Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Rosary for Children

I was reading a pamphlet called "How to Pray the Rosary for Children" that I had picked up a long time ago. I love praying the Rosary with my children. Sometimes, there are squabbles on who gets to lead, or who gets to read the reflections and then it turns out not very "Mary-like" in the end. But for the most part, our family Rosary is a calming, reflective part of the day with little or no distraction, where we can bond together as a family. I know that my children are young and it isn't that hard to get everyone rounded up to say the Rosary together and the times will come when soccer games or a night out with the friends will make it more difficult. I hope and strive to build a strong family unit and our faith is the foundation. Praying the Rosary and reflecting on the life of Jesus Christ often brings our daily struggles into perspective. I ask myself, why didn't we pray this at home while we were growing up? Would my life have been different? I want to instill a great faith in my children. I am not invincible and I don't have all the answers. But God does. Staying close to him means never straying far from the path. Of course, we all make mistakes and sin. Who doesn't? But God is always waiting with open arms for us to come back to him. The Rosary keeps me close to God. When we neglect to say it on a daily basis, I feel that something is missing. Things are not kept in perspective and I am impatient and less compassionate. I encourage everyone to say the Rosary. Read what the late Pope John Paul II wrote in his "Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and especially what he said about praying the Rosary with Children:

... and children

42. It is also beautiful and fruitful to entrust to this prayer the growth and development of children. Does the Rosary not follow the life of Christ, from his conception to his death, and then to his Resurrection and his glory? Parents are finding it ever more difficult to follow the lives of their children as they grow to maturity. In a society of advanced technology, of mass communications and globalization, everything has become hurried, and the cultural distance between generations is growing ever greater. The most diverse messages and the most unpredictable experiences rapidly make their way into the lives of children and adolescents, and parents can become quite anxious about the dangers their children face. At times parents suffer acute disappointment at the failure of their children to resist the seductions of the drug culture, the lure of an unbridled hedonism, the temptation to violence, and the manifold expressions of meaninglessness and despair.

To pray the Rosary for children, and even more, with children, training them from their earliest years to experience this daily “pause for prayer” with the family, is admittedly not the solution to every problem, but it is a spiritual aid which should not be underestimated. It could be objected that the Rosary seems hardly suited to the taste of children and young people of today. But perhaps the objection is directed to an impoverished method of praying it. Furthermore, without prejudice to the Rosary's basic structure, there is nothing to stop children and young people from praying it – either within the family or in groups – with appropriate symbolic and practical aids to understanding and appreciation. Why not try it? With God's help, a pastoral approach to youth which is positive, impassioned and creative – as shown by the World Youth Days! – is capable of achieving quite remarkable results. If the Rosary is well presented, I am sure that young people will once more surprise adults by the way they make this prayer their own and recite it with the enthusiasm typical of their age group.
(From Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

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