About Me,  Catholic Spirituality,  Evangelization,  Family Life,  liturgical living,  Parenting

Do you have a family liturgy?

These past several days, trying to carve some semblance of tranquility amidst a million flattened boxes, carpets that smell like dogs and cottonwood seeds blowing so thickly that they’re being sucked into our new house by the box fans that adorn every window (no AC. Bye bye, luxury), I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the lack of order to our lives. Life with 4 kids is always a little on the chaotic end of the spectrum, but throw big life changes into the mix and it very much feels like the inmate are running the asylum, and they’re not even particularly well fed inmates.

I scooted away this afternoon for my 1000th trip to Lowe’s and some internet time and I left our babysitter the following items on the counter: 8 baby carrots, half a bag of corn tortillas, 2 oz of nacho cheese Doritos and a jar of peanut butter.

Good luck, family.

I was thinking today that part of why our days are so hectic, aside from the obvious physical chaos of a move and a new home, is because we lack a basic rhythm to our daily lives. I alluded to as much on Facebook last week when I let slip how eager I was for the routine of school to be upon us, because as deeply as I love my children and as sincerely as I respect my homeschooling friends, the reading, writing and ‘rithmetic are being unabashedly outsourced in this family.

But I can’t outsource it all. For sure we’re still responsible for forming little consciences and catechizing little hearts. I guess I’m just poking my head up out of survival mode after the longest summer on record and, with a newly-minted one year old still the reigning baby in the house (#Marquettemethodforthewin) I’m feeling ready to start implementing some smallish steps towards sanity.

So what do you guys do? What does your “family liturgy” look like? By this I mean the liturgical rhythm to your days and weeks, and I’m not talking Sacred heart of Jesus cupcakes or St. Juan Diego piñatas, but the regular Scripture study with your kids, the daily Mass attendance (or not), the family Rosary or decade, the morning offering, the recited litanies.

Do you start your day with family prayer? Dave and I pray an offering together and invoke our special patron saints, and we pray again a gratitude list and a protection prayer at night, but the in between parts are where I’m struggling to fill in the blanks.

I want us to be the ones who introduce our kids to personal prayer, who help them understand their fundamental identities as sons and daughters of the King. I want them to learn to spend time in Scripture every day, and to follow along with the liturgical cadence of the Church year, attuned to the seasons we celebrate as a Catholic family.

I want to raise Saints. But I am a decidedly unsaintly mother 98% of the time. I struggle with my temper, with patience, with wanting to steamroll them in the name of efficiency and productivity. And I am, quite frankly, usually d-o-n-e by bedtime, which is when our current daily prayer time takes place.

So, I humbly turn to you, dear readers, and I ask first and foremost for your prayers but also for your suggestions, your best practices, and I welcome your stories of solidarity. How do you “Catholic” in your house? What does it look like in practical terms, and what are some age-appropriate steps I can take with my crew, current ages nearly 6, 4.5, 2.5 and 1?

Thanks in advance. I have to go spackle something now.

pirate nun
The pirate nun wants *you* to raise ’em right


    • Kaitlin Alfermann

      A Morning Basket is a GREAT way to bring the truth of the faith into your home! Do it with the kids who aren’t in school yet, doesn’t have to *just* be a homeschool thing. Read a short Bible story, a silly poem, look at a piece of beautiful artwork together, and call it a win! We’ve also done scripture verse memorization during breakfast because they’re contained.

  • Jena

    We are pretty (very) low on the family prayer spectrum, but one success has been a morning guardian angel prayer with our young (4, 2, and 5 mo old) boys…we printed out the superhero printable prayer (via catholic all year), framed, and put it in the bathroom, then we say it while brushing teeth in the morning. Since we were already doing one, it was easy to add the other! And at very least, it is establishing prayer-to-start-the-day (helpful for me too!).

  • LPatter

    Love this, relate to everything you say here and eagerly awaiting the results of this inquiry!!! (Please make it a post and share with the rest of us struggling mommies!!)

  • AnneMarie

    Have you been peeking into my brain and thought process? No joke, I just started thinking about this topic a few weeks ago! I’m in a bit of a different place than you, since I just have one 2-month-old who obviously can’t understand or learn prayers yet, but I found that-as nice and important as doing nothing and recovering are-once Baby and I got more energy, I needed routine. And as I thought about it more, realized that in my vocation as a mom who stays at home, I can be like a hobbit-monk. I did a whole blog post on this recently, but the basic gist of it all: I wrote up a daily schedule that centers around prayer, food (particularly for Baby) and work. Each morning I do Morning Prayer (while nursing), a Rosary spread throughout the morning as I nurse the baby and do chores. Angelus at noon, sometimes Evening Prayer, and then with my husband, either do Night Prayer, Marian consecration prayers (depending on what time of the year it is), or we’ll just keep it to gratitude prayers if it’s late and we need sleep haha. I’d like to make it to morning Mass more, but right now the need for sleep trumps that except on Saturdays and Sundays.

