I’ve wanted to share a little about my experience with prayer life in the ever changing life of a mom with increasingly more little kids. When the scope-hop came up it just spurred me to grab my long languishing draft and polish it up and hit publish. So in addition to this post, I am joining a bunch of women chattin’ prayer tonight on the ‘scope. Join us if you are sitting around tonight at 8 (MST) – after it has aired live, my portion will be online and available at katch.me/amysalisb
I will start by saying I am a cradle Catholic, raised in a very faithful family. My parents went out of their way do all they could so that all of their 8 children had a strong understanding of and love for our Catholic Faith. So after graduating high school I decided to spend 1, make that 2, actually I ended up staying 3 years as a missionary and that came with a very rigorous and lengthy prayer routine to fit our day around.
A little overview of my prayer routine during that time goes something like this (and this was not necessarily day 1, I worked up to some of this over the three years!)
- Waking up (at one point at 4:55am!) and immediately offer my day to God, then staying in a recollected silence to while getting dressed and driving over to the chapel
- Formal morning offering and meditation – 40 minutes,
- Daily Mass – 30 minutes,
- Later in the morning there was time of Spiritual Reading – 15 minutes
- And rosary – 20 minutes
- And then the Angelus before lunch 5 minutes
- And in the afternoon Evening prayer 15-30 minutes
- Night Prayers 15 minutes
- Benediction 10 minutes
- And then maintaining silence (to be able to keep dialogue with God) through the night till breakfast after Mass tomorrow
That’s at least 150 minutes of set aside prayer time each day. There was also spontaneous visits to the chapel, extra prayers on feast days, frequent retreats and penitential practices, silence during other parts of the day to encourage an interior dialogue with God through are whatever we are doing.
And it was great! I learned to really love it and learned so much about prayer, about the Lord and scripture and Saints and sacraments, I built great habits and really gained so much and am so glad I had that experience. Now that I am in a totally different phase of life my prayer life looks way, way different, and from my perspective now, looking back it was much more of a phase of prayer that was for me. Yes, I offered prayers for people and souls in Purgatory and everything, and it wasn’t always full of consolation, but I was constantly getting stuff out of it, new ideas, insights, “lights” to share at our next spiritual discussion, Which was certainly a great gift.
These days, my prayer life feels more like it’s for others than for me. On paper, my prayer life does not look as good, and the “minutes” sure don’t add up the same. But the point I am at now, my main goal is to remember to pray a morning offering,(not always first thing in the morning) sometimes resorting to just the 3 words “all for You” before I get interrupted. But those three words turn my whole day into a prayer.
I have three young children, who are at home with me all day. I have very little “control” of my own time, because there are these little people who depend on me and as much as we have routine, babies and toddlers needs know no clock. So I take consolation in the knowledge that Christ is with me and is pleased with my faithfulness to the demands of this vocation He has chosen for me.
Also, I do try to fit some formal prayer in. I sit down to nurse and for me nursing pretty much takes the full use of both hands, so there’s nothing else to do BUT think, or pray. So some Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s are usually said before I get climbed on or asked a dozen time to read Thomas the Tank Engine or sing a song or something. By then I put the baby down because either something’s burning on the stove or the baby fell asleep, so I move on the the next task, which is also a prayer – since I offered all my works up at the beginning of the day. I had a very good pattern of saying decades of the Rosary while the kids were falling asleep, but then their bedtime routine changed when they began sharing a room, and we are still looking for the sweet spot new routine, but even still there are at least 50 times spread through the day that I call out to Mary, try to imitate her and beg for her motherly wisdom and help. Now that it’s Advent we are lighting the wreath, singing a hymn, praying a decade together as a family each evening which has been great. I sign up for PrayMoreNovenas.com and try to pray those when the I receive the daily email. I am trying to do the St. Andrew’s Christmas Novena. Prayers before going to bed myself are next on my list of habits to add.
I notice now that small prayers like Grace before meals and The Sign of the Cross when driving past the Church (to “greet” Christ present in the tabernacle) are much more than habit. Now in this season that is more bare of set aside prayer time, those tiny instances are deeply appreciated as a moment to raise my mind and heart to God (which is the Catechism’s definition of prayer) and seeking grace and being grateful and praise and adoration. All in a split second that for most of my life has been 90% routine and habit. I love all those little prayers that can punctuate the day.
The other evening after the big kids had gone to bed, I found myself crawling around the kitchen floor picking up pompoms for the nth time that day and I thought about how St. Therese said that to pick up a tissue off the floor out of love could saves souls. Well the crowd of pompom saved soils that day must have been huge because I could either do it out of resentment and anger or out of love and so I chose love. I picked those pompoms up trying to smile, remembering it had brought Hugh so much joy to play with them all day and I made a conscious – will power requiring – effort to do it lovingly, thinking of the souls who hopefully were benefiting from my little action turned prayer.
So I am still “getting” a lot from my prayer life. But it’s not so much great ideas or deep insights, as much as it is gifts like to be peaceful and able to practice love instead of wallowing in bitterness and frustration of the constant mess and work of motherhood. That constant work, that really never does get “done” (Laundry, anyone?) is a constant prayer if I just offer it up!! Much more than me gaining insight and scriptural knowledge and consolation, I hope that my prayer these days is benefiting the friends (and strangers) I am praying for, the souls in purgatory and my children and husband with invisible grace.