I have heard through many resources and personal accounts that a weekly family meeting can be beneficial in a home. It has pressed on my heart recently to have a moment on Sunday evenings to sit down and have a family meeting, which would include prayer, formation, and small goals to focus on growing in virtue for the week. My brain in its normal scattered fashion, began to grow branches of ideas off the tree “Family Meeting’ to include, lunches packed/bought, practice schedules, and chores. But no; this was breaking of ground for our family. It must fill a gap for the things we are lacking such as formation as a family and positive reinforcement. I felt for sure this was an apportunity to draw our family closer to God together.
As I typed the “First Family Meeting Agenda” in the office, the boys were sneaking in and out of the room, giggling and reading my computer screen. “What is it? Why are you doing this? Are we in trouble? You have something to tell us? We are moving! Right? Is that it?” Anticipating some huge announcement (albeit, the only reason I have called family meetings in the past) they scoured the agenda as quickly as they could before I settled the screen gently down and reminded them to wait until after dinner.
My husband’s spaghetti sauce with its blend of spices and aromatics wafted to the upstairs bedroom we call our “office” and tortured my hungry stomach as I put the final touches on the “secret agenda”. As we ate dinner, everyone pressed to get an idea of this “secret meeting of the minds” that was to happen after our plates were empty. The curiosity did not outrank our appetites as we had seconds of Daddy-O’s meat sauce and pasta, which was being ingested at an alarming rate.
We opened with a prayer to the Holy Spirit (in lieu of the prayer to the Holy Family, for which I could not find the correct version) but was of course just as affective. Soon to follow was a bit of faith formation. This week’s topic: our angels. I had not been very-well informed on the Catholic church’s teaching on angels until recently when Jeanne the Archangel gave me an older book on the subject. I proceeded to read a very short paragraph from the book (paraphrasing with my preschool teacher story-telling-voice for excitement of course) and then read aloud the prayer to our guardian angels. I had left a line after the sentence on the agenda that read “This week’s assignment: ___________” and told the family it was to greet the angels of everyone when you walk into a room. I explained how they acknowledge our greeting and love us for the kindness of recognizing them in our lives. My heart swelled as little JD jumped from the table to grab a pencil and write in on the blank line on his agenda sheet “Greet the angels” in his third grade penmenship.
Next on the agenda; “Good things from this week”. I proclaimed and praise LB’s entrance into the city spelling bee, as well as his name on the honor roll for the term, JD’s amazing job of cleaning most of the house the other day without being asked (really!), and Cirque’s amazing generosity in putting back the “Kid’s Cuisine” of choice at lunch, only to take the lesser preferred choice, so her brother would be happy. Not to ignore, the amazing job she did in persevering on her Amelia Earhart report (funny story coming soon!)
Then of course, to recognize Daddy for his amazing hard work which gives us all the needs and pleasures we have. Everyone clapped and “Daddy-O” gave himself “around the world claps and snaps” as we applauded.
Next I handed the reigns over to the man of the house, having prefaced him to consider ONE SMALL THING the kids could improve on this week, keeping in mind it was manageable for them alone. Something like “straighten your books on the bookshelf in your room every day.” We called this section “Cleaner and Better” and it will be his opportunity each week to add his desires for home improvements.
We closed with the upcoming Sunday gospel reading, which followed a family prayer to the Lord to prepare our hearts to hear God’s Word and let it work in our lives. After LB read from the gospel of Luke (of course he called “dibs” on reading the gospel before the meeting ever started) we sat silent for a minute. Cirque fiddled as she rocked back and forth on her dad’s knee, eyes wild, and hands happily gripping bits of sugar coated chocolate. Being of such an unfortunate personality, I had to speak first. “Fishers of men are like Dad and I. We have been given this great gift of you three and the responsibility to lead you closer to Jesus. We are fishers of men like that.” Daddy-O gave a big nod, and hoped that answer sufficed for us both. I began to think this was a mistake as everyone sat nervously and looked down, away, and fiddled with whatever was in front of them (namely the m&m’s I had wrongly distributed before prayer time as an award for all the good things everyone had done in the past week).
LB and JD were quiet. JD tried to say something but giggled and came up with a funny “class clown” kind of answer, which he has been in the habit of doing as of late, despite his reigning title of “best behaved” in the house. He asked that we come back to him (after seeing the look on my face in response to his joke). Suddenly, Cirque cries out, “I know!” as she nibbled her pink and red m&m’s. Uh-oh, I thought. Here we go. My husband and I exchanged worried looks, and we were both starting to regret the next 10 minutes of our lives.
She proceeded, “The guys were fishing and they weren’t getting anything and they tried and tried, and then Jesus said “try on the other side” and they didn’t want to, but they did it anyway, for Jesus, because they should, and then all the fish came and they couldn’t believe it! And it was all because of Jesus!” (giggle, chew, chew, chew).
“Well, I can’t add another thing to that.” Said Daddy-O, with his eyes wide in amazement. LB, much to his own chagrin, smiled big and wide, amazed at this little creature’s wisdom. The competitive nature of JD took over, and he began explaining a deeper meaning of this gospel in his life as well. Finally the kids’ conclusion (I am not sure how we got there) was to stick up for someone other kids are making fun of, no matter what it costs us.
Lastly, we closed with a decade of the rosary for our pastor. These clever little creatures used their poorly timed m&m treats to keep track of the “Hail Mary’s” since someone didn’t bother providing rosaries for the final prayer.
The whole meeting lasted 20 minutes (shorter than it took to type about it) but over all, I have the most wonderful sense of gratitude to God for His latest idea to draw my family closer to Him in response to my prayers. Praise Him!