This last Advent, we decided to make our time around the Advent wreath a focal time of family prayer.  After dinner, Philip gave the kids baths and put them in their jammies while I did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.  Afterward, we gathered around the dinner table.  With only the light from our Advent wreath candles, Philip led our family in prayer using Lisa Hendey's "O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath."  (I highly recommend this booklet as a resource for your prayer time around the Advent Wreath.)

A few weeks into Advent, we realized how much we all looked forward to this time together.  We decided we wanted to continue that special, dedicated family prayer time in addition to our meal and bedtime prayer routine.

Advent began nearly a month after we lost baby Thérèse.  During that first week of Advent, we prepared a family Rosary to commemorate Thérèse's life.  In preparation for the family Rosary, I put together a Family Prayer Binder.

Inside the binder, I included pocket dividers to hold laminated images of the different Mysteries of the Rosary.  (We purchased the images at our local Catholic bookstore, and I laminated them on my brand new laminator.  I love that thing!)

The images are beautiful and helpful for focusing on the Mysteries as we pray them.

After we had the Rosary for Thérèse, we decided to start saying one decade of the Rosary during our prayer time around the Advent Wreath.

Princess Janie loves this beautiful purple and pink Rosary given to me by my sister and brother-in-law on the occasion of their daughter's (my goddaughter's!) baptism.

Walter can't be trusted with the nice Rosaries yet, so he gets this special, nearly indestructible one with plastic beads.

After the Advent wreath went away, we realized we needed a new focal point in addition to the laminated images of the Mysteries of the Rosary.  Since the kids loved watching the flames of the Advent Wreath candles in the darkness, we decided to buy a beautiful gardenia-scented candle with a pretty cover.  When we burn that candle down to the bottom, we can use the cover on a new one.

Weeks later, Janie still asks for "the purple Rosary."  She loves asking about the laminated images and is able to identify the various figures.  She told me today that "Jesus has long hair like Rapunzel."  Oh, the sweet innocence of children!  Janie loves getting to kiss Jesus' feet on the Crucifix of her Rosary at the end of our prayer and blow out the candle.

After Janie blows out the candle, Walt loves to wave the smoke around with his pudgy little hands.

Sometimes he sticks his hand in a little too far!

We've been praying a decade each night for nearly a month, and the kids are really getting the swing of things.  Tonight, Philip said it was "time to pray the Rosary," and both kiddos came running to their chairs at the table.  Right on cue, Janie asked for her purple Rosary, and Walt told all of us "pray!" as he folded his hands.

For now, one decade is the extent of our Rosary time around the dinner table.  At their ages (almost 3 and 19 months), we're happy to have them confined to their chairs and focused for five minutes.  We'll build from here!  I look forward to celebrating the different liturgical seasons and adding to our dedicated family prayer time.

Copyright 2013 Catherine Boucher