Bringing God into the Family

Bringing God into the Family September 14, 2007

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.

His father says that at the moment his wife was trying to save their son’s life, he sensed the presence of angels.  Their Muslim housekeeper saw an angel (she would later convert) and the kids insist they knew their brother would be fine.  Besides the miracle that took place in this story, I LOVE that the kids knew how to pray and they knew where to go when a crisis did unfold.

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.

"If I am only now scaring you, I need to bring my A game. :-)"

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  • Beatiful story. At some point I would like to set up a sacred place in the house.

  • Tim

    Same here M.Z. I know where I want it and how I want it. I just wish I had the time and funds to do it. It would involve partitioning a rather long “bonus room”.

  • This is wonderful – an excellent idea and very inspiring. Thanks, RCM!

  • Excellent post!

  • jonathanjones02

    Having more kids brings spiritual life into greater value and focus.

    http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/7827212.html

    I plan to post on this piece sometime. Very eye-opening.

  • Great post!

    I also remember that Policraticus read me from Gerald O’ Collins’ Living Vatican II that his mom had set up a “kitchen altar” which is similar to the ones that Hispanic families have: with a statue of the Blessed Mother and with candles. This is how his mom taught O’Collins and his siblings to be aware of racism and suffering of certain groups of people and to pray for them. I guess that’s an example of a sacred place in the home.

    Actually the way that Michael J and I are preparing to pray as a couple is to pray the Liturgy the Hours whenever we see each other. This way, you always pray at a set hour and you come to expect it and look forward to. It is a great way to set that pattern as a couple and then as a family.

  • A great post — I am again challenged to “LET GOD IN!!” Why when I get busy do I let my time (hence our family time) with God slip away?? I do believe that Moms most often lead the family in this habit of prayer and thanksgiving. Thank you for this proverbial “kick in the seat!” I needed it.

  • What an inspiring story!
    Thanks for sharing your experience here.
    It really is true that a family that prays together, stays together!
    The peace of Christ be yours this day,
    Tim