by Lesle Knop
If we are blessed to live long enough to experience the joy of the births of grandchildren, great-nieces and great-nephews — and to hear little cousins’ laughter — we usually send gifts to celebrate.
The following ritual to celebrate the arrival of children — adapted from the book “Home Celebrations” by Lawrence E. Moser, SJ — touched my heart and seemed like a nice gift.
Prayer fits all sizes. No delivery fee. No gift-wrapping required. Satisfaction guaranteed. Find a candle and a match, your Bible, a quiet moment and begin: “Rejoicing, let us come before the Lord; filled with gladness, and in the lightness of heart, let us offer our thanks.”
Read Ps 92: 1-2, 4-5, 13-15.
“In the fullness of our time, Father, we come before you in great joy for the gift of new life. In the flow of our years, it has too often seemed that we have cluttered our souls with useless and heavy baggage; that we slip more and more into loneliness with the passing of each day; that we have proven unequal to the work that you have asked of us.
“Yet, by your grace, Father, you still ask that we shoulder part of your work of creation: We form ourselves in the whirl and play of your world; never alone, we treasure the blessings of your love in our hearts. And now, at the very hour of ripeness and fruitfulness, you speak again today, Father —softly, gently, in a voice nourishing as rain to the earth. You place in our hands the freshest of tasks: that of handing on the best of what we are; that of replanting and tending once again the tender seed of your love.
“In peace, let us hear the word of God.” (Light the candle.)
Read Jn 1: 9-14.
“Father, with the first breath of every child, with a voice crying in the wilderness, your Word comes again to his own and seeks acceptance. Cast light upon us once again, Father, as you have never ceased to do through your son. May our own needs yield place to those of the newborn child that from the fullness of your gifts to us, he/she may receive full measure. This we ask to your glory, in the name of your own Son Jesus, and in the power of his spirit.”
Join hands and pray the Our Father.
Prayer is one of the spiritual works of mercy and one of the pillars of Christian stewardship. Disciples pray often in thanksgiving for all God has provided, including the grace and blessings we experience and witness in our daily lives, at work, in our communities and in our families.
Prayer. It’s always the perfect gift.