“Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
(Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia)
I don’t think there’s any practicing Catholic out there who would deny the importance of daily recitation of the rosary. The saints, the Popes, and even the Blessed Mother herself invites us to pray it on a regular basis, promising great spiritual wealth and growth as a result of it. And, I have no doubt at all that that is true.
But, for the vast majority of us, praying the Rosary daily is actually rather challenging. Or, maybe that’s just me. I am not sure if it’s that I lack focus or the ability to sit still that long, but when I am attempting to pray it alone (which, let me tell you, happens about 0.1% of the time of my life) or when I am driving (which is more realistic), I easily get distracted. I do much better when I pray it aloud with other people.
But, the only people I am with on a regular daily basis are these tiny human beings that I call my children. Which, hey, is GREAT! Because, praying the FAMILY rosary is possibly an even more beneficial and spiritually efficacious type of prayer than praying it alone.
Maybe efficacious isn’t the right word. Perhaps saying it’s a source of “great sanctification” is more appropriate. Especially when your prayer partners are 5, 3, and 20 months old.
We’ve been parents for just over 5 years – relatively young in the world of parenting. And, yeah, we’ve only just now gotten our butts in gear to attempt a daily family rosary. A daily family rosary that, at this point, is only a single decade because of those said prayer partners mentioned above. But, the point is, we are making a concerted effort to do it every night before even the littlest one gets laid down in her bed.
(If you have been praying family rosary with your kids since they were born, THAT IS AWESOME. If your child(ren)’s first words were “Annunciation” and “Scourging at the Pillar”, I applaud you for your tireless dedication for teaching the traditions of our faith to your kids at such young ages. But us? Well, our kids have been busy learning the theme song to “PAW Patrol” and begging us to give them lollipops…proving that we’re over here killing it on parenting…so, please, cut us and other Catholic parents some slack if our standards seem less than optimal compared to yours.)
We have this fantastic little teaching tool that was made for us by my mother-in-law. It’s a decade rosary “blanket”. Each bead is a stack of colorful foam pieces that have a velcro dot glued to the back so that the “beads” can be affixed to the proper spot along the rosary as we say the prayers. (See picture)
This is such a cute little item and I very much treasure it as a part of our children’s upbringing. And, in theory, it’s a great tool for teaching……..except small children like to spend time tearing things apart (we are on on our 3rd set of foam beads, although making them does allow for a fun and easy craft) or fighting with each other over which beads are “the best” or “my favorite.”
Needless to say, family rosary time is a source of great sanctification because we have, well, KIDS. Probably prayer time is holy and subdued and inspiring in your household. But, in our household, it goes a little something like this….
Parent: “Alright kids, let’s get out the rosary blanket and get ready to pray the rosary.”
20 mo old: *Immediately starts grabbing all the beads*
3 year old: “No, no, baby! You can’t have all those!” *Grabs them away from sibling*
***CRYING & FIGHTING ENSUES***
5 year old: “Give me the ‘heart of Jesus’ flower. No, the other one. I want THAT one that SHE has!”
3 year old: *Begins rolling around the middle of the blanket*
5 year old: “Get off the rosary! That’s not how you do it!”
20 mo old: *Sticks velcro beads on daddy’s beard and into own hair*
Parent: “Okay, what intentions are we praying for tonight?”
***Children repeat the same intentions every night, including praying for their grandparents’ dog***
Parent: “In the name of the Father……….”
3 year old: *Sticks beads wherever on the rosary*
5 year old: “That’s not where they go…stop putting them there! No, that’s where I wanted to put MINE!!! Holy Mary, mother of God….STOP IT!!!”
20 mo old: *Chews on beads or puts on and off blanket 50 times*
3 year old: *Starts throwing the beads at people’s heads*
Parents: “PRAY FOR US SINNERS!!!!!”
Blessed Alan de la Roche said, “The Holy Rosary is the storehouse of countless blessing.” I have no doubt that there are graces being poured out for our efforts to pray the rosary as a family. I am positive that even those little snippets of the prayers that get spoken by their little mouths bring great joy to Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord.
But, I also know that today is not the day we will be working on the Luminous Mysteries and we’re not quite to the point of praying more than one decade of the rosary at a time. For our household, these are the prayers we can offer and this is the best way to share the treasury of our faith – one small step at a time.
All I am trying to say is this – whatever prayers you can offer and in whatever imperfect way your family can offer them, that’s what God is asking of us. It may not look pretty and it probably won’t land any of us on holy cards or the cover of “Catholic Family Magazine” (is that even a thing?). But, the point is that we are doing it, that we are passing on the faith, and that ultimately that we are being an example for our children.
There is no Church if there isn’t first a domestic church where children learn the importance of their faith from the people who are the most important to them, people who love them and are (at least somewhat) patient with them as they learn the ropes of their faith.