our modern conveniences have not increased our leisure but our stress.
For the more efficiently we are able to do our work, the more work
we are expected to do. In fact, our computers and cell telephones
have made it difficult for us to get away from our work, for we
take our work with us and are at everyone’s beck and call.
We have to set limits, therefore, lest our work consume us and rob
us and our families of the time we need to spend together as a family,
performing simple tasks, enjoying each other’s company, sharing
love and laughter and leisure and prayer.
a work - oriented culture we are told that time is money and it
is assumed that money is the goal we should pursue. Leisure, therefore,
seems to be a waste of precious time. But it is not. As sleep restores
our bodily strength, so leisure activities refresh our minds. Prayer
does more. It lifts our minds and hearts to God so we find peace,
peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27)...or take away. Prayer
is essential to a truly humane and happy life, but with all the
conflicting demands of work and school and sports and household
duties when can we get the whole family together to pray? Where
in our busy lives can we find the time for family prayer?
speaking we don’t “find time.” We don’t
“make time.” We don’t “lose time”
or “make up time.” Time marches on inexorably and we
must choose what we do to fill the time we have. The question we
all have to face is: What is worth spending our time on? And how
we answer that question depends upon our priorities. If we do not
set our priorities wisely, we will be responsible for our own failures
and our grief will be compounded by the knowledge that we made foolish
decisions. We must spend our time wisely as individuals and as members
of a family. The Gospel story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42)
contains a lesson we should heed.
had come to their home, and Martha complained that her sister, Mary,
who was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to him, had left
her alone to do all the serving. Jesus certainly appreciated the
gracious hospitality of this family, for he often visited them,
but he told Martha that “Mary had chosen the better part and
it would not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).
point that we should not overlook is that Mary chose to listen to
Jesus, and we will not pray as individuals or as families unless
we make the conscious decision to set time aside to do so. We must
do so because Jesus told us: “A child of God listens to the
words of God; if you refuse to listen it is because you are not
God’s children” (John 8:47). We should therefore, make
a commitment to spend some time every day sitting at Christ’s
feet, listening to him and speaking to him.
to a commitment to pray every day is to our advantage. For prayer
opens the door of our heart so God can enter. Family prayer makes
God welcome to our homes. It unites the whole family in the pursuit
of the same religious and moral ideals, strengthens them in the
practice of Christian charity so all the members can love one another
as Christ loved us. When we open the doors of our homes so Christ
can enter and dwell in our midst, he gives us his peace.
prayer allows the whole family to sit, like Mary, at the feet of
Christ and listen to Him. Family prayer is the better part, indeed
the very best part, of our day. For when Christ comes to us, he
comes not to be served but to serve. He knows what we truly need
and gives us what is best for us.
how should we go about family prayer? Not everyone in the family
may recognize the need, especially teenagers. What should we do
to make it meaningful and enjoyable for everyone? Start slowly.
Take one step at a time. Do what Jesus did. The Apostles found Him
engrossed in prayer and were so deeply moved by his demeanor that
they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And he taught
them the Our Father (cf. Luke 11:1-4). Jesus awakened the desire
in the hearts of the Apostles. We must do the same with our families.
world is so noisy, our lives so busy and our minds so agitated that
it is hard for us to sit quietly, not doing anything. But when we
sit quietly, we are doing something very significant, we are preparing
to enter into our own souls. We are entering into God’s presence.
For he dwells within the hearts of all baptized Christians, unless
he has been evicted by mortal sin. This is what St. Paul taught
the Christians of Corinth when he wrote to correct their sinful
behavior: “Did you not realize that you were the temples of
God and the Spirit of God was dwelling within you” (1Co 3:16)?
St. Paul was echoing Christ himself who said: “Those who love
me will keep my word and my Father will love them and we will come
and make our home with them” (John 14:23).
put ourselves in God’s presence, therefore, it helps to dim
the electric lights and light a candle to remind ourselves that
we are gathering to sit, like Mary, at the feet of Christ, and the
light of the world, and listen to him.
call upon God as he wants us to, we might first talk about the desire
that parents have for their children’s love and appreciation.
Jesus tells us that God does too. He told the Samaritan woman that
“God wants those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
Tell our children that we love them. When we have opened up our
hearts to our children and they know the love we have for them,
pray the Our Father together with reverence and with gratitude for
the gift of faith, which has made us His children. then we can say
a Hail Mary to ask Our Blessed Mother to pray with and for us. She
watches over us because she is our mother.
succeeding occasions, we should read a brief passage from Sacred
Scripture and share our insights. It is good to begin with a Gospel
story that sets a scene and keeps our mind and our imagination focused.
The account of the annunciation to Mary, her visit to Elizabeth
or any of the Mysteries of the Rosary are good, precisely because
they are stories and we can put ourselves into the scene and concentrate
on the message they hold for us.
a period of quiet reflection, we see clearly what the example of
Jesus and Mary and the first disciples tells us about how to meet
the challenges we have to face at home in our family, at school,
and at work. Then is the time for us to share our insights and apply
them to our lives together. There are many books that will help
us. One that is especially inspiring is Father Peyton’s Rosary
we can offer a decade of the Rosary and ask Our Lady to fix in our
minds and hearts the lessons we have learned together. In time,
as we reflect on the Sacred Scriptures, we will see why Pope John
Paul II has called the Rosary a “compendium of theology.”
The Rosary will become our constant companion and the insights and
inspirations gained in the sharing of the Scriptures in our family
will be carried with each of us wherever we go. So when we are driving
alone or together, or stuck in a traffic jam, or walking in the
park, we will pray the Rosary and go about our activities with the
charity, joy, peace, and patience that the Holy Spirit brings (Ga
5:22). Then all will know that we are Christ’s disciples by
the love we have for one another (John 13:35).
Lady of Fatima has urged us to pray the Rosary for the peace of
the world. Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has proclaimed this
to be the Year of the Rosary. We should recall the timely messages
of Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, who devoted his priestly
life to strengthening family life through prayer, especially the
Rosary, and who told us: