Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Prayer Life

This, in a nutshell, is our daily prayer regimen:

Before schooltime

The Morning Offering
The Angelus
The Angel of God prayer
Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas
Salute to the Saint of the Day
Sometimes the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity

At lunchtime and at dinnertime

  • The Angelus
  • The Prayer Before Meals (said, of course, before all meals)
  • "May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in Peace. Amen"
Before the children's bedtime, around 8 pm

  • The Rosary
  • The Divine Praises
  • Each our own individual bedtime prayers and "God Blesses"
  • Our family Litany of Saints
  • Salutation to Our Guardian Angels
  • A short hymn fitting to the season, if everyone's still awake at the end

Miscellaneous Prayers

  • When passing a cemetery or byway cross marking a fatal accident: "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen." Or the short version: "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on them."
  • When passing a Catholic Church: "O, Jesus, I love Thee in the most Blessed Sacrament." Or, "O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine." Or the short version: "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us."
  • Prayers for travel: "St Raphael, guide us. St. Christopher, protect us. Our Lady of the Highway, be with us on our way," followed by the Angel of God prayer. And the rosary is an essential, especially for longer trips.

Our Rosary Method

If we have more than five people home, we each take a Hail Mary; Dad always leads if he's home. Any time Dad's not here, the children take turns leading. If there are less than five people praying, each person will lead his or her own decade, with the over-all leader taking opening and closing prayers. We will often go on rosary drives or rosary walks and pray as we travel, too.

Our family Litany of Saints happens at the end of the rosary. Each member of the family chooses three or more saints, and after stating the name of each, as in most litanies, the rest of us say "pray for us." This is a wonderful way to reinforce the children's learning and loving the saints. It's also a kind of barometer for me; I can tell by the saints they choose what reading they're doing, who they're thinking about, what they're concerned about. A special call to St. Anthony is as telling as a call to St. Jude, or the mention of the patron saint of a friend or relative, for instance.

After our family litany, we each salute our Guardian Angels. It's a pious custom to pray for the name of your Angel. One after another, we say thank-you and hello each evening by saying, "I salute thee, Matthew. I salute thee, Dorian. I salute thee, Louis." And so on. When everyone is home, it's a delightfully long procession of Angels!

In addition to the prayers we say together, each of us, in particular the older children and us parental types, will have our own particular devotions ~ periodic ones like novenas and special "hellos" on a daily basis to special heavenly friends we each have, as well. Michelle and I said the St. Brigid prayers together a couple of years ago, for instance.

Gee! This sorta sounds like a lot when I write it all down, but it's really not at all. It's part of our daily routine, and no harder to fit in than checking our e-mail or text messaging friends. There is no such thing as praying too much!

Now, I know I could end this post right here and sound like a terribly pious mother of a very holy family. But, well, I gotta come clean. Half the time we're praying we're shooting our toddler in and out of the action like goalies. We try hard, but our attention is not, how-shall-I-say, 100% focused a good part of the time. For one thing, I can't just leave the nightly rosary routine as it stands up there, so simple, so straight-laced, so conventional, so pious-sounding. I've got to fill you in on the...

Rosary Time Shenanigans

You see, it's just that we have never, ever not had toddlers in the family. Need I say more? Once a toddler has figured out that he (or she) has a rapt (or should I say trapped?) audience, he gladly takes the floor. The fact that we're trying to pray is more an incentive than a discouragement, I think. Even the most laid back of our children, come rosary-time, morph into slapstick comedians.

And, in the midst of pious practice, do we laugh? Oh, you bet! Over the silliest things the little stinkers do ~ and over nothing. There's something about the stillness and structure of prayer time that makes gigglefests inevitable, anyway, even without goofy two-year-olds in the picture.

Here are some of William's (2) favorite pranks during the rosary:

  • He likes to stand right up in his sister's face (he knows which one this is most effective on, too) and stare at her, without blinking until she laughs...
  • He stands on the backs of kneeling siblings' calves , holds them by the arms and leans backward..
  • He will go from person to person giving hugs and kisses, making little unintelligible comments to each...
  • He will back up to get a running start and fly at his older siblings from behind, tipping them forward onto their faces...
  • He will play a game of tag, in which he is the only player...
  • He will step off the couch into thin air to see who dives to catch him...
  • When all else fails, he will kneel down and fold his hands to pray, very piously, but turned to face us ~ with a little smirk on his face...

We do laugh, I admit it. But, honest-to-goodness, we don't encourage this behaviour, really! And, it's not that Yuyum's the spoiled youngest child, I'm sure, because we've battled this same laughing-during-the-rosary problem for (Goodness!) almost twenty years now! The little anklebiters just have an instinct... They know they've Gotcha! You can't get screaming mad at them during the rosary!

And, I wouldn't want to, anyway. We've always tried to make prayer time nurturing time. We connect the rosary with bedtime read-alouds, gab-sessions and general silliness. It's important that our life of Faith is something that the children always remember with a "warm, fuzzy" feeling. After all is said and done, and the allures of the world have had their go at our children, we really believe it's the deep contentment of home life, intertwined with prayer and laughter that will keep them close to their Faith.

That's the prayer, anyway.

And, I can't help but think that Heaven laughs at silly William sometimes, too.


GrandmaK said...

Amen...I do believe that Our Lord and His Blessed Mother have a sense of humor. We are ALL children, sure enough and at times VERY funny!! Thanks be to God! Cathy

Bia said...

When I first started reading this post I felt woefully inadequate because I kept saying, "Gosh, we don't do that, or that, or SOMETIMES we do that, but not all the time..."; in other words, I realized that we could do more...a LOT more. But then I got to the end about the rosary shenanigans and I felt much, much better! The same thing happens over here. Sometimes someone gets the giggle bug, and that darn thing is catching! But I do agree with you that Mother Mary understands and is probably smiling herself, and I truly believe that the Holy Family had a sense of humor.

God bless.

Sue B. said...

Lisa, thank you for your comment on my blog. It was really nice to wake up to. I did link to this post.