How To Say The Rosary With Children
Children first learn to pray in the home. This is where they first meet Christ and His Mother. As the Bishops of Vatican II said:
"Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have the most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it!"
This education applies above all to their children's spiritual life. So the first place where children should learn to say the Rosary is in the home. But as educators parents should be quick to realize that the Rosary, in its fullest and strictest sense, is an adult prayer. It requires abilities which children only gradually develop. Children may not have matured enough to repeat regular vocal prayers and at the same time meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.
So it is up to parents in the relaxed environment of the home to prepare and train their children to say this beautiful prayer, not as mere repetition, but as a real meditation. For without meditation the Rosary is a body without a soul and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas and of going counter to the warning of Christ:
"And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words." (Mt. 6:7)
One way of helping children to meditate is to concentrate on one decade of the Rosary per night.
The Rosary commences with a devout Sign of the Cross, followed by an invitation to the children to pray for a certain intention. For the little one's it might be difficult to voice their first intention, but with the prompting of the parents it will become spontaneous and even joyful. Children love to join in and it is really amazing, once they are used to pray for others how completely natural their intentions will be. At the same time it will be educational, as it teaches them that we need to pray for others.
This is followed by an introductory on the topic of the mystery and the fruits of that mystery which will awaken an understanding of the values it portrays. This reading can be taken from the New Testament or, there are many different pamphlets available on the mysteries of the Rosary.
Children as well as parents should be encouraged to take turns with these nightly readings. "For where there are two or three gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst of them" (Mt. 18:20)
Then follows the decade of the Rosary: one "Our Father", the "Hail Mary's", "Glory be to the Father" and the angels' prayer from Fatima "O my Jesus, for give is our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all the souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy."
To help children especially to focus attention on the mystery and to develop their sense of meditation, a brief sentence or two can be read out aloud before each Hail Mary. It summarizes the many aspects of each mystery. After the decade is finished, the Hail Holy Queen is said together.
This can be followed by either the normal closing prayer "O God, Who's only begotten Son, by His Life, Death........." or by some spontaneous prayer for special family needs.
Source: The Rosary in the Home.
Many years ago, Father Peyton, CSC of the Family Rosary Crusade promoted the motto "The family that prays together, stays together". That motto became universal in its appeal and was quoted around the world. Times have changed since then, and not for the better. Perhaps it is because families do not pray together anymore as once was the accepted way of family life. In so many homes life is not what it used to be and communication between family members has all but gone to the great loss of every family member. What is needed is something to draw family members together, at least for a short period of time each day. What better way can this be achieved than by family prayer?
Mary Herself has asked us in Fatima and Lourdes and in many places around the world to "Pray the Rosary" .
My eldest grandson and his wife just had their second baby, Angus. Their first child, Scott, turned two a few months ago. They do just that, they pray together, and have made Jesus the Head of their family. A while ago they were invited for dinner at friends place, and when the food was on the table, little Scott, to the shame of the adults, put his little hands together and bowed his head. Guess what happened? That's right, everyone had to say prayers before the meal!