Readings for Sunday, October 7, 2012
I have to admit that I weaseled out of talking with my young teen students about this Sunday’s gospel regarding divorce. I did not want those who had divorced parents to go home feeling badly about something over which they have no control.
One day this week, however, we talked about the importance of family prayer. I recalled the old adage, “The family that prays together stays together.” I don’t know if that’s true 100% of the time, but I’m sure that prayer has to greatly boost a family’s chance of “making it.”
Unfortunately, sometimes we use prayer as a last resort instead of a first line of defense. Recently, I heard this testimony: A husband and wife were on the verge of divorce. They had really grown apart – didn’t know each other or their children anymore. Someone challenged them to try family prayer before calling it quits. The two began by praying together (even though it was quite awkward at first). Things slowly but surely began to get better between the two of them when they invited God back into their marriage. Next, they decided to commit to having family dinners again – at least two nights a week. The teenage children were told that they were expected to be there. They came reluctantly.
After a couple of weeks of family dinners, the parents invited their children to pray with them at the table. The kids thought that the parents had flipped! “I’m not doing it,” they said one after another. Instead of forcing the issue, the parents told them that they could simply give an intention for prayer, and that the mother or father would lead the prayer instead. Smart move!
The first time they tried this, the female teen said, ” I would like to pray for my friend Amy. I think that she has anorexia and might die if she doesn’t get help.” The teen son said, “I’d like to pray that I pass my Social Studies test on Thursday, because if I don’t I will fail for the semester.” That providential evening, the parents learned important things about what was going on in their children’s lives. With time, family prayer greatly helped this family with communication and provided a feeling of support and caring for all its members. Most importantly, when this family invited God to be the center of their lives, they not only survived, but began to thrive again.
Family Prayer can surely help a crumbling marriage, but “prevention” is equally as important. We must talk to our children often about listening for God’s call in their lives. We should talk to them about the religious vocation, the single vocation and the vocation of marriage. When young adults seem to be headed down the marriage path, we should encourage them to pray for their future spouses – that God will protect and prepare that person. Parents should pray for their children’s future spouses as well. If families would practice discernment on life decisions – both big and small – asking God for His guidance, can you imagine how this world would be ever so different?
Divorce would surely be a rare occurrence.