How Catholic Crafting Brings Me Closer to Christ

How Catholic Crafting Brings Me Closer to Christ 

Did you know you can buy lots of empty Altoids tins on eBay?

Why would anyone buy empty Altoids tins?! I LOVE ALTOIDS! But I would need to be eating them all day for weeks to get what I need.

OK, let’s rewind a bit. I’m not a particularly “crafty” person. Sure I’ve tried my hand over the years at scrapbooking, drawing, photography, even painting, but nothing became a passion or even a lasting hobby. I still enjoy making photo collages online and can do freehand calligraphy, but I’m not one to get lost in the craft store for an hour and emerge with a cartload full of projects like wreaths and birdhouses and flower arranging (Oh my!) But there was something in a June post on that whispered to my dormant inner craftiness.

I am totally and utterly in love with sacred art. It could be my zeal for devouring devotional art is rooted in my conversion (I entered the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil, 2012), and surely that I now understand what the images are depicting I go beyond the simple admiration of the aesthetic to the contemplation of the divine. Being as June was the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, posted instructions on how to make a DIY Sacred Heart Pocket Shrine. Written and expertly executed by Janalin Hood, this post included detailed step-by-step directions (and photos!) about how to go about making a tiny piece of sacred art all one’s own. I love Jesus, I love His Sacred Heart, and I loved idea of using my own two hands to craft a portable and pretty sacred space to gaze upon our LORD in private prayer. So without any experience and very few supplies, I dove in.

The process of arranging a space within which to create was satisfying in itself. I took over one of my boys’ schoolwork desks and set to work assembling the few supplies I had on hand. Once I printed out the pictures for the project, I began to pray. Of course I read the prayer included in the shrine, but that was merely a springboard for a wandering prayer journey that led me to praying about lots of different things in my life, and the decision not to keep the fruits of this current labor whatever the outcome, but to pass it on. So then I began to pray for the person for whom I intended to give the shrine as a gift once it was complete.   

I loved it. The process, the frustration, burning myself with the hot glue gun (OK, so I didn’t love that), carefully cutting and placing the pictures, mixing my paints to try to match the color in the directions—it was relaxing and centering. I’d taken it on as a kind of physical prayer, and like all prayer, it was imperfect but sincere. When my shrine was finished it was also imperfect, but filled with love. I took it to my priest to have it blessed and gave it to my bestie the next time we saw each other and she was moved to tears.

I have since made a dozen more pocket shrines, many following the same directions (with a few tweaks here and there) for the Sacred Heart but also some of my own designs. I’ve made ones for the Blessed Mother, St. Michael the Archangel, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I’m working on one now to the Holy Family. I immerse myself in the contemplative process of making each one and truly treasure the souls of whom I have gifted with one of my prayerfully created pocket shrines.

There are so many friends to pray for, and so many more shrines to create to the glory of God and to further the prayer life of myself and others.

Now you see why I need more empty Altoids tins? To fill them with love.  

Jewels Green is a mother to three sons, a Catholic convert, and a proud new member of the Michael’s Craft Store Rewards customer loyalty program.

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