Family matters

Column: ‘Circle up’ leverages the power of prayer

Family matters

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

The struggle against worldly values is not new to the church.

The early church faced a pagan culture and persecution, yet they spread the Gospel throughout the world. Scott Hahn writes that they did so by their example: “how they worked, how they loved their spouses and children, how they cared for the poor. . . . The ancient world saw Christians going about the ordinary business of life in an extraordinary way.” They changed the world!

We can do the same. However, to avoid being overwhelmed in this struggle, we must have the graces of courage and perseverance as the battle with our culture intensifies. Saint John Paul II told us: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ. . . . He alone has the words of life — yes, everlasting life.”

As spouses and families, time spent each day in prayer is absolutely essential for us to have the strength, love and peace to change the world. Most of us scramble to even find time for prayer. Yet, as my spiritual director once told me, when we find ourselves thinking this way, we know for sure that we must take time to pray.

Most all of us have practices of prayer we follow: at rising, at meals, at bedtime. The family rosary is a powerful way to invite Jesus into our homes. Each mystery allows us to meditate on different aspects of the life of the Holy Family and that of Our Lord.

One of my heroes gave me an example of prayer I have never forgotten.

I was lost and didn’t know what to say to Deacon Joe Steuve when I came to visit him at the hospice center. Perhaps sensing my discomfort, he looked at me and invited another visitor and his family members to “circle up” for prayer.

The peace, joy and trust in God’s love which Joe always radiated filled my heart. That experience of the power of communal prayer was inspiring.

Remembering that time, I am moved to invite all families to come and “circle up” in prayer for our marriages, children and for all who strive to follow God’s design and plan for marriage. Reserve Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. for a Holy Hour for married couples with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood. A reception will follow.

Scott Hahn reminds us: “St. Augustine . . . described the process of conversion as one heart setting another heart on fire. And this can happen again today.”

As we gather with the archbishop, may our hearts be set ablaze with love for our spouses and children. That fire will light the way and warm the hearts of others to trust our families to the example of Jesus.

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Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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