At this point in the spring, my doorway is usually littered with seven pairs of cleats, buckets of balls, gym bags, permission slips to sign and backpacks. I have to put together a ten-lined calendar for everyday and my head hurts from figuring out how everyone will get to every place (and home). But now it is different. You know. Way different.
I must admit that there are a handful of huge opportunities I’m newly blessed with at this moment in history. Namely – the presence of my children. Now is the moment I can re-teach many of the things that came naturally when the kids were tiny and full of openness in time and spirit.
And there is nothing better for me to teach than the morning offering.
This prayer has been a saving grace to me through the busiest, most stressed-out times of my life when all my dreams of sainthood and good intentions for charity seemed like a daily disaster. Being the somewhat melodramatic mom that I am, over the years, I’ve periodically told my kids that if I die and there is only one thing they remember from me – let it be the morning offering. It is a tiny prayer offering up to God the day to come.
The great thing about the morning offering is that you start out your day as a winner. After just 10 seconds, you have already completed the most important thing of the day. In a way, everything that you do from there is blessed. Everything you do from that point counts as prayer. It is done with a heavenly friend. It turns your whole day into an altar. It sets your direction and gives confidence that God will be your help. This positive experience is particularly good when kids get older because they can tend to be constantly in a little bit of trouble and coming up short. The anxiety of chasing an unwritten to-do list begins to haunt our kids from early on.
With the morning offering, even their failures are turned into gain.
So, how do you pray a morning offering?
USE A BASIC FORMAT
The basic format of a morning offering is:
- Thank God.
- Offer everything from the upcoming day to Him.
- Unite yourself with Jesus and the Church.
- Ask for his presence/guidance or help.
You and your family members can pray something from the heart that follows this pattern or you could make an activity of writing out a prayer in your own words. If they like crafts, remember to let them decorate the paper!
TRY TRADITIONAL PRAYER
Traditional morning offerings add some beauty and guidance as well. Search “morning offering” and you will get a fantastic array. My kids particularly like this one attributed to St. Patrick:
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me.
HELP YOUR KIDS INTO A HABIT
Repetition is the mother of all learning. Even if they have been taught these good habits as little kids, it is easy for them to slip away without frequent (and positive) reminders. Pope Francis uses the word “accompaniment” when he describes evangelization. Accompaniment is exactly what a mom or dad can do in these “stay-at-home” days. Here are some ways to accompany your children into a habit of making a morning offering.
It is easy and delightful to teach little kids to pray in the morning. This time is usually full of love and affection. You can even start when they are babies!
- Cuddle with them and pray a morning offering.
- Have him/her repeat the words after you.
- Quietly look at a picture of Jesus together.
- Blow a kiss to the cross and pray.
- Sing a song from church.
- For a new reader, write out a very simple morning offering and put it under his/her pillow.
You definitely want older kids to take ownership of their learning but kids are kids and will eventually opt for the easy road unless we continue to call them on with inspiration, guidance, and comfort. Here are some ways to do that for the morning offering.
- Print out various morning offerings and cut them into little squares. Place them by the breakfast table and ask which one he/she would like to pray today.
- Mention the morning offering while you are getting ready for the day.
- Keep it in their minds—comment about your own experience.
- Put it on the to-do list—sometimes it is fun to have one that is easy so you can cross it off. And that is part of the delight of the morning offering. It is so easy to do and makes you realize you have started off well.
- Invite the older kid to join the younger kids in prayer.
Parents, you know your own kids. Sometimes, they may be at a stage where teaching them would backfire. For me, that is when I usually opt for more affection and save the preachy stuff for a quiet prayer on my own. If your kids are squirmy and hesitant but still open to your influence, here are some ways to make the morning offering easier:
- Touch the foot of a crucifix on the wall as you walk out of your bedroom.
- Play a praise song via your phone during breakfast.
- Unobtrusively hum the refrain of a church song when the kids are around.
- Smother your kid in a good-morning bear hug and say, “Thank you God for this boy! Thank you for another day of life. Please be with us. Amen.”
- Turn your breakfast grace into a morning offering
- Mark a little cross on your child’s forehead
One of the benefits of teaching your kids is that YOU will have made this morning prayer. It is about renewal, starting again, unifying with Christ, covering your whole day and beautifying the mess.
Carrie Soukup, MA, is a catechist and highschool teacher in the northwest Chicago suburbs. Find her stories and tips for flourishing in prayer at GraceFinders.com.
Photo (Top to bottom): Marcel Mooij/Shutterstock, FATCAMERA/istock, aldomurillo/istock