Today we will focus on mercy as it applies to motherhood in the Spiritual Act of Mercy: Pray for the Living and the Dead.
Teaching our children to pray is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give them. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing. Teaching our children to practice the presence of God and truly live in constant communion with him is a tremendous act of mercy and love. Perhaps this is daunting because we were not taught how to do this; perhaps we struggle to make time for prayer in our lives and especially in our family’s life. You are not alone! Very few of us manage to wrangle them all long enough to get a Rosary in, and when we do, we wonder how efficacious it is since everyone was distracted (or fighting the whole time). Simply teaching them to “talk” to God throughout the day is a wonderful act of mercy.
We can pray for the living simply by saying their names to the Father who knows them. We can pray for the dead after each meal as a way of always remembering those in Purgatory. We can also teach our children the beauty of uniting our sorrows, sufferings, and even minor annoyances with Jesus for an intention or for the souls in Purgatory. Scripture is clear that we can unite our sufferings with those of Christ on the cross.
Prayer is simply speaking to the Father. We can do this without ceasing because we can offer our life as a prayer. In the early years, when you are in the trenches and can’t recall the last time you showered or went to the bathroom by yourself, your body is a living sacrifice, and you can offer it as a prayer for your intentions and others. When you spend sleepless nights up with littles and are too tired to pray actual words, you can unite your sacrifice to Christ’s and ask him to use it for his will. Gratitude is another way to pray, as well as a beautiful antidote to self-pity. I remember in the early years, when I spent the better part of a decade pregnant and nursing and chasing toddlers, I would find any little thing to offer thanks for as a way of pulling me out of myself and away from any resentment toward the seeming thanklessness of my job: “Thank you, Lord, for running water.” “Thank you for my washing machine and dishwasher.” “Thank you that babies sleep (sometimes) and that husbands come home.” “Thank you that your mercies are new every morning.”
Let us strive to make our homes a place of prayer for the living and the dead, for in a home full of prayer, you will find its inhabitants rich in love and mercy.