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When our children were young my husband and I started leading our family in evening prayer. It was usually about 7:00 p.m. when we would gather together and recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be followed by each of our intentions. This time let us all stop for 10 minutes at the end of a busy day and gather with each other and God to pray in gratitude, or to bring our concerns to Him so we could be strengthened through His grace. Over the years it became difficult, letting the busyness of life encroach on this ritual. Sometimes we would not take time to appreciate its importance and then we would start gathering again with renewed promise usually prompted by Advent, Lent or a family sadness to pull us back together.
As our children matured and the world changed, so too did the thoughts and prayers in their minds and hearts. Sometimes they prayed for a sick relative, a friend at school, or to do well on a test; other times they prayed for peace and our elected officials. Still other times they simply would pray to worry less and for a good night's sleep. These sacred moments gave my husband and me insights into some of our children's hopes and concerns. They bonded our family in a way that only this time of prayer can do.
When our children went to college and grew into their independent adult lives, we reminded them wherever they were at 7:00 p.m., please try and take a minute and join those of us at home in evening prayers. For over 20 years now, my husband and I have felt the power of this connection and are grateful for the faith that calls us to continue in our efforts to keep praying as a family.
Throughout this Advent season, Cardinal Seán O'Malley has asked all of us to pray the Angelus. Traditionally recited at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. each day, this beautiful prayer provides a welcome opportunity to strengthen family bonds as we prepare for Christmas. What I love most about the Angelus is that Mary was asked if she would be the mother of our Savior with complete respect for her freedom to say "yes." Prayer helps us find the way to say "yes" to Him in our lives knowing that for much of it we may tend to say "no" or "maybe."
So for this Advent season, I hope our family will be joined by your family praying the Angelus. Even for those evenings when we forget or cannot fit it in our routine, just try again the next day and the rest of us will be praying for and with you at seven.
Kathleen F. Driscoll is the Secretary for Institutional Advancement in the Archdiocese of Boston. She and her husband Kevin have six children and live in Hingham.