(See the Getting Started page for Step #1.)
After your home altar is ready, the time has come to establish a daily prayer rhythm in your home. It’s not just a Sunday thing, this prayer stuff! Indeed, having been commanded to “pray without ceasing,” we are supposed to be ever-alert to the presence of God and be in constant conversation with Him. Fortunately, creating a daily prayer rhythm and a sensitivity to prayer opportunities within the family is simple.
1. Dedicate Your Day. The Morning Offering is one of the most important prayers you will ever pray: really it turns your whole day into a beautiful offering to God, making your daily jobs and duties a prayer even when you are busy and distracted by many things. Here’s a very short, basic one for the littlest children: Lord, I offer Thee this day all I think, and do, and say. St. Therese of Lisieux is said to have used this one:
Oh my God, I offer You all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them in the furnace of His merciful love. Oh my God, I ask of You for myself and for those dear to me the grace to fulfill perfectly Your holy will, to accept for love of You the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all eternity. Amen.
And last but not least, here is Fr. Z’s post with the very beautiful Daily Offering to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pick one to use every day. Gather the family together in the morning and consecrate all your waking hours to God.
2. Evaluate Your Day. At the close of the day, it is time for thanksgiving for blessings of the day. Before going to bed it is also traditional to do a private and personal Examination of Conscience and then pray the Act of Contrition. Here is a short suggested Prayer for the Home perhaps to be prayed every evening as a family before bed:
We beseech You, O Lord, to visit this home, and to drive far from it all the snares of the enemy: let Your holy angels dwell therein so as to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be always upon us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
3. Use the Day’s Events to Pray.
- About to eat a meal? Pray the meal blessing prayer: Bless us O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to recieve from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen. (In Latin: Benedic, Domine nos et haec tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.)
- Hearing a siren? Pray a Hail Mary.
- Passing a cemetery, or thinking of someone who has died? Pray the Eternal Rest prayer: Eternal rest grant unto them (him/her), O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them (him/her), and may they (he/she)rest in peace. Amen.
- Passing a palm reader or other evil place? Pray the Prayer to St. Michael (Latin version).
- Passing a Catholic Church? Make a Sign of the Cross to acknowledge Christ’s presence within.
Steeped in prayer in this way, your family will discover a new awareness of God. Be amazed at the ways we humans are privileged to communicate with Him! We pray for ourselves and for those we know and love, and for strangers that we do not know but because we want to love them the way God loves them. May your family’s prayer life be catalyzed and revitalized and may Our Lord bless you with His graces!
(Step #3 will give you ideas on how to establish a weekly rhythm of fasting and feasting, delving especially into the importance of really celebrating Sunday as a day set apart.)