Sunday, February 7, 2016

Renewal of Family Prayer

A Mass was offered yesterday for Renewal of Family Prayer through the Capuchin Missions.  This is something we do on the first Saturday of every month. The children also pray for renewal of family prayer in their prayer groups. In addition, over 780 individual 9 day novenas have been said by members oft the Children's Rosary to different saints also asking for renewal of family prayer.  Why so much attention and prayer for this topic?  

The Children's Rosary is not an intercessory prayer group, meaning its purpose is not to purely pray for intentions, rather it is a prayer group for children which helps support their prayer lives. Yet one cannot ignore the importance of prayer in the family.  Saints throughout history have championed prayer in the family.  The famous saying coined by Servant of God Fr. Patrick Peyton summaries it so beautifully, "The Family that stays together prays together".  And so to keep and strengthen our families we pray for them. We hope that the prayer the children experience in their prayer groups will blossom into a richer prayer life in their homes.  Many members of the Children's Rosary have shared how this is happening in their families.

Recently, we have begun to experience some of these graces in our own family prayer.  It began one night by chance.  My husband was reading the Bible, as we do each night.  We had reached the Psalms.  On this particular night, there was something that caught my attention and I asked my husband to repeat it as I very much liked the verse. Then an idea came, maybe I should ask the kids and my husband if there was something they liked in the reading.  We found that it took several re-readings of the psalm that first night for everyone to find a favorite part.  

As the nights continued, we began to ready the children before prayer telling them, listen very carefully for the part that "speaks to you".  Our middle son and I found having a pen and paper ready to quickly take down our favorite part made things much easier.  Our daughter found that she liked to try and listen extra hard and remember just a phrase.  Not only would we ask the children to say their favorite part of the reading but also explain why it was their favorite.  May I humbly share some of what our children found 
One of our children chose some of these quotes over several nights
"Leave all to the Lord. Be patient and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 37:5,7). To this he said, sometimes you do not feel anything when you pray but you must wait things will happen.  "Give up anger... Shun evil and do good.  For the Lord loves what is right" (Psalm 37: 8,27,28).  As parents it was interesting to hear such selections chosen as favorites.  Yet we could see his selections mirroring some of the recent decisions he had been making.  Instead of losing his temper he had been choosing another path.  There was a new willingness to try harder for the good.  For this we all have been so grateful.

Our younger son found Psalm 31:10 spoke to him, "Have Mercy on me for I am in distress". He said, when you are faithful to prayer and offer sufferings, God is always happy to help you.  

This new evolution in our family prayer comes after at least 5 years of praying together as a family.  It is interesting it took so much time for us to find this way of discovering Scripture in a new way.  Something else interesting began to happen, our eleven year old son began to take a notebook to Mass with him and began taking notes during the readings and homily. He liked having notes from both family prayer and Mass.  The first weekend he began to do this the homily perfectly mirrored what we were experiencing.  The priest was talking about Scripture: that we must read, listen and respond.  Before we were simply reading Scripture in our family.  Now the kids (and yes us parents too),  are listening and responding with how it is moving in our hearts.  

Indeed no matter what our starting point is with prayer in our family, Our Lord can make it better and for this we pray and offer Masses.  It is our hope that we may have holy families where prayer feeds us and serves as a unifying force to keep us together.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:
How to Start a Children's Rosary
Star of the Sea
"Take Up and Read"

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