We have completed day 24 of our 40-day family retreat for Family Consecration. I was skeptical that we would really keep this up. And I confess not all evening sessions have been conducive to peaceful contemplation. Fatigue, anxiety over pending homework, and the general business of the day have intruded. Several evenings we have been missing one or more members of the family. There have been two or three evenings when we found it impossible to gather. I really feared that once we broke the chain of nightly prayer and reflection we would not restart. Yet I have found after missing a session, all members of the family are eager to resume.
While the readings from both John Paul II and St. Louis de Montfort are profound, I look forward to the family Rosary more than anything else. The retreat started out asking for a single decade. Then we noticed that one day the instructions required two decades to complete our evening session. Then a few days later we said three decades. Now we are up to four decades. We have said the Rosary as a family in the past but never on a regular basis. The idea of such a commitment was daunting. However working up to it one decade at a time has been amazing. Once again it is pizza dough spirituality at work. Little by little we nudge our spiritual boundaries. I hope that after the formal retreat is concluded we will continue this family time in prayer.
Yesterday’s readings included these words by Pope John Paul II:
To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on. 42. It is also beautiful and fruitful to entrust to this prayer the growth and development of children. Does the Rosary not follow the life of Christ, from his conception to his death, and then to his Resurrection and his glory?
You know, Pope John Paull II is right. (That really isn’t surprising, is it?) The Rosary brings holy visual images into our daily lives. Calling to mind these mental pictures of our faith, even if only briefly, on a daily basis helps to sanctify our everyday lives. And while doing this as individuals is certainly beneficial, doing this as a family feels even more powerful.
So don’t be afraid to push your own family’s spiritual limits just a bit. Maybe you want to begin with a single Hail Mary together every evening. Maybe you are ready to try one or more decades of the Rosary. Do not be discouraged if you don’t look like the Holy Family with shining halos over each family member’s head. If you can’t gather the whole family, gather what you can. Your imperfect efforts, when placed in the hands of our Blessed Mother, will be magnified and purified as they are offered to Christ.