Chores Can Be Prayer, Too
These days, many people feel like they don't have time for prayer or
devotions. Household duties or a job's demands may not leave time for
getting to Mass or adoration, or saying the Rosary as often as we like.
This article won't put more hours in our day, but it might help us
discover an often-unused way to pray.
For many people, "prayer" means saying the Rosary, spending time with
the Lord in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, or engaging in a
formal prayer like a novena. These are good practices, with a long and
cherished history in the church.
There are other ways to pray. St. Frances de Sales wrote that the
most touching example of holiness shown by St. Catherine of Siena was
not the visions, the locutions, or the wisdom she displayed. It was the
sight of her turning the meat at the spit, or cleaning the house, or
clearing away the dishes after meals. The reason these everyday actions
were so touching was that she did these things with genuine love,
imagining herself to be serving dinner to our Lord, or clearing the
table of the apostles. She tried to show the same love and respect for
the family she was serving.
St. Frances of Rome said that if someone was in the presence of God
Himself at the altar, that person should leave immediately if summoned
by an urgent family need.
St. Therese of Liseux may have summed up the idea best: "Do small
things with great love."
"Praying our marriage" or praying our family" is what Catholic
psychiatrist George Popcak calls this principle of doing everyday duties
in a prayerful way.
One example he gives is a morning when he had been up until 2:00,
finishing a project. He didn't have any commitments until 10:00, so he
could have slept in. His wife had an appointment at 7:30. When she got
up, he felt like staying in bed. But, he wrote, "I felt God knocking at
the door of my heart." He believed that God wanted him to show his wife
how special she was. Specifically, he should get her something for
breakfast, since she was running late. He got up and fixed her
That simple bagel and juice, served at God's request, was a kind of
Getting off the couch to play with the kids could be an exercise in
the virtue of generosity. Doing the dishes without being asked, instead
of finishing a great book or going fishing could be a way to show
charity and love for your wife. Speaking lovingly to the kids, when they
have frayed the last end of your last quivering nerve is practicing the
virtue of patience.
Prayer is conversation with God. The point of that conversation,
Popcak writes, "is to invite God into our everyday lives …." We invite
God into our lives when we ask for the grace to show His face through
our service, and through our practice of the virtues of patience,
fortitude, and more.
Marriage is a sacrament. Everything we do in that relationship has
been consecrated by God, and so the little tasks of domestic life become
moments of prayer: if we see them as part of our marriage and conduits
of God's grace.
So, making time for daily Mass is good. Saying the Rosary as often as
you can is good, and so are other formal prayers. But so is taking out
the garbage, if it is done for the glory of God.
As Popcak wrote, "invite God to consecrate this moment. Ask God to
teach you how to ‘pray your marriage.'"
The ideas and quotes in this article are from Praying your
marriage by George Popcak, a Catholic psychotherapist, in Family
Foundations, March-April 2004, a publication of The Couple to Couple
Couple to Couple League (800 745 8252)
George Popcak (740 266 6461)
Brian H. Gill, Editor,
Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin