Friday, 8 September 2017

Pull Up a Pew #2. Michele, Emily and 'The Friendship Project'

Having a big family (or being a mother in general) means there is very little time for leisure... Finding the time to read, in my case, has become an arduous quest... The pile of books on my bedside cabinet is becoming an increasingly frustrating reminder of how much I'd like to do and how little time I actually have.

Though I lack time (I am sure this is a common problem) and my retirement reading list becomes bigger and bigger, God doesn't stop surprising me... I was given the possibility to read an advance copy of the 'The Friendship Project', the latest book by the authors of 'Divine Mercy for Moms',

'The Friendship Project', just like 'Divine Mercy for Moms' is a book that comes from the heart. Emily and Michele have truly experienced and embraced 'perfect friendship' and together have walked the extra mile to spread the Good News.

As Pope Saint John Paul II said 'In God's plan, nothing happens by chance', and both books landed at my feet at just the right time... the first when I was looking for Christ's Mercy the most and the latter to confirm the importance and the need of pure friendship in Christ.

Christ himself called us friends "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." and told us that giving our life for our friends is where true love lies!

The authors explore friendship through the life of some famous Saints who were friends with each other, proving that sanctity is contagious and that in this journey of faith we need each other, we need to support, encourage and love one another as He has loved us.

Easy to read, the book is pleasant and genuine. Written with a spirit of service Emily and Michele effortlessly manage to create a very intimate friendship with the reader herself, touching their heart and moving them toward the achievement of that friendship that only comes from Christ. 

Just like their previous book, this one asks you to act, it moves you and encourages you to put into practice what you read...  and offers you the great opportunity to fully enter friendship thanks to the study group format which is easy to follow and pleasant to deliver.

The experience of 'Divine Mercy for Mums' study group was a wonderful one and the gift of another study group ready to access is a real blessing. I look forward to starting it soon and walking towards Heaven alongside the wonderful people I have met on this journey of faith and the ones I will meet thanks to 'The Friendship Project'.

"Friendship is complete agreement about all things human and divine with benevolence and affection" (Cicero)


Time to meet Michele and Emily, the authors of the book ... Enjoy!

Can you briefly introduce yourself? 
(Michele)  I am a wife and mother of four, ages thirteen to three.   I work full time as a school nurse, but my greatest passion is evangelization.   I am the co-director of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, an author and speaker.
(Emily)  I am a wife, mother of seven, ages 18 years to 18 months.   I’ve been involved with women’s ministry for over 10 years with my radio apostolate, A Mother’s Moment and I am also part of the leadership team for the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. I enjoy sharing the message of the gospel as an author and speaker.

Michele,What qualities were you looking for In your most important friendships e.g in Emily?
(Michele) In The Friendship Project, we wrote about eight virtues: faith, hope, charity, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity and prayerfulness.
If we had to boil it down to just a few, we’d say we would want all of our friends to be faithful and faith-filled. As we wrote in The Friendship Project,  “a loyal friend is faithful to her word….looking through the eyes of our loyalties reveals a lot about our hearts.”   True friends are there in good times and bad, showing support in difficultly and also celebrating the good times.   However on top of loyal and faithful, having a friend whose eyes are fixed on Christ and helping you grow closer in your relationship to God is the most important quality.

At which point did you decide that your friendship was of value and one worth investing in? 
(Emily) We both realized in college as we had our own awakening and deep conversions of heart that spiritual friendships were important to invest in.  As we continued to grow in our faith in our adult lives and work in ministry in our adult lives together, we also realized we were spending our time focusing on doing good things and spreading the Gospel instead of gossiping or making idle talk.  We quickly came to realize how God was using our friendship to sanctify us and push us along in our faith journeys.

What do you think Christianity added to Aristotle's concept of friendship? 
(Michele) Christianity added the art of spiritual friendship, or inviting God into the friendship.  These friendships, according to St. Aelred of Rievaulx must “begin in Christ, continue with Christ, and be perfected by Christ” and are true friendships.  It is through these friendships that lead us closer to God that our friendships can last into eternity!

How do you stop friendship from becoming cliquey ?
(Emily) It’s hard when you are satisfied with the dynamics of a group of friends to invite others in, but it’s important to be open to new friendships and deepening friendships with friends who you may only be an acquaintance with.   One thing we both really strive to do is be inviting to our bible study groups or women’s groups to invite everyone.  One thing my mom ingrained in my upbringing was to be hospitable and that “all are welcome – the more the merrier!”  She has been a great example to me to open up my home and my heart to others and I have been so blessed by that in my life.

