Prayer, the enrichment of faith in your home
by Jacinta Splonskowski
This antiphon from a recent morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours resonated with me as an expression of what we as parents desire on behalf of our children. We desire that they develop a deep knowledge and intimacy with the Lord and the Church as an unfailing guide and to never lose their way along life’s journey, both as they grow and as they go forth from our homes. Thus, I think of the practices to enrich the faith in our home as an effort to set the stage for an encounter with Christ as well as foster this lifelong relationship, one in which they seek the law and the voice of the Lord in all aspects of their lives.
In reflecting over the ways our family has worked to foster Catholic culture within our home the past 17 years, the first theme that emerges is the priority of establishing a regular time for prayer to enrich the faith and to encourage a relationship with God. We know that any relationship or good habit requires regular attention and consistent patterns. Our goal is to set that foundation, so that our children grow up with the backdrop of daily prayer as a constant in their lives. In order for the law of the Lord to sink into the “depths” of our heart, we need this.
In our family, one way in which we have made efforts to instill “the law of the Lord” within “the depths of hearts” is with a pattern of praying Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as Lectio Divina with the Mass readings of the day. Since Liturgy of the Hours is based on psalms and Scripture readings, and Lectio Divina is a meditative, prayerful reading of Scripture, we talk to our children about prayer as a relationship with God to emphasize that we can come to know him, hear him speak, and respond to him through our prayer.
To do this, we established a pattern to each day with morning chores, and then a gathering for prayer at 7 a.m. five days a week. When our children were young, we did this as a couple while the children were elsewhere. Since then, we have moved to prayer time with all the children, adapting as their age allows. At the infant and toddler stage, they were simply present with us. As they grew older, our non-readers would look at images or draw a picture of the Gospel they heard. Our emerging readers would then get a turn to have their part of the prayer to read.
Now that our seven children are ages 8 to 17, each of them has his own part, either praying with the group, leading an antiphon or response during Morning Praying, or reading a passage of Scripture. We follow the Morning Prayer and Lectio Scripture readings with set times of silence to allow for meditation, reception of what the Lord may be saying to us, as well as our response to him. This is followed by journaling or sharing of what struck us in the reading, ways God has answered our prayers, or how he has spoken to us.
Sometimes this goes well, and we are inspired and filled with consolation. Other times we get distracted, bogged down by routine, or struggle with the anxieties of the day such that the prayer seems empty. Despite the ebbs and flows of prayer, we are convinced of its value and the need for perseverance. We are so often reminded that blessed is the one who meditates, for “the law of the LORD is his joy; ... He is like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; Its leaves never wither; whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
Jacinta Splonskowski and her husband Steve have been married for 18 years and live with their 7 children in rural Hawley, Minn.