Better Question. How does YOUR religion, crate sacred space. ALL RELIGIONS, PLEASE. - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-17-2007, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am very interested in how people or priests, preistesses, pastors, rabbi's any religious leader or patron creates sacred space to worship or pray in.

When a Catholic is praying at home, do you do anything special? When you are doing the novena, for example.
How does your priest or pastor or rabbi make the building you worship in "sacred" or set apart from the world as a "holy" place? I am not excluding Muslims, here. I simply do not know what a religious leader in a mosque is called. (someone can fill me in on that, too.)
And, Pagans, what do you do differently in a group inside, or outside or alone at home to make "sacred" space?

Thanks, I am very interested and hope people will share.
~Michelle
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:27 PM
 
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I am an eclectic Pagan and independent Buddhist.

I do not require any special place or arrangement in order to pray or meditate as I feel that my connection the Sacred is always present within and outside of me no matter where I am. With that said, there are some steps that can make me feel connected to and more "ready" so to speak. Particularly after a long day or something stressful (which often leads me to prayer LOL!) a series of things can help get me in the right mode.

The elements (air, water, earth, fire) feature in my creation of a sacred space. They correspond with the directions so it helps me to feel grounded and surrounded, so to speak. Creating a circle of energy that is visualized is nice sometimes, but I am most familiar with creating a circle in group ritual and worship. The circle can be walked out with the elements and all participating lend their energy to it's creation. Candles, scents, incense, stones, flowers and similiar things can play a part.

Gestures or positions can also create the space. A favorite position for me to meditate or pray in is this one. Very calming, and it allows for peace and focus.

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Old 09-17-2007, 08:21 PM
 
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I am a Christian. I meet with a local church in the Lord's Recovery. We believe that, according to the Bible, when we are born-again, the Lord lives within us in our human spirit. Therefore, we do not need a "sacred space" in which to worship the Lord because He is within us. We need only to turn to our spirit - to turn our heart away from the world and our self and towards the Lord in order to pray to Him. The Bible tells us to unceasingly pray. We could not do that if we had to be in a certain "sacred space" in order to pray.
I just was reading a thread in the lactivism forum about places where we have nursed our babies. When my children were babies I nursed them wherever I was where they were hungry.
I also can and do pray wherever I am. I pray in the car, in the park in the bathroom, at the mall, in the grocery store, and at my desk in front of the computer. I think we can and should worship the Lord wherever we are.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:55 AM
 
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Orthodox churches are sacred space, or in the words of our old priest, "reclaimed creation"
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:01 AM
 
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How does your priest or pastor or rabbi make the building you worship in "sacred" or set apart from the world as a "holy" place? I am not excluding Muslims, here. I simply do not know what a religious leader in a mosque is called. (someone can fill me in on that, too.)
The person who leads prayer at a mosque is the imam.

I'll be back for the rest of the question later...a poopy diaper calls!
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:09 AM
 
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Orthodox churches are sacred space, or in the words of our old priest, "reclaimed creation"
Oh, that's beautiful.


As a Catholic, I believe that my body is the temple of the holy spirit, and that God is always with me, so a sacred space is not necessary. However, many Catholics I know have altars (like the top of a sideboard or dresser) with statues or pictures, sometimes incense, a bible, flowers, etc. in their homes. We have a statue of the the Virgin Mary in our kitchen that "looks" down at us in the place we congregate most often, and another image of our Lady of Guadalupe by the front door, the first things we see when we enter and the last when we leave.

Of course the most sacred space we have as Catholics is in the presence of the Holy Eucharist, which we believe is the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is present during mass at our churches, and is reserved in a tabernacle (a locked box) at other times so that we can come pray in the presence of the Body of Christ.

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Old 09-18-2007, 05:57 AM
 
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As a Catholic, I believe that my body is the temple of the holy spirit, and that God is always with me, so a sacred space is not necessary. However, many Catholics I know have altars (like the top of a sideboard or dresser) with statues or pictures, sometimes incense, a bible, flowers, etc. in their homes.

Aren't altars lovely. It's such an important thing for me too, and I love how it transcends religious traditions.

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Old 09-18-2007, 12:12 PM
 
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Many Catholics cross themselves at the beginning of prayer which is a very quick form of blessing ones body, often involving holy water if it is available.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:55 PM
 
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I always bless myself before and after praying. We have religious items all over the house, statues, prayer cards stuck here and there, a font, crucifix, etc.