    With those ages of kids, I think my biggest recommendation is the Angelus (or other appropriate Marian prayer for the time of the year, like the Regina Caeli in Easter time). It’s short, easy to learn, Scriptural, and there’s a longstanding tradition of praying it. And since it’s prayed at noon and 6 p.m., there’s less danger of being in that “I’m so exhausted we can’t do this family prayer” mode that we all know so well. Finally, I just have to put a good word in for the board book, “The Saving Name of God the Son” (Bethlehem Books). We received this as a Baptism gift for our son, and I love it-the text is all scriptural and doctrinal, and the pictures are all images of sacred artwork. I think it will be a fantastic way to teach my son about the Faith (and art) as he grows older. Prayers coming your way! I’m sure you’ll find an awesome way to live out the Faith in your domestic church 🙂

  • Tara

    We have a “rhythm” to our life but not a specific schedule so we work on instilling prayer habits that go along with activities instead of specific prayers at specific times. For reference I have a 2 year old and a 4 month old. Here are some ways we work prayer into our day:
    – we talk about how our job is to love God and love people and in the car on the way to events we talk about how we might be able to show people love (i.e. at playdates we talk about sharing, when visiting the nursing home we talk about smiling and being friendly)
    – we frequently pop in to our (always empty, sadly) church for some time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I allow the 2 year old to roam the church freely as long as she says Hi Jesus! and I love you Jesus! and genuflects when she crosses in front of the tabernacle. This also opens up many avenues for conversation as she ALWAYS asks about things she sees in the Church (rosaries, pictures of saints/Jesus, statues, etc.)
    – we pray the Hail Mary when we hear emergency vehicles
    – we pray a Morning Offering with breakfast – we have it printed out and framed and sitting in the middle of our table
    – we have a holy water font and frequently bless ourselves
    – we pray before bed petitions, gratitude, and then a “standard” prayer we’d like her to learn (so far we’ve pretty much conquered the Hail Mary and Glory Be and we’re working on the Our Father)
    – we listen to scriptural music (but not all the time) so our daughter is learning pieces of scripture that way

  • Kati

    This is a great topic. I can’t wait to read all the comments. We are constantly trying to do more/better, but here’s what we’ve got so far that’s working for us:

    – we pray the Morning Offering with the kids on the drive to school
    – we talk about feast days that we 1) are particularly devoted to (patron saints), or 2) remember to talk about (thank you Catholic calendar that syncs with my google calendar!) and we let kids with the patron saint feast day pick dinner and we have dessert
    – At bedtime we all pray together an Our Father, each of us adds in a gratitude prayer and a “special prayer” (which from the 3 year old usually looks like, I’m thankful for my mommy and I’m saying a special prayer that will we have a good night’s sleep), and then the eternal rest prayer (“May the souls of the faithful departed…” – is that the right name for that prayer? anyway, we say it)
    – We pray the Rosary together every Sunday evening (I’m working on adding another day. Baby steps)
    – We pray every time we hear or see a siren or light from an emergency vehicle
    – We talk about asking God for help situationally throughout the day (“When you are having trouble staying quiet when your teacher is talking, take a deep breath and ask God to help you” or “when you are scared to go upstairs to brush teeth by yourself, pray the St. Michael prayer”)

    The Scripture study part is a part I’d really like to develop, for myself and the kids both. Can’t wait to hear ideas on that!

  • Casey

    Scripture memory verse: (currently Joh. 8:the Truth will set you free bc we have liars (toddlers) in our house, 1 cor 13:love is not rude bc we are defining rude actions and loving actions in our house and ec 8:5 he who obeys a command will meet no harm bc we have a lot of disobeying in our house.

    Celebrate random feast day/Saint days by printing out a coloring page. I do this a few months at a time and do celebrate once a week.

    Family mass once a week besides Sunday.

    Prayer before meals and at night.

    Viewing of every veggie tale/boz/Gigi/lil angel/brother Francis dvd I can get my hands on

    Inviting religious over to dinner on a regular basis
    I, too, try to do these things listed above because my mothering isn’t necessarily saintly.

