As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I had to laugh at myself the other day.  In the corner of my kitchen is a heavily-used pantry, which is also very cheaply made.  About a year ago, the door fell off the hinge.  And my solution to that, a temporary one in my eyes, was to use packing tape to tape up the door until my husband could fix it.  More than a year later, it is still there and holding strong.  Except for the creaking plastic noise when the door falls open, you'd never even notice.  I marvel at my handiwork every time I go into the pantry (secretly knowing that someday it will fall off, and I will need to have it properly repaired!)

Women are resourceful.  We may not be able to fix things properly, but we know how to get through the day and do the things we need to do.  Of course it's always preferable to have things done the right way first, but when you just need something done and you can't do it properly yourself, you have to improvise. I'm sure every Mom since the beginning of time has become skilled at this.  And while this applies to the physical realm, I think it is equally beneficial in the spiritual realm as well.

I am becoming more and more convinced lately that I need to have a personal prayer time that is unique and separate from family prayer.  Family prayer of course is indispensable, but I don't think it takes the place of personal, one-on-one time with the Lord.  Our family rosary is quite harried, and doing our best to keep the kids still and quiet doesn't leave much time for personal reflection.  A friend of mine joked one time about our modified three-Hail-Mary "decade" (which makes the rosary much more doable for a family as large and young as ours), "I could never have time to meditate on a mystery with only three Hail Mary's!" She's right, of course, and if I was being honest, I don't either.  Family prayer is more about instruction - this is how we pray - and routine, we pray every day.  I hope the kids are able to reflect, and this is where the shortness comes in to me.  I think at their ages, if we keep it simple, I hope that eventually it will help them to engage and keep them from drifting off.  It is a good introduction to prayer, but by no means an adequate replacement for a thriving adult prayer life.

For a long time, that really was the bulk of my prayer life.  And then one day I caught a glimpse of myself, and I looked quite like my old cabinet with the door falling off the hinge.  Something needed to be done, and I needed to be open to doing whatever it took.  For too long I had convinced myself that this was the best I could do, that I could not carve out a decent prayer time in my busy day, and that my prayer time with the kids would have to do.  But I was falling apart at the seams, and could no longer wait for the best case scenario - life was demanding my resourcefulness, and thankfully, God provided an opportunity.

Now that I have a space set aside in my bedroom for prayer, I use it. When possible (and when I'm not being lazy) I use it in the morning, before the kids get up.  But I also use it during the daytime, when the kids are awake.  I say the Rosary with children running in and out, tearing my closet apart (or trying!), sitting in my lap and fingering the beads with me.  I sit and read a book with toddlers climbing into my lap, babies pulling books off of my bookshelf, and big kids coming in to tell me that their brother just did something they weren't supposed to do.  Of course, it's not ideal, but for now it's all I have - and I'm going to use it.  I have to think that somehow my kids are made better for seeing me pray on my own through the day, in fact, I know they are.  My mother gets up every morning before everyone else to read her bible and take a prayer time, and growing up I saw her doing that, and I know it helped me to understand that personal prayer is important.  I hope the same will be true of me and my kids.

More importantly, it changes me.  When I have to work for prayer, I find that it is much more of a devotion. I may not always feel it, but my actions are much more sincere when it's not easy, but I do it anyway.   Prayer is important, personal prayer is vital, and sometimes we need to be resourceful about fitting it into our daily routine.  And just as with a cleverly-mended cabinet we can marvel at our handiwork, even though we know full well that this is only a temporary fix and that a more permanent solution will be required down the road.  But we can also praise and thank God for finding something that works now, and ask him to bless all of our efforts at fixing ourselves up as we continue on this beautiful journey with Him.

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