During Holy Week and the Easter Season we celebrate the most important events that changed the world. In addition, we may still be “hunkered down” at home seeking to avoid, or battling the coronavirus.
There are many ways that we can bring the family together to remember how Jesus our Savior died on the cross and rose from the dead so that our sins could be forgiven. Family prayer is strengthened by and flows from receiving Jesus in the holy Eucharist—the highest form of prayer. Therefore, if Masses at the parishes are still suspended, it is more important than ever that we gather together in our homes for daily prayer.
Compelling Spiritual Reading
Everyone enjoys hearing stories. A wonderful way to be with family members in prayer is to read Bible stories to the children about the events of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday. If your children are older, the readings could be read from the Bible. Go to usccb.org/readings for April 5th, Palm Sunday, for example, or April 9th for Holy Thursday to read about Jesus instituting the holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, or any of the days of Holy Week and the Easter Season.
Asking God for what you need
Another way of praying together as a family is to ask God for your personal needs, those of the community, the country and the world. We also want to include thanking Him for blessings received and sharing those answered prayers aloud, which increases the Faith of all present. There is a new initiative called “Going Deeper in Prayer” that highlights these types of prayer. A simple prayer card has been developed for each age level and may be downloaded by going to diolc.org/prayer.
It is also important to allow for quiet time to rest in the Lord, giving Him all of our worries and anxiety, and asking Him to help us trust Him. He will answer this prayer, which can change how we experience life.
The COVID-19 virus has us staying home. We are giving up a vacation in the Smokey Mountains and our kids are not looking forward to their time at virtual school. Times are rapidly changing, but there are opportunities to grasp in all of this as well. We have been given the gift of a slower pace, allowing us to focus more on family and relationships. Pope Francis has been advocating for quite a while for families to waste time together. To encourage you to do this, I have put together some ideas for you.
- Take turns choosing a favorite board game
- Play an outdoor game or create your own
- Go for a walk, jog, run, bike ride, hike
- Play Guitar Hero and/or karaoke
- Enjoy High Tea
- Begin a new family hobby
1. Go to church and spend time talking about the statues, stained glass, art, architecture. Check with your parish office—they may have this information.
2. Three-Step Nightly Family Prayer: Share how you experienced God’s blessings today. 2. Share your concerns of tomorrow. 3. Pray together in thanksgiving and petition: with a prayer that is spontaneous, memorized or both.
3. Family Rosary Idea: for some children (and adults) to pray a rosary all at once can be too much. So, spread it out during the day—one decade at a time and take turns leading prayers.
4. At home Stations of the Cross Why not gather everyone together to draw the Stations of the Cross. Divvy out the 15 stations along with paper and coloring utensils. Then, starting with Station 1, walk to that picture and retell the story in your own words. Conclude with an Our Father or Glory Be. Find printable Stations of the Cross pages online.
5. Resurrection Eggs: Do you have plastic Easter eggs at home and an empty egg carton? This is a great storytelling activity. Visit lifeyourway.net and search for Resurrection Eggs
BE TOGETHER AS FAMILY
- Organize closets
- Read a book together
- Talk about important things
- Call your grandparents
- Catch up with thank-you notes
- Prepare meals together and take turns selecting
BE TOGETHER AS SPOUSES
Physically: Encourage each other to exercise
Emotionally: Take turns planning date nights (just the two of you)
Spiritually: Take time each day for prayer together.
Go on a free Online Couple Retreat: www.the-virtues.net/online-free-program
Another important way to pray with our family is to gather for TV Mass. As we watch the Mass on TV or the computer, we are able to pray the prayers of the Mass, hear the readings from the Bible and listen to a homily by a priest. We may kneel (if possible) during the Consecration as the priest prays the words of Jesus, invoking the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though we cannot receive Jesus in holy Communion, we can make a spiritual communion, asking Jesus to come spiritually into our heart. Jesus knows our situation and will honor that request. Take quiet time to speak with Jesus about anything that you would like and allow quiet time to listen to Him. Go to diolc.org and scroll down to “Click here for live Mass,” that includes several options.
Let us remember that the Christian family is the first and most important place for the example of praying together. May God bless our families during these difficult times.