When did you realise friendship is an important part of our journey of faith?
I think both of us realized early in our adult lives the difference it made having good friends who encouraged us in our walk as Catholics.  As we read what the saints wrote about friendship, we came to understand it more fully. St. Francis deSales shares that we live in a world that is indifferent, even hostile at times to our faith, so it is not only helpful to have spiritual friendships, but necessary!

Why did feel it was important to write a book about friendship? 
(Michele) As we travel around the country speaking about our first book, Divine Mercy for Moms, women often approach us and share that their favorite part of the book is when we talk about our friendship.  Emily and I have been blessed to know each other for over 20 years, since college.  I met my husband at Emily’s wedding and we have worked in Women’s ministry together over the past 15 years.   Many women shared with us that they too desired to have a close friendship in faith, so we knew that this was a topic women wanted to read more about.   As we researched friendship, we were overjoyed to see the amount of writing that the saints have done on the topic of friendship and its importance.  Friendship isn’t optional, but necessary!  St. Augustine writes “In this world two things are essential: life and friendship.  Both should be highly prized and we must not undervalue them.  Life and friendship are natures gifts.”  We also began to read about many of saints who had other saint friends while here on earth.   It was really eye opening to see that many of the great saints had close friendships on earth, and because of their mutual desire to serve God, they were able to help each other grow in holiness.

What did writing this book teach you?
(Emily)  We booth took a serious look at how we were living the virtues in all our relationships and made a conscious effort to grow in each of the eight virtues we wrote about.  We also realized how many relationships that we have let grow cold or die because of lack of attention.   While we can’t have deep and close relationships with everyone, we have learned that a little time and attention to relationships can bring new life into them.  We’ve both had the joy of reconnecting with old friends in the past few years while working on this project.  Writing about the saint friends was also very inspirational, and we both hope that we can be the type of friend that helps others get to heaven!

What advice would you give to ladies who are considering starting a Study group?
We promise you will be blessed!  We lead a group of over 30 women from across our diocese in the pilot study of The Friendship Project this past fall.  Most of the women in the group didn’t know each other, but many wonderful and beautiful new friendships were made.   We’ve made it easy for you with free invitations, ice breakers, recipe ideas, a downloadable journal and videos you can stream right online at! Not only is it easy, but also, all you need to purchase is the book – no extra charges for journals, videos or leader materials.   We feel so strongly about helping you develop these friendships, we want you to be able to lead a group without an extra financial burden. Check out our “quick start guide” for simple instructions on getting started.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pull Up a Pew #1. Fiorella Nash. Spreading the Pro Life Message at Home and in the Media

The first episode of 'Pull Up a Pew' interview for Catholic Mothers was supposed to be recorded on 13th May this year... Things didn't really work out that day, the sound system as well as the recording equipment gave up on me. My husband had an important meeting he couldn't miss, my high tech children were not available so we had to give up... man proposes and God disposes! Although that first episode never happened I have hopes for the future... in the meantime we decided to conduct the interview by correspondence and in the past few days I have had the honour of having a wonderful email exchange with Fiorella Nash: Mum, tireless pro-life campaigner and novelist to find out how she balances writing, media work and motherhood.

Today, (though not on our Catholic Mothers YouTube channel), I have the pleasure to introduce you to this wonderful woman.

Enjoy and share!

Tell us something about yourself?

I am married with four young children. I am a novelist, journalist and campaigner, specialising in pro-life feminism. This year, I have branched out a little with my writing and published my first work of detective fiction, following the exploits of Benedictine sleuth Fr Gabriel.

What inspired your interest in the pro-life movement?
Can you remember a moment or incident when you decided this was going to be your life’s work?

I can’t pretend that there was a single moment when I ‘discovered’ the pro-life movement or realised that my life was heading in that direction. It was a slower process than that. I remember hearing a White Flower Appeal at my church when I was about 14 and being appalled by the scale of the abortion tragedy. I had a strong sense already that abortion was a tragedy but I had never appreciated before then how common abortion was and what it actually involved. I became a member of SPUC soon after that and eventually became involved with student activism. I never initially imagined that I would work for the pro-life movement, I was mostly involved with left-wing social justice groups at that point, but I came to the realisation that social justice begins at home. I have always believed that pro-life campaigning should hold a central place in the struggle for justice, alongside fighting poverty and other forms of oppression.

