When your child was young, you taught your little one how to go to sleep, brush his teeth, pray, and so on. But have you trained your child to arise from slumber? Have you taught your son or daughter a Morning Offering to be said directly upon waking? Is this any harder than teaching your child how to say goodnight prayers? No. You must ask yourself: why have you taught night-time prayers but not morning prayers?
Perhaps the reason is that you do not make a Morning Offering upon arising, and so it is difficult to pass along what you do not have. Perhaps you put your child to bed, but he arises on his own. But maybe the answer is more subtle; perhaps you do not see every moment of the day as devotional. Perhaps you do not see waking up as waking into the Lord’s service.
From here on, teach your child how to rise like a saint. After all, it was the great Greek philosopher Aristotle who famously said, “Well begun is half done.” Now, when your child arises, he probably comes downstairs on his own. One of the glories of parenting is cuddling with a lethargic child in the early hours of the morning. This is the perfect time to teach him his Morning Offering. And over time, you can teach him to say it immediately.
In TAN’s little book Pray Always: A Catholic Child’s Prayer Book, you can find many simplified prayers for your son or daughter. The Morning Offering is as simple as it gets, and can thus be memorized by your little one at a very early age:
O my God, I offer you every thought and word and act of this day. Please bless me, my God, and make me good today. Amen.
And now your little one has offered his or her entire life—every thought, word, and act—to Almighty God. The devotional life for the day has begun. For this reason, the day is bound to be a holy one, and your child is bound for heaven.
The next moment of prayer will be when your child eats breakfast. Yes, even a bowl of cereal warrants a pious folding of the hands, bowing of the head, stilling of the body, and a fervent prayer of gratitude. Do you lead by example? Certainly you do, whether it is a good or bad example. But do you raddle off “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts . . .” as fast as possible before wolfing down your yogurt? Dear Parent, be that living catechism for your child and show them with physical reverence that you are truly grateful for the God-given nourishment.
And then, before dad or mom leave for work, there is another excellent opportunity to be devout. Say the Angelus with your little ones. Beginning the day with “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary . . .” is beautiful. Traditionally, the Angelus is prayed three times a day: 6:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. As a family, you can begin the day with the Angelus, pray it before lunch, and pray it before dinner. Your child must learn that devotion is throughout the day and not just a “God bless Daddy and Mommy” at bedtime.
So many of us parents tire of the Rosary. We would rather scurry the kids to bed than struggle through another fifteen minutes with them. We prefer the XM radio station over a quiet encounter with Our Lady. We desire the blue light of Netflix rather than the blue veil of the Mother of God. If you can relate to the above, I implore you to read the following story for the sake of your child—for the Rosary is the surest means to obtaining our Blessed Mother’s prayers at the hour of your child’s certain and imminent death just as the young lady of the severed head came to learn.
A certain renowned Jesuit, theologian and mystic, Father Eusebius Nierembergh tells the story that there lived in the city of Aragona, Sicily, a beautiful young lady of noble birth named Alexandra, who was courted by two young men. Out of jealousy, they one day fought, and both were killed. Their enraged relatives, considering the young lady as the cause of this said event, murdered her, cut off her head, and threw it into a well.
Some days afterward, St. Dominic, passing by the spot and inspired by God, went to the well and cried out, “Alexandra, come forth!” In an instant the head of the murdered woman came up and remained on the edge of the well and then entreated the saint to hear her confession. The saint did so and, in the presence of an immense concourse of people, drawn there by the wonderful event, gave her communion.
He then commanded her to say for what reason she received such a great grace. Alexandra replied that when her head was cut off, she was in mortal sin but, on account of the Rosary she was in the habit of saying in Our Lady’s honor, the most Blessed Virgin had kept her alive. The animated head remained for two days on the edge of the well, so as to be seen by all, and thereafter the soul went to purgatory.
A fortnight afterwards, Alexandra appeared, beautiful and shining like a star, to St. Dominic and said that the Rosary recited for the souls in purgatory is one of the greatest reliefs that they meet in their torments and that as soon as ever they get to heaven, they pray earnestly for those who have performed this devotion for them. Hardly had she said this when St. Dominic saw her happy soul ascend with the greatest joy to the kingdom of the Blessed.
Dear Parent, perhaps your child will not be cut to pieces or thrown into a well, but he will die. And while St. Dominic may not be walking past the place of his death, hear the confession of his severed head, nor give it Communion, Our Lady will most certainly be present at his death. Be assured that if you raise your child to pray the Rosary with true devotion, the Blessed Mother will do everything in her power to bring your child to paradise.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations are one of the most beautiful devotions available to us Catholics. Most families only pray the Stations on Good Friday, but this is a travesty. Nothing prevents you from praying the Stations every Friday with your little one. At the very least, it should be prayed every Friday during Lent.
Your child should be intimately familiar with the passion of Our Lord. This will enable him to see his own life as an ascent to Golgotha. What better way for your little one to prepare for struggle, defeat, and suffering—inevitable in this vale of tears. We will discuss later the necessity of the cross, but in terms of devotion, deepen your child’s appreciation for Our Lord’s passion.
Holy Mother Church offers countless devotions. There are devotions to the Infant Jesus, the Precious Blood, the Holy Face, the Sacred Heart, the Divine Mercy, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Michael, and devotions for the holy souls in purgatory.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the ones that are best for you and your family. More is not always better. Find your favorite novenas to your patron saint and your favorite litanies. Whatever you choose for your family, the point is to raise your child in the arms of Holy Mother Church—to live a life in which your child prays without ceasing.
You can tell a lot about someone by what he reads or does not read. The Bible, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit, taking centuries to write and compile under the guidance of Holy Mother Church, has been sadly neglected by many parents. Rather than maintain a sacred spot in the home, the Bible is more apt to collect dust than actually be used.
And as a result, our children have been under siege by Protestants and are leaving the Faith in droves for Bible based churches. Reclaim, Dear Parent, our sacred patrimony. Did not St. Paul say, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly” (Col 3:16)?
Put the Word of God in a place of honor in your home; read it daily with your children. Either you and your children will be filled with the Good News or they will remain empty with the world’s fake news or a false gospel of prosperity. Study Our Lord’s life and meditate on His words, even more so than the greatest saints.
For His words are “spirit and life” (John 6:64), which will steer your family on the path to eternity. Above all, the best place to hear the Gospel is in the heart of the Church, in the liturgical life as it is read at Holy Mass.
Source: Parenting for Eternity by Conor Gallagher, Published by TAN Books (cf. Chapter 2: The Virtue of Piety).
Conor Gallagher is CEO of TAN Books. He is author of various books and is a proud husband and father of fifteen children. His subjects of interest include family life, philosophy, the spiritual life and spiritual direction. His graduate degrees are from the Catholic University of America.