So the true difficulty is making time and space amidst ‘household’ responsibility. If you look at the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (250 A.D), you discover that the ‘hours of prayer’ made famous by the monastic tradition, actually began in the church among ‘ordinary’ Christians. So, the early Christians rose at midnight and prayed, and prayed several times during the day (7 times total), both corporately (before work the community would gather daily) and privately, presumably with the children around and the chaos that accompanies little ones.
Folks get their knickers in a knot when kids are present at worship fidgeting and doing things kids do, but I wonder if that’s not the beauty of it. Should we not all learn to pray, worship and receive the sacraments as soon as possible? Should we not all learn to be silent, even when the world around us is buzzing. Should we not ‘take our cells’ into the world?
3 thoughts on “Benedictine Household”
Our family isn’t up to the 7 offices/day level, but we are blessed by daily family prayer from the BCP, p. 137. As a mom of 5 kids ages 3-11, I can testify to fidgeting, unusual prayer requests, etc. However, we have been blessed by the fellowship of our family, the promised presence of Jesus, and at times an unmistakable manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s gifts for the building up of Christ’s body. Our advice to other families on family devotions–try it, you may not always like it, but God will meet you there with power!
I agree with MA Anglican. We started out as Episcopalians and had daily family prayer with the kids from babyhood on, all of us seated or kneeling around a low Japanese style table. Our four sons learned to read from the reading the Bible out loud (and yes, we had to be patient) and the BCP prayers that we used (I made little booklets with a selection of the prayers from Morning and Evening services.) As the boys got confident, they would take the lead. We converted to Greek Orthodoxy when our oldest son was 14, and his other three brothers, 6, 4 and 1. We continued doing the same things, only with Orthodox prayers thrown in. Later, only once a day at evening after supper around the dinner table after eating. Their behavior in church was for the most part based on their behavior at home services, attentive, serious, focused. In my Orthodox parish of Aghia Trias, more than twenty years later, the young families seem not to have understood that this is even possible, and the convert clergy (former Baptists and Episcopalians) don’t help matters either. So things change. I suppose if devotion dies out in one place, it arises in another. God never lacks for witnesses.
Thanks for the historical perspective, Father Neo. I grew up in an urban Roman Catholic parish where the average number of children per household was waaaay above average, even for then. Scads of kids, the boomers, coursed through the church, always within swatting distance from parents and religious. I learned to pray with hands folded, as I do today. The discipline of ordered prayer had disappeared in our community, though. Did radio and TV blow it out of the way? My grandmother said the rosary every night. You could hear her walking to the bathroom at night because of the sound of her beads. How do we get this intensity back in our communities?