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

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hold up the Spiritual Head of the Household

We just finished our family rosary.  It's one of the things I always envisioned doing all together every evening, ever since I first met a big family in my late teens who did that with their family no matter who was there.  My experiences with that family were always that Mom and Dad were present with all their children, and many of their children's friends.  No matter what you were doing or who you were, if you were at this house at 8:00 pm, you said the rosary.  It was beautiful.

In real life however, family rosary has been difficult to maintain.  We dredged through the very difficult early years of toddlers and preschoolers, and when finally we had somewhat of a routine I always found it was difficult to have Jeff be a part of it. On any given week he has evening commitments, or he might have to work late or get groceries, or if he's home he's busy in the yard.  For a long time I lamented the fact that he was not with us.  We're taught that in the domestic church the husband is the spiritual head of the household, and I really felt like I needed that.  I needed him to take the reigns, to lead us in prayer every night.  And when he wasn't there my commitment gradually wavered until it fell right off the map.  I'd tell myself these things just go in seasons, and some seasons are more conducive to evening rosary than others.

We've both been feeling convicted lately that we'd like to pick up our evening rosary again, and the start of the school year was the perfect time to fine-tune our schedule and take it again.  We had some major work done in our yard that required a lot of extra time on Jeff's part, and maybe that's why I didn't feel as resentful this time around when we sat down for rosary while he worked away outside.  I know the pressure he's under, and I really feel for him.  To be able to sit in the home with my kids and pray seemed like a luxury while he was busting his butt outside.  Very much on my heart that first night I encouraged all of the kids to pray for their Dad, and for all the hard work he was doing.

And that's when it hit me.  Yes, he is the spiritual head of our home.  But I have a role to play as well - I can help lift him up, to be a partner in the work he needs to do for himself and for the good of our family. Maybe if instead of lamenting how much I do by myself, I used it as an opportunity to lift up my husband and his needs.  Being the head of a family is not easy, and being spiritual head of the household does not mean sitting around and saying a few prayers.  It means always putting your family first, and doing the work that needs to be done for their good.  Sometimes, when time permits, it does mean gathering everyone for community prayer.  But it also means making sacrifices for the good of the family, working hard when you'd rather be inside soaking up family time. And offering those moments as a prayer for your family as well.  I think while I was busy feeling sorry for myself and his apparent absence from our family prayer, I neglected to consider that maybe, just maybe, this was his prayer for us.  That he prays for us all the time even when he's at work, or running our errands, driving the kids to activities, or fixing up the yard.  Shame on me for putting him in a box.

We have once again taken up our family rosary, but this time with a renewed devotion to pray for those who cannot join us.  For me it is an incredible challenge to step up and own my own role in the spirituality of our family.  To not sit by and wait until things are absolutely perfect according to my own standards, but to pray pray pray.  To help our spiritual head of the household in his duties, so our entire prayer life doesn't rest on his shoulders.  I feel somewhat silly that it took me so long to figure this out, but better late than never, right?

If you are a mother feeling discouraged about how difficult it is for your husband to take part in your family prayer life, I encourage you instead to take the helm and offer it as a prayer for him.  At this stage of life, I just can't do what he does.  I can't help him in the yard when I have babies to tend inside.  I can't go out to work so he can stay home.  But I can pray for him, to hopefully alleviate some of the spiritual pressure that comes with his work.  And I can earnestly keep our commitment to regular prayer, especially in times when he can't join us, so he doesn't feel that choosing to do the work he needs to do is somehow choosing against family prayer.  Eagerly anticipating a day when he is able to be with us on a regular basis at bedtime, but until which time recognizing that he is still part of our family, that he is leading us even when he is going about his regular work.  Being a spiritual head of a family means so much more than simply saying a few prayers - it means living a life of sacrifice and love, and leading your family to Heaven.  It is my privilege and blessing to be married to a man of God who does this for our family, and I pray that I will be a good helpmate to him in his vocation.


  1. What a beautiful post! Your children will be blessed by this. I ran into a neighbor that I had not seen in 50 years, and she said that one of her favorite childhood memories was listening to my family say the rosary. Sometimes her family would join in.

  2. Great post. Doing something is so much better than not doing it at all because it doesn't "look" the way we pictured it. You've inspired me to take another stab at our family rosary.