Twice in the past few weeks, my middle son, the one who rarely pays attention, has asked to lead the Angelus right before lunch. In our go-go-go days, he has spoken up in busy moments, when lunch was just barely going to fit in before baseball or some other commitment, and both times I have responded that we did not have time. To pray. Led by a 7 year old.
That is so wrong.
In my prayer over the last few days, I recognized that it is a big problem not to respond to a child calling me to prayer. It was a call from his heart to Our Lord, and was perhaps inspired by something that came up in his recent confessions, and I need to support that, for his sake, and also for my own, I need to respond in the affirmative to that call to prayer.
In the post below, Elizabeth describes a television producer’s “hard breaks” — the preprogrammed times that they are going to cut to commercial whether the conversation has stopped or not. The schedule is supposed to fit in to these breaks neatly, just as the break for the Angelus before lunch is supposed to be a consistent part of our day, but whether it fits or not they are stopping. What if I made my prayer times into these sorts of hard breaks? Rearrange other things. Take the sandwiches to the car, don’t clear the table, be 5 minutes late for baseball, but in any event, pray the Angelus (well, Regina Coeli) before lunch.
Elizabeth details how she did this, with chimes on her phone, which she treated as hard breaks, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. That is not part of my devotional practice, I have other norms of prayer that I am trying to habituate, but I can make use of the same strategy. The key is to treat it as a rule — when the chime goes, drop whatever you are doing and pray. Or, keep doing what you are doing and pray. I really appreciate Elizabeth’s honesty about how her prayer life involves a lot of movement. These days, if I sit still for long, I fall asleep. I am going to work on that, and once I am nursing I will have more quiet, still times throughout my day. But for now, I need to be an active, busy mom, and I can listen to the rosary and make dinner; it may not be the most contemplative rosary but it will be a long way better than nothing.
Everyone’s lives are different, so I know that it is not useful to compare, but another thing that I love about Elizabeth is understanding that she has been living in the stage that I am now entering – some toddlers who need lots of snuggles and some big guys who need lots of thoughtful conversation and rides to sports practices. When all of my children were tiny, I longed to be out of the house more. These days, I long to be home more! I know that Elizabeth feels the same way, so I take to heart her advice to incorporate these “hard breaks” for prayer into the rhythm of our days, to keep the off beat syncopation of our unpredictability from driving me insane.