Many years ago, a gave a presentation at a church in Memphis. After my presentation, I became engaged in a conversation with a woman and her teenage daughter. The woman was very active in the parish, a real “pillar of the church.” Yet, in the course of the conversation, her teenage daughter revealed that she had never seen her mother pray. She said it would be “weird” to see her mother pray. “Weird” was the word she used. At that point, Margaret and I didn’t have any children. But, I vowed at that time that, if nothing else, my children would see their father pray! Over the course of the years, I’ve been less than perfectly faithful in calling my family together for prayer. But, we are consistent enough that, when I do so, everyone joins in and everyone knows the ritual we use.
I would be willing to bet that few Catholics families spend much time praying together. And, for most of those who do, their family prayer is relegated to grace over meals. If I say the traditional grace over meals prayer, and say it slowly, it takes about nine seconds. I know that family homes are not monasteries or rectories. But, I think we can all agree that nine seconds of prayer a day doesn’t cut it. Nine seconds a day in prayer isn’t going to inspire any of our children to take seriously the spiritual life and prepare them to live faithfully the life of Christ, especially in this day and age when there are so many things pulling them away from the faith. We need to be praying together as a family.
Here is a pattern that families can follow for family prayers. It doesn’t take long and isn’t complicated. It incorporates the Gospel of the Day and the traditional prayers of the Church, along with the opportunity for each family member to offer prayers for his or her concerns. It may be adapted to fit any family’s structure.
I offer this as an encouragement for families to pray together. The family is the Domestic Church, the Church in the home, and in order to form our children and ourselves into faithful disciples of Jesus it is imperative that we pray together at home as a family.
Father: + In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit …
Father: A reading from the Gospel According to read Gospel of the day
Family: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
(Father reads the Gospel of the day)
Father: Are there any prayers?
Oldest child offers prayers
Middle child offers prayers
Youngest child offers prayers
Mother offers prayers
Father offers prayers
Father: Let us pray …
All together: Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary, Glory Be, O My Jesus
Father: Saint Father’s patron saint, pray for us.
Saint Mother’s patron saint, pray for us.
Saint Oldest child’s patron saint, pray for us.
Saint Middle children’s patron saints, pray for us.
Saint Youngest child’s patron saint, pray for us.
Saint Saint of the day, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary
Saint Mary, Mother of God
End with the Collect Pray for the day.
Father: + Lord, bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.