By Fr. Bill Kneemiller
For this article in my series on Family Prayer, I visited the home of Kevin and Bridget Murphy (the principal at Assumption High School in Davenport) and their nine kids. I have a sense there is never a dull moment here with most of the kids being under age 12.
I ask Kevin how he and Bridget squeeze in family prayer with so much going on with school and other activities. Kevin says that “Prayer can be a quick offering, such as giving thanks to God for your blessings or for guidance and patience in a stressful situation.”
Bridget adds that they fit in a rosary while taking a walk or trip in a car. She’ll ask one of her older kids to introduce the rosary mystery by posing a simple question: “What does that mean when we say the first Joyful Mystery?” As the older kids explain something about the faith to their younger siblings, it makes it alive and real for both of them!
I ask the kids about family prayer. Madeline, 15, says, “When praying, I feel serene and there’s a peace and worries go away.” Michael, 12, says, “Prayer is a time to spend with God; sometimes I feel he responds to me — and something will often happen in the day after I pray about it.” Daniel, 9, says, “In prayer I feel like I am protected by the angels, Jesus being in me.” Leo, 7, says, “In prayer, I feel safe and happy.”
Bridget says that prayer before meals is also very important because it is often the only time they are all together. Along with praying grace before meals, the family will pray the St. Michael the Archangel prayer and end with a Hail Mary. Bridget adds, “For a time we did not pray publicly at a restaurant when the kids were small, but then one day something clicked and we started praying publicly.”
I tell my story of a waitress who saw me pray with a family before our meal in a restaurant. She said, “You are the third family that prayed before the meal tonight; I think God is telling me that I need to get back to church!”
Bridget adds, “There is no greater prayer than the Mass.” She gives her whole-hearted support for families to attend Sunday Mass. She also attends daily Mass, even with a busy schedule. “As I’ve grown in my experiences and faith, I recognized that I can truly do nothing in the absence of the Eucharist! There’s no better way for me to connect with Christ himself than making daily Mass a priority. … Once you’ve experienced the joy and peace that comes with the consistency of God in our life and accepted that, then everything seems so simple!”
I call this family the Murphites, like a tribe in the Old Testament, as they need a 15-passenger van just to drive around town. Kevin and Bridget are an inspiration to families of all sizes. Children are our future; faith is our foundation and prayer is the core element that brings the love of Jesus Christ and his holy church alive in our lives.
Please join me for a Pizza and Psalms Party on this final Thursday in Advent (Dec. 20) at Wise Guys Pizza (back banquet room), 2408 53rd St., Davenport. Sessions are 4:30-7:30 p.m., starting on each half-hour. I have free Night Prayer handouts. Come, even, if you can stay for 30 minutes. The buffet is from 5-8 p.m. and kids get a discount.
(Fr. Bill Kneemiller is chaplain at The Kahl Home in Davenport.)