  • Jen @ Into Your Will

    We’re still very much working on family prayer over here. So far I’m just trying to do a small prayer here and there with my boys, like the Guardian Angel prayer every time we get in the car, a Glory Be when I put them down for naps (SO HARD when I want to just throw them in their room and leave), blessing before we eat, and then our big prayer time is before bed too (also SO HARD when I want to throw them in there and leave). We were doing a decade of the rosary some nights but have fallen off that train since baby #3 came along. Gotta get that going again!

  • Susan Brock

    My kids are older than yours, but what has been something that has “stuck” with our family through the years besides the basic morning prayers, prayers before meals, and night prayers, is to pray the Rosary at naptime with whichever kids are not sleeping. It has added that bit of grace that is needed at 1pm in the afternoon, and keeps us reminded of our Faith. You may not be able to do it with your kids right now, but when they are a little older, it may be something to do.

  • Amanda

    We say prayers at breakfast every morning. Our father, guardian angel, a Litany, individual prayers. I have a weekly Saint and we pray to them, and I read the day’s Gospel (blessed is she emails it!). I take them to daily Mass at least once a week, and when I meditate on its importance more 😉 We homeschool and there’s catechism during that.

  • Nathan Schell

    I pray the Angelus at 6am, noon, and 6pm. I have phone alarms set. It isn’t much, but it is a great help in providing rhythm to my day. It’s not demanding, either: just 60 seconds, three times a day.

  • Marie

    Our kids are 4.5, 2.5, and 5 days (so really, all bets are off now since we’re adjusting to a new baby and will be doing preschool for the first time starting next Monday!). I tend to make a good effort during Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter but then kind of fall off in the summer. Or maybe that was just being pregnant and tired this year?
    I use bits and pieces (like videos and coloring) of the Holy Heroes Advent and Lenten Adventures. What we do depends on the day/week and the age of the kid. My oldest has seen the videos a few years but has only recently done a little more with some of the little quizzes (which I just ask her in a conversation). Ready made coloring pages are nice. 🙂
    Last school year, I went thru the book “26 Letters to Heaven” mostly with my oldest because I felt bad we were only doing one year of preschool. As we went thru the alphabet, we colored different saints, used the book lists (awesome and worth having the book just so I could hold books ahead of time and know they weren’t going to be questionable) to read about their lives. In the process of (for example) looking up B saints, a coloring page for Benedict, and the book “The Holy Twins,” I also found myself checking which saints had feast days that week. I hope to talk about and color a saint every week or two this year with our second while big sis is at preschool. He’s not old enough to actually do the preschool type activities (and that whole new baby thing), but he had fun reading about saints already last year.
    We try to go to daily mass once a week. We’re lucky in that there are lots of daily mass options where we live, so there’s an 11:40 am one that tends to work perfectly even when there’s a morning nap going on. We’ll see how it jives with #3 and preschool pick up. 🙂 The kids get ready quickly if I promise we can sit in the front pew.
    We pray together at bedtime (Hail Mary – and sometimes Our Father / Glory Be, St. Michael, Angel of God + thank yous and intentions). We’ve tried family rosaries from time to time (Lent) and I’d like to do that more. We also did some reading out of the Golden Children’s Bible in Holy Week (we went to Holy Thursday and Good Friday plus Sundays) so we wanted to do a little “prep” for those long gospels. We should do that more regularly, though we do read the readings in the car on the way to Sunday mass (just from the missal – more so Dad & Mom know what we’re going to hear in case something should distract us during mass!).
    Liking the idea of a Morning Offering at breakfast or when driving to school. Think we’ll have to try that!
    Oh, and I personally tend to say a lot of rosaries when I have a nursing baby. And usually do Morning Prayer and read the mass readings… sometimes I make it to other things in my Magnificat, but if I do those two, it helps get my day off on the right foot! My husband and I vary our nighttime prayer a bit based on how tired we are… so maybe we should try something earlier – like right after the kids are in bed?

    Can’t wait to read more of what everyone else does! These kinds of things are where I get my ideas!

  • Mary @ Better Than Eden

    I wrote a little on what we do here: http://www.betterthaneden.com/2015/09/family-prayer-how-we-currently-make-it.html

    In your situation, maybe starting breakfast with the morning offering and the meal prayer and then lunch with the Angelus? Maybe make bedtime story always a story from the Bible? We go through seasons of making it to almost daily Mass and those are always so so fruitful but not always possible. Same with the daily Rosary. I’d like to start doing better with Scripture again. We’ve done some memorization and have gone through spurts of doing a little more but I feel like we could do better there. Thanks for the nudge to reevaluate and reinvest in our liturgy!

