In the late 1970s, I was a childcare worker at a Catholic Home that provided care for physically and emotionally disturbed children, who followed a morning routine that started with a simple limit. After waking up, before they could leave their rooms, they had to make their beds and get dressed for school. They then called for a room check. Once those things were done, they would be allowed to leave their rooms and go on with their morning routine.
When it comes to making room for Christ in one’s busy family life, is there anything that can be learned from the above example when it comes to offering our prayers each day? What is the first thing you do when you get up? Is your first priority to pray, or do you need to brush your teeth, have coffee, make your beds (if that is a practice in one’s family) and then pray? If prayer is last on the list, what are the chances that there will be no time for prayer whatsoever? So when it comes to individual prayer, can a routine similar to that noted above be adopted among family members? How about no one leaves his or her room until morning prayers have been offered? This of course depends on age. But children who are seven and older can say the Trisagion Prayers and then the Prayer of the Hours. There are lots of prayer books available that are helpful. For children under seven years old, something simpler may be needed, and there are prayer books for young children. Ask your priest about them if you are not sure. For teens, this is a bit trickier. At what point does one allow them to take responsibility for their prayer rule without putting limits on them, as one would with those who are aged 13 and under?
My point is that if we are going to make room for Jesus in our busy family lives, it boils down to prioritizing our choices. If prayer to Him when we arise is not the first choice we make in our stewardship of time, chances are He will get lost in the sea of choices we make in the morning and throughout the rest of the day. But there are other ways to not let that happen. Hear the heart of the soul as prayed by the priest in the first of the twelve prayers of the Matins service:
We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord our God, Who has raised us up from our beds, and has put into our mouths the word of praise that we may worship and call upon Thy holy name. We pray, by Thy compassion, which Thou has always exercised in our life, send forth now also Thine aid upon those who stand before the presence of Thy holy glory, and await the rich mercy which is from Thee. And grant that they always with fear and love may adore, praise and hymn Thee, and worship Thine indescribable goodness.
More will follow on family prayer next week.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
+Paul of Chicago