Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rosary Time!

In our family, the Rosary at the end of the day is more than just a special time for this very precious and beautiful common prayer. "Rosary time" has become the most interesting time that we gather together as a family.

It's true that we also eat together, and dinner conversations can be interesting too, but the Rosary gathering has a special quality to it. There is always a certain period of time between when we sit down and when we actually start saying the Rosary, and a unique atmosphere of family community seems to arise spontaneously during this time. Conversations, questions, all kinds of teasing, and of course the antics of Josefina fill this time, in part because we are all together and in part because we are all procrastinating from actually getting down to the business of praying.

Let's face it. Praying the Rosary is sometimes dull. Okay, usually dull. Well, maybe "dull" isn't exactly the word. I love the Rosary. I want to say it well. Maybe what I feel is frustration at what seems like my continual failure to keep a sustained attention to the prayer and meditation it involves. But I know, of course, that Our Lord and His Mother see our effort, and give us far more than we deserve. Then the "family rosary" with children--which I must say is like glue for my family and which I think builds our unity like nothing else--poses its own "mechanical" problems with keeping the kids in the game and above all with managing the unique, "wild card" factor introduced by the participation of Josefina.

I know that it is a work that is bearing fruit. The maternal love of the Mother of God keeps us faithful to it. And this fidelity is something essential to our family life. There is something special about the whole gathering.

"Rosary time!"

This usually needs to be said more than once. At first people are in and out. Someone has to go to the bathroom. Someone needs a drink of water. And so we start to talk. Tonight Lucia asked me, "Daddy what was The Great Depression?" She is reading a story set in the period of the Depression, apparently. But everyone knows that you don't ask Daddy a question like that unless you want a thorough and detailed answer, because once Daddy gets going it's hard to stop him. Nevertheless, I restrained myself and answered briefly, with a few allusions to the differences (and also the similarities) between that period and the one in which we are now living.

Meanwhile Josefina distributes rosaries. That's her job. No matter how long it takes. And nobody else would dare to try to do it for her. So we talk about all kinds of things. John Paul is always full of questions, so he baits me with another one. Josefina romps about, swinging the rosaries. "Don't do that; the rosary is for praying." Finally everyone has their rosary and Josefina is perched on Mommy (unless she has decided to take advantage of the family stage to put on an act and make everybody silly). Still we search for things to talk about. Then finally we begin.

Midway through a decade Teresa used to always interrupt and say, "What mystery is this?" Now she has a guide that she uses that has pictures, so she doesn't do that anymore. The special challenge comes when it is Josefina's turn to lead a decade. She has just started doing this recently, and sometimes she alternates with Mommy. Josefina's Hail Mary is still just one big long word that she doesn't understand. Still she is very proud of the fact that she is able to say it. Sometimes she gets us laughing with her pronunciation or her squirming. But she really wants to be part of it. She is one of our "five mysteries," after all. And she knows who Jesus and Mary are, and wants to love them.

Really, it's a time of love, with all the clunkiness and awkwardness that family love has for us, and that it will no doubt continue to have in different forms as time goes on.

But with God's help, we will continue to pray together and stay together.