  • Julie

    Donna Cori Gibson has some great CD’s–all scriptural based or from prayers of saints! It is so true that it is easier to memorize when it’s set to music! I find myself often singing to myself the Anima Christe after Communion, mostly because that’s how I remember it! Just playing her music while you work or play around the house (even in the background) would probably surprise you on what you pick up.

    Just for the record, I was HORRIBLE at prayers with the kids when my older five were younger! When we switched schools (back in 2003), we had a 15 minute drive each day and we’d say prayers in the car on the way to school (morning offering, Angel of God, petitions). This stuck and now, even though we can walk to school, we still say our morning prayers before they leave. We have night prayers too, but that is hit or miss during the summer. We can hear the “Bells of St. Mary’s” and my husband asks my 5-year-old, “What does that mean?” and he’ll answer, “Come see Jesus!”

    I just dropped my 18-year-old off at the Dominicans in Nashville (to enter their order) so we must be doing something right! 🙂

  • Melissa

    I am in awe of what some of you ladies do! 4 year old, 2.5 year old and 6 month old here. Mostly at this point I try to fill our house with lots of books about Jesus/the saints, mostly found at the library but also those cheap-ish booklets from our local Catholic supply that talk about the mass and rosary ect. Ect. And read stories from our children’s Bible. I think having books around, religious icons, holy water fonts, crucifixes and the like around the house is a great thing because it gives everyone a visual reminder , even if we aren’t actively accomplishing much in the prayer department. I’ve been trying to teach the older ones the rosary starting with a decade at a time using a basket full of fake roses (10 red, one white) and they take turns putting them in. Would love to make it a daily thing at some point. This is also our first week using “26 letters to heaven” as someone else mentioned above. Part of that is having a tack board hung up where you add a weekly virtue and scripture verse to memorize. Even if you did nothing else, this has been great so far. My four year old memorize the passage in about a day and is loving reciting it. It’s by our kitchen table, so plenty of opportunities to just talk about it and practice saying it and understanding what it means. If nothing else, I think this is going to be really fruitful for our family in terms of introducing scripture and learning virtue. Can’t wait to see what others have to say

  • Karyn

    Our family prayers center around mealtimes….it makes it a lot easier. So, morning offering before breakfast, St Michael and guardian angel prayers after, the Angelus at lunchtime, the table blesssing and Divine Mercy prayer at dinner. They also say prayers of thanksgiving before bed. We say the Rosary on Fridays and do our prayer journal on Sundays. We homeschool so the kids each have their Bible and catechism readings as part of their homeschool. For myself, I have my Magnificat and I say the Rosary during nursing and chores. I really think the more you can connect prayer time/Scripture reading to every day routines make it so much easier. Oh, and for the Rosary, we have an “edible one” — little marshmallows or chocolate chips….it really helps to keep the little ones focused.

  • Lauren J

    Tips stolen unabashedly from Auntie Leila (book – The Little Oratory!) at Like Mother, Like Daughter. Which you should read when you get your boxes unpacked because it’s FULL of helpful things!!! (And you follow her blog, right? It says lovely things like, “just let your toddler spin around on the floor while you Rosary, which is probably just a decade when you first start. It’s OK. Someday they will be older. No worries. They will eventually want to do what the cool big kids are doing.”)

    – Prayer tables are the bomb. Kids who are too little to sit still for long can “blow a kiss” to baby Jesus, put a pretty flower in front of Mary, or take some Holy Water. I’m all about the prayer table.

    – Auntie Leila swears by lighting a candle at prayer time. (“Light it and they will come!”) I’m not allowed to try this with my school kids (no fire in the building!) but can’t wait to attempt it with my own some day. Keep it simple. Light it, pray for 2 minutes, blow it out. Ignore anyone writhing on the floor. Start in Advent, because Advent is awesome for candles.

    – “Liturgical decorating” life hacks – this Christmas, grab your favorite Christmas cards and slip them into 5×7 picture frames. Start with just one if that’s all you can handle. Boom! You have liturgically decorated! You win!

    – If you’re like me and have old religious calendars and Magnificats laying around (not to mention prayer cards, etc) then you could slide those into the SAME picture frame. So at this point I have 3 photo frames with 4 images each in them, which I switch out seasonally! Keeping the spares INSIDE the frame is the key. Ain’t nobody got time to hunt such things down from other parts of the house! Again, if you only have one, you’re winning. Put it near your prayer table.

    – Pick one crucifix / icon to cover with purple during Lent. (Or whatever color you have. I’ve used a bandana – Jesus doesn’t care! Baby steps!) It makes a big difference, and gives kids a visual, liturgical clue!

