Parents teach us many beautiful truths but the greatest gift they can give us, is a living faith and total trust in God. This faith and trust is not just taught. Rather, it is caught from those who have a God-experience. Happy the children who grow up in a home where they see their parents living in God's presence everyday. They know their parents are human and have their share of weakness, but they also see the strength and grace that they obtain from God in prayer to forgive, to love and to share.
Many of us, I am sure, saw our parents turn to Jesus to draw strength from his sacred heart, brimming over with love for us. They did not have to say any words. They just looked at him with expectation and trust, knowing he would provide. They believed that Mary was a good friend and mother who would never let her children down.
Are our children today learning this from us? Do they see us spend some time in silence, communing with God and listening to him as he speaks to our hearts?
There is vocal prayer that we recite with our lips. I heard my mother sing hymns to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in a soft voice, many a time, as she went about her daily chores. She prayed with people in need before the picture of Jesus or the statue of Mary, with simple faith. Mental prayer is using our minds and imagination. We picture a scene from the Gospel and see ourselves in that scene and then read the word of God. Both vocal and mental are necessary and good. But we can also use contemplative prayer, when we allow the Spirit of God to pray within us: "Abba father." Do we keep aside some time everyday to spend some time in personal, contemplative prayer? It makes a big difference to the atmosphere in our home. We open our lives to receive the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control to share with our family.
Many lay people like to spend time in contemplative prayer. Married couples can provide opportunity for the other -
To have some quiet time to relax and have inner silence.
To become aware of God's presence in the cave of their hearts.
To have a deep longing for God's presence and love. Some express this desire: God loves me. With Jesus in my heart, what have I to fear. He is the Son of God. In my heart he is near. He is my good Shepherd who is accompanying me. Thank you Jesus for loving me. Holy Spirit, I need you. Secondly, let your mind and heart be purified so that they may become free and transparent to Him.
Surrender to him all that you are and have and worry about. Let him carry you in the palm of his hand. Pray: "Abba Father, you are my father and I am your child. I am your own precious child."
Accept his love and forgiveness and see yourself as his beloved child.
Forgive from your heart anyone who has hurt you.
Repent of your sins and turn to the Lord to be saved. Thirdly, come to receive from Him, his love and grace and what he wants to give you to be a loving spouse and parent.
Ask in faith in Jesus' name and listen as he tells you what he wants to give you to fulfil the mission he entrusts to you.
Contemplate yourself, your spouse and children in his loving embrace and allow him to provide for you and to love you all.
Receive the gifts, graces, blessings and crosses he gives you. Crosses are also blessings to save us.
Then thank and praise Him.
Having sought God's will and the coming of his kingdom, know that all you need and desire for yourself, your spouse and your family, according to His plan, will be given to you. Intercede in Jesus' name.
Busy couples with small children may not be able to spend long times in personal prayer. Maybe all you can find is 15 minutes. Emphasise some steps one day and others on another day. Listen with your heart to Jesus who loves you and wants to live in you.
I have adapted these 12 steps from Fr Jim Borst's "Method of Contemplative Prayer". Many married couples today want to grow closer to the Lord. They want to experience deeper union with God.
I know busy couples with large families, who have been able to make the time and find a place for personal prayer. It helps them to face so many trials and anxieties, difficulties and challenges of life with a peaceful heart. Our children will in turn learn from us how to seek the Lord in their difficulties and disappointments and find his peace so that they may share it with their friends.
Of course to make this time, we may need to prioritise how we budget our time right now. All of us can make choices and enjoy their consequences instead of allowing others to program us. Many of us waste time on TV, or gossiping on the phone. If we learn to manage our time, we can get a lot more accomplished.
We can if we want, make the time for personal prayer, so that we may receive from the Lord the grace and the strength to be more loving, kind spouses and parents.
The Holy Spirit likes to be a very dear friend and our constant companion. He wants to love, heal, strengthen and guide us so that we may be channels of his love, in our homes to each other and to all those who come over to be touched by his grace and love, through us. But he respects our freedom and does not impose himself upon us.
Cardinal Mercier says: "I am going to revel to you a secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for 5 minutes, keep your imagination quiet, shut your eyes to all things of sense, and close your ears to all the sounds of earth, so as to be able to withdraw into the sanctuary of your baptised soul, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Speaking there to him: O, Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me. Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it. I promise to be submissive in everything you permit to happen to me. Only show me what is your will. If you do this, your life will pass happily and serenely. Consolation will abound even in the midst of troubles. Grace will be given in proportion to the trial as well as strength to bear it, bringing you to the gates of paradise, full of merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.