Tag Archives: prayers

A Different Approach to Family Prayer Time

Recently, we shook up our family evening prayers, and it’s been such a blessing that I thought I would share it.

My wife started a subscription to the Magnificat about six months ago, and that his been a great boon to her spiritual life. We were inspired a couple of months back to incorporate it into our family prayers, and it has evolved into something special. Here is what we do:

Setup
As always, family evening prayer takes place in our bedroom where there are no distractions of TV, computer, toys, telephone, or food. We have a little prayer corner with crucifix, statue of the Blessed Virgin, and a few icons as well as a Bible and Holy Water. To this we added two candles, the kind you find at the store, in tall glass containers with a picture of Christ on them.

Procession and Hymn
Yes, we have a procession! Mom, Dad, and oldest daughter sing the hymn, usually accompanied by music off of youtube (I continue to be surprised, finding music to almost every Catholic hymn on youtube). We will sing a capella if we have to. The younger three process in with the crucifix and candles.

Prayer Leader
Dad leads the prayers. We choose either the Magnificat evening prayer or night prayer, which are based on the prayers from the Daily Office. I start us off and pray the introduction as well as lead us through an examination of conscience.

Server
Our second son is the server. He is too young to be an altar server at Mass, but he longs to be, so this lets him live out that desire now. He takes the book from me and presents it to each reader in turn, bringing it back to me as necessary.

Readers
There are three key readings: the Palm, the Word and Mary’s Magnificat or the Canticle of Simeon. These are done by Mom, oldest son, oldest daughter, and even occasionally the younger kids with help from Dad. We have a special place in the room where the reader stands.

Intercessions
Dad leads the intercessions. After those of the Church, each person adds their own special intercessions.

Group Prayers
After the closing prayers, we prayer our group family prayers:
Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory Be
St. Michael
We will also add any others here that the younger kids have to learn for school, though that won’t be an issue till the fall.

Latin Prayers
Our summer project has been to learn our core prayers in Latin. We did the Ave Maria in June, the Pater Noster in July, and we are now working on the Gloria Patri for August. So at this point each person (even the 4-year-old) says their Latin prayer of the month as best they can. Then as a group we pray the Latin prayers we have already learned.

Collection and Announcements
Yes, we do a collection and announcements, but only on Sunday nights. Added on behest of the kids, we moved them to only once a week just to keep bedtime from getting too late. The kids are responsible for deciding what charity the collection will go to. The announcements are nice because they give the younger kids a little taste of public speaking.

Recession and Closing Hymn
And we end it with a hymn and a recession of the crucifix and candles. Then it’s off to bed!

The whole thing takes about half an hour. The blessings it has brought are:

1. All the kids are enthusiastic about prayer time. They have ideas for how to make it nicer and more holy.
2. The nightly prayers aren’t rote and they can’t be rushed.
3. Our nightly prayers are united with the nightly prayers of the Church, and the kids get a taste of the Divine Office.
4. Everybody participates and has a unique role.
5. We are praying more and better and enjoying it as a family.

So that is our new prayer tradition. I would love to hear about your family prayer traditions!

The Spiritual Bouquet of St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales is the author of Introduction to the Devout Life, sort of a how-to guide to applying the scriptures to every day life.

In Chapter 9″, the first of ten preparatory meditations, this Doctor of the Church writes, “At the end of your meditation linger a while, and gather, so to say, a little spiritual bouquet from the thoughts you have dwelt upon, the sweet perfume whereof may refresh you through the day.” This was a new idea to me, and it has helped to create a marked improvement in my prayer life.

What is a Spiritual Bouquet?

From what I have seen and read, there are three different kinds of spiritual bouquets: the doctrinal bouquets, given to us through the saints; prayer bouquets, made up of the standard prayers of the church; and there are personal bouquets, as described in the first quote of this article.

Spiritual Bouquets from the Saints

In the Preface to this wonderful book, St. Francis de Sales describes a girl who arranges common flowers into beautiful bouquets.

“The flower-girl Glycera was so skilled in varying the arrangement and combination of her flowers, that out of the same kinds she produced a great variety of bouquets; so that the painter Pausias, who sought to rival the diversity of her art, was brought to a standstill, for he could not vary his painting so endlessly as Glycera varied her bouquets.”

He goes on to compare this flower girl to the Holy Spirit, working through the Saints in the various ways the describe God’s revelation:

“Even so the Holy Spirit of God disposes and arranges the devout teaching which He imparts through the lips and pen of His servants with such endless variety, that, although the doctrine is ever one and the same, their treatment of it is different, according to the varying minds whence that treatment flows.”

So we see that although we have one set of flowers, the doctrine provided to us through scriptures and Holy Mother Church, these flowers can be arranged into a vast variety of bouquets. St. Francis de Sales has arranged one for us. Other bouquets – very different – are from St. John of the Cross, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and a host of others who put their spiritual thoughts on paper. Other Saints arranged their bouquets through the actions of their lives – Mother Theresa, though not canonized yet, is a modern example. Still others give us devotions such as the Divine Mercy and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As fallible and sinful men, we need these bouquets so that we can come to a more full understanding of God’s plan of salvation, and His very real love for us. What a blessing that the Holy Spirit has provided so many different ways to learn and grow in the faith!

Prayer Bouquets

An apologist on Catholic Answers forums describes spiritual bouquets this way:

“A “spiritual bouquet” is a group of prayers gathered together for a particular intention. The idea is that each prayer is like a flower and that the group is like a bouquet mystically offered as a gift to God for a particular intention. That is why, for example, you’ll sometimes see Catholics organize “spiritual bouquets” for particular purposes, such as for the intentions of the Pope in honor of his birthday. Those who participate promise a certain amount of prayers and devotions for the intention and then the list is compiled and given to the person whose intentions are being remembered in prayer.”

A good example here are the rosary campaigns we do for Forty Days for Life, where a basket is kept in the church, collecting markers for the number of rosaries prayed for the campaign. It is a beautiful way to compound the power of prayer for very specific intentions.

Personal Spiritual Bouquets

But what did St. Francis say in Chapter 9?

“At the end of your meditation linger a while, and gather, so to say, a little spiritual bouquet from the thoughts you have dwelt upon, the sweet perfume whereof may refresh you through the day.”

In this case, at the end our prayers and meditations, we think back over our prayer time, searching for those nuggets that we want to remember and contemplate over the course of the day. I find as I do this now, that the benefits of my prayer time are greatly enhanced. My prayers stay with me over the course of the day, and I am more likely to learn something.

The richness of our faith is truly inspiring! St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!