    • Erika Anstead

      At least for the at school no fire, what if you got a battery operated candle? (like this one? http://amzn.to/2bwjKq2) That way you can get the same effect without worrying about fire!?
      But speaking of school things, I still remember my 4th grade teacher would have a “Jesus Chair” front and center in the room during Religion class.

  • Tanya Vigneau

    Our 5 kids are all under 10 and we are def low on the prayer spectrum…… Grace before meals and the rosary is kinda where its at. Sometimes just a decade and sometimes ( always on Sundays) the whole thing. We do more praying in the winter when everyone is inside together whereas in the summer the kids scatter outside till the last min before bedtime. Its always a work in progress.

  • Jessie

    I got my 5 and almost 3 year old excited about morning prayer by lighting a candle on our mantle/altar. We do a brief, rhyming morning offering I grew up with, a Hail Mary and “special prayer” (their own words). Our family evening prayer is s-h-o-d-d-y at best so basically I shouldn’t even be writing any kind of advisory comment here…maybe I’ll just scroll the ones here for ideas (and proceed to feel awful about our [lack of] prayer life).

  • Dominika

    “I’m not talking Sacred heart of Jesus cupcakes or St. Juan Diego piñatas, but the regular Scripture study with your kids, the daily Mass attendance (or not), the family Rosary or decade, the morning offering, the recited litanies.” hahaha I love it. I always wonder if I’m the only one who doesn’t want to do all the themed crafts and snacks but focus more on cultivating a rhythm of of liturgical living in the home.

    I generally get really ambitious and then fail miserably, but right now the angelus at noon is where it’s at for us. Magnificat’s app is great. Church bells ringing out of my phone is always a good idea. And maybe I’m imagining it, but it seems like my husband always comes home in a better mood when I remember to say it.

    We do a really simple night prayer with our son–a mix of your standard catholic prayers+a few from the Office+intentions+a litany of our family’s patron saints. I really want to add a hymn for the appropriate liturgical season to it.

    And that’s basically it. I’m taking baby steps to work on my prayer life. So up next to work on is doing a morning offering and a family rosary on Sundays.

  • Cami

    We need to reevaluate our prayer life as a family too for age appropriateness (kiddos almost 5, almost 4, 1.5, and one on the way) but I do *sing* the Our Father and Hail Mary/Gentle Women regularly when they are babies. My bigger boys still like them at bedtime too. With the babies I think of it as prayer time as well as exposing baby to the words. We sing a lot of what we call “Jesus songs” in the car and in the home as well.

  • Lisa

    I am so relieved that “Do You Have a Family Liturgy?” turned out to be a call for brainstorming, as opposed to a Popcak-style “why don’t you have a family liturgy by now???” post. 🙂 It’s something we struggle with. We need to step it up a notch. But here’s my offering to the stone soup, in the hopes that the sum will be greater than its parts:

    On morning car rides to wherever we’re going, I sing, call-and-response style: This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Some days they join me, some days not. It’s a start.

    At bedtime we sometimes read saint stories, and include requests to our patron saints to pray for us.

    And I don’t know if this counts, but when we’re cleaning, I routinely make reference to the less fortunate, as in, “Are you going to wear these pants again, or should I give them away for a poor little girl to wear? My 3-year-old will often respond “Give dem to da poor wittle girl!” As if there is only one, particular poor little girl in the world, and she’s getting all of my daughter’s used pants. Which I find to be an adorably innocent response. Come to think of it, perhaps that’s a good time in our day to pause and add in a prayer for the less fortunate and thanksgiving for our own blessings.

  • Jean

    Thank you to Julie for not opposing her child’s call to vocation. Thank you to all who are raising children in the faith, not only teaching them the traditional prayers but also introducing them to scripture.

    When our kids were young we read to them daily from a children’s bible. If you take the daily Mass readings you can find them in the children’s bibles if you want to keep in step with the Church’s liturgy. Along with this we tried to instill in them a sense of not only Christian morality but how to incorporate it into everyday life, into action for the Lord. We are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet, after all, not to do the minimum by praying and turning a blind eye to what’s going on around us (this in relation to someone who posted criticisms at the end of the comments on speaking up and for our faith two postings ago). Age appropriate, of course, whether helping a neighbor with weeding her flower bed, shoveling a walkway, bringing a meal to a new mom. Always with linking these actions to our faith. Suppertime discussions of the day’s events usually included references to on the ground service to God and neighbor. Not that we spoke of every action or event in this way but it helped them to understand their role as Christians. In a way I think you could say this is a form of family liturgy. We also made use of sacramentals, and the Advent wreath was something they especially enjoyed.

