uring my senior year at the University of Notre Dame, I taught another student how to pray the Rosary. Her name was Christi "Bai" TePas. Along with several friends, Bai and I consecrated ourselves to Mary Immaculate on Dec. 8, 1983.

hen, I lost track of Bai after I graduated. She spent the next seven years praying the Rosary every day to find a husband. And as Providence would have it, he turned out to be me!

n 1990, we were reunited and got married on Dec. 8. We consecrated our marriage to Our Lady, and our life together has been a spiritual adventure. In fact, just as perseverance in praying the Rosary brought us to the altar, so it became the foundation of our family prayer life and our work as lay apostles.

et's fast-forward 12 years. God has blessed us with four sons. I wish I could say our family Rosary is a peaceful spiritual experience, but it rarely works out that way. Our boys are like all boys: energetic, good-natured, and given to struggles with each other and their own still-developing wills and virtues. This is a delicate way of saying that they're wild and warlike little men in the great Macfarlane tradition of our Scottish forebears.

ot surprisingly, our family Rosary time is often a struggle against distraction. We pray the Rosary as we put the boys to bed amidst endless squirming, frayed young nerves, and our own fatigue as hard-working parents.

evertheless, our sons have fallen asleep every night of their lives, from their time in the womb (for scientists have proven that unborn babies can hear what's going on outside) until this very day with their parents' and brothers' prayers of love to Jesus and Mary in their ears.

believe Jesus gives us more grace despite these distractions. My wife and I do not have the luxury of meditating peacefully as we pray with Our Lady, but her faithfulness to us is what really matters. Besides, I doubt anybody in the Vatican will be considering canonizing me as an example of mystical contemplative prayer.

aily persistence in family prayer is a widow's mite every family can offer God -- and this is just one lesson my sons learn as brothers of Christ and sons of Mary. We have learned, for example, to share the sublime joy of experiencing the sweetest fruit of our "spiritual labor." That is, our prayers are answered, sometimes after years of intercession.

e Macfarlanes have witnessed miracles great and small in the lives of our friends and relatives many times over. Unemployed fathers find jobs. As we did, our friends find spouses. Houses are sold. The lukewarm and fallen away are converted. No one will ever be able to convince my sons that prayers are not answered. Long after others have given up, my sons will know to keep praying.

ur Lady is teaching my sons other important lessons. Battles for souls begin and end with prayer. Family prayer is powerful prayer. Our Lady loves us not just as individuals, but as a family. And through the mysteries, my sons learn about Jesus -- that He was a little baby and a little boy, too.

hey learn that Christians proclaim the kingdom of God without fear -- that if you want to save souls like Jesus, imitate His suffering. When the crosses of life knock you down, you get back up because that's what Jesus did. Our boys know that the Resurrection will come, and when it does, we will be with the Queen of Heaven, Mary, because she is the Queen of the Macfarlanes, too.

his is what is happening inside my sons' souls in the order of powers and principalities, despite the distractions, when the Macfarlanes pray together every night. Mary taught her Son these truths when He was a boy, and she is now teaching our sons -- and their parents -- these same lessons.

e also pray five 54-day Rosary novenas each year as a family, beginning or ending on the same five prominent feast days -- along with many thousands of friends and benefactors of our lay apostolate, the Mary Foundation, which sponsors these powerful novenas. My sons are learning that our family prayer can be joined with the family prayers of others in the Mystical Body of Christ.

e've distributed hundreds of thousands of free Rosary tapes and CDs over the years through the Mary Foundation, which my wife is fond of referring to as "our only daughter." I always take consolation that Bai's lovely voice, which I enjoy every night, leads the first decade of the Rosary on the tape, although few listeners realize this. My sons and I are happy to share!

hich brings us to last October. Because of my work, I had heard the rumors about the new Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary through the Internet grapevine. It was with great pleasure, then, that my wife shook my shoulder to wake me on Oct. 17, holding up a printout of the Pope's announcement. It was a beautiful beginning to a beautiful day for our family.

midst all the excitement, many folks missed that Oct. 16 -- the day the Holy Father proclaimed the Luminous Mysteries -- was a big day for him personally because it marked the start of the 25th anniversary year of his election as Pope.

hen my wife woke me on Thursday morning, it was also a big day in the Macfarlane home. Our third son, Xavier Aquinas (no pressure with that name!), turned 5 years old on Oct. 17. Our family tradition is to have our 5-year-old begin leading the first mystery of the family Rosary each and every evening -- until the next son turns 5, at which point the older boys all jump "forward" to lead the subsequent mystery. Xavey was excited by the cake, the presents, and the prospect of leading all of us in the new mysteries later that evening. As it turns out, Thursday is also the day of the week Pope John Paul II recommended for meditating on the new mysteries, which focus on the public ministry of Jesus.

s if to add to Xavey's papal birthday gift, Oct. 17th is also the day that my family begins our favorite 54-day novena. Why is it our favorite? Because of the feast day on which the novena ends. So when Xavier led us in "the Baptism in the Jordan" -- christening the first Macfarlane family Rosary on the Luminous Mysteries, the most important new development in the most popular Catholic devotion in the world -- we were also beginning a novena that ended this past Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Our little son had just led us in prayer to our 12th wedding anniversary and the 19th anniversary of my wife and I consecrating our hearts to Mary Immaculate!

here was another Macfarlane anniversary on Dec. 8, 2002. Our second child, whom Bai miscarried on that day, would have been 9 years old. The Macfarlanes echo our Holy Father's motto: we are all yours, Mary, and all that we have is yours, on earth and in heaven. We have the anniversaries and the birthdays, sufferings and joys to prove it.

ven though our family Rosary that evening came with the usual distractions, Xavey nailed his decade like a veteran. I'm sure Our Lady was smiling upon us on that mystically beautiful evening, and she confirmed to us that Xavey is a natural born leader. Twenty years from now, I'm sure Xavier and other Macfarlanes yet to be born will be offering their lives to Our Lady and praying the family Rosary. Perhaps one will be writing an article for this magazine.


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