Family prayer and the role of parents

By Fr. Bill Kneemiller

For this Family Prayer article I am visiting with Devin and Kim Schadt who are at home with three of their younger children, Anna Marie, 17; Zelie Marie, 12; and Elizabeth, 8. Devin starts with a real wake-up call, reminding me of a quote from Sister Lucia (who as a child witnessed app­aritions of Our Lady of Fatima): “The final battle of the evil one will be attacks on the family.”

Barb Arland-Fye
Clockwise, from left, Elizabeth, Zelie, Gabby and Anna Marie Schadt pose for a photo at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire.

I start our discussion asking the younger kids about prayer. Zelie says, “When I pray, it is nice to be able to talk to Jesus, especially when I don’t feel comfortable talking to someone else. I can tell Jesus anything!” Anna Marie adds, “When I pray, I am filled with joy!” Her mom Kim adds that Anna is a real “Prayer Warrior” and will pray for anyone at school. She is sought out for this dedication to prayer by other students.

Kim adds that family prayer is the key to her busy life: “When my kids were little, my life was very chaotic with caring for my special-needs daughter, home-schooling — but then I realized that I had to restructure my life around prayer.  I built up a new life as I planned my life around God.”

She makes a short morning offering, giving the day to the Lord, attends daily Mass and prays the Angelus, which takes just a couple of minutes before lunch. She adds: “As I structured my life around prayer, my busy life became less chaotic and I had more time!” She still felt that her daily duties didn’t provide enough prayer time. “A priest suggested that I offer every diaper change or daily chore as a ‘prayer from the heart.’” Devin adds that his wife’s prayer animates her sacrifices, and her sacrifices become a prayer.

Devin says family prayer “is essential. It is the furnace that fuels the domestic church with love. Without family prayer, it is impossible to be a family like the Trinity.” St. John Paul II referred to the Trinity as a family of persons, Devin adds.

I ask about the importance of dads being involved in family prayer. Devin responds with a question: “What would it be like if a priest did not pray or offer Mass for his church? That’s what it would be like if the father of a family did not pray. St. Augustine, in a famous homily, addressed fathers in his congregation by saying: ‘my fellow bishops — fulfill my office in your home!’”

Devin explains: “St. Aug­ustine is saying the father in the home is like the bishop, the shepherd who prays and sacrifices on behalf of his family. To give God to others, I need to have God to infuse others with God and this infusion takes place in prayer!” Prayer is “meeting with the one I want to be like and giving myself to the one who has given himself to and for me.”

“… As a father, I’ve learned to pray with God alone so that what I receive in prayer from God — any communion, love, wisdom and insights — I can carry over confidently to my family as I lead them in prayer and lead them into the presence of God. So, I am a link between God and my family, between God the Father and his children.”

Please join me, Fr. Bill, for a Pizza Prayer Party on Thursdays during Advent at Wise Guys Pizza (back banquet room), 2408 E. 53rd St., Davenport. Sessions are 4:30-7:30 p.m., starting on each half-hour. Come, even if you can stay for just a half-hour. The buffet is from 5-8 p.m. Kids get a discount.

(Father Bill Kneemiller is chaplain at The Kahl Home in Davenport.)

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