Apologetics for Mothers

As mothers we are in contact at school and playgroups with the people who have the greatest say in the abortion debate, mothers themselves. What do you think is the best approach? Good arguments/ strategies

I don’t think there is a single strategy that works but there are a number of things to consider. I think it is important in these settings to establish friendships as it is always easier to have a difficult or controversial conversation with people you trust and have had a chance to get to know a little. I would also say, don’t be afraid to join in with the difficult conversations. Quite often, subjects such as abortion come up as part of a discussion about a particular news story that’s doing the rounds. A moment like that can offer the possibility of a much deeper conversation. I would also caution against assuming that everyone will be against you. In spite of the widespread acceptance of abortion in this country, many people are extremely concerned about abortion and are genuinely unaware of precisely what abortion involves.

I also think it is important to make it clear that you respect women and that you respect bodily integrity. I am keen to point out that, in the end, I oppose abortion because it ends a human life. I believe in freedom and equality for women, I have benefited and my daughters will continue to benefit from female emancipation, but in the end, freedom cannot be bought at the expense of human life.

People are often deeply invested in their point of view either because they or someone close to them has had an abortion. What is the best way to approach people without making them feel judged or condemned, or is that the best way?

I would never want to judge or condemn anyone – whatever they had done. I think that goes beyond the abortion debate. There is a difference between being honest about the wrongness of an act and shunning or shaming the person responsible. I don’t believe we have any right to do that. When it comes to abortion, if you have been personally touched by abortion, if a close friend or relative has had an abortion, I think it is important to acknowledge that. I always feel that there is a tendency to think that pro-life women live in some kind of a bubble, but that is simply not the case and it helps to dispense with that myth as early as possible. One of the reasons I believe in establishing friendships with others is precisely because it avoids the possibility of becoming judgemental. I am aware that women can be left in a desperately difficult situation during pregnancy, that abortion is sometimes mooted as the only option. I always start by acknowledging what might have led to the abortion and to make it clear that I am there for the person involved. Only then is it possible to start talking about the wrongness of abortion itself. Truth and compassion are not enemies.

In the UK where the abortion debate seems so niche in comparison with the United States what’s the best we can hope for?

To win! My daughter is a competitive figure skater and one of the first things she learnt was – never aim for mediocrity. Aim to get on the podium, even if you know the odds are against you. If you aren’t going to aim to win, why are you entering the competition in the first place? In the UK, we hope to do what any pro-life movement in the world hopes to do in the long run, change hearts and minds, make abortion unthinkable, build a culture of life in which both the pregnant mother and her baby are truly valued and protected. SPUC is fifty years old this year and when the Society was first founded, I doubt anyone believed the battle would be so long-drawn-out, but we must never lose hope. 

Media work

You’ve often been interviewed on the radio and TV. What’s your experience?

I have a lot more experience of radio than TV, partly because it is more practical – you can be interviewed for radio over the phone without having to go to a studio, so there tend to be more opportunities there and it is my favourite medium. I like the intimacy of the radio setting. Unlike TV, where there is a certain showmanship needed to appear before the cameras, speaking on the radio is more personal. People tend to listen to the radio alone – in their cars, pottering about the kitchen – so there is more of a sense of having a personal conversation with somebody, even you are having that conversation with thousands of individuals at the same time.

How do you prepare for media interviews?
I do as much background research as possible, which will include extensive reading and usually discussions with experts in the field and other members of the team at SPUC. I will usually alert friends via social media or personal messages to pray as I always feel more at ease if I know there are people praying when I go on air.

Have you had any real successes?
It is difficult to gauge how successful an appearance is, though my brief Woman’s Hour appearance generated a lot of feedback. I was happy with how it went because I was able to get a couple of points across in spite of the undisguised hostility of the presenter and the fact that she declared beforehand that a minority opinion like mine only required 4 minutes of airtime.

Have you experienced some real disasters?
Hahaha, now that would be telling! I have never had a complete and utter meltdown, but then I don’t think many people ever do. I have had occasions where I have felt very disappointed and upset afterwards because I have felt that I did not get my points across well or focus enough, particularly when I first started. The first speech I ever gave – ten days after starting the job – was an unmitigated disaster, but fortunately it was not recorded!

