by Fr. Francis X. Weiser. S.J., 1956
Going home from church, the newlyweds are not going out of the spiritual atmosphere into a worldly one. They are not leaving the Sacrament behind in the house of God. Their union in marriage, their home and their hearts must remain filled with the grace and love of the Lord. A family is actually a little kingdom of God.
These thoughts have prompted Christians at all times to express their union with God, not only as individuals, but also as a family.
It was the ancient custom among Catholics that, at least once a day, father, mother and children would gather in the home for common prayer. This practice deeply impresses its lasting mark on the hearts of the children.
It is not only an addition of individual praying, but a special source of grace and blessings which far transcends the power of an individual’s prayer and unites us with the Lord more deeply and intimately, according to His own word, “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
If this is true of any group, how much more does it apply to the prayerful union of parents and children! In fact, it is a common experience that even the small children who cannot yet talk, quickly adjust themselves to the spirit of devotion when the whole family prays. They seem to be inspired by the grace of Baptism, which gives them an instinctive grasp of the supernatural far beyond their natural capacities.
Held in the arms of the mother, such a little child will watch the praying family with large and solemn eyes, even try to fold his hands and assume an attitude of reverence, which is entirely different from his usual behavior.
When parents sometimes complain that their smaller children are not quiet or silent in church, perhaps the reason is in many cases that their children have never breathed the atmosphere of prayer at home.
There is a radiance of warmth and attractive dignity about a father and mother who not only give their children the example of individual prayer, but join with them in a common practice of devotion and family prayer.
In recent times this practice has died out in many homes.
Some people still keep a trace of it in the form of grace at meals; but even this custom is fast disappearing, especially among the younger ones. They are either ashamed or careless, or they persuade themselves there is not enough time to pray before meals. Thus many a “Catholic” home never unites the family in common prayer, to the great spiritual loss of each individual member.
Thank God, in recent years the practice of the family Rosary has spread far and wide. Besides obtaining graces and blessings, it has also resulted in a revival of family prayer. All those who have at heart the kingdom of God in the home can do no better apostolic work than spreading the family Rosary among their friends.
Even in our attendance at liturgical services, especially Holy Mass and Communion, the participation of the family as a whole should be the ideal. It is a pity that practical considerations make it seem necessary in many churches to separate the children from their parents on Sunday, that special children’s Masses should have to be held at which the parents are not allowed, and vice versa.
Our Lord loves every good family so much that one cannot help thinking how greatly He would enjoy seeing parents and children together at His Holy Sacrifice and receiving Him together, as a family.
Besides the act of prayer, there are many ancient customs of sanctifying the home through the use of the sacramentals of the Church: holy water, blessed candles, food blessed by the priest on certain feast days, blessed palms, Easter water, etc.
As we have the altars and shrines in our churches, so a Catholic family would do well to keep a simple but dignified shrine in the home. It would be a symbol to all members that their lives belong to God, that religion and prayer are not merely a Sunday affair, and that the home of Christians is a holy place. How cold are the houses and homes in which no trace of a religious object is found!
More and more Catholic homes in the United States are adopting the custom of Mary gardens. A fairly large statue of the Blessed Virgin is placed outside the house, surrounded by nature’s tribute of trees, shrubs and flowers.
This is not only an honor to Our Lady and a public profession of our faith, but also a powerful encouragement of our devotion to Mary and a source of pious inspiration for many who behold this beautiful sight.
In this troubled world we need the prayers of children. Their souls are innocent, their petitions special in the Eyes of God. Let us get our children on their knees, and with fervor and the remarkable confidence of a child, let us get them to pray for our families, our country, our world….. www.finerfem.com
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Lovely gifts! These graceful Vintaj necklaces can be worn every day as a reminder of your devotion. Get it blessed and you can use it also as a sacramental. Available here.
How often i think of that phrase you post, “is you don’t be time for prayer, you don’t have time for anything.” it really is important, thank you.