Quote:
Of course the most sacred space we have as Catholics is in the presence of the Holy Eucharist, which we believe is the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is present during mass at our churches, and is reserved in a tabernacle (a locked box) at other times so that we can come pray in the presence of the Body of Christ.
What she said
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:12 PM
 
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Also the Roman Catholic priest creates a temporary sacred space on the altar during the Mass in which he consecrates the bread and wine. From what I've been told the ritual is somewhat similar to the pagan ones for calling a circle.
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Old 09-18-2007, 03:03 PM
 
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Aren't altars lovely. It's such an important thing for me too, and I love how it transcends religious traditions.
That's fascinating to me, too.

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Old 09-27-2007, 03:11 AM
 
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The Eucharist! The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe takes the very humble form of bread and wine right, immediately before us...

domesticzookeeper--I am envious of the mystical beauty of Orthodox Churches! And I whole heartily look forward to the reconciliation of East and West--or one can pray at least, right? Because the Orthodox Churches I've been in (mostly Eastern Rite Catholic) are the most beautifully palpably Holy places.

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Old 09-27-2007, 04:45 AM
 
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Your question reminds me of a detail of our Sunday Liturgy. Just before starting the most sacred part of the service, the doors are supposed to be closed and only believing members are left inside. (In modern times, non-members will remain or just withdraw to the foyer of the church.) The call to bar all the doors is actually written into the service. Then, a long prayer is sung calling everyone to set aside all worldly concerns. It is a dividing point in the service which mentally sets the place aside from the rest of the world.

By the way...
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I am envious of the mystical beauty of Orthodox Churches! And I whole heartily look forward to the reconciliation of East and West--or one can pray at least, right? Because the Orthodox Churches I've been in (mostly Eastern Rite Catholic) are the most beautifully palpably Holy places.
Since you feel so cordial toward the Orthodox Church, let me give you a friendly tip not to enthuse to Orthodox Christians about the coming "reconciliation of east and west." The majority of them do not consider it anything to look forward to.
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Old 09-28-2007, 12:23 AM
 
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By the way...
Since you feel so cordial toward the Orthodox Church, let me give you a friendly tip not to enthuse to Orthodox Christians about the coming "reconciliation of east and west." The majority of them do not consider it anything to look forward to.
interesting... it must be different here, at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA where I've had many a conversation about this and have never sensed that it was something not desired. We talk about the fundamental cultural differences which seem very difficult to overcome, but we always seem to leave it with "God, with whom, all things are possible."

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Old 10-08-2007, 11:24 PM
 
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i am both Quaker and Buddhist, and can give you 2 answers here:
in a group setting, i attend a silent Quaker meeting. we have no set leader/pastor. (some meetings in other regions do have a pastor or program to their meeting.) our space is an arrangement of benches in a square, and it is made sacred by each of us going deep within and listening for God. The room is relatively unadorned, though there is a quotation from a well known Qukaer writer framed on one wall.

in my home, i pray and meditate (2 separate things) at an altar. my altar has a candle, several stones and seashells (because i feel most deeply centered by the ocean, and it is a connection to my ancestors), a photo of a Buddha statue, and a glass of water (a small offering). i light a candle and some incense.
i have a series of prayers i usually begin with, before i settle in.

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Old 10-09-2007, 01:00 PM
 
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I am Christian. Pentecostal- Assemblies of God to be exact.

One of our main ways to connect with God is through worship. During church services my personal church goes all out. We have the full orchestra, the drums, electric and acustic giuitars, piano, choir..... We love to glorify the Lord through music, and song. (Which we had an amazing worship service just 9 days ago where the Lord delivered a message to our church!!! Two people spoke in tongues and two others -can't think of the term- but told us what was being said. We're still on a high from that service.... Looking forward to this Sunday, we are having an all worship service!)

Anyway, at home there is no ritual. I may put on music, but I'm singing most of the time anyway. I kinda stay in a state of worship and prayer. I love to just have quiet time with God, but it doesn't always happen during the day. So either before I get out of bed I have quiet prayer time or I do it right before bed. The rest of the time I worship by singing/ praying while I'm dancing with the kids, changing diapers, taking a walk, washing dishes.....just every day normal routine stuff. The quiet times are precious! If I had it my way everyday I would go outside during a beautiful sunset, walk barefooted through grass, dip my toes in a cool stream near by, sing sweet love/ praise songs, maybe read in the Bible as lead to do so, then end with a prayer. (That's how I worshiped as a child/ teenager.)
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Old 10-10-2007, 06:29 AM
 
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The person who leads prayer at a mosque is the imam.

I'll be back for the rest of the question later...a poopy diaper calls!
Picking up for Sister Ammaarah, since I have no poopy diapers at the moment.