When the odds are stacked against you can any good come of such appearances?
A resounding YES to that, but I would qualify that by saying that one has to pick the right outlets. We are not media tarts, if you’ll forgive the expression, and no one is obliged to say yes to every media request. If there is a situation where the environment is going to be so hostile and the odds so stacked against you that there is no way you will ever be able to get your point across, it may be more constructive to decline. I have certainly had occasions where I would have declined if I had known that my opponent was going to be an aggressive, condescending bully and the promised ‘lively, light-hearted discussion’ a vicious slanging match.

Spreading the good news on social media

The space for discussion of abortion online is becoming ever more restricted. Pro life websites have been banned in France. What’s the current situation in the UK?

I am not aware of any pro-life sites being banned in the UK and in many ways, the rise of social media has invigorated pro-life debate. The media no longer has complete control over what stories are broadcast and which opinions are permitted airtime. Social media levels the playing field, allowing pro-life campaigners to get their message across more effectively. It has also made it much easier for groups and individuals to network and exchange ideas with organisations all around the world.

Mother’s groups and websites are very active on facebook/mumsnet etc. It’s not unheard of that people considering abortion practically put the decision to an online poll. Can and should we get involved and how?

When a woman is openly discussing the possibility of having an abortion, I think it is important to be the person who offers an alternative. I have heard women who regret their abortions say that if just one person had suggested an alternative or said ‘you don’t have to do this’ they would not have had the abortion. Go gently, maybe post the number of a helpline they could talk to. They may not pick up the phone, but at least you will know that you gave life a chance. The thing to avoid in a situation like that is getting into slanging matches or coming across as preachy. I once read a rant written by a woman instructing a post-abortive woman to ‘learn to save sex for marriage in future’ and the woman turned out to be married. All it did was to make the pro-life intervener look ridiculous and to provoke a venomous exchange from other posters. As with all online interaction, the first rule is: remember that you are dealing with another person here, imagine that you are interacting with them face-to-face before you post your comment.

Bringing up a pro-life family

What do you do in the home to pass on the pro-life message?

I answer all my children’s questions on life, marriage and sexuality as openly as possible, whilst keeping my answers age-appropriate. The most important piece of advice I ever received about building a pro-life ethos in your home is to avoid harsh words and criticism. I once read an article by a mum who talked about the damage done by parents who talk negatively about other people in front of their children and how it breeds a culture of fear and shame in a home. More than anything else, I try to build trust and respect within the family unit and to keep channels of communication open. I want my children to know that every family member is welcome and that, whatever they do, whatever mistakes they make in life, they are loved, the home will always be a place of safety for them and we can always try to work things out together.

Fiorella and her Novels

Click on the image to buy her books

Which books inspired you to write your own Catholic fiction?

I never set out to write Catholic fiction, but I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child and there have been too many influences on my writing to count. I once joked to a journalist that I would ‘like to be Evelyn Waugh’ but a friend told me that my books are so dark in places that I come across as much more a disciple of Graham Greene! If I were to name my two biggest inspirations, I would probably say Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Solzhenitsyn, both as a man and as a writer. I remember reading Ivan Denisovich when I was at school and being completely overwhelmed by how vivid it was. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to be able to write like that.  

Are you setting out to write a really good Catholic novel or a good novel that happens to be Catholic? 

Definitely the latter. First and foremost, I am a novelist not a propagandist or a theologian, nor do I write for an exclusively Catholic audience. However, I very much believe that if one lives and writes within the Catholic moral universe, the Faith will be very much present in the story.

What genre do you think  serves your purpose best and why?

My novels are mostly historical fiction, simply because I have an interest in history and in reconstructing the past. I am very interested in how we are influenced by past events and how the lives of ordinary people are changed by being alive at a particularly cataclysmic moment, such as the outbreak of war or the height of the Mediterranean slave trade.

Are there any genres you would like to try in future? 

I have been challenged to write a comedy – and that really would be a challenge! Who knows, maybe I will pluck up the courage to try one day…

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Passing on the Faith onto Our Children

"Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"

Priest: What names have you given your children?

Pierpaolo & Chiara: Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.

Priest: What do you ask of God’s Church for Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.?

Pierpaolo & Chiara: Baptism.

Priest: You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking? 

Pierpaolo & Chiara: We do.

The priest to the godparents:

Priest: Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?

Godparents: We are.

Priest:  Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.

When we, Christian parents, asked for baptism for our children we promise to co-operate with the Church in bringing our children up as true children of God and to teach them to love him and to serve Him every day of their life.

