Posts Tagged With: Child

Holy Awakenings

holy-waterYou have heard it before the phrase ”Rude Awakenings” but the other morning I experienced somewhat of a Holy Awakening.

It was somewhere between 5am-6am on Good Friday morning. It’s my day off work so I’m looking forward to having a nice sleep in. Well…Jesus had other plans to start my day.

I awoke to a wet finger touching my face and poking me on the cheek. My eyes slowly open and I hear the mutterings of words ”Bless you, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Again the blurry figure no higher than a dwarf says it ”I bless you, in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

As my eyes adjust and regain focus I notice it is my just turned 4 year old son who for the third time pokes and splashes me on my face saying ”I bless you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

epiphany-day-ice-bath-in-russia

I look at the bottle of Holy water he is using and it is from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St.Irene in athens. I had filled it here over 4 years ago from their well in the ground.

A part of me wasn’t happy because I said to him that’s dirty and has gathered loads of green inside of it since filling it. But when I looked again the whole bottle was chrystal clear because I had forgotten I had filled two bottles. One was remained clear whilst the other one went green and funky for some reason.

I was wondering how he knew it was Holy water because we never really used it at all if ever opened it. He’s the first to open it as it just sat at the back of the dresser gathering dust.

What was the Holy Spirit saying to me? I would like to think of the scriptural passage:

And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me? Matthew:26:40

Jesus often comes to us in supernatural ways to speak to us directly or give us a supernatural experience with the intention to cement us into life with him for whatever reason. St.Paul needed it and some of us just need it.

However my favourite way in which God talks to us is through the actions of a little child. I may be sitting on the couch and my son will approach me with a rosary or Jesus prayer rope and hand it to me. He doesn’t realize why he’s handing it to me but I know why.

I love it when God approaches me through my wife and offers me encouragement. I love it when Jesus gets up from his seat on the bus and asks me to sit down. Or we may be in a large queue like I was the other day waiting in the windy, irish cold and rain to gain access to the ATM and he approaches me for help as an old man on crutches really drunk and asks me ”Can I skip the queue son?” and I let him skip it and get his money out. I watch Jesus drop his cards and I pick them up for him and he goes to put his money in the bank and is taking forever because he’s too old to use it. He’s putting all my training to the test and seeing just how patient I am.

Most of all, I love it when Jesus approaches me through my wife and sons. The reason I like it is because a little part of me knows I must be doing something right if my sons can read the bible and are praying over their father at such ripe ages of 4 and 6.

I think of all the parents who justify giving their children mobile phones and laptops because they never had those things growing up. Then I look at my own son kiss the tomb of Christ and receive Him today on Holy Saturday with such reverence and I see me giving my children something I never had when growing up. I’m shedding tears now just writing this, tears of joy? I would like to think so.

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Children Pay More Attention To Prayer Than We Do. 

Every evening when Christians mother goes puts the youngest to bed, we wipe clean the coffee table and bring out the hand written icons of St.Patrick, Jesus and St.Paul. We light our candles and then I take out my kindle paper white ( great modern device with a built in light  that lets you read in the low light of candles ) and proceed to open our Orthodox prayer book. 

Here is the child’s evening prayer we pray: 

Dearest Jesus, I am one of your children. Take me into your arms and bless me as you embraced children when you visited us on earth. Hear my prayer this evening. May your icon which I always keep by my bedside ever remind me that while I sleep, you are always with me. Make me sleep in peace and let me awaken in the morning to love you and serve you, Amen. 

My son is only five and cannot quite read yet so I had him repeat the words after me. It’s only been a few days but he said the whole prayer without me. I was amazed and so when my wife came down the stairs I mentioned how he memorised the prayer in only a few days of hearing it. Not even I could memorise the first sentence. My wife responded in which for some reason I understood it as the Holy Spirit speaking to me and not my wife. She said: “that’s because he pays more attention to it than you do”. 

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The Wrong Way To Teach your Four Year Old To Pray

Just recently my son learned the Our Father, Hail Mary and Gloria. I’ve since introduced him to the Rosary. When I was his age or perhaps a little older like 8 – 10 years of age, I didn’t know how to pray the rosary. The Legion of Mary was in my area and they had rented a place and held a rosary for children every week. So we met these girls on the street same age as us who invited us along. We use to call them Holy Joes and we only went along because we thought we might get a kiss off one of the girls. 