An imam can be anyone, no particular training is required. Generally speaking, the oldest or most respected person in a group of praying Muslims will lead the prayer, thus being the de-facto imam. Different countries and/or institutions will have legal definitions of who can be described as clergy, but strictly within Islam, there is no benchmark test.

"Sacred space" is created through two means, via ritual washing called wudu and through pure thoughts. If you engage in wudu without being in the proper, prayerful state of mind, then the wudu is invalid and so is the following prayer. In addition to wudu, Muslims should also be in an appropriate state of dress to pray to God: clothes should be clean and in good repair (although there's no penalty if your very best clothes are rags, intent is more important), both men and women are required to cover their heads as a sign of submission to God, and the place of prayer should be clean. For this reason, many people use special prayer rugs, although they are not required. You can use any clean piece of fabric or mat, such as a towel, fabric remnant, even paper towels!

Happy to answer any further questions.
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:39 PM
 
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I'm LDS
When we build a new chapel or temple, we have a dedicatory prayer over it before it is used for worship. We dedicate it to God and to be used in His honor and so on.
It is not required, but many LDS families (mine included) choose to dedicate our homes when we move into them. We dedicate them to God, and ask his protection and blessing over our residence and our family for so long as we live there. We do this whether we own or rent or whatever. In this way, we believe that our homes can be a temple to the Lord too--so we don't need any particular extra preparation before praying or anything. We do usually kneel to pray, but we don't have a special area set aside or anything.

It's been interesting to read about what others do!

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Old 10-12-2007, 04:11 AM
 
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[QUOTE=brightonwoman;9406999]I'm LDS
When we build a new chapel or temple, we have a dedicatory prayer over it before it is used for worship. We dedicate it to God and to be used in His honor and so on.
It is not required, but many LDS families (mine included) choose to dedicate our homes when we move into them. We dedicate them to God, and ask his protection and blessing over our residence and our family for so long as we live there. We do this whether we own or rent or whatever. In this way, we believe that our homes can be a temple to the Lord too--so we don't need any particular extra preparation before praying or anything. We do usually kneel to pray, but we don't have a special area set aside or anything.
/QUOTE]

A lot of Catholics do this, too. Do other Christian denominations bless their homes? Sorry for the ignorance. Cool thread.

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Old 10-12-2007, 12:07 PM
 
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A lot of Catholics do this, too. Do other Christian denominations bless their homes?
Yes, the Orthodox do, and most homes are blessed yearly during the season of Epiphany.
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Old 10-14-2007, 11:11 PM
 
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I am Unitarian Universalist. Frequently at our services the minister says something about how our gathering together for spiritual community makes the place a holy place. Generally, however, I find that UU is more focused on creating a sacred period of time when we step aside from our day to day concerns. The lighting of the chalice at the beginning of the service and extinguishing at the end helps to mark this set aside time. We light a candle at the start and then blow it out at the end of most UU gatherings that are intended to be spiritual (such as Small Group Ministry) as opposed to just social (such as a pot luck dinner) even though those gatherings might happen in the same physical space.

I am not Christian, but I like the sentiment behind Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

The idea that when two or more people come together in a spiritual way that in and of itself makes the time/place holy fits well with the theology of creative human interchange that is preached at my church.

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Old 11-16-2007, 09:22 PM
 
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I'm late on this, but I wanted to chip in. I'm an eclectic-pagan-uu... I believe that all space is sacred, so I try to create sacred space in my mind - aka peace, calm, serenity - leaving out all of the extraneous garbage of mundane life when I want to be worshipful, whether in church or on my own.
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Old 01-28-2008, 09:39 PM
 
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I'm an orthodox Jewish woman with a Wiccan background

when we light shabbat candles, we use a prayer shawl (some women just cover with a scarf) to cover our heads (if they aren't already covered, this is NOT manditory for women to cover to pray, btw) and say the blessing over the candles and any of our own personal blessings before lifting the cover to see the light of the candles and welcome in the warmth of the Sabbath. I have a special knitted prayer shawl that my mother made and I wrap up both myself and dd in it and we pray together. It's LITERALLY creating a sacred quiet space under that shawl.

When saying the shma (the prayer upon arising and going to sleep affirming that G-d is One) we cover our eyes with our right hand, thus creating a sacred space of quiet and introspection. We also "shuk" which is swaying back and forth or side to side, this is almost like a dance, creating a space for our bodies to pray. There are even points where we take steps forward or back and positions that our feet should be in...all of which create a sacred space.

Men wrap themselves up in a tallit or tefillin or tzitzit or most likely all of the above physically binding and connecting themselves to G-d.

