Kristen at St. Monica's Bridge liked how Thomas McDonald's "How I Pray" series work to introduce the reader to the blogger and asked me if I would join her in answering them in this light. My apologies to her for how long it took me to get this up. But here goes. :)
1. Who are you?
I'm a faithful Roman Catholic wife and mother of six children. I was born in New York and I grew up in South Florida. I've lived up and down the east coast but went to college in Texas, so I'm a bit of an amalgam. I got my B.A. in Philosophy and my M.A. in Theology, both from the University of Dallas. I enjoy reading, hiking, swimming, puzzle-solving, planning and organizing.
2. What is your vocation?
As a child of God, my vocation is to become a Saint through my marriage to James and my motherhood to Cecilia (9), Felicity (7), Elizabeth (5), Teresa (4), Brigid (2) and Thomas (5 months). I also homeschool our children.
3. What is your prayer routine for an average day?
I have no average day. With 6 young children, every day has its curve balls. But I have goals and an ideal day.
I try to get up around 6am so I can say morning prayer in some peace and quiet before all the kids are up. I prefer to use the Divine Office for my Morning Prayer. I would prefer to use the book, so I won't get rid of my set, but I mainly use the iBreviary app due to the varying circumstances of my morning. The app is simply easier to juggle while nursing a baby or snuggling a little one who got up too early. At 7am I put EWTN live streaming on my iPad and watch/listen to Mass while I get the kids' breakfasts and do the dishes. I really miss going to daily Mass. James and I used to take Cecilia every day when she was a baby but by the time we had #2, it got too complicated. I really look forward to the day I can go to Mass every day again.
At noon I try to say the Angelus. This is a new habit I began working on during Lent and it is a hard one to do with the kids simply because a lunch with everyone sitting at the table at the same time doesn't last long. They come, they eat, they scatter. I have my phone set with an alarm though to help me remember this one.
Another alarm goes off at 3pm. I used to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day with Cecilia when she was little and she loved it. Unfortunately, that habit faded with more kids. But it is still one of my favorite devotions so while I would like to pray the whole thing, even if I can't, I try to say at least some simple prayer invoking the Divine Mercy.
Once the kids are ready for bed, we say prayers together. We say The Guardian Angel prayer, Hail Mary, Our Father, St. Michael Prayer, invocation to the Sacred Heart, petition to the Immaculate Heart, a Litany to the Patron Saints of every family member, and petitions for those who need our prayers.
After all the kids are in bed and all is quiet, I enjoy some personal prayer.
We do try to always say grace before every meal.
And I do say small prayers throughout the day. For example, ever since I fell down the stairs carrying Cecilia (oh, 7 years ago?), I always pray for God to "guide my steps" when a carry a child down stairs.
4. Do you have a devotion that is particularly important to you or effective?
I love the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I also renew my Consecration to Jesus Through Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort yearly.
5. Do you have a place, habit, or way of praying?
Place is where I am. Ideally I'd be in church or outside or in my recliner with a cup of hot tea but life with littles doesn't work that way, so I pray on the stairs, in the kitchen, doing the laundry, laying in bed, etc.
6. Do you use any tools or sacramentals?
I use my iPad with the EWTN app, the iBreviary app on my phone. We keep holy water available in the kitchen. Every member of the family has their own rosary. We give out holy cards on feast days and baptism anniversaries. And we have a nice assortment of saint statues and religious art around the house, including a crucifix above every bed.
7. What is your relationship with the Rosary?
The rosary and I have a difficult relationship. I like the rosary, I do. At one point I had a special intention for every mystery cycling every two weeks. My difficulty is that I get very easily distracted even without 6 kids so now I am always distracted and while I don't mind plowing along and doing my best, it is ridiculously easy to lose count. So I can easily spend multiple days praying over 20 Hail Marys just to get through one decade. I just forget where I am. Or I fall asleep. My favorite mysteries have always been the sorrowful ones though.
8. Are there any books or spiritual works that are important to your devotional life?
I'm assuming the Bible is a given but I would specify the Psalms and the New Testament. I am also a huge fan of the Diary of St. Faustina. I also loved Fr. William's "A Heart Like His," which was my Lenten reading one year and I hope to revisit one Lent.
9. What is your most recent spiritual or devotional reading?
I began reading Lenten Reflections with St. Thomas Aquinas for Lent but it fell by the wayside during "the plague". Last Fall I read several books on St. Thomas Aquinas anticipating the arrival of my little Thomas. And over Advent I read Houselander's Wood of the Cradle.
10. Are there saints or other figures who inspire your prayer life or act as patrons?
Oh my yes, quite a few. Personally I'm very fond of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Rose de Lima, St. Michael, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina. As a wife and mother I've grown close to the Blessed Mother, St. Nicholas, St. John Bosco, St. Francis de Sales, St. Francis of Rome, and the patrons of my children. I'm also deeply indebted to my guardian angel.
11. Have you had any unusual or even miraculous experiences as a result of your prayer life?
Last year I began praying a 30-day novena to St. Joseph for James. It was not for a job, but simply because St. Joseph is a patron of fathers as well as James' confirmation Saint. On the last day of my novena, the feast of St. Joseph, James told me about a job opportunity in Wisconsin. On the last day of my novena to the Sacred Heart, on the vigil of the Sacred Heart, the employer, which has Sacred Heart in its name, offered him the job. We had very little time to find a home for it to work. We drove 800 miles with the kids and spent 36 hours looking at over a dozen houses. The very last one would work for us. We put in an offer and had a contract but a lot had to fall into place from the inspection to the mortgage papers, etc. We closed on the house on the feast of the Queenship of Mary. In about 5 months, the Holy Family changed James' employer and our location of about 800 miles, much to our surprise.