The Romanian Orthodox priests in the Deanery of East Madrid met for a clergy assembly at St Nectarius Church in Coslada. The meeting was chaired by His Grace Bishop Timotei of Spain and Portugal on May 11, 2022.
During the meeting, Fr. Adrian Pintea, parish priest at St George Parish in Alcalá de Henares, held a lecture on “Prayer with the family members. Its purpose and use.”
Following discussions, the participants drew six main conclusions on the benefit of praying together with family members:
- If prayer is so necessary for man’s inner transformation, all the more so that the family, in its entirety, needs this means of elevation to God, which causes the grace above to descend upon it. Following constant (personal, but also common) prayer, God blesses the marriage, makes it stronger, and makes the spiritual gifts, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, blossom in its midst. Christ the Lord promised that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20), thus showing that He is present in a particular way among those who do His will and work for His name’s sake.
- Children are God’s gift to parents, and parents are God’s gift to children. Parents will always be role models for their children, which is why their children will often follow their parents’ actions naturally in a Christian family. Parents’ prayers for their children begin at conception in the mother’s womb and continue throughout life. Once born and raised, children must pray for their parents for the rest of their lives. Both parents and children can truly enjoy a spiritual life only by serving one another wholeheartedly.
- Nowadays, we notice that technology has increased the standard of living of humans, but communication has decreased. We see how parents and children often distance themselves emotionally and spiritually. Although we live in an age of communication, the family fails in internal dialogue and communication with God by omitting prayer together as a family. Most families have few activities in common, focusing much of their attention on social networks. Losing dialogue with family members, parents and children lose the unity given by God through prayer. The joint prayer said in the family can bring together in the evening and in the morning the members who have been separated during the day by daily worries or problems. It keeps alive the consciousness of dependence on each other and creates the peace and tranquillity so necessary for the family.
- Family time is a difficult and busy time, demanding and worrying. The days are increasingly full of commitments, meetings and deadlines. Finding a quiet time to get together as a family and pray together seems like an impossible task, but it is a necessary act. Then the gospel read and meditated on in the family is like good bread that nourishes all souls. During family prayer, in its intense moments and difficult passages, we are entrusted to each other because each of us in the family is guarded by the love of God.
- A family praying together remains united. Family is where we first learn to pray. When the family prays together, they stay together. This is important. There we come to know God, grow as men and women of faith, and feel like members of God’s great family, the Church. In the family, we learn to love, forgive, be generous, be open and not closed in ourselves or be selfish. We learn to go beyond our own needs. We learn to meet others and share our lives with them. That is why family prayer is so important! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church!
- A spiritual program for spouses should be agreed upon. This should include the presence at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays, the observance of the fasting periods and common prayer. Of course, confession and communion are also fundamental elements of living together in love and spiritual growth. St. John Chrysostom advises: “Let your prayers be in common. You both go to Church; the husband should ask his wife at home, and she should ask her husband about what was read and said there.” Here is a pattern for spouses to communicate with God that can be easily applied in many situations. If we notice that our married life has undergone negative changes, let us first consider what the relationship with God is like and whether we have somehow strayed from a spiritual experience out of carelessness or pride. This is the first cause of the failure of marriages: separation from God.
At the end of the event, the bishop stressed that “certainly, times have changed, but family prayer is still possible today.”
“Of course, we need always find the right ways to share our faith and pray. A faithful person’s need for prayer is beyond doubt. The stronger the faith, the stronger the need for prayer. Unfortunately, there is a weakening of the faith in today’s society, therefore a kind of indifference to prayer.”
According to His Grace, “while once man found in the social environment a place to strengthen his faith, today this environment is a negative factor, a factor against which he who wants to maintain his faith and prayer must defend himself. Prayer, however, restores man to his natural state, according to the divine image given by God through the act of creation.”