Years ago I would often ask families whose children still practiced their faith, what they thought the secret was. More often than not the answer was praying the Rosary together, and so I decided we would too.
We go through phases of piety when we pray the rosary consistently after dinner, but to be honest over the years we haven't been as routine was I would like. I expect we are not alone in this! I have noticed a pattern has emerged in that we are more diligent after returning from homeschool camps, and when I have noticed a potential crisis of faith.
In the beginning when the children were little we struggled with inattention, arguments, refusal, whining, and super fast hail marys! It was years before Roo sat through a whole rosary with us. He would sit nearby colouring in, and later looking through faith based picture books. He has recently graduated to leading the fifth decade!
I often wondered if it was worth all the angst, but we pushed on through, despite the challenges. In the early years I would position myself between, Bibly and Koala, in order to nudge then when they repeatedly failed to open their mouths. I felt as thought most of the time my arms were twitching as I gently reminded my sons with my elbows!
My children came up with many ways to show their displeasure: back turning, needing to go to the bathroom, needing a drink, playing with the dogs when we forgot to remove them, complaining that Roo didn't have to join in, and speed praying to such an extent that it would difficult to figure out exactly what was being said! We have used a Rosary app with beautiful art work, but we had to cast this aside after arguments over the volume level, and children playing with the virtual beads.
We have had tears over whose turn it is to blow out the candle, the candle being snuffed with fingers and dipping ones fingers in the hot wax to make a mold.
Whilst increasing age has resulted in more compliance, my children still have a way to go. A recent tactic was the Mexican standoff, when one child refused to lead, and one parent refused to accept their decision. We sat in silence for quite a while that night!
More often than not the rosary became a time to exercise parent self control!
In some ways we have come full circle, as a now pious child has become rather upset that his brother prays too fast. This is the very same child who excelled in seeing how fast he could lead a decade.
Occasionally the parent is the one to cause trouble.
I like to pray the rosary using a card which has art work to depict each mystery of the rosary. This particular card worked best when folded in a triangle shape sitting infront of me. Bilby tried and succeeded in knocking my card down with a gentle breath of air. For some inexplicable reason I chuckled, and so did my son, but it didn't stop there. I could NOT stop laughing. The kind of laughter that makes no sense, when tears roll down your face and you have no idea why you are laughing. I kept telling myself to stop, I was being immature, we should be PRAYING, but all to no avail. It was totally inappropriate, but gee it was so much fun!
You may think it odd that I have decided to post about our apparent failures in family prayer, but I don't see it that way. More often than not things go smoothly despite my litany of challenges. I have learned so much through our attempts to pray together. I know beyond any doubt that all been worthwhile. I firmly believe that we receive many graces through the act of prayer, not based on how we feel whilst praying.
Would you like to share your family prayer challenges with me? I dare you! You might just make someone feel more normal.