I decided before our new homeschool year started that we would begin our school days with Lauds (or Morning Prayer). Sometimes, the way we move in the morning (also known as the speed of molasses in January) pushes Lauds all the way back to 10 am. While this is not good, and it tempts me to skip Lauds and just pray Vespers (Evening Prayer) instead, I’ve learned that missing our prayer time is a surefire way for us to have a rough day.
I knew praying as a family was making a difference; we seemed to be getting along better and had a lot less stress over school projects. But I was chalking a lot of that up to the new treatment we sought out for our older daughter’s ADD. I figured that most of it was from the magic pill that helped her concentrate and accomplish her work in record time. I could almost always tell if she hadn’t taken her medication because she just couldn’t work through a single assignment without constantly stopping and doing other things.
Then came the day that she had taken her medication, but everything that day was a series of these kinds of encounters, especially between my 15 year old and me. (Skip to 0:50 for the good footage!)
Halfway through the afternoon, I apologized to my teenager (again!) for my short temper and wondered aloud why we were just struggling so badly. “Everything is off today! What is wrong with us?”
She looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m pretty sure it’s because we skipped Lauds today. Our days are never as smooth when we do that.”
And she’s right. Days we skip it, promising to pray together later, are the days that are the hardest to get through. The Catechism tells us that prayer, while offering us great amounts of graces to live our day, is not always an easy thing. In fact, it’s a battle:
2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The “spiritual battle” of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer. (2612, 409, 2015)
It’s not always easy for us to pray together in the mornings, and there are many mornings where we have a shortened period of reflection after the reading because I know our day is jammed with things to do. But I try very hard not to skip it any more, even if we’re busy, because I know what a difference it makes in our day. We can all tell the difference between days that start with Lauds and days that don’t. The graces poured out on us when we pray carry us through the day. It gives us strength and inner peace, and it smooths out our rough edges.
All this for 15-20 minutes of prayer time? I call that a really good deal. **
** If you’d like to pray Lauds as a family but lack the texts, the Divine Office website is a great place to start. Their app is beautiful, too. If you’re looking for a free app to try it out, I recommend either iBreviary or Laudate.