by Ken Rolheiser
Pancakes to Paschal Meal  

It is 5:00 p.m. on a darkening winter day in the farmhouse on the prairie. There is a slight smoky haze over the kitchen and the air is filled with the delicious, deep-fried pancake smell. Hunger pangs are catching my attention.

The daily rosary is as real as the hunger pangs I am feeling. Sometimes we prayed before supper if the family could gather. Today was one of those days.

“Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Are we making the kind of choices that will beget another generation of faith? Will our churches still be here for our grandchildren?

“The family that prays together stays together” is a well-known proverb that my parents repeated and followed. And to all appearances, it worked. In our family the rosary was the glue that held it together. If there was a crisis in our lives, we prayed a rosary.

Grandparents would visit over night when the traveling statue of Our Lady came to our home for the week. Every Sunday the statue was sent to another family in the parish. And every hour during the week a rosary was prayed. 

Neighbors and relatives would drop over for a few hours, usually at night, and the card games were interrupted every hour on the hour for the rosary. Friday night a holy hour was proclaimed and the rosary was repeated every hour through the night.

The above marathon of prayer illustrates the most important factor in prayer: Keep showing up! Prayer is contagious. If your parents prayed every night, chances are good that you can carry on the tradition. And prayer will be there for you when crises touch your life.

It is no accident that when one of our grandchildren was being born, my wife and I were praying a rosary during the labor. Announcement of a sudden death of someone dear, the rosary is at hand. And this happens in the home, the domestic church.

The ecclesial structure moves our prayers up one notch. There we get the food of eternal life, which is more profound than the deep-fried pancakes. “My body is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my body and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them.” 

How much deeper the power of this Eucharistic prayer. And the secret, again, is to keep showing up. Bring your family with you. The Eucharist is for sinners! We should not try to exclude them.

Have we lost sight of the faith we first enjoyed at our mother’s knee, on our mother’s lap. How could we ever forget the faith of our parents? Our grandparents? We may be traveling along a different path, distracted and confused. We are still called by our Baptism to return to the generous love of the Father.

If we watch the signs, our parents are still calling us back. When my father-in-law died his youngest son received a visit from him in the northern gold mine where he worked. He saw his dad wearing the same shirt we packed up when we brought his belongings from the hospital.

Can we follow our parents and grandparents? In God they trusted; in love they endured; in Faith they persisted. In our holy mother the church they lived.

(565 words)