By Fr. Bill Kneemiller
For The Catholic Messenger
My priest’s support group and I have discussed the perfect way to observe Advent and to promote family prayer: a nine-day rosary novena that starts on the holy day of Dec. 8.
The timing is perfect because the Advent season is a time for preparation and prayer. The perfect beginning is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We, as priests and pastors, can encourage all families in our parishes to pray the rosary that evening.
However, in our imperfect world, some groundwork has to be done to promote family prayer in the home. Also, in most American homes today it is far more likely that a family is sitting around the TV watching an R-rated movie than gathered around praying together.
The good news is that Advent is a good time to reconnect with God and prayer is that connection. Parents need to ask the hard question: “Does our home have a spirit of prayer and peace or does the home have a spirit of the world?” The major theme of Advent is that Christ is the Light of the World. The following suggestions for parish talks and prayer themes address some the darkness of our world that is sadly becoming the new normal. We need to reclaim our homes as a place of peace and prayer.
Some suggestions to kick off a successful rosary novena to promote family prayer:
• Knights of Columbus groups support the home enthronement and incorporate this with a priest blessing the homes. One of the priests I spoke with mentioned: “Imagine having a dozen homes set up to bless on a Saturday and the Knights would help coordinate this home blessing with the intention that the home may be a place of prayer and peace.”
• Daily Mass groups pray a rosary novena starting Dec. 8 with the intention of promoting family prayer.
• Women’s group presentation on “Mary as a Model of Prayer.”
• Men’s group talks on “Men of God, be leaders of faith.” This would be an excellent night to show the DVD “Unfiltered: Equipping Parents for an Ongoing Conversation about Internet Pornography.” (Available at www.CovenantEyes.com) This is also a good time for men to reconnect with their prayer life and recognized the subtle dangers of what Catholic psychologist Dr. Peter Kleponis calls the “Pornography Epidemic.” He says that pornography is so pervasive that one would be hard pressed to find a man who has not viewed it.
• Youth Group — “Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and King — connecting Our Friends, Family and Faith.”
• Marriage and prayer night: presentations from couples that pray together.
• Families can take baby steps towards praying a family rosary. Start with one decade, right after supper during this novena time. Yes, it is possible to do a five-minute decade; ask the grace to pray from the heart or do a decade of the scriptural rosary. The family that prays together — stays together!
(Fr. Kneemiller is pastor of parishes in Ground Mound, Lost Nation, Oxford Junction and Toronto.)