St. Joseph teaches fathers how to lead family prayer

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When it comes to family prayer, all members of the family are called to participate, including fathers. While it is great when mothers lead their children in prayer, it is best to have both parents involved in the prayer life of a family.

St. John Paul II urged all families to look at the Holy Family for inspiration, saying in Redemptoris Custos, “Through God’s mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families.”

In particular, St. Joseph provides fathers an example of family prayer. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in a general audience that at the time, St. Joseph would have naturally led family prayer, something part of Jewish culture.

Joseph himself must have taken Jesus to the Synagogue for the rites of the Sabbath, as well as to Jerusalem for the great feasts of the people of Israel. Joseph, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, would have led the prayers at home both every day — in the morning, in the evening, at meals — and on the principal religious feasts. In the rhythm of the days he spent at Nazareth, in the simple home and in Joseph’s workshop, Jesus learned to alternate prayer and work, as well as to offer God his labor in earning the bread the family needed.

Not only did St. Joseph lead the Holy Family in daily prayer, he also had a rich interior life, as St. John Paul II notes.

The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life … This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion.

St. Joseph, then, is a prime model for all fathers, urging them to deepen their own interior life as well as to have an active role in the prayer life of their family.

Remember, in the Holy Family St. Joseph was the only member who could have sinned — yet he was the one who led family prayer! Don’t let your insecurities or faults take away from your calling to a rich spiritual life.

March 19, 2020 - 1:54pm

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