Not too many years ago, when my second child was a baby, I received some good advice from a priest during confession. I can’t remember the circumstances that prompted him, but his message has remained with me:
“Mom, just gather your children to you and pray with them.”
It was good advice for a stay-at-home mom. As moms, we feed our children; we change their diapers; we tend their wounds; we teach them; we entertain them; we put them to sleep. But in the midst of all that, we need to just stop, gather them to us, and pray.
There is never a perfect time to pray with your children. And, the prayer you do is never perfect. And that’s okay.
As St. Vincent Pallotti said: “You must be holy in the way God asks you to be holy. God does not ask you to be a Trappist monk or a hermit. He wills that you sanctify your everyday life.”
We must keep doing these things mothers must do: feeding, cleaning, working, tending. And we pray as we do these things and teach our children to do the same.
Perhaps you are already in the habit of praying and sanctifying the everyday with your children. If so, keep up the good work!
If not, here are some ideas to get you started (just choose one or two . . . this is not meant to be a you-must-do-everything-on-this-list list):
- the morning offering—at breakfast or in the car on the way to school
- the Angelus at noon or six
- a prayer before homework or discussing a serious issue
- a Hail Mary when you hear a siren or pass a graveyard
- the sign of the cross when you drive by a Catholic church
- prayer before meals
- the Rosary (or just a decade!) or Divine Mercy chaplet at three or after dinner
- evening/night prayers at bedtime (or on the car ride home in the evening)
- aspirations throughout the day (short prayers to direct our minds to God) such as “My Lord and my God!” or “God you are SO good!”
- a night time blessing from parents to children
- making a small cross on your children’s foreheads (you might also find them doing it to each other, which will melt your heart!)
- singing hymns throughout the day (as St. Augustine says, singing is praying twice!)
Having holy water or candles or holy cards around for some of these moments makes it extra fun and also brings home the message of creating a sacred space in the midst of the everyday.
Remember, you will sanctify the everyday like a mom, not like a Trappist monk or a hermit. You will sanctify your day surrounded by smears of jam, runny noses, toys on the floor, unmade beds, baskets of laundry, crying children, unmet expectations, hurt feelings, and hormonal upheaval. And that’s okay.
Emily, this is my constant question! What does holiness look like for me, given my vocation to family? Thank you for this reminder not to compare ourselves to Trappist monks and others who have chosen different vocations. Thank you for validating our efforts to sanctify our daily family lives!