“May the Father bless you with a restful, peaceful and healthful sleep;
May you wake with the fire of the Holy Spirit, in the name of His Son, Jesus;
And may your guardian angel watch over you and protect you day and night.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
For as long as I can remember, this is how we ended the day in my family. After our night prayers, my siblings and I would rush to our father’s side and await our nightly blessing.
When I would be away from home at a sleepover with friends, I’d ask for my blessing early, before leaving the house. But if I forgot, I’d ask to call my dad and have him bless me over the phone. The day that I went off to college, as my dad was helping me unpack and set up my room, he gave me a copy of the blessing to hang in my room and look at every night, and sometimes I’d need to call home and hear it from his mouth. And at my wedding reception, he presented my new husband and I with a blessing for the two of us and invited all our friends and family to join in asking for God’s blessing for our new life together.
We learned in the school of the domestic church that the prayer of a parent is powerful. My brothers and sisters know that our parents pray for our every need. They pray for our hopes and dreams, our relationships, our vocations, our holiness. They pray for their marriage and their vocation as parents and ask God for his blessing on them as well. And we’ve always asked for and appreciated their prayers.
But it wasn’t until I was a parent myself I really understood and came to appreciate what a gift the prayers of a parent are. I know now what a commitment it is to pray with and for your children every day. It requires thought and energy, sometimes more than I think I can muster at the end of a long day. It demands patience as you wrangle fussy babies and busy toddlers and try to find even a moment of peace and calm to pray as a family.
I’m sure it was that way for my own parents many days. But I don’t remember those days. I remember grabbing the basket of rosaries, sitting around the family room, and being blessed by my dad each night. These are good memories. It motivates me to keep family prayer a priority in our home, hoping that maybe in another 30 years my girls will look back on these days and forget the messy parts of family prayer, and hold onto the sweet memories of my husband and I handing them their icons, praying the Canticles, and giving them the same blessing that my father still offers for me.
“The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.” – Saint John Paul the Great, Familiaris consortio
Copyright Megan Swaim 2016.