68. Pope John Paul II has shown how the family can be a subject of popular piety. The exhortation Familiaris Consortio, having praised the family as the domestic sanctuary of the Church, emphasizes that “as preparation for worship celebrated in church*, and as its prolongation in the home, the Christian family makes use of prayer, which presents a variety of forms. While this variety testifies to the extraordinary riches with which the Spirit vivifies Christian prayer, it serves also the various needs and life situations of those who turn to the Lord in prayer”. It also observes that “apart from morning and evening prayers, certain prayers are to be expressly encouraged,[…] such as reading and meditating on the word of God, preparation for the reception of the sacraments, devotion and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the various forms of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grace before and after meals, and observance of popular devotions”(Familiaris Consortio 61).
* With reference to the Liturgy note should also be made of the recommendation contained in the GILH 27: “It is a laudable thing for the family, the domestic sanctuary, where possible, to celebrate in addition to the usual prayers, some parts of the Liturgy of the Hours so as to draw closer to the Church”.
The basic prayers are well-known. It’s just a matter of commitment to do them, and parents must take the lead on that, probably well before children are born.
A recent discussion on PrayTell illuminates some of the problems with the official forms of the Liturgy of the Hours. There’s vanishingly little foothold for a family with children of any age to find. And as long as we have elder siblings touting the “official versions-or-else” mentality, there’s hardly any hope of that changing.
Do you notice what’s missing from the treatment of prayer in families? Scripture.
The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.