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Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun Times Praying the Rosary with my Kids...

My kids were off from school on Friday (something about a floating holiday) and as we rush out the door to make it to morning Mass, after the tempest of getting them ready in twenty minutes because, since they were off, we didn't get up at our normal time, we came upon another tempest; a sudden downpour as we stepped outside.

In the short time it took to get from our front door to the car, which was in the driveway, we were totally soaked (no, we don’t have any umbrellas. They have all vanished into the Espinosa umbrella wasteland, where they go whenever we most need one).

Nevertheless, drenched, as my back was after having buckled my son into his car seat in the near monsoon, I decide to drive to our parish in hopes the weather would clear up.

Needless to say, the five minute drive to the church didn't make much of a difference, in fact, if anything, the rain was coming down harder.

My options looked bleak.  Either I quickly built an ark and we ventured into open water, a la George Clooney going after the dream catch in The Perfect Storm, or I miss my first daily Mass since the beginning of the year.  Considering my son has been coughing up a lung for the past several days, I opted for the latter. 

So, as I drove past the church, feeling a bit downcast and defeated, I got one of my brilliant ideas.  Since we couldn't get out of the car, why not pray a Rosary with the kids on our way to my parents’ house, where they were spending the day?

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by their receptive reaction.  Maybe it was the fact that they were just happy I wasn't going to force them to get out of the car in the heavy rain, but they didn’t complain a bit and actually did the sign of the cross and started praying with me (with the exception of my 4-yr-old son, who was in his own little world).

Remembering that as a child, praying the Rosary with my parents was akin to watching paint dry on a humid day, I wanted to try to peak their interest and make it more exciting for them.  Therefore, I started describing and elaborating on each of the Sorrowful mysteries that we were praying; the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowing with Thorns, and so on, so that they would have something to think about while we prayed the corresponding Hail Mary's (which in effect is the purpose of praying the Rosary).

Jesus Mocked by Philippe de Champaigne
As I got to the Carrying of the Cross, and began talking and thinking about Christ carrying the heavy weight of the cross to the place where He was going to be crucified, after having endured a severe and brutal scourging, where his body was torn to shreds, and being beaten and taunted by Roman guards, who embedded a crown of thorns into his head, and being spat at, mocked and scorned by the crowds along the way, I felt a rush of emotions come over me. In fact, I had to pause to gather myself, as my voice cracked and I tried desperately to keep myself from totally losing it.

As luck would have it, it was at this point (we were at a red light), that a man passing out advertisement fliers approached the car.  Turning my head slightly, so as to avoid him seeing the distress on my face, all I could do was wave him off with my hands.

I regained my composure and kept praying.  However, as I got to the explanation of the last mystery, the Crucifixion, I started reflecting on the nails being driven into Jesus' hands and feet, of Him hanging on the cross, in excruciating pain and gasping for air (for three hours!), and then, looking at His mother and the beloved disciple (who represents each of us) at the foot of the cross, gave His last command to him to take her into his care, before commanding His Spirit to God the Father and dying, I was practically whimpering.

My seven and eleven year old daughters kept looking at me like saying, “What is wrong with this man?” (Actually, they think my wife and I are emotional wrecks that cry at the drop of a hat, and moments like this don’t help change that perception!) My son was too busy looking and commenting on something he saw through his window to notice.  

Nothing like seeing the old man break up during morning prayer, I say. Yeah, fun times…

After dropping them off, as I drove to work and reflected upon my emotional display in front of the kids, I realized something (I always do!).

As a father, if there is one thing that I want to pass on to my children, it’s my faith. I want them to see me on my knees praying and worshiping the One True God of the universe, in hopes that, one day, they will follow my footsteps.

Therefore, if my shedding a few tears while praying the Rosary helps ingrain into their psyche the importance of taking their faith seriously, then it was well worth the minor embarrassment.

Pope John XXIII, once wrote, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”

I want to be a real father to my children, and it starts with teaching them about our Heavenly Father, who set the bar high for all fathers, by giving up His only Son for the sake of love…

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