Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 16 June |
Saint of the Day: St. Benno of Meissen
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Make your heart — and your home — his Altar of Repose

Maundy Thursday celebration at the Church of San Marone in Rome on March 29, 2028.

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Annabelle Moseley - published on 03/27/24

We are called to adore Christ at church … but at some point we do have to return home. Here's a way to keep the consolation of Gethsemane present.

On Holy Thursday, we recall not only the Institution of the Eucharist, but also the Agony in the Garden. There in Gethsemane where His friends fall asleep, the words of Our Lord, spoken to them, are also addressed to each of us: “Could you not watch with me one hour?” (MT 26:40) And so, on Holy Thursday, as we thank Our Lord for the gift of the Eucharist, we must also set aside time to console Him, to “watch and pray” with Him in Gethsemane, as He requests.

This is why after Holy Thursday Mass, the priest brings the Eucharist to an Altar of Repose, to replicate Gethsemane and give the faithful a chance to spend some time “watching and praying” with Jesus. And indeed, we respond to this call with a resounding yes, every time we attend Eucharistic Adoration and at every Altar of Repose.

Take the altar home

But did you know that once you go back home, you can take the devotion with you and keep it going? There is a way to follow the request of Our Lord to spend one hour watching and praying with Him right in your very own home!

St. Margaret Mary, who is famous for giving the Church many ways to honor the Sacred Heart including the First Friday devotions, was asked by Our Lord in the 17th century to remember Gethsemane in a special way on Thursday nights.

Grotto of Gethsemane

He said, “Here (in Gethsemane) I suffered inwardly more than in the rest of my Passion because I was totally alone, abandoned by heaven and earth, burdened with the sins of mankind … In order for you to be united with me, in the humble prayer that I presented to my Father in the midst of all that anguish, you will arise between eleven o’clock and midnight … for one hour with me.” 

We are called to adore Christ at church … but at some point we do have to return home. Since most of us don’t live in a church or a rectory, we are called once we are home to keep the Thursday night hour of prayer to Our Lord in Gethsemane going in a special way in our domestic church … one beautiful way is by praying the at-home Holy Hour.

The hour requested by Our Lord, from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m., provides special graces, as it is considered the final hour Our Lord was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and so it is a way to console Him through the hour that culminated in the betraying kiss of Judas. But, if you can’t pray at that exact time, Our Lord will accept any hour you set aside for Him with love.

This Holy Thursday is the perfect time to kick off a new and zealous devotion to Our Lord in Gethsemane. After all, Our Lord asked for this time from us specifically on Thursdays … what better time to begin than Holy Thursday? Let this be the year we make each of our homes and hearts His Altar of Repose! How can we do this?

How to do it

In anticipation for Holy Thursday night, you can set up an altar honoring Our Lord right in your own home. Then, when you pray your at-home Holy Hour, you will feel even more deeply that you have prepared a space lovingly dedicated to watch and pray with Jesus. Imagine how pleased Our Lord will be as He watches you set this up! It is truly a great way to make the Triduum come alive in your home.

Here are a few ways you can set up your altar. If possible, place a white or purple cloth or table runner or lace to adorn your altar. Then, prominently feature an image of Our Lord. Great choices for the image include a depiction of Our Lord in Gethsemane, or a picture or statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To make this altar feel more like an Altar of Repose, adorn it with fresh flowers (to represent the Garden of Gethsemane), candlelight (if you’re concerned for safety, use LED candles!) and other sacramentals such as a font or bottle of holy water and your favorite rosary.

Be sure this altar has a comfortable place to sit or kneel nearby, so you will feel like spending at least an hour in this holy space, carving out time to console Our Lord in His Agony in the Garden, and joining your heart to His.

Once you have your prayer space all set, how do you pray the at-home Holy Hour?

A guided hour

One way is signing up to receive this free guided Holy Hour for Holy Thursday that you can pray right in your own home. You can also sign up for the “First Thursday of the Month” club to receive, every First Thursday of each month, guided Holy Hours for your month. Otherwise, you can use the time for prayer in the way that seems best to you.

Setting aside this time to lavish Our Lord with love right at home brings enormous graces, as that spirit of watching and praying will pervade the very place where you live. Whatever you are going through right now, you can offer it up to Him in Gethsemane. As you console Him, He will console you, since He is never outdone in generosity. 

On Holy Thursday, we remember that Our Lord calls us to “watch and pray” that we “might not be put to the test.” So what are we waiting for?

EucharistFamilyHoly WeekSaints
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.