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Rediscovering the Joy of the Family

OPENING PRAYER

God of All Creation
               you made all things out of your generous love.
Every time and each new season offer signs of your abundant grace
               and chances to respond to your gifts with faith, hope, and love.
As we live through these weeks and months of our new normal
               in relationship with you and one another,
may our minds contemplate your gift of time
               and discover how both stillness and action can give you glory.
May our eyes see your wonder in the world around us
               and recognize how we can protect and defend life.
May our ears hear your voice in the laughter and tears of those we meet
               and echo their joys and sorrows in our daily prayers.
May our hearts know your mercy through forgiveness and healing
               and choose to act for peace and the common good.
We ask this in your great name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,11

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

AMORIS LAETITIA

“Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say” (n. 137).

Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary.  Time is needed to talk things over, to embrace leisurely, to share plans, to listen to one another and gaze in each other’s eye, to appreciate one another and to build a stronger relationship.  Sometimes the frenetic pace of our society and the pressures of the workplace create problems.  At other times, the problem is the lack of quality time together, sharing the same room without one even noticing the other.  Pastoral workers and groups of married people should think of ways to help young or vulnerable couples to make the most of those moments, to be present to one another, even by sharing moments of meaningful silence. (n. 224)

INTERCESSION

May families recognize the gift of time that has been given to them and prayerfully discern how to use it, we pray to the Lord…

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 25:1-7

To you, I lift up my soul, O Lord, my God.
In you, I trust: Let me not be put to shame,
               let not my enemies exult over me.
No one who waits for you shall be put to shame;
               those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith.
Your ways, O Lord, make known to me;
               teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
               for you are God my savior,
               and for you I wait all the day.
Remember that your compassion, O Lord,
               and your kindness are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
               in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O Lord. 

CONTEMPLATION & ACTION

What have we discovered about God’s love and care through this period of extended time together?

Take just one minute each day to stop and pray together as a family. 

REFLECTION

Joy of Taking Time by Suzanne Lafreniere, Office of Public Policy

We live in a time where there is a lot of disconnectedness. Families are often not close to each other, both geographically and emotionally.  When I married my husband, Denis, it was quite bittersweet.  I was moving away from my parents and three sisters who live in New York.  I took solace in looking forward to the new memories I would create with him and with his family in Maine.

In our 16 years of marriage thus far, Denis and I make a conscious effort to prioritize spending time with family.  Sometimes, this involves months of planning ahead of time, such as when we go on a vacation with extended family. I want my daughters to have happy memories of quality time with their cousins and grandparents. We often travel in a pack, with both sets of grandparents, sisters, and cousins all coming along for a trip.  Lots of people have remarked, “I would never agree to go on vacation with my (insert family member here).”  We laugh those comments off, but we do try to share with others the joy that these vacations bring, both to us and our extended families.  Our girls are so accustomed to traveling with other family members that they are disappointed if cousins aren’t with us.  As many members with different preferences, we don’t always agree, and sometimes, we argue, but we all see the value in being together and hopefully journeying together towards heaven.

In addition to time with extended family, we try to carve out intentional time with our children daily.  It may be a spontaneous ice cream outing or a walk on the beach. On those really busy weekdays, if we were to be honest with ourselves, it is only mere minutes, but those minutes are in their own way sacred moments.   Every night before bed, we sit down and pray together as a family. Lately, we have used Pope Francis’s Five Finger Prayer (It’s great; look it up!). Even Claire, our six-year-old, knows that it isn’t time to sleep until we have brushed teeth, said prayers, and snuggled. Listening to the girls’ prayers, we hear what is on their hearts and minds in a sincere way.  We know that it is our primary responsibility to share our faith in Christ with our girls, and taking time to focus on God is one way we try to fulfill that duty.

If we don’t take the time to really focus on rest and relaxation in the company of family, life can seem like a hamster wheel we cannot jump off. In Amoris Laetitia, our Holy Father writes, “Love needs time and space; everything else is secondary. Time is needed to talk things over, to embrace leisurely, to share plans, to listen to one another and gaze in each other’s eye, to appreciate one another and to build a stronger relationship.  Sometimes, the frenetic pace of our society and the pressures of the workplace create problems. At other times, the problem is the lack of quality time together, sharing the same room without one even noticing the other”
n. 224.

Consider how you can take time with your family, both daily and long-term. If it is anything like my experience, it will bring you both laughter and tears and is a concrete way to live out the grace of tenderness towards one another.


Note: The Rediscovering the Joy of the Family series may include modifications from the original Joy of the Family series in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.