I always imagined that a “family rosary” would be a time of quiet reflection and orderly prayer right before bedtime.
Well, it does happen right before bedtime but the rest I don’t think has ever been achieved.
To start, I should explain that we have six kids. Our oldest turned seven in March. Our youngest is 2 months. To avoid the armor piercing wail of a child saying “But ____ ALWAYS gets to go first. I NEVER get a turn!!!!” we have decided to have a favorite child. Every month we write the kids names on the calendar day by day in age order. Each day’s “favorite” kid gets the “ravioli” spoon at meals, gets to pass out vitamins, choose a bedtime story and pick the first rosary for prayer time. All other kids go in age order after. So far, this has helped to keep a veneer of sanity in our house.
Rosary time starts out peacefully enough.
“Okay, kids, come get your rosaries.”
“Susan, wait your turn.” (Susan is 1 1/2)
“Susan, wait your turn.”
“Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth and put it back on the table.”
“Daddy, Magwet took the wosawee I wanted.”
“When it’s your turn you can pick first.”
“Mommy, can I have the same rosary as Daddy?” (Two of our rosaries are the same. All the others are different. Six kids, two adults, Mommy and Daddy get whatever rosaries are left. You do the math.)
“You can if no one else picks the other wooden one.”
“But someone always does.” (Sits down with a pouting face.)
“Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth.”
“Okay, tonight we are praying the 2nd Joyful Mystery – the Visitation.” (We only can handle one decade a night.)
“Can anyone other than Lucy tell me what the Visitation is?”
“The Visitation is…”
“Can anyone OTHER than Lucy tell me what the Visitation is?”
“The Visitation is when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth.” (Puts on a shy smile and usually starts laughing)
“Very good, Margaret.”
(At this point Lucy, who reads as much as she breaths, will usually fill in any gaps in the explanation with a memorized exposition from a kids Bible.)
“Okay, In the Name of the Father – Susan take the rosary out of your mouth – and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Anne, what would you like to pray for tonight?”
“Ummm, fow Susan’s teeff, fow Mommy, fow baby Benet (Benedict, my sister’s son).” Anne is “fwee” and is sometimes very difficult to understand.
“Lucy, who do you want to pray for?”
“I want to pray for all the unborn babies and for Susan’s teeth.”
“Okay, only one of you has to mention Susan’s teeth because we are all going to pray for everything you mention.”
“Margaret, what do you want to pray for?”
“I want to pray for Susan’s teeth, for Daddy and for selling our house.”
“Susan, take the rosary out of your mouth and give it to me.”
“Andrew, what do you want to pray for? We are already praying for Susan’s teeth.”
(Andrew stops rolling around on the floor for a minute to think.)
“I want to pway fow Susan’s teeff, and fow Uncle Mike.” (goes back to rolling around)
“Andrew, please sit on the couch.”
“Alright, let’s start.”
“What bead are we on? Are we on this one? I can’t find my wosawee. SUSAN GIVE ME BACK MY WOSAWEE! Anne, take the rosary off of your feet. Susan, put down the Mary statue. Can I pway the pupow beads?”
“Andrew, please stop bouncing on the couch.”
“Susan, don’t hit Peter.”
“What bead are we on? Are we on this one? Anne, take the rosary off of your feet. Susan, put down the Mary statue. Susan, PUT DOWN THE MARY STATUE!”
“Aw we on dis bead?”
“Aw we on dis bead?”
“Anne, the rosary isn’t a choker. I forgot, are we on 8 or nine?”
“Are you kids praying with us tonight? I can’t hear any of you.”
“Which bead aw we on?”
“We aren’t on any bead. This is the end.”
I keep telling myself that we are preparing the kids to get to heaven but right now it seems more like we are working on decreasing our purgatory time. At some point, probably a decade into the future, I think we will actually be able to pray an entire rosary together in a peaceful way. If I’m wrong, please don’t let me know.
I am a Pentecostal, so my worship method is quite different from yours. I think it is wonderful, though, that you have worship and time with your children.
I promise, I won’t let you know….
I think while I was reading that the number of kids you have tripled before my eyes … 😀
Our family Rosaries weren’t much different from yours when I was eight (and read as much as I breathed, too!) with sisters who were six and two.
By the time I was in early high school and my sisters were in junior high and elementary school, we prayed the Rosary in the car on the way to school in the morning, and we’d stopped chewing on the beads. We even got through five decades in the 20 minute ride most mornings!
Woow, now I REALLY want to have a big family!
No, really. It looks like so much fun. 🙂
We’re still waiting for kid #1 to be born… any day now! But we’ve done family rosaries with my husband’s brother’s family (six kids) and sister’s family (three kids all under age six) and what you describe sounds pretty familiar. While I have a hard time concentrating and don’t find those prayer times particularly hlepful for meditation, I think they are in other ways even more valuable than the time I spend praying the rosary by myself or the time spent praying the liturgy of the hours. Praying with children helps me to remember that we are all called to become like children. I remember first that prayer is not primarily about me and how I feel and my state of mind… after all St Therese had years of dry prayer when she was in a dark night of the soul. It seems to me part of a parent’s vocation is to sacrifice some of that feeling of closeness to God in meditative prayer as we live out our vocation to lead our children to Christ. So we don’t get to meditate on the rosary the way we used to, we don’t get to hear the whole homily, we have to leave mass to change a diaper or take a child to the bathroom, or calm a screaming baby… but the thing is in doing all those things we are following God’s call for us to let our children come to him.
And how many times in the gospel does Jesus seek out solitude to pray only to be beseiged by his followers? They always seemed to be able to find him just when he most wanted to have a little peace. But he was always patient with them when they interrupted his personal time with the Father. He never turned them away.
So yeah, I think having the amazing saintly patience to pray with our children, especially when they seem uncontrollable, to take them to mass every week and to teach them about God… That’s what God calls us to do as parents. And that’s what I’m counting on to get me to heaven.
I loved it! I agree with Melanie, it’s the WILL to pray and the example you set that IS the prayer.
I am ashamed to say we did not pray the rosary with our kids, but I wish we had. I guess there were lots of reasons, but retrospectively, it would have been good to do so…
My mom did try with us and I think it was a little easier because we were older (4 and 5) when she converted along with the 4 kids…
Hang in there! You’re doing a great thing!
ROFLOL!!! I often ponder the exact same question… We only have four (another on the way) and it’s the same here. I actually moved our Rosary (just one decade) to the morning because the children were getting up too early and interupting mama’s rosary. I’ve been enjoying the morning rosary better because bedtime is such a battle right now; I’m just to tired…
I’m sure Jesus and Mary enjoy watching all the children “praying” and the just chuckle 🙂
Yep. That’s a family rosary. We’re banking on graces through perserverence. Maybe that’s where the grace of the family rosary arises. I suspect that the noise and distractions of a large family rosary makes us truly appreciate those rarer times of solitude.
Are you sure you only have 6 children? Sounded like a lot more to me. I applaud the fact that your family at least makes the effort to pray together even if you seldom make it all the way through! Thank you for sharing this funny yet inspiring story.
Oh, My! Was that too funny the way you described it. I have enough trouble just sitting down to have a little family Bible reading & prayer time with my two boys. I can’t imagine getting through that with 6 children! God bless you and your wife for doing your best to raise Godly children. It sounds like you have a wonderful bunch of kids. 🙂