St. Josemaria Escriva was once asked: “Do you consider it important, then, to teach children to practice their Faith from their earliest years? Do you think some acts of piety should be lived in the family?” He replied:
“I think it is precisely the best way to give children a truly Christian upbringing. Scripture tells us about those early Christian families which drew new strength and new life from the light of the Gospel. St. Paul calls them ‘the Church in the household’ (1 Cor 16:19).
Experience shows in all Christian environments what good effects come from this natural and supernatural introduction to the life of piety given in the warmth of the home. Children learn to place God first and foremost in their affections. They learn to see God as their Father and Mary as their Mother and they learn to pray following their parents’ example. In this way one can easily see what a wonderful apostolate parents have and how it is their duty to live a fully Christian life of prayer, so they can communicate their love of God to their children, which is something more than just teaching them.
How can they go about this? They have excellent means in the few, short, daily religious practices that have always been lived in Christian families and which I think are marvelous: grace at meals, morning and night prayers, the Holy Rosary (even though nowadays this devotion to our Lady has been criticized by some people). Customs vary from place to place, but I think that one should always encourage some acts of piety which the family can do together in a simple and natural fashion.
This is the way to ensure that God is not regarded as a stranger whom we go to see in the church once a week on Sunday. He will be seen and treated as He really is, not only in church but also at home, because our Lord has told us, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’ (Matt 18:20).
I still pray aloud the bedside prayers I learnt as a child from my mother’s lips, and I say so with the pride and gratitude of a son. They bring me closer to God and make me feel the love with which I learned to take my first steps as a Christian. And as I offer to God the day that is beginning, or thank Him for the day that is drawing to a close, I ask him to increase, in heaven, the happiness of those whom I especially love and to unite us there forever.” (Conversations of Saint Josemaria, 103)
Family was always at the heart of St. Josemaria’s life and teachings. The Novena for Families by Fr. Francisco Faus is a wonderful way to encourage prayer for and by all family members, to give thanks for all your blessings, and to seek prayerful intercession during difficulties.
The novena contains daily reflections from the writings of St. Josemaria, prayers for the family, and the Prayer for the Intercession of St. Josemaria.