Ben Torres)
Beautiful churches guide our gaze towards the majesty of God. Cozy, quiet chapels help us feel enveloped by Him. Our surroundings greatly affect our attention and direction in prayer — even Christ chose to pray alone in a garden. From sprawling ornamented chancels to the grave boughs of olive trees, our prayer is shaped by where it takes place.
We can bring these beautiful places of contemplation into our own homes, too. At-home Marian gardens are peaceful, familiar places in which we can connect with God and the Blessed Virgin.
Opportunities for prayer and peace aren’t only for those with large backyards. With a little creativity, anyone can create a Marian garden, even inside their own home! Here are a few simple ideas for you to create your sacred space.
Start with Mary, of course! Make sure Mary serves as the focus in your layout. You may be able to purchase a statue at a local garden store. Home Depot sells several variations: granite colored, white finish, or painted varieties. But don’t limit yourself to a 3D depiction of the Blessed Virgin. Use what works for you, your family, and your space. You can even use something as simple as a laminated holy card, as long as you can secure it to a wall, fence, or other object in your garden. If you would like your children to be involved, have them paint her portrait on a rock (make sure you seal any painted rocks with a few coats of Mod Podge Outdoors to help the designs last longer).
If you have an indoor space, a wonderful option is to purchase Marian art and place it on the wall of your new “garden.” Popular Catholic artists such as SantaClaraDesign, ClassicCatholic, and TheArtofMariaLang sell their homemade pieces through Etsy — a perfect opportunity to support independent Catholic businesses. If you have children who want to be involved in this project, you could have them color a printable coloring sheet of Mary.
|In this 2018 file photo, Mary stands among the flowers and plants of the St. John Paul II University Parish in Denton. (NTC/Katie Hoffman)|
Flowers make the garden! In Marian tradition, several flowers have come to represent our Blessed Mother. Of course, we also need to think about what would grow best in North Texas soil. Visit a local plant nursery to find all sorts of plants of various colors, smells, shapes, and more. Ask a clerk or check the plant’s tags to determine its mature size and how much sun it will require to make sure the flowers you’d like will work in your specific space. Buy soil and compost so that water is retained and the plants can grow to be as healthy as possible. Here are a few options:
Make sure your space is a comfortable place of rest and prayer. Add a comfy chair or a kneeler if you’re building an indoor prayer corner. For an outdoor Marian shrine, add a nice garden bench. It’s not disrespectful to pray in comfort. I’ve found through my own prayer that while sacrifice and discomfort are important, sometimes we experience God’s love and come to know Mary’s maternal mantle best when we can experience physical rest.
Be creative! Add things that are meaningful to you. If you’re inside, add shelves for plants, prayer cards, art, or rosaries. Place a few candles and indoor plants around your space and play relaxing sacred music while you pray. If you want to use your garden to read, consider locating it near a bookshelf that holds your Bible, prayer books, or devotional reading. Try using incense — frankincense and myrrh are the two most popular scents used in Catholic churches. If you’re outside, paint rocks and set them around the garden. Visit a local plant nursery for decorations. You can use steppingstones to represent different Mysteries of the Rosary.
We hope you are inspired by these ideas for your own prayer space. October, the month of the Holy Rosary, is a great time to get started on creating your own Marian garden and grow closer to Jesus through Mary.
Beautiful churches guide our gaze towards the majesty of God.