Saturday, July 2, 2016

The best way to raise your children is praying in the family -- St. Josemaria


Social science research has shown that people who are religiously involved compared with those who are not: (1) spend more time on their homework and work harder in school, (2) have better academic record, (3) have greater happiness, life satisfaction, morale, and positive attitude, (4) show significantly greater self-control and decreased drug use and delinquency, (5) have lower suicide rates, (6) are more than twice as likely to volunteer and give more money to charities, and report tender, concerned feelings for the disadvantaged, (7) live an average of seven years longer.  [See for scientific references]  

Pope Francis, speaking to families in Manila, taught: Resting in prayer is especially important for families.And don’t forget when the family prays together, it remains together.  This is important. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be generous and open, not closed and selfish.  We learn to move beyond our own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them.  That is why it is so important to pray as a family.

Rest in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us.  But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.

But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do!  This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us.  And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little. 

On Family Day, Pope Francis said: Do you pray together as a family?  Some of you do, I know.  But so many people say to me: But how can we? But in the family how is this done? After all, prayer seems to be something personal, and besides there is never a good time, a moment of peace…  Yes, all that is true enough, but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God… all of us! We need his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness.  Praying the Our Father together, around the table, is not something extraordinary: it’s easy. And also praying for one another! The husband for his wife, the wife for her husband, both together for their children, the children for their grandparents ... praying for each other. This is what it means to pray in the family and it is what makes the family strong: prayer.

In The Joy of the Family, Pope Francis wrote: A few minutes can be found each day to come together before the living God... With a few simple words, this moment of prayer can do immense good for our families… It is essential that children actually see that, for their parents, prayer is something truly important. Hence moments of family prayer and acts of devotion can be more powerful for evangelization than any catechism class or sermon.

Pope Benedict XVI taught: An authentically Christian education cannot neglect the experience of prayer. If we do not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this gap later. 

St. Josemaria said, when asked, “Do you think some acts of piety should be lived in the family?” I think it is precisely the best way to give children a truly Christian upbringing. Scripture tells us about those early Christian families which drew new strength and new life from the light of the Gospel. St Paul calls them 'the Church in the household' (1 Cor 16:19). Children learn to place God first and foremost in their affections. They learn to see God as their Father and Mary as their Mother and they learn to pray following their parents' example.

St. Josemaria taught that parents should: (1) teach by example first, then by word; kids don’t like insincerity; (2) explain prayer as speaking with God as a friend and father; (3) show prayer as a family tradition; (4) not force their kids. Freedom is key to loving God truly; (5) explain that prayer calls us to practice the virtues during the day.


DAILY PRAYERS. The family is called to join in daily prayer… and thus to grow in love. (Pope Francis)

Morning and Night Time Prayers. These prayer formulas, like the other daily prayers, can be supplemented by personally praying out loud. Some families pray the morning prayers and the rosary on the way to school.

Grace before and after meals. Before: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen. After: We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

Noontime Prayer: Angelus. Tip: Put an alarm or ring a bell at noon to call the family together. Some families pray this also at 6 PM.   V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit. (Hail Mary) V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. (Hail Mary) V. And the Word was made Flesh. R. And dwelt among us. (Hail Mary) V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection through the same Christ our Lord. 
Mental Prayer. Each one has a quiet time with God for 5 minutes or more to (1) receive God's love and strength, (2) love God above all, (3) meditate on Jesus’ loving actions in the Bible.  [See Time Alone with God: Indispensable Path to Man's Only Goal]


Holy Rosary Making the rosary a family prayer is very pleasing to me. I ask that all families strive to do so. (Our Lady of America) Some families pray the rosary before or after lunch, or dinner, on Saturdays, the special day of the week dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.[See Loving our Mother Mary: Beautiful and Wise Saying and Practical Ways to to Show our Love]

Holy Mass. The family's communal journey of prayer culminates by sharing together in the Eucharist, especially in the context of the Sunday rest. There, spouses can always seal anew the paschal covenant which united them and which ought to reflect the covenant which God sealed with mankind in the cross. (Pope Francis). [See Why Go to Mass? (reasons and tips for going to Mass well)]

Meditating on the Bible. Read the Bible often, especially on Sundays, husband and wife, parents and children.  (Pope Francis) Some families read and discuss the Bible or Bible commentary on the way to church. [See Meditating on the Bible]


Confession. It is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true: our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen but it builds up. And this cleansing of the soul which Jesus gives us in the Sacrament of Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature. (Benedict XVI) [See Confession: Simple Reasons, Simple Steps]

Parents should gradually explain each of the prayers, based on the teachings of the Catechism, the Popes and good Catholic writers. 

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