    More than ever it’s becoming increasingly important to learn how and when and why to speak up. Those who mistakenly think we’re trying to impose our beliefs on others need to know they are teachings handed down to us and as applicable now as ever. My husband and I taught our children to defend our faith with charity and respect, something they still do now they’re adults with kids of their own.

    Don’t be too hard on yourselves if you don’t accomplish as much as you’d like to, bit by bit with God’s help you’re succeeding, and know you are being blessed as you do so.

  • Kaitlin Alfermann

    The easiest thing we’ve done is replace the Before Meal prayer with a Morning Offering at breakfast and the Angelus at lunch. I said REPLACE, not add. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 🙂

  • jeanette

    Your children are very small at this time, so you start small. The biggest thing is to lead by example. They need to see you praying, they need to hear you give thanks and praise to God for the good things in life and to hear you tell God you are sorry or ask for help in the little daily things. Their eyes and ears are open to you (even when it doesn’t seem like it). So, not putting on a show, but really living your faith out loud, so to speak. If they know the things you say and do reflect what you believe, they will be open to imitating your example (and that is the scary part, because more often than not our example is poor, so never forget to pray for the graces you need and to make the example of going to confession as well). So, be more conscious about whether you are actually telling God thank you or asking for help etc, rather than complaining etc. around your children (and if you do complain, correct yourself out loud in a way that conveys to them that you are mindful of your mistakes and God’s ability to give you the grace to do better).

    One thing you could do to start things off in your new home is be sure to invite a priest over to give your home a blessing (don’t necessarily wait until it is all unpacked and “perfect” but in the state of progress towards being a place to call home). This makes it clear that God’s blessings are an important part of our life, even our very home where we make our family life happen.

    Sunday mass is the most important thing for your children. Daily mass is something some people are up for, some not. I longed to go to daily mass, but didn’t start doing so until we were at a parish that actually had daily mass that was accessible to us. My kids were older at the time. We just moved to a new town and went to daily mass a few times a week. It was my daughter who requested that we go every day. So, sometimes it is important to let the children lead you to the next level. Remember that as they age.

    When they were small, we would pray one rosary decade a day, and I would give a reflection on the meaning of the mystery that was accessible to their heart and mind.

    We always prayed grace before our meals, even if we were somewhere else, like a restaurant or someone’s home. That instills in them a sense that there is no problem in taking Christ everywhere you go. You can bring God to others where He otherwise might be absent. Again, definitely not as a display of piety, but as a genuine moment of real thanksgiving to the God that we believe is near to us at every moment. It is something that should come naturally as eating the meal itself.

    Take advantage of the season of Lent and Easter and Advent and Christmas to practice at least one devotion related to that liturgical season. It gets them attuned to the seasons of the Church.

    When my children were much older, we used the Liturgy of the Hours for our prayer and it creates a definite rhythm to the day. We read scripture together, we read the Catechism of the Catholic Church together. We prayed the rosary together daily. We read works of the saints together. Reading aloud together was a very important part of our life anyhow, so it was a natural thing. We also sang together, as my children were musically inclined. Different kids have differing talents, so make use of them to create faith experiences that make sense for their daily life and age.

    Prayer at bedtime which is personal. I remember posting about this before. Just let them pray in their own words, individually, about their day and their petitions for other people. This helps them see the connection between how they spend the day and how it relates to their faith. It also helps them to become more mindful of the needs others may have. It especially helps them cultivate that love relationship with God, the one who listens to their heart attentively.

    Place holy images and statues around the home that have meaning. You don’t have to give long speeches to them about these images; the images will speak to their heart over time and they will ask questions that open discussions. Give them some items of their own, too, like a children’s bible that they can read anytime they want (and you can read with them, too), a rosary of their own when they are old enough to care, a medal if that is appropriate for their age, a crucifix in their bedroom. Over time, these will acquire meaning.

    I remember going into my parents’ bedroom as a child. There on the wall was an image of the resurrection, a crucifix, and a statue of Mary on the dresser (which a number of years ago my mother gave to me, so it is now in my bedroom). I would ponder them very often. My oldest sister had her first communion photo hanging in a frame on the wall near her bed. I used to ponder that one, too. I taped a brochure on my bedside wall of the mysteries of the rosary (notice, I did it for myself, not something my mom or dad did for me). And we had a family bible sitting out (and it seemed like a mysterious, but very holy thing to me…sadly I never saw or heard my parents read from it…). Sunday mass is a very prominent memory in my mind, and seeing people staying after mass to pray when everyone else ran off to get donuts impressed itself on my mind with such mystery. I have definite memories of my own interior prayer life as a very young child not prompted by any adult. So always remember that you can do your part, but God himself will do some of the work as well. You just need to prepare the soil for His work to prosper.