There are many baptisms over the year in our parish, but I wonder how many people truly recognise the weight of those words pronounced by the priest in response to our request:"You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?" This is serious stuff...we are entrusted and are given the privilege to bring up the children of God. 

Growing up as a young mother I remember being afraid of losing my children along the way, I still have a vivid the memory of the many prayers sent up to heaven for the boys to remain in and find strength in the Church.

What were we to do? How could we prevent them from leaving when they were older... that brought real anxiety at times. I was so afraid to fail that task I was being assigned. 

God has been a true Father throughout this journey of Faith. He little by little showed us that we as parents had nothing to worry about, that He had everything thought out.

In Baptism, our parents made our first 'profession of  faith' on our behalf and from that day on the Church has nourished us, has fed, enriched us, has given us values and we have found freedom in her teaching.

Do you renounce Satan, and all his works and empty promises?

 I do. 

 Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? 

 I do.

 Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father? 

I do. 

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who today through the Sacrament of Confirmation is given to you in a special way just as he was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost? 

 I do. 

Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? 
 I do.

This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.   

The Creed is, as St Ambrose states, the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever present guardian; it is unquestionably, the treasure of the soul.

Here was where I found the answer to my prayers and the end to my anxiety!

That profession of faith that my parents once made on my behalf, those words proclaimed not long after I was born into this world, were not meant to stay dormant. The seed planted at Baptism had to become a solid  tree with its roots in Christ.

We Christian parents are called to profess the Creed, day in and day out as a witness of that LOVE that saved us all, so that we could enter in communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the whole Church.

The mother Church is there to guide us as individuals as well as parents, she has the right words for the right times (even if sometimes these words seem harsh, it is is always a relief to trust in her wisdom), the right 'activities' and resources for us and our growing family.

Based on her tradition and her teaching that has been successful over thousands of years we have nothing to worry about and nothing to reinvent. It is all there ready for us to access.

So to the question 'What are you doing now in the hope of keeping your kids in the Faith?'... we are living with coherence the same Faith of our ancestors, traced back all the way to the apostles and Christ himself... 

We pray together, we receive the Sacraments together, we talk openly together, we discuss life in all 
its aspect in the light of the faith,we eat together, we celebrate together, we moan together, we argue but we never let the sun go down on our anger, we suffer but have been given a meaning to our suffering and in turn we remind one another of this.

We fully live and draw strength from the strong liturgical seasons however badly we end up living them because of  life... which shows us that no matter how imperfect, sinful, forgetful we are He still comes for us.

On Crafts and Activities:

Though we love our crafts and the odd activity here and there, I feel that the weight of the liturgical season and its focus can sometimes easily shift towards those pretty, fun and disposable projects... and these end up replacing the beautiful liturgies and the continuous life-giving gifts that the Church has to offer.

Crafts and activities are a lovely way to accompany some of the teaching especially for younger children but should never take the place of the wonderful traditions that have been passed on from one generation to another for centuries.

Children need to be part of the greatness of the Church. It is important not to underestimate the understanding and intuition of the children. Their participation will increase with age and God will slowly establish a personal relationship with them.   

Taking young children to Sunday Mass, the Triduum, Penitential Services can be very tiring and at times disheartening, but the sacrifice that us as parents (and in particular mothers if the spouse is active in the choir, or a cantor or is involved in any other kind of service) is of immense value and won't be for long... Thanks to our persistence, coherence and service, our children will little by little have access the the immensity of the Faith. 

I claim you for Christ

Our life should speak of Christ...  we are not perfect, we fall daily, we have many weaknesses but it is in Him that we find our strength, the children have witnessed this many times in us and as they grow up they are discovering it for themselves. 

So what happens if they will one day lose faith or fall away... well they have been anointed... they have been claimed for Christ... God wants to save them more than I do, so I know He will be on their case.

Friday, 12 May 2017

13 Reasons Why... We should pray the Rosary

The 13th May... 100 years ago on this day Our Lady appeared to three little shepherds in Fatima; 36 years ago, in 1981, John Paul II was shot on the same day that I turned 1.

It is a day which is full of meaning for me, a day that speaks so strongly about life, its beauty and its fragility, death and eternal life.

“Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27) Jesus said to John at the foot of the Cross. The gift of such a graceful mother was not exclusive to the disciple but in pronouncing these words to John, Jesus gave us his own and entrusted us to her. 

When a baby is born his mother is the whole world, so much so that he hardly realises she is a different person. As the Christian child grows older and discover their unicity, the bond with the earthly mother is gently untied and a greater bond with the Heavenly Mother acquired.

