Ah, November. The month of the Holy Rosary is spent. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and already the weight of holiday expectations threatens to crush us. In last month’s Rosary Family adventure, the challenge most commenters mentioned was achieving consistency with the Family Rosary. So what should we talk about for November? Achieving consistency, of course! Let’s talk about how to make a daily family rosary a real thing for your real life.
“This month?” you ask. “It’s hard enough to fit one more thing into the family schedule when the holidays are not breathing down our necks! How am I supposed to find fifteen whole minutes each day when I’m roasting turkeys twice in as many months?”
Believe me, I get it. This season is bursting with expectations as it is. The very thought of one more thing to do might feel like it could crush your soul and turn you into a screaming harpy, flinging plastic rosaries at tantrum-ing kids and a husband who already fell asleep on the couch, like, twenty minutes ago.
If you’ve already read this far, chances are you don’t need a reminder of all the promises Mary gives to those who pray her rosary daily (okay, maybe you do). I’d also bet dollars to donuts that you’ve read a million clever ways to make this devotion developmentally friendly to a range of ages not known for their skill at sitting still and praying (relatively) lengthy antiphonal responses. All that’s great, of course, but what if you’re struggling to even find the time to sit everyone together in one place and pray, much less find time to make a sensory rosary blanket for your six month-old and a cupcake rosary for your preschooler, and the printables! Don’t forget the printables!
I propose that you don’t need printables. You need a different kind of article. You need …
4 Real-World Steps to a Daily Family Rosary
Step One: Start Small.
If you want to intimidate yourself out of following through, say you’re doing this forever, every day, starting right now.
Oh, hon. Don’t do that. Start with a commitment small enough to manage in your life as it is right now. Some possibilities for your Small Goal:
- A triduum leading up to a stressful holiday party
- A novena leading up to a special liturgical feast (Immaculate Conception, maybe?)
- Just through Advent
- Just for the 12 days of Christmas.
At the end of your Small Goal, set another one, just a little bit bigger than your last one. In each of these bursts of consistency, make it your prayer intention to ask Mary to help you get your family to her Son through the daily Family Rosary. Do you really think she’s going to say no to that?
Step Two: Study the Schedule.
Once you’ve set your Small Goal, evaluate the family schedule and pick one place for each day of the week when you can fit in those fifteen minutes during the days of your Small Goal. Some windows that might work for your family:
- In the car on the way to Sunday Mass
- Right before breakfast on Saturday
- Right after everyone is home from basketball on Wednesday nights.
Whatever might work for your family, use it. If it helps, assign each family member a day to be “Rosary Captain,” to make sure Rosary gets prayed on that day. If your family sees that you can pray the Rosary every day for the length of your Small Goal, it won’t be such a stretch for you to see that you could make this a more regular thing.
Step Three: Study the Spouse, Siblings and Self.
Consider each family member’s personal resources: age, temperament, special needs, sleep patterns, scheduling requirements, developmental level, and so on. By all means, consider what might make the physics of the Rosary more difficult for each family member, but consider each family member’s gifts that might actually make this discipline easier! Do you have a crafty kid who can knot as you pray to make rosaries to give away? Do you have an older child who is especially—okay, maybe just slightly good—at helping younger siblings?
More importantly, can you turn seeming liabilities into advantages? That one kid who has anxiety over leaving anything undone can be in charge of announcing the mysteries. The wiggly toddler can line up ten small toys as each Hail Mary is prayed. The teen tired of being told what to do can be in charge for once, rounding everyone up for Rosary time. Once each family member’s gifts are being incorporated into this family prayer time, a certain edge should come off of any foot dragging.
I’m not saying you’ll never encounter any foot dragging. That’s where the next step comes in.
Step Four: Pick a Carrot.
Positive reinforcement time. Okay, I know, I know. There should be no greater reward than sitting in attendance on the Queen of Heaven and Earth as she stands beside the heavenly throne. I also know we live in a fallen world, where concupiscence in all its forms lures us away from all that is good. So pick your carrot and tie it to the end of your family’s Rosary stick:
- After we pray the Rosary, dessert time!
- After we pray the Rosary, TV time!
- After we pray the Rosary, story time!
- After we pray the Rosary, everybody rubs Mommy’s aching feet and folds the laundry for her and cleans the—wait. That’s a carrot for me, not the kids. Drat. Anyway, you get the idea.
Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton famously said, “If families give Our Lady 15 minutes a day reciting the Rosary, I assure them that their homes will become by God’s grace peaceful places.” In all the busyness of the season now starting, you deserve that kind of peace. So does your family. Start making whatever small steps toward this peace that you can, small steps towards Our Lady and her Son. Our Blessed Mother is never too busy to come running to meet you.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Copyright 2017 Erin McCole-Cupp