When Peanut Butter & Grace published the Catholic Family Book of Prayers last year, I knew right away that it was something we needed to jump on board with. A beautiful book, affordable for each person to have their own copy, full of traditional and new Catholic prayers?
Sign me up!
Finding the best way to incorporate it once our order arrived on the doorstep. As a busy family, I wasn't sure if we should look to incorporate it with existing prayer routines or try to establish a new time to use it. I am somewhat hesitant to admit that I don't always look forward to training children in another set of routines and I rarely enjoy family prayer as much as I hope I might when I don't have busy infants and toddlers. Yet somedays, thats all a busy mom has time for it seems. Sanctifying in its own right, but a struggle at times.
Maybe, I thought, I should just use it to encourage individual use?
We prefer all of the resources we have in our home to have an intentional purpose and use. As such, I set the books out on the fireplace mantle and quickly prayed for some inspiration on how to best incorporate this treasure.
At the same time, we were dealing with Lucie's epilepsy struggles and our family prayer time was in a lax stage. Which is to say, it was more or less nonexistent outside of meals. We knew that we needed to be praying as and for our family more than ever, but were struggling to make it happen.
One night after all of the younger kids were in bed, Tim picked up a copy and we realized that we happened to purchase the exact number of copies for both of us and each of our older children (those who have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation & First Eucharist) to have a personal copy.
Those happen to be the same group of kids who are usually up past 8:00.
Over the next few nights we explored evening prayer in a new way with a smaller group of our children and it totally changed the experience. Rather than anyone flying off the couch or screaming their way through a rosary, everyone participating was of a truly prayerful disposition. The kids took time to decorate their own copy and to look through for favorite prayers.
As a group we initially dubbed ourselves the family prayer team. Our older children appreciated and enjoyed being gifted with the responsibility to pray for our family with mom and dad. They are old enough to be aware of many of the circumstances in our immediate and extended family that are in need of serious prayer and often have their own intentions to share as well.
While Tim serves as the overall leader of our prayer time, the kids take turns with leadership roles in selecting a rhythm and flow for our sacred time. Of particular note they enjoy starting the time with St. Anselm's Call to Prayer (p. 9) and ending with the Consecration to the Holy Family (p 31). In between we rotate between exploring new types of prayer or liturgically appropriate prayers such as Marian prayers for Marian feasts.
As we have used the book, they have also developed a clearer definition of their own prayer style. Aidan wishes the book contained more Latin and Kylee wishes for more sung prayers. As they share these "wishes", we have been able to direct them to additional resources to support their preferences and style.
While we have not prayed together each night since that first week, we have tried to make it a regular occurrence. On New Year's Day we invited the younger children to use the prayer books with us and it was beautiful to see younger children curled up on the laps or next to older children to share. As a group, it was decided that when each of the younger children reaches their sacrament year, they will receive their own copy.
As an educator, I know that children thrive with the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. They appreciate being granted appropriate responsibility and challenge in their mental and physical development and their spiritual development is no different.
Just as different chores are appropriate for children of different ages and stages, so it is appropriate to ask, allow, and encourage different prayer commitments from children of varying ages. In this way, we are able to use the Catholic Family Book of Prayers as an addition to prayer time without adding another specific behavior expectation on our younger children who are already benefitting from our family morning prayers, mealtime prayers, participation in the life of the Church, and other liturgical devotions.
Did you enjoy this post? You may also enjoy, Evening Prayer Indahl Style.
This post does not contain affiliate links, I did not receive any free copies of this resource.
All opinions are my own.