One of the most inspiring families I know has figured out how to bring God into their home. When I first met this family, I was their 14 year old babysitter. At the time they had two little boys and a little girl on the way. This family prayed the nightly rosary together. They had thrown away their contraception. They made little sacrifices on Fridays. The mom squeezed in Adoration every two weeks. My first impression was that they were a little whacko. But the more I got to know them, the more I wanted what they had. Their family was . . . unique. It made an impression upon people when they entered the home.
What made this family unique was their ability to bring God into their marriage and by default, their home. I asked them how they went about doing that and they said they decided to pray together as a couple. It seems so obvious and simple, yet I do not know many Catholic families that pray together. When I ask these families “why not” they reply that they pray individually, but not as a family.
So my friends decided to do what so many do not and the impact was powerful. It transformed them and it transformed their family. Later, a priest would advise them to have a family altar in the home where they gathered for prayer. It was this family altar where the children gathered during a particular family crisis. Their youngest sibling had fallen into the pool. As their mom feverishly pumped her baby’s heart trying to get him to breathe, the three other siblings gathered at the family altar and prayed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary to save their brother. They were living in Indonesia at the time and the baby had to be flown on an hour flight to Singapore. He had been without oxygen for at least an hour and he was blue. His brothers and sister back home continued to intercede for him. In Singapore the doctors informed the parents that their child would be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Yet when he awoke, it was as if nothing had happened. Today he is a bright 10 year old child. He is also my Godson.
Do your kids know how to pray? Is there a special place in your home reserved for God? Do you teach your children to bless their food that God provides at every meal? I know when I forget to pray before a meal, my two year old screams “pway, pway!” as she vigorously crosses herself. The best place to start for family prayer, is prayer between the couple. For my spouse & I, especially when we have had a disagreement, the smoothest way to reconciliation for us has been prayer. It is difficult to pray when you are angry, yet it is the best method. Usually when we are mad at each other, we use ritualized prayer (the Hail Mary, etc) so that we don’t have to speak. We will enter into prayer angry with each other and by the end of prayer, we are calmer, and usually open to being kinder to each other.
Prayer has been our moments of comfort during times of peace, times of anxiety, times of stress, and times of disagreement. It also reminds us our marriage is not about “us.” Its about us and God.