Friday, November 07, 2014

Family Prayer - challenge and blessing

While it may be a steep challenge for married couples to pray together each day, as parents they can take joy that it is easier to pray together as a family. Parents can give thanks to the Lord that their children - especially young children - are by their very presence and by soaking up their parents' presence and love are in effect allowing God to create among them a loving atmosphere of family, within which parents as well can feel comfortable to pray openly to the Holy Trinity.

If you, reader, are married, you could take this as a friendly warning, that for a husband and wife to pray together it is more difficult and challenging than taking off one's clothing, because clothing covers only the body, especially its more vulnerable parts; whereas silence or reluctance or unwillingness to pray together covers much more... all of our inner thoughts, feelings, fears and insecurities about ourselves, faith but also doubts about the profound mystery of God the Holy Trinity, all the fears and uncertainties about life, our future, our security, the well-being of our loved ones, and the success or failure or delay in accomplishment of all our plans, desires, and work.... All that we carry and host deep within us appears to be infinite because it probably is, which elicits very deep and strong feelings....

There is so much concealed beneath the thin veil of our silence that to even think of lifting the veil to our own awareness, let alone to another - however beloved that other is - can be and is for most people frightening and overwhelming. This explains the strong reluctance to do it and the strong emotional reaction when we ask or propose it when the other would rather not go there.... Also, the extent and depth of our holiness before God has much to do with the quality of our love of and care for others as well as love and care of our self, our own life. For this reason we are incompetent to judge the relative holiness of others, however flawed or weak they may in some ways appear to us.

This is another reason to hold others in high esteem and respect and even to consider them better than ourselves. This was recommended by many of the saints and is even in Scripture in one of Paul's letters. This attitude allows us to live in humility, in truth about ourselves, others, and God in the abiding and uninterrupted divine presence of the Holy Trinity within us and around us. Whatever we see and hear in another that appears to us to be wrong, in error, or possibly sinful, all this can simply inform how we can pray for them and pour out our love for them in this way and also through understanding, sympathy, compassion, and support. You remember how St Francis composed a hymn enshrining the wisdom he discovered that it is far better rather than be understood, to seek to understand; rather than be consoled, to console; rather than be loved, to love, and to be the first to forgive whenever forgiveness is needed.

As you consider the rich interior life of your spouse and father / mother of your children and the deep mystery of all that the Holy Trinity know, see, and love in them and all that God is working in them through their own natural processes and moment to moment thoughts, feelings, discernment, decisions, efforts, and labors, you as a person of faith could allow yourself to stand in awe of your spouse's deep mystery and entertain much interior dialogue with the Lord about them and your love for them and your desires and hopes for them, providing you are in accord with the Father's will for your spouse.... As you pray in such ways for him or her, you will find the Lord deepening your respect and love for them and I am quite certain that they will sense something of this through the peace and loving look they will most definitely perceive from you....

If you and your spouse do not yet prayer daily or even regularly, you remain free on occasion to ask your spouse to pray with you, but when you prepare to do so, may I suggest you first pray for them and about this, submitting your desires and needs to the Holy Trinity, asking God to purify your desires, needs, heart, mind, body, and soul, and then live in peaceful anticipation until the moment when you sense it is right to mention to your spouse your desire. Then may I suggest you frame it in terms of your own need, something like:

"Beloved, do you have a moment? With all that has been happening lately... (give examples) I have been feeling lonely and uncertain in my praying (or whatever your actual experience and feelings are).... I have been thinking and praying about this and I realize that I need you. I feel so secure and at peace when you accept to pray with me. You are my strength. Would you please think about it and let me know soon when you would be willing for us to pray together for a little while?"

You will see how he or she responds. If they manifest great reluctance you can let them see that you understand how difficult it is for them, and maybe they could simply do it like they do with your children and not worry about anything but just keep it simple. You could say you seem to recall Jesus saying something about how we should be as simple as children before God.

Know that I keep couples and families in my mind, heart, and soul for my daily prayer before the Lord for his Family....