    • Jean

      Love what you’ve written, Jeanette, and the manner in which you expressed these suggestions. Thank you for your tips.I think this should be a printout wrapped around the Baptismal candle given to parents when their babies are baptized. I sure could have used these suggestions along with the others posted when we brought our firstborn home 42 years ago.

      Your suggestion of a rosary of their own – one of my fondest memories was of overhearing our youngest telling a religious sister that she couldn’t make it to the end of her rosary without falling asleep (because she prayed it unbeknownst to us when she went to bed). It was a cord rosary, kept under her pillow. That sister smiled and told her not to worry, just to do her best, and if she fell asleep the angels would finish it for her. To this day she says she felt encouraged.

  • Melissa

    I love and am really encouraged and challenged by the comments from the moms with grown kids. Wish I had some ladies like you in my day to day life! Thanks for the wisdom

    • Jean

      Over here, Melissa – you do have us in your day to day in a manner of speaking. Ever since I began reading this blog I’ve included Jenny and all readers/commenters in my Rosary prayers. I pray a few extra Hail Marys for those who don’t have time to finish theirs due to the demands of mothering. When I was younger I had a prayer partner at our church, an elderly lady who took it upon herself to pray daily for our family. I found it very comforting to know she was praying for us during those times when we (and especially I) were not able to pray for ourselves. I’ve no doubt there are a lot more of us doing that than you might realize. I do think Jeanette has a real gift for expressing and clarifying. I am incredibly encouraged by what you younger moms are doing in passing on our faith. We all benefit as we join together as a community.

  • Jessi

    I loved reading everyone’s comments–so good. I am totally taking the scripture memorization at breakfast when my little one gets old enough.

    We wrote out our family “regula” a couple of weeks ago with things we do and things we want to do as a family. We have a way of thinking that if it is written, it will be….

    *After Sunday Mass prayers (mostly my husband serves the altar so we pray together afterward)
    Three Hail Mary’s, Memorare, the Marian prayer for the season, St. Michael the Archangel and a litany to our family name and patron saints. It takes 5 minutes, which is about the time it takes for the line to get out the door and not have to hurry up and wait to get out of the parking lot. Win, win
    -Once a month together for another mass + confession + cheap family date (like a picnic); ideally a First Saturday
    *Morning offering when we wake
    *Angelus before the before meal prayers (usually we are together for breakfast and dinner, which is closest enough to the 6s, and we try to remember to do it on our own while at work)
    * grace after meal prayer + prayer for the faithful departed (this is also awesome because it is a cue for my 15 month old about when dinner is officially over and she can go play, and it takes 30 seconds)
    -One watches baby whilst other goes to holy hour once a week (someday, we WILL make this happen)
    *Compline Antiphon + nunc dimitis + antiphon + litany of prayers with baby just before she goes to bed
    -Liturgically appropriate hymn in front of our Our Lady of Shoenstatt image after dinner
    *when I wake up before the baby I try to wake her by singing a hymn… admittedly partly because when I fed her to sleep I would sing O Sanctissima and I kind of miss it and because that is the best way I can imagine to be woken
    *Chaplet of Divine Mercy on way home from work on Fridays (I started this for the Year of Mercy and I think it is going to stick)
    -Rosaries while cleaning, doing dishes, folding clothes; ora et labora and all that.
    *Lectio Divina, a novena for special occasions, or some other individual (but next to each other) prayer in bed before we go to sleep or read with an examine.
    *When my husband was living with a house of Franciscans they would get together once a week for what he described as a “how’s the toothpaste?” talk, as in “there are a lot of dudes living in this same house–how are we doing at community”, so during our budget and meal planning discussions twice a month we do the same for all those aspects of our life, but especially for our prayer life and we pray specific prayers for each other. I cannot say how much that has helped our little liturgical life and that have given us the ability to adjust our “regula” as our family life changes.
    (* are things we do, and the others we are working on.)

