There are weeks when I tell God He must have been having an off day when He gifted me with ten children. Muttering my rosary and petitioning for each of those who seem committed to fighting over anything and everything, my heart ached.
"We take them to Mass. We pray at meals and at bedtime. They see us reading scripture, they see us trying to show mercy and love, discipline and patience. What are we not doing?" I wailed.
Then I thought of my own parents and grandparents, both of whom had to deal with children who seemed equally committed to ignoring the lessons being taught. I never seemed to pay attention. They knew I cared, but I also seemed a dreamy person floating along the surface of things, for so I was.
The comfort of knowing "They will grow up!" mitigated my irritation at a teen teasing four-year-old, another teen opting out of chores, a ten-year-old who refused to shower, and sass from three of my girls. It felt like too much, but in that moment, I put down the rosary. It wasn't that I didn't love that devotion, but I needed to just pour out my heart. The prayer became simpler. "Holy Family, make us a holy family."
The next day, it occurred to me that these children, living in the fishbowl of their family, do not know what they are to do as brothers and sisters. They only know this is Mom and this is Dad. They're doing that "Catholic thing." So when my son got bent out of shape at his sister over having to split a toaster strudel, I reminded him of his job.
"Do you know what your job as brother is?" I asked him. He shook his head no. "It's to be a friend, an always friend to your brothers and sisters, and to pray for them, even when they don't want your friendship."
I told the same thing to his younger sisters at a later moment. Then I told them the prayer to say, "Holy Family, make us a holy family. Amen."
"That's easy!" the seven-year-old beamed. I made her say it. Her next oldest sister said it next, then the ten-year-old.
I vowed to introduce it to the older ones that evening. They need to know that this is part of their permanent vocation. I pointed out to the three listening, all smiles after the prayer, "Remember, you have an army behind you just in our family. Eleven people praying and rooting for you." They practically floated onto the school bus.
We'll see what sort of reaction we get with the older ones, but I know this much: I know to pray, "Holy Family, make us a holy family. Amen."
Have a great week filled with Small Successes.
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Copyright 2015, Sherry Antonetti