It went from bad to worse. I didn’t think about it at the time because I was just a kid but they went about teaching us the rosary the wrong way. Imagine asking a 8 year old whose high on sugary drinks and highland toffee candy to sit still for 20 minutes and just rattle off all those prayers without getting bored? Well that’s what happened. Even adults like myself today find it hard completing the rosary. Eventually our interest dwindled in the rosary simply because it was too long and boring. The mistake they made was in equating a child’s mind with that of an adults and they gave us too much …much too soon. 

Another man in my area was a little more clever. He was a friend of my fathers and word on the street was if you sat and prayed the whole rosary in his living room he’d bring out a plate of assorted biscuits for us to munch on. So the next week we arrived and you could barely get into his living room. That was it, his biscuit trick worked but again interest in the rosary dwindled as 20minutes of praying just wasn’t worth the effort for some biscuits to an eight year old. So whilst his good effort generated interest in biscuits, it didn’t seem to gain much interest the rosary itself. 

My current method isn’t great but I do think it’s worked so far. What I’ve decided to do is to generate excitement in my four year old for the rosary. We had driven out to the monastery and I made it sound like getting his first rosary was a big deal. He’s now a big boy with his own rosary and the Monk will bless it for him. This builds up the excitement makes him feel he’s becoming one of the group one of the real men like his dad. Then when we got home he joined in on creating a special prayer corner and altar at which to pray at. When it was dark we turned out all the lights and lit many candles so that the icons and statues would sparkle in the light, creating a Heavenly atmosphere of the spiritual. Children also love to blow out the candles so it’s important to allow them to do this after the prayer as this gives them something to look forward to at the end. 

But here is the most important part. We only ever pray one decade of the rosary, that is, one our father, ten Hail Marys and the Gloria. It doesn’t matter what age they are when they begin to learn as I believe even adults just learning should do the same. Doing this helps them gradually like the rosary and then moving to two decades when the time is right and three and so on it goes. If you break this rule, you will end up having the child hate prayer and prayer time, when it comes, will appear as a chore as opposed to something they enjoy as part of their daily routine. 

So let’s summarise. Make it exciting, don’t pray the whole rosary just one decade and offer a reward at the end of each session. This reward could be blowing the candles out, their favourite snack or trip to their favourite cinema at the weekend. Some final tips I have is turn off all electronic devices such as video games and television programs one hour before prayer because computers and Tv stimulate the brain preventing it from being relaxed. Do prayer before they go to bed as the prayer makes them quiet and relaxed, this peaceful state helps them sleep and if you’ve trouble getting them to sleep there’s your answer. If you have a child who is often distracted at mass the rosary at home disciplines them to sit still for five minutes. This 5 minute quiet time every evening will train them to sit still at Mass as they will eventually associate anything to do with Mary and Jesus with quiet time and reflection. 

Take your time with children, try to lean down and look at the world how they see the world thinking as they do so as to better understand their needs. If we do this teaching them prayer becomes more of a delight than a chore for both parent and child. 

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Childrens Rights Referendum Passed 58.0% to 42.0%

The most contaminated referendum in the history of Ireland has been passed 58.0% to 42.0% in the final figures. This is pretty close taken into consideration that there was literally no campaign from the NO side whatsoever. No posters set up to counter the Yes side and not enough radio and televised debate leading up months towards the referendum itself except for a swift week in which we saw a surge in that No debate on RTE radio and television.

I would conclude from the said dismal approach of the NO campaign that had the government given fair play, and there was a healthy NO and YES campaign from either side, that this referendum would have been defeated on those grounds. The government bulldozed this into the country using unfair means to do so by using 1.1 million of taxpayers money for a biased Yes campaign.
I suspect the NO side will be taking this to the high court who already ruled that the referendum was biased and contaminated.

But the referendum went ahead anyway. I will not be writing about what will happen to families and children as a result of this because I think many of us know already that this is an awful blow to the family unit.

May God have mercy on Ireland, who I do believe is going through a massive chastisement from above due to our sins.

God bless

Domestic Monk

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