On Praying as a Family
Pope Francis spoke at his general audience on August 26, 2015 about the tremendous gift that prayer is for a family. He pointed out that we often say that we do not have time to pray. In response he said, “But do we also love our Lord a bit? Does the thought of God move us, astound us, make us tender?” When God’s is the love that we hold most dear, “the affection of all our affections,” as the pope put it, we will joyfully make time for prayer.
Prayer is not a “multipl[ication] of words” but rather a movement of the heart: “A heart inhabited by affection for God also makes a thought without words become a prayer, or an invocation before a sacred image, or a kiss sent toward a church.” Pope Francis said, “It is lovely when mothers teach their little children to send a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady. How much tenderness there is in this!” Parents have been entrusted with the beautiful task of teaching their children how to pray, how to have affection for Jesus and Mary. The Holy Spirit is active in this work, and prayer can then become natural and easy for a child. “It is in the family that one learns to ask for and appreciate this gift of the Spirit. If one learns to say it with the same spontaneity with which one learns to say ‘father’ and ‘mother,’ one has learnt it forever.”
The Holy Father noted that the family is always busy today, “occupied and preoccupied,” and that mothers and fathers “could win the Nobel Prize” for the way that they stretch the hours of the day. He said, “The spirit of prayer gives back time to God, it steps away from the obsession of a life that is always lacking time, it rediscovers the peace of necessary things, and discovers the joy of unexpected gifts.” Reflecting on the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42), Pope Francis noted that Jesus told the sisters that the “better part” was listening to Him. Therefore, the pope exhorted the faithful to read the Word of God every day. He gave various ideas for family prayer: Read a Gospel passage together; pray the Rosary, meditating on its mysteries, pray in the morning, evening and at mealtimes, say a prayer together “with great simplicity.”
Finally, the Holy Father ended by noting that the prayer of the family envelops its members in the love of God.