Praying the Rosary should be at the heart of every household. It is a simple prayer that strengthen that motherly bond and ties us to heaven.

In this period running up to the 13th May when we celebrate the Centenary of the Fatima apparitions Netflix is proposing a series which gives 13 reasons why the main character chooses to commit suicide. I on the other hand, will give 13 reasons why we should pray the Rosary, reasons that will definitely bring light to our day and will give us and our family fullness of life.

Here are 13 Reasons why we should pray the rosary

  1. Because our Blessed Mother told us to!
How many times have you wished your children would do something just because you say so. To trust that we have the best for them at heart. That we don't ask them to do things arbitrarily but because we want the best for them and we want them to cooperate with us in doing what needs to be done for the whole family. Mary told the children at Fatima to pray the Rosary every day. What would be the best answer from us: why should I? Or OK, I will do my best! I know what I'd want to hear from my children.

2. Because it brings us to Christ

Everything in the Rosary is centred on Christ, the Hail Marys themselves are centred on His Holy Name. Each mystery bring us closer to the events of the life of our Lord and saviour. Mary shows us the way to Him and from Her we learn how to bring Jesus into the world.

3. Because it brings the family together

Sometimes it seems that everything around us militates against the members of the family really coming together. School, work, technology, TV, mobiles, social media, computers. The family rosary can become a moment when all of that is put to one side, all the surrogate communication is left behind and the real business of communicating with God together takes place. It's not always easy but nothing that is worthwhile ever is! 

4. Because It's a defence for the family

It may be repeated endlessly but it doesn't make it any less true: 'The family that prays together stays together.' The question is why? It's all about prioritisation. Jesus was a great management guru as well as all the rest, 'seek  first the kingdom of God and all the rest will be given you as well'. Do you want your family to stay together? Then seek Jesus first without embarrassment, we strong-arm our children to do the things we consider important, homework, washing, chores but are we willing to place prayer at the top of that list? 

5. Because in the Rosary we pass on the Faith to our children

Both of us are involved in teaching yet it's rare that we ever feel it necessary to add any explanation to the rosary. It's an eminently practical lesson. A Father leading the Rosary says more than a hundred discussions on what is prayer.  A Mother kneeling with her beads shows where she gets the strength to carry on. An older brother praying out loud for help at school shows to whom we turn in our hour of need. 

6. Because children learn meditative prayer from an early age

Think of your average children's cartoon. The colours are bright, the action is manic, the music is loud everything is screaming for your passive attention. What could be more different than the soothing, quiet rhythms of the rosary that call you out of your passivity to think of Jesus, of Mary, of the people for whom you are praying.

7. Because it forces us to come out of our selfishness

Bedtime prayers with children can quickly become a repetitive event. Children rattle off a list of friends and relations which barely changes from day to day. In our house each person can propose an intention at the beginning of each decade. We make sure that we think carefully to whom we wish to apply these powerful prayers. We make a small sacrifice of time and effort for the good of someone else.

8. Pray for Pope's intentions

The first part of the Rosary is traditionally said for the Pope's intentions. You can find out what these are every month on the Vatican website. It's important to bring our children into a relationship with the universal Church. We can end up becoming very provincial and closed in our parish preoccupations.

9.You get to know your Heavenly Mother “Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 19:27)

10. Because you can learn to rest in prayer 

A household with many children is an endlessly busy place. Every moment can be filled with something that needs doing. Sitting in one place for twenty minutes seems like a luxury we can't afford. Yet it's an important lesson. Pause for prayer and rest in the Lord.

11. Because it's effortless 

Spontaneous prayers are all very well and the endlessly imaginative prayer sessions one gets in school and parish sessions might be good in small doses but sometimes we just need to sit at the feet of Mary with a prayer which has been handed on to us perfectly formed by the great Dominicans of the past, developed by Pope St John Paul II ready for us to simply offer to God. No effort, no imagination, no invention!

12. Because it's a physical prayer

We are physical as well as spiritual beings. Our body needs to be engaged in prayer too, not just our mind. The rosary is an eminently physical prayer, we can kneel, finger the beads, recite it antiphonally, look at an image. 

13. Because we need help at the hour of our death

In a society where death is hidden and never mentioned in the rosary we speak of it over and over again. It is in the end our greatest fear and a prayer which does not shy away from helping us with what we fear most is surely worthy of regular recitation from now until the hour of our death!