Thursday, November 4, 2010

Family Prayers

We've been trying to pray more as a family. I have always prayed with each of the kids as I put them to bed, drawing a cross on their forehead with my thumb and praying that their guardian angel watches over them while they sleep. Somehow praying as a family felt weird to me, like it would turn us into fundamentalist wackos. My experience with prayer before becoming Catholic was at two extremes: public recitation of the Lord's Prayer at church with the entire congregation and silent, spontaneous prayer on my own. The only exception was when we'd visit my grandparents. There we always prayed before meals, with my grandfather always saying the same thing while the kids shot crazy looks at each other across the table. He'd say the same thing every time.

Heavenly Father we thank you again for this food you have set before us. Bless this food for everyone's use, help us to be overcomers. We ask this for Jesus' sake and in his name. Amen.

Once we became Catholic, we didn't give much thought to the mechanics of prayer as a couple. We rarely prayed together at all. Christian always wanted to pray the rosary, I'm so fidgety that the thought of twenty straight minutes doing nothing made me squirm. I truly cannot concentrate on the mysteries, as sad as that sounds coming from an adult. Three kids later and we're still figuring things out. Here's where we are right now.

At meals we do the standard, "Bless us, O Lord..." prayer. At dinner everyone says something that they're thankful for that day. The boys are usually thankful for either the food or one of us, which is very sweet. Before bed, we have family prayer time (and as yet we aren't weirdos, or at least I think we aren't). We do the sign of the cross, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be. It's like a warmup to eventually get to the family rosary. On nights where things have gotten too hectic we've cut it down to a Glory Be. We can always find fifteen seconds, right? I still bless each one of the kids as I put them to bed and ask them if there's anything they'd like to tell God. John is starting to tell me that he's saying that part in his mind. Pete says, every single night, that he's thankful for me, Kate and Shark Pup, his stuffed orca.

For prayer as a couple, we're still struggling. Christian recently went on a silent Ignatian retreat and brought this up to the priest during his spiritual direction meeting. The priest made the suggestion that since I'm not able to sit still and focus for that length of time that I knit. I've been knitting since I was six and when working something simple like a sock leg I'm able to work without looking at my hands. Although we've not been horribly consistent, I am better able to concentrate on the rosary when I'm not internally grousing that I'm doing nothing. I hope to eventually be able to do nothing but pray, but that may be a long time coming.

It's not perfect, but we're trying. I like to think it's the thought that counts, along with the drive to improve.

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