Ritual washign of the hands upon arising, using the bathroom, eating bread and other things.

Singing to begin the sabbath meal. Blessing the children by placing both hands on their heads

Bringing the Torah around for everyone to kiss and holding it up for all to see. Turning to welcome the Sabbath Bride. Making love accordign to the rules of modesty. Eating. Praying over everything we eat.

Just having that intention forces us to stop and enter into a communication with the Divine and this is creating sacred space.

For women:

Making Challah and the blessings and intentions that go with that.

Going to the mikveh...WOW, it doesn't get holier than that. Washing EVERY.SINGLE.PART of the body, saying outloud what you've washed so you don't forget anything. Pickign your teeth...combing your hair. Walking to the mikveh...immersing in the water.

Intense!

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Old 01-29-2008, 10:32 PM
 
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Sometimes, it's nothing more than taking a long slow deep breath or 3.

When we gather as a group for our Pagan celebrations, we take a wand around the outside of the circle and invite the sacredness of the directions to our circle. At the end, we go back around the other way. We invoke the sacred in other ways too, depends on the holy day.

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Old 01-30-2008, 02:37 AM
 
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In Islam, I guess it begins when one hears the azhan...the call to prayer. When you're watching a movie, and they want to tell you you're in a Muslim country, you'll often hear a bit of it in the background. It goes like this...

Quote:
Allahu Akbar God is Great(or Greater implying Greater than anything) (X4)
Ashadu alla illaha il Allah (I bear witness that there is no god but God) (X2)
Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasullah (I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God) (X2)
Haya ala Salat (Come to Prayer) (x2)
Haya ala Falah (Come to Success) (x2)
Allahu Akbar (God is Great) (x2)
La illaha il Allah (There is no god but God) (x2)
My favorite bit is that for the morning (dawn) prayer, the line after "come to success" is "Prayer is better than sleep." That always makes me

Muslims also create sacred space whenever they say "Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim"... which roughly translates into "In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate."

Muslims say "Bismillah" before beginning anything. They say it before they eat. They say it when they start their car. You name it, they say it. If it's said consciously, that simple act creates a sacred space.

In Islam it's also all about intention. We believe that God rewards one for one's intention.

Quote:
Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones. Then He explained it [by saying that] he who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.
Before prayer, we do special ablutions called wudu.

You start with intention... that you're going to make your wudu. (This is internally done.)

Then you:
Quote:
* wash your hands up to your wrists three times ( While doing this, I'll add the bit that I think... it's a sufi approach, and definitely not a required part of wudu. So, when washing my hands, I think "May these hands be instruments for peace")

* rinse your mouth three times ("May this mouth speak only the pleasing words, the healing words, the truthful words")

* sniff water into your nose three times ("May I someday smell the flowers of paradise")

* wash your whole face ("May this face shine with the light of compassion. May these eyes see the work of the Creator everywhere they look.")

* run your damp hands over your head, then put damp fingers on your ears, and then put your damp hands on the back of your neck

* wash your feet three times ("May these feet walk on holy ground.")
After that, you do your salat/ritual prayer. You can do it in any clean place. It can be pretty much anywhere, but many people use a prayer rug. Some men will put on a knit/crocheted hat... some women use a special hijab (scarf) just for praying.

In a mosque (known as masjid in Arabic), the Imam or Sheykh really doesn't do anything special. When anybody enters the mosque, they do two cycles (rakats) of prayer in honor of the mosque...which kind of starts it. Then when you hear the azhan (call to prayer), you get ready to pray. I guess it all starts with the Azhan.

For me, whenever I enter a mosque...or even a family's prayer room... or step onto a prayer rug...or even am somewhere beautiful in nature.. I feel like I've entered the sacred. I can't really explain it better. Sorry. We have a saying known as a hadith qudsi that says that God said:

Quote:
"I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed."
So...to be sacred...one need only mention God... or at least that's how I interpret it.

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Old 01-30-2008, 03:58 AM
 
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That is very beautiful umsami. thank-you

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Old 01-30-2008, 04:48 AM
 
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For me, whenever I enter a mosque...or even a family's prayer room... or step onto a prayer rug...or even am somewhere beautiful in nature.. I feel like I've entered the sacred.


So...to be sacred...one need only mention God... or at least that's how I interpret it.
I totally relate to this feeling.

Cool post, btw.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
peace.gif  Embrace the learning that is happening within the things that are actually happening!    
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:03 PM
 
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As a Pantheist Pagan UU all of nature is sacred. I also have an alter inside my home and I'm working on creating an alter in my backyard.

-Rachel

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