The Family That Prays Together
by Father John Corapi, S.O.L.T.
Often enough it has been accurately observed that the demise of the family means the inevitable demise of society. The unraveling of the fabric of society is predictably proportional to the breakdown of the family. In order to deal effectively with any problem, one must straightaway get to the order of causes, rather than effects. Reality is what it is—like it or not, believe it or not. To be in touch with reality is to be sane. Our country and our world, for the most part, are insane, for the simple reason that we are out of touch with God. God is the absolute and objective reality. He is truth and existence itself. The breakdown of countries and families has one essential cause: the breakdown or disintegration of individuals.
There is a word for this: sin. As individuals are healed and integrated as persons, that healing and integration will be radiated to all those around them. In other words, we must "be perfect, just as (our) heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48). Family members must strive mightily to overcome the spirit of the world operating in their lives. That spirit says, "Look out for Number One", meaning yourself. But the Spirit of God says, "God first, everyone else second, and me last."
Then, an interesting thing inevitably happens—the last become first. God exalts those who humble themselves and humbles those who exalt themselves.
In spiritual direction I often ask very elementary questions. "What is love?" It is not merely emotions, chemistry and so on. Love is a decision, an act of will. Love desires the highest and best thing for the sake of the beloved. What is that? Heaven!
If you love your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, you must desire heaven for them. Some would hold that this is too simplistic. I remind them that God, by definition, is pure simplicity. Every family member has the same essential mission: facilitate the sanctification of each and every member of the family. Each must have the eternal salvation of the others at hand.
Don’t complicate the matter. If we do, we run the risk of going through an entire lifetime clueless as to the meaning of life and love.
If a man loves his wife and a wife her husband, they will do anything and everything to sanctify one another and their children. That inevitably means self-sacrifice. The Lord of love says, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (Jn 15:13).
We live in an egocentric society—the "Me Generation." A family will not only survive but flourish when each member puts all others first. Some will say, "Don’t be a doormat." No, be a springboard to vault your loved ones into heaven. Whatever it takes, do it—even embracing the cross.
The bottom line is this: families must pray together daily. They must spend quality time together. Soccer, football and other school activities are infinitely less important than the children and the parents living in the same house as family, not strangers.
My bottom-line recommendation is simple: Pray the Rosary together daily. Remember, you can’t give your children what you don’t have. If you don’t understand your faith and the simple prayer of the Rosary—learn it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.
The Rosary is the prayer of the Gospels. As you meditatively pray the Gospels, you interiorize Christ, the heart of the Gospels. In so doing you become who you are called to be: the living presence of Jesus in the world.
Then, filled with Christ and actualized in your human and Christian potential, you can bring Him to others and others to Him, starting with your own family. Father Patrick Peyton is as right today as he was in his own day, "The family that prays together, stays together."
Father Corapi is the Director of the Office of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Sacramento. He became a Green Beret soldier, CPA, multimillionaire businessman and then a homeless, destitute cocaine addict who had a stunning conversion to Catholicism. He is a speaker at our San Francisco Catholic Conference on October 10 & 11, 1998 at St. Mary's Cathedral Conference Center.
April 1998 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics (ISSN 1098-4046)