September 4, 2015


Prayer time is a necessity for families in today’s world

The family has been in the news a lot lately.

And if Pope Francis has his way, it will no doubt continue to be a topic of discussion not only leading up to his U.S. visit for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this month, but also for October’s meeting of the world Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome, and beyond.

We hear of situations like divorce, single-parent homes, individuals’ careers, and other challenges that families face in today’s ever-increasing secularistic society, but our Holy Father has made it a priority to encourage faith to be the cornerstone of every family situation.

At the heart of that family’s life of faith, the Holy Father said, should be time set aside for prayer.

Focusing his weekly general audience talk on the family and prayer on Aug. 26, Pope Francis said he knows modern life can be frenetic, and that family schedules are “complicated and packed.”

The most frequent complaint of any Christian, he said, is that he or she does not have enough time to pray.

“The regret is sincere,” the pope said, “because the human heart seeks prayer, even if one is not aware of it.”

The way to begin, he said, is to recognize how much God loves you and to love him in return. “A heart filled with affection for God can turn even a thought without words into a prayer.”

“It is good to believe in God with all your heart, and it’s good to hope that he will help you when you are in difficulty or to feel obliged to thank him,” the pope continued. “That’s all good. But do we love the Lord? Does thinking about God move us, fill us with awe and make us more tender?”

As parents, guardians or mentors of children, we must share ways of how faith is important to us, Pope Francis said, adding that bowing one’s head or “blowing a kiss” when one passes a church or a crucifix or an image of Mary are small signs of that love. They are also prayers.

“It is beautiful when moms teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or Mary,” the pope said. “There’s so much tenderness in that. And, at that moment, the heart of the child is transformed into a place of prayer.”

We should also teach children how to make the sign of the cross, to say a simple grace before meals and to remind them always that God is there and loves them, Pope Francis said. If we do this, family life will be enveloped in God’s love, and family members will spontaneously find time for prayer.

“You, mom, and you, dad, teach your child to pray, to make the sign of the cross,” Pope Francis said.

These simple little prayers, he said, will increase family members’ sense of God’s love and presence and their certainty that God has entrusted the family members to one another.

For parents, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be are prayers most of us teach our children at a young age, so why not add the recitation of the rosary to time spent as family during the week?

If you learn as a child to turn to God “with the same spontaneity as you learn to say ‘daddy’ and ‘mommy,’ you’ve learned it forever,” Pope Francis said.

As our Holy Father said during his July trip to Latin America, strong families help build strong individuals and strong societies.

And Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, best known as the “Rosary Priest,” who encouraged families through his radio and television programs in the 1940s and 1950s to pray together daily—especially by praying the rosary—may have said it best with a phrase he coined: “The family that prays together stays together.”

—Mike Krokos

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