"Big Four" Highlights


 

Blessings

Family prayer booklet gets back to basics

By John Burger

Last month, in a Letter to Families, Pope Francis asked families to pray for the success of October’s Synod on the Family, when bishops, priests, religious and lay experts assemble to consider the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” So that the synod may have a better picture of the problems facing the Church and the family, the Vatican surveyed bishops around the world. One of the questions was, “How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?”

This is a good question for parents to ask themselves in relation to the prayer life of their family. Chances are you need some help, guidance and renewal.

To assist in that task, Our Sunday Visitor has published Prayers for Our Catholic Family, a simple collection of many of the basic Catholic prayers. The 32-page booklet includes prayers like the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles Creed, and the Glory Be. Daily prayers such as the Morning Offering, the Guardian Angel Prayer, Act of Contrition and the Jesus Prayer are included.

Prayers with the saints are also included. Brief introductions and descriptions help families learn more about the prayers, what they mean, and why they are important to the faith.

Interesting highlights include the fact that the Memorare appears in both its traditional version (“Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary…”) and a simplified version that has language that children can more readily understand (“Remember O most loving Virgin Mary…”). The booklet gives us the familiar Grace Before Meals, but adds that some families like to include a prayer that acknowledges the absence of some family members who may soon have a place at the Eternal Banquet: “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”

Another aspect of the book that many readers may find surprising is a family blessing. In his book The Father of the Family, Clayton C. Barbeau describes the tradition of the “paternal blessing.”

“In our home, when the children were growing up, the paternal blessing was given by having the children, in order of age, come to the holy water font after their evening prayers,” Barbeau writes. “There each child received the Sign of the Cross on his or her forehead with holy water while the following words were spoken: ‘I bless you, [Name], my child, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Barbeau points out that the blessing can be used on virtually any occasion: before a child is to undergo surgery, to begin school or to leave for summer camp. In many cultures, such as Hispanic cultures, children receive such a blessing every time they leave the house.

“What man could bless his children and not himself feel blessed at having children?” Barbeau reflects. “And what child could receive his father’s blessing and not recognize that they are tied by a bond stronger than the flesh—that the father is here as God’s representative?”

Prayers for Our Catholic Family provides a couple of simple formulas fathers can use to bless their children: “May God bless you. May God keep you safe. God be with you,” says one. Or “God be in your heart. May God bless and protect you.”

This little booklet itself should be a great blessing for any family.

Learn more about Prayers for Our Catholic Family.