“The family that prays together, stays together.” Ven. Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C.
It would not be a stretch to declare that growing up, this was my family’s motto. Every night, 9 pm sharp, my dad would call, “Prayer time, prayer time!” up the stairs, and out the door, and whichever kids were on the property filed into the family room to say five decades.
We all had our designated rosary beads, and our designated decades to recite. With ten kids, it was difficult for us all to stay engaged, and we were frequently distracted, despite my parents’ best efforts to keep us engaged. To their great credit, they never gave up, and still say a nightly Rosary with my two siblings who are at home.
When I was little, I would fall asleep around the third mystery, and I loved being carried to bed by my dad or big brothers at the end. When I was a little older, I just thought it was cool that I “graduated” to saying a decade all by myself. In high school and college, I made up excuses on the occasional night where I just didn’t feel like it. And after I got married and moved out, it was more of a monthly Rosary than nightly.
Last fall, something changed. Maybe it was the 100th anniversary of Fatima, maybe it was just the extreme chaos in the world making me uneasy, but whatever it was, I became strongly convicted of the fact that I needed to start praying my daily Rosary again.
Now that I’ve once again picked up the habit, I’m realizing how much I missed as a kid. Teenage me would watch the clock and my beads with impatience. Come on, aren’t we done yet? It was just a matter of saying all fifty-some Hail Marys, then going back to what I was doing before.
A lot of days, I still see it as something I just need to get out of the way, but even on those days, as soon as I grab my rosary, I feel calm. It feels like home, like love. I can see why it’s been such a popular devotion for centuries, I can tell that it is powerful, and I can see why Our Lady so often requests that we pray it!
So now the challenge, after over a quarter century of praying the Rosary, is to actually learn how!
Fr. Hardon says that all prayer is a battle, and I couldn’t agree more! I’ve never learned how to really focus on the mysteries, how to give this beautiful prayer my undivided attention. It is hard, and it does feel like a battle! The good news is, if prayer is a battle, the Rosary is the perfect weapon!
The Battle Plan
- Put my phone in another room
- Ask someone (cough the husband cough) to pray with me to keep me focused
- Investigate scriptural Rosary booklets and studies (Ponder is looking fascinating)
- Break it up throughout the day
- Make it a daily habit
Looking back, I’m incredibly thankful that my family began my devotion to the Rosary. I am going to work hard to make a family Rosary part of my boys’ upbringing as well. I know they’ll probably spend some of the time just like I did, rolling their eyes when I ask, making excuses, and just saying it out of obligation. My prayer will always be that just like me too, they’ll learn how beautiful and powerful this devotion is, and make it part of their own lives and families.
What’s your favorite trick to keep your kids engaged and not bored during prayer? And what are your favorite Rosary resources?