The family is the place that teaches us how even the mundane activities of everyday life such as handiwork, cooking, cleaning, repairing, gardening can be done beautifully, with grace. When our work is graceful, it becomes a powerful example that demonstrates to others how to sanctify all that we do. Our own knowledge of how to do this comes from inspiration, as with all activities, but also we are taught through the example of others, and traditionally the most powerful example is that of our parents. Through this we develop as young children the habit of graceful living that permeates all that we do in later life. This is such an important part of how we establish a culture of beauty in our society, and are formed to be the ambassadors of the New Evangelization, arousing curiosity and attracting people to the Faith through the grace and beauty of what we do.
We live in a world in which many children do not see the example of this in their parents. Faced with this schism between the culture (in the broadest sense of the word) and the Faith, how do set about restoring the connection? The liturgical life of individuals and then families is vital. And important to this is the restoration of the idea of the father as head of the family, who leads prayer and is the advocate for the family to God. I have written about this here. We are told that the height of family prayer is the Liturgy of the Hours, which sanctifies our work.
The principle of tradition is the means by which we pass on these values. It is a respect for what is good and an openness to receive from the past what is good. Tradition can govern not only the life of prayer, but also the ordinary activities of life. The family is driving force for tradition. Parents pass on to their children how to do the ordinary things in life. If you want to change a society fundamentally, then the things to attack are the principle of tradition and the family as fundamental building block of society. This is what has happened in the West.
So much of this is not done any more. Liela Lawler who writes her charming blog Like Mother Like Daughter is tackling this head on. She discusses how to do the ordinary things in life that parents used to teach their children. Some are rediscovered and now being passed on again in the light of her experience, some were passed on to her. She gives us the details that come from that personal experience which makes it practical, at times very amusing, and always interesting and readable. However, don’t be beguiled by her light touch in the telling of the story. This is powerful stuff because it is rooted in the spiritual life. The articles cover anything that a family can do and just like a family, so just picking something out at random, we have Bees and Peas – Two DIYers Puttering Around; or Make Knitting Needles: a Tutorial.
She is always quick to emphasis the how the prayer life of the family in binds it together and is the means by which the ordinary and mundane activities can be an expression of the good, the true and the beautiful. She has just written a piece about the importance of ritual in family prayer that I would encourage everyone to read, whether or not you have family! Take a look at here posting, Beginning a Simple Life of Prayer with the Children.
Leila always includes photographs of her family home illustrating perfectly what she is talking about. The photos on this piece are all hers.
I finish with a quote from Compline, Sundays and Solemnities II. Deuteronomy 6:4-7: “Hear O Isreal: the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”