  • Kathryn

    We have three boys, ages 5, 3, and 1. Despite Sunday Mass attendance always being an absolute nightmare, about three or four months ago I followed the “little voice” that has been nudging me this direction since I started staying home with kids–with some encouragement from a wise priest–and just started going to daily Mass at 8am every morning, M-F, unless someone is too sick to attend. I resisted this for a long time, but kept hearing repeatedly that Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic faith and I wanted to participate in that. We really committed to going daily during the week so that it became the “norm” like eating breakfast (though we do not usually go on Saturdays). My husband goes into work really early, so it is just me and the three boys at Mass, and we do sit in the “cry” room but try to work on good mass participation at an age-appropriate level (i.e. I expect more participation from my 5 year old than the toddler). Honestly, it is difficult but still very fruitful. It has been great to see how it feeds great discussions and learning about our faith for the rest of the day (for example, at dinner time, when they ask for dessert, I say, “what color was the priest wearing today?” And if it is white or red, that means it was a feast day and they can have dessert! And then we can talk about the Saint celebrated that day. And no dessert for ordinary days, and what does that mean, etc.) With three boys, I do miss a lot of the scripture and homily, but I focus on picking up just one little “nugget” from scripture or homily each day, and between that and receiving Eucharist (!) it is a success no matter what. Because the reality is that, at home, I am lazy. And there are a million distractions and so I wasn’t devoting much time to the Lord, my prayer life was a mess and just hodge podge. Mass is an easy one-step package; I don’t have to look for my bible or latest book of scriptural reflections that is buried under that mountain of laundry, or try to eek out a moment of quiet in the insanity. I don’t have to figure out what I’m going to do that day to worship the Lord. We just show up for Mass every day to be a part of the great feast. And I don’t have to do anything to prepare for the feast! The Lord helps me hear what He needs me to hear that day. The parishioners have been so grateful to see us, too. I will say, it was a really rough transition for us, it took almost a full week or maybe even two to really get in the habit. And I do forgive myself if we are a few minutes late! If we are late enough to miss the gospel, I don’t receive Eucharist that day. And since it is daily, we’re out of there by 8:30 or 8:40 and after, we go home to do chores or sometimes go to do whatever we have planned that day, doctor’s appointments or playtime with friends, etc.

    Also, we say basic grace at every meal and listen to Christian music a lot during the day. We also try to have family prayer at the end of the day before bed, but like you I am (and really, all of us are) d-o-n-e by that time of day, so often my husband ends up praying with the older two (format: Praise God, thank God for one specific thing that day, ask for forgiveness for a mistake that day, and ask for one thing, conclude with Our Father) while I put the youngest to bed or clean up dishes.

    My oldest is getting ready to start kindergarten next week, so we will see how the routine changes with that! But I’m hoping we will be able to continue.

  • Christy

    We pray together with the kids before bed each night- Guardian Angel Prayer, St. Michael Prayer, then individual prayers aloud.

    Our main family liturgy (the Domestic Liturgy) is on Sunday mornings. We use the Sunday Morning Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) but read or sing the psalms. With 4 kids under the age of 7, this has been refined many, many times. Eric plays the guitar and most of it is sung. The kids all pick out instruments (tambourines, bongos, maracas, etc. all kid sized) which helps to keep their interest and participation levels high. Instruments help A LOT! After all the psalms and readings, Eric usually does a catechesis for the kids. He literally started at the beginning of the Bible and reads aloud a bit followed by a very brief discussion with the kids. Each Sunday, he just continues where he left off. After the catechesis he asks each child how they are doing, what is happening in their lives, and if they need to ask forgiveness from any other person in the family. We end with personal prayers and the kiss of peace.

    At the beginning I thought it was all too much given their ages. However, I have been blown away by what they share with us and how they ask forgiveness from one another. It’s been amazing! Many times refined, tweaked but all the while a complete blessing to our family.

    I have LOVED reading all the comments. So many great ideas!!! Can’t wait to try so many new things.

    • jeanette

      You reminded me of something I used to do with my children on the drive home from mass: discuss the readings, the gospel, and the homily with them. Sometimes other aspects, too, like a particular piece of music. The older they get, the more important it becomes to do that with them.

      Personally, I read the readings the night before (and I go to daily mass). This, too, can be a help in sharing scripture with your kids daily. Even if you don’t go to the daily mass. When they are really young, maybe it is more of just a way for you to focus on your own soul, but still finding some aspect of it to share with your little ones.

  • Meagan Daoust

    So, ironically, the one thing we do outsource is religious ed, lol. Only because Mark and I have been teaching for ten years so we’re there already, it’s the curriculum (Faith & Life) we’d probably use anyway and the kids get that “going to school” experience.

    But every good Religious Educator knows the best education starts at home. We’ve done various things throughout the year, celebrated feast days of patrons and favorite saints, etc. This year I found “Gen2Rev” at the homeschool conference. It’s the family version of the Great Adventure Timeline. I’ve looked at their kids version for a few year now but always walk away from it. It was just missing something. Emily Cavins is a contributor Gen2Rev. There are three levels every family member works at their level. There are stories and worksheets to go along with everything. I plan on starting it in the next two weeks and doing it on Sundays as family Bible time. http://www.gen2revcatholic.com/

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