Prayer corners aid ascent to Christ

When Anand Bheemarasetti purchased a home in the Highlands neighborhood, he knew it came equipped with the rooms he needed—living room, dining room, bathroom, bedroom.

Yet he decided the Lord of his life needed a room also.

“I think God, being the most important person in our lives, should actually have space, too,” said Anand, who lives in the northwest Denver home with his wife, Lindsey, and their two children. “He deserves a room. In fact, it is his house, and we are sharing it.”

They created a room they call the “icon room” or “prayer corner” that includes a cross, icons, kneelers and chairs, that invites one to enter for quiet prayer and reflection.

“If people have exclusive places for prayer, every time you walk by it makes you feel a sense of reverence,” Anand said. “In a way that room calls you. The Lord calls you to have a relationship with him.”

Families and couples across the Archdiocese of Denver set aside spaces in their homes to reflect their relationship with Christ as king of their lives and enable them to grow closer to him.

Having a tangible space for prayer is helpful for spiritual growth, said Father Gregory Cleveland, director of the Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, which provides spiritual direction and guidance on prayer with Scripture.

“The more you can create a place of solitude and have that alone time, just me and the Lord, that’s helpful and conducive to prayer,” he said. “We are body, soul and spirit so the physical surroundings help create the space for that.”

Deacon Ronald Michieli and his wife, Barbara, always had a prayer corner in their home while raising their 10 children.The prayer chapel in the Sterling home of Deacon Ronald Michieli and his wife, Barbara.

“It was a great center for us,” Deacon Michieli said. “We have busy lives, and we have to stop and slow down and regroup ourselves.”

After moving to Sterling in 1989, they purchased an old convent across from St. Anthony Church. They preserved the chapel inside, with the archbishop’s approval, and added relics, statues, candles, devotional items and chairs.

Open to visitors and guests, the space for up to 30 people is the regular spot for prayer and eucharistic adoration. The couple begins and ends their day in the chapel and use the space to lead Scripture studies, teach novenas and devotions to guests.

“That is our place set aside for prayer so things there remind us of our relationship with God and the importance of prayer,” he said. “As we pray then we allow the Lord to speak to our heart. That becomes very significant.”

As a family, Eric and Christy Hilz of the Neocatechumenal Way found having a time and space for Sunday morning prayer has enabled their young children to better participate. The family room is the family’s space for morning prayer, music and catechesis.

“The kids know when it’s time to do morning prayer, we all meet in the family room,” Christy said. “I think it helps them know this is a time as a family we set aside. It helps to keep them focused and able to participate.”

In the Bheemarasetti home, the prayer room was made to be the foundation of their family, also called the “domestic church” by St. John Paul II.

When Anand proposed marriage to Lindsey, he took her to the prayer room and said he wanted to build a domestic church with her centered on prayer. The room became a symbol of their spiritual journey as an ascent toward God, similar to how the apostles Peter, James and John ascended the mountain and witnessed Christ’s transfiguration.

“That’s how I want to build our domestic church, centered on prayer,” Anand said.

 

How to create a prayer space

Also called a prayer corner or home shrine, a prayer space is an area inside a home used for prayer, praise and reflection. An altar is a space inside a church that contains a consecrated host.

Below is a list of customs associated with establishing and using a prayer space.

  • Set a chair or piece of furniture with shelves in an area.
  • Decorate the space to display beauty and make it conducive to contemplation.
  • Items placed around or on the space may include the Bible, statues, art, a crucifix, icons, incense and candles.
  • Change decorations around the space to reflect the liturgical seasons, such as purple during Lent or green during Ordinary time.
  • Play music such as Gregorian chant or classical while meditating.

Place spiritual reading and the Bible inside suitable for children and adults.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.