One of my favorite movies as a kid, and even to this day, is The Incredibles. I remember watching this movie for the first time thinking, “That is my family.” For those who haven’t seen it, the movie is all about a family of superheroes in the throes of the ups and downs of family life trying to figure out their identity as individuals and as a family with superpowers, while saving the world and still trying to remain semi-normal.
Being Normal or Being Chosen
I always could relate to the daughter Violet growing up. She complained about wanting to be normal:
“We act normal, mom! I want to be normal! The only normal one is Jack-Jack, and he’s not even toilet trained!”
There is this struggle between the desire to be like the world and conform to worldly normalcy while leaving behind her true identity, something I struggled with a lot as a teen. I wanted so badly to look good to my peers at school. To look like I was cool, or maybe in my mind, to be good enough for them.
My favorite part of the movie is when the whole family joins forces to defeat the evil Syndrome. At some point, each member of the family realizes they’re never going to fit in with the rest of the world. Being superheroes is one of the things that makes them who they are. It is part of their identity, and because of those powers, when they join together, they can save the world from death and corruption. They finally realized that they were in a sense chosen for the mission of saving the world around them by their unity as a family! Sound familiar?
The family unit is a hidden military base. Sound a little far fetched? Let me explain. The devil would like nothing more than to tear apart the family unit, because if he can break apart the families of society, then everything else will crumble. Think about it! When Mom and Dad aren’t happy in their marriage, and when siblings are constantly at each other’s throats it breeds a cycle of brokenness.
But I look at the families who choose to be plugged into each other’s lives, and even more importantly, into their relationship with God, and something is very different. There is a peace that cannot be gained by just keeping things afloat.
I remember praying the Rosary as a family almost every day growing up (even when I had to drag myself into the room). Somehow I would leave that Rosary feeling not only connected more to God but also to my family. I really and truly stand by the fact that those nights of prayer together not only kept us together as a family unit, but made me stronger in who I was: in my identity as a daughter both in my family and the family of God.
The Struggle Is Real
It is a struggle to remember our identity in the family of God when we can’t even see how our own family fits into the picture. As it happens, the family unit is a reflection of the Trinity. The love of the Father and Son becoming another being in the Holy Spirit for all eternity is much like the love of husband and wife bringing a new, unrepeatable life into the world. By participating in the vocation of marriage, we become co-creators with God himself! How beautiful.
It would be easy to just stop there, but praying together as a family takes that gift a step further. It solidifies the familial bond and allows the Holy Spirit to enter more fully, bringing more life and grace into the hearts of each individual and strengthening each to love with the sacrificial love of Christ. And isn’t that the hardest thing to do in our families? To love each other to the point of laying down our lives? I can barely bring myself to do the dishes, let alone lay down my life.
All this being said, no family is perfect. Being a broken person by yourself is hard enough, but living with more than one? Easier said than done. But imagine a world of families making prayer the center of their family life. What would that look like? For the family, yes, but even beyond? I know it might sound a little exaggerated, but I look at the state of our world at the moment and I wonder, “Jesus, are you coming soon?” Because it just feels like things are quickly falling apart. Everyone is confused about who they are and what they have to offer the world. Is it possible that one family praying together consistently could make a difference?
You’re Not Alone
Yes. I really believe it could, because I have seen how praying with my family has brought grace into some of the most impossible situations. It has brought mercy into our broken relationships. It has brought healing for other families who have asked for our prayer when we chose to not let our promise to pray for them return void. It has brought us together to remember who we are and the mission we have together to, in a sense, change the world.
Do I think we can do it because of our prayer? No. I believe that change comes because we have a God who is faithful and listens to us and meets us there when we are gathered in his name.
I know this might all seem overwhelming, but you are not alone in the struggle. Just take the first step. Bring your family together to pray regardless of the groans and fits. There have been many Rosaries where my siblings were crying, goofing off, and the whole thing just felt so unholy, but the Lord will bless your faithfulness in the midst of struggle because he is faithful. He loves you a whole heck of a lot and wants to be a part of your family! You can do this! Know that I am praying for you.
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Family Prayer and Catholic Moms (with Fr. Jim Phalan) [Audio]
Taylor Tripodi is a twenty-something cradle Catholic from Cleveland, Ohio aspiring for sainthood. She graduated from Franciscan University, majoring in theology and catechetics and is now a full-time musician, traveling all over and spreading God’s unfailing love through word and song. In her spare time she enjoys making scented candles, seeking adventure, and being present to her large, crazy, Italian family. Want to hear her sing? Check out www.taylortripodi.com.