Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Morning Family Prayer of Blessing

Dear Theophilous,

As a Christian father, I am called to help get my wife and son to heaven. This is my primary vocation in life. Everything else is secondary.

When asked to give a list of priorities, I always answer this in this order:

1.     God
2.     Wife
3.     Son
4.     Family
5.     Friends
6.     Self
7.     Work

Yes, my wife will always come before my son, because without her, he wouldn’t have a mother; and I love him too much to see him go through life without his mother. Also, she is the one God created to compliment and complete me even before I was conceived in my own mother’s womb. God has a plan for us together, and that plan is to bring our son closer to Him.

Over more than 20 years, this vocation to my family has developed and strengthened through prayer and discernment to involve many different aspects. Through the years I have heard God call me to lead my family to frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation, to go to Eucharistic Adoration, and to go on vocation vacations – visiting the tombs of St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. André de Montréal at the Oratoire St. Joseph.

One practice that has emerged in the past two years has been morning benediction. Every morning it begins when in the tumult of each of us getting ready to start our day I’ll call out, “Daddy’s coming for benediction in 2 minutes.” Then a moment later I will walk into the family room, a drop of Holy Water in the palm of my hand, to find my son, breakfast try on his lap, and my wife on the sofa, the two dogs sitting at their sides.

Dipping my thumb in the Holy Water, I will trace the Cross on each of their foreheads, calling them each by name, saying, “Michael, may the Lord bless you and keep you.” Once the family has been blessed, my son in turn dips his thumb in the Holy Water and traces a Cross on my forehead, “Daddy, may the Lord bless you and keep you.”

Then I lead the family in prayer:

Thank You for the gift of this new day,
For the sun that is shining / the rain that is falling.
We thank You for the love that we share as a family,
and for our furry family members.
We thank You for our Guardian Angels,
May they forever watch over us, guide us and protect us.
We thank You for (here I will list prayers that have been answered),
And we ask that You might (here I will list any intentions we continue to pray for).
We ask, Lord, that You send Your Holy Spirit upon us,
That we might meet the challenges of this day with grace, courage and wisdom,
That we may bring others closer to You through Your Son,
In whose name we pray.


St. Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle,
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil,
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
And you, O Prince of the heavenly host,
By the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan,
And all the evil spirits who prowl about the world,
Seeking the ruin of souls.


Now let us go forth to love and serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Then, after our individual days are done, when we meet back again at the dinner table we will begin our Grace Before Meals with…

Thank you for the Love we share as a family,
And for bringing us all home safely,

We thank you for this food …

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Door Chalking - A Traditional Epiphany Blessing

Dear Theophilous,

Almost a quarter-century ago I spent 6 months living in Bavaria, near Munich in the south of Germany. It was a culture-filled stay visiting museums, churches, castles, and best of all – monastic beer gardens.

A few weeks into my stay, I noticed a peculiarity I had never noticed in any of my many travels across Europe; at every home I visited, the year and 3 letters were scrawled in chalk over the door – 19 + C + M + B + 94. When I asked about it, I was told in a matter-of-fact voice that Bavaria was still a very Catholic region and that every year on the Feast of the Epiphany, the family would say a prayer of blessing over their home.

I had grown up in a nominally Catholic home in Canada, and although my grandmother had been quite devout, I had never heard of a house being blessed, let alone an annual family prayer of blessing. It was already March, so when I asked for a bit more detail, the prayer had been forgotten, but I was told the letters stood for the 3 Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, who sought Christ as we still seek Him.

Cool! I remember wanting to start this tradition when I got back home to Canada, but by the time the Feast of the Epiphany rolled around again, the idea had faded into the mists of the monastic beer gardens and everyday life.

Fast forward a few years and my wife and I moved into our first house. Our Catholic faith was a big part of our marriage, and had become a strong part of our new identity, so we asked our pastor to come and bless our new home. When I asked Father about chalking the door he responded with a puzzled look. There was no such thing as a smart phone back then, so there was no way of looking it up to show him. When we had our second home blessed, I had completely forgotten about the practice, and didn’t even ask.

Then last year, in the lull between Christmas festivities and back-to-school, the practice of Door Chalking showed up in my social media feed. I mentioned it to my wife, and she thought it would be a wonderful way to pray out the Christmas season. We used the short Carmelite prayer found here, and standing on a chair, I chalked our door for 2016.

Over the year the chalk has faded somewhat, but it is still there. This Sunday, on the Feast of the Epiphany, I’ll climb back up on a chair at the front door and lead our family in prayer. The chalked date and letters above the door reminding us each time we go out that we “Go forth to love and serve the Lord.”