QUIRAY: Embracing a holy and whole family prayer life
February 8, 2022
To live a holy life within our families presupposes living a family life wholly. There is no better place to learn to be whole than in the home. Why the emphasis on wholesome living? I submit that this is fundamental and foundational to teaching the faith, growing it and nurturing it. The first encounter of communicating with God is experienced at home. A toddler first hears that the Triune God is the object of praise as one says: “In the name of the Father… and of the Son… and of the Holy Spirit.”
Sadly, not every home can foster this environment. Often, it is difficult for children and adults to grow their faith without the safe confines of a place where family life is lived wholly. Human life is already a tough roller coaster of daily challenges, emotions, conflicts and struggles, even in the most normal of family settings. Our world is filled with distractions.
The obvious question is: How does one achieve wholeness in the family? For this to happen, family life must be given pre-eminence, the necessary priority for all its members and the support systems around it, especially the Church community. There will always be the argument that brokenness exists and persists in every family. Let us not be discouraged. This is why Jesus entered the human family, that it may be healed of its brokenness. Remember that the human family that Jesus entered had gaping holes.
In St. Matthew’s Gospel story on the genealogy of Jesus, we know that Christ’s lineage is not spotless. In those three sets of 14 generations, tucked within are names of people who do not have wholeness in their persons.
The sub-plots of Tamar, Ruth and David, who succumbed to Bathsheba, are just a few to recall. Despite these imperfections, the Davidic lineage produced a family that was wholly human and wholly virtuous. God worked even through those who were deemed unholy or spiritually unfit to produce the Messiah.
So how can we make it happen in our families, smudged with problems, anxieties and seemingly unending disputes?
One of the keys to keeping God present in my own family life was made possible by our involvement with a lay family evangelization ministry — Missionary Families of Christ and its predecessor ministry entities. It provided us with spiritual support as a couple, as parents, and the opportunity to serve in its Family Ministries with our three children, past their college years. Our basic support, a “household unit,” provided a forum for praying, faith sharing and Christian fellowship.
Retreats, youth camps and conferences augmented this. Our initial involvement was timely as our oldest son was only 13, our daughter was 8 and our youngest son was barely a year old. By learning to live family life as a domestic Church, separations and conflicts innate within family life that inflicted wounds managed to find healing.
The assault on family life was launched far back in human history. The break-up of the wholeness of marriage in the Genesis story of the fall of humankind is proof. Despite inherent defects in our world, God finds ways to keep us whole. The vocation to love within sacramental grace is made possible within human imperfection. We simply have to fully entrust ourselves to God, who alone is holy.
Deacon Michael Quiray is the pastoral assistant and director of liturgy at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.
Teens from around the Archdiocese share their perspective on faith.
Q: How does your family keep Jesus Christ the center of your home?
A: “Our family prays together at least once a day. We pray the Rosary together as often as possible and go to daily Mass at least twice a week. Recently, we have been listening to Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast together every night along with praying part of the Liturgy of the Hours.”
– Marian S.
A: “My family is always striving to keep our faith close in everything we do. Every day we try to look for a way we’re Christ-like. Anytime we can help, we will. My family has made it a tradition to go feed the hungry every Christmas.”
– John S.
A: “Much like every Catholic Asian household, our house is littered with crosses, pictures and statues of Jesus or Mary, seemingly staring at everyone who enters our abode. So quite literally, Jesus Christ is the center of my house. I’ve been blessed to have grown up in such a setting because I’ve always had someone to talk to in times of need when I felt alone… COVID-19 was especially a hard time for everyone when it came to faith, and I was no exception, but I had my supportive family that would continue to pray the Rosary together every night…”
– Jasmine N.
A: “My family keeps Jesus the center of our home in many ways. To start, we attend Mass weekly. We also pray before every meal and have crosses/Bible verses throughout our house. During the Christmas season, we have a manger scene in our living room and many other Christmas decorations. My family aims to keep Jesus as the center of our lives, and I think they’ve done a pretty good job!”
– Willis E.