The first Prayer Nest is naturally the family, where the mother and father must nourish their children, not only with material food, but also spiritual food, passing on the faith to them with their example.
Forming a Prayer Nest at home also safeguards family unity, as Pius XII said: «A family who prays together, stays together».
Set a time for prayer trying to meet everyone’s needs.
Prepare a little altar with an image or statue of Our Lady in front of which is placed a candle which will remain burning for the duration of the encounter.
There will naturally be disturbances, therefore you are urged to turn off cell phones and not answer the telephone. If friends or acquaintances arrive, do not interrupt the prayer but invite the guests to participate, thus testifying that God is more important. The mother or father can lead the prayer, slowly involving the children until they can lead it.
The rosary; a booklet for children with the meditated mysteries; the story of Fatima; the life of the three shepherd children narrated by Lucia; the biographies of child saints; the catechism of the Catholic Church; the Gospels…
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The Prayer Nest meeting
After a brief moment of silence which allows children to settle down, start with a good sign of the cross, done slowly, just as Our Lady taught Bernadette in her first apparition at Lourdes, pronouncing clearly the words: “In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
You can sing a song or invoke the Holy Spirit; state the intentions of the prayer, stating first of all the conversion of sinners, Peace in the world and the Pope.
Announce the mysteries of the rosary by reading a short meditation and having a moment of silence to teach children to meditate. You can sing a song between mysteries. At the end of the rosary you can read and comment on an episode of the story of the children of Fatima; the mother or father or a more trained child can make a short meditation.
After the Salve Regina, recite the Litany of the Most Blessed Virgin.
Pause for a few moments of silence.
You can end by invoking the blessing of the Father in Heaven which can be given by the father or mother on earth.
Naturally, this outline can be adapted according to the circumstances and the time available.
«Mommy! Mommy! I have an atomic bomb, I’ll show it to you» my nine-year-old daughter shouted. For a moment I was afraid and nervous because I had never heard her speak with that tone of voice. «Daughter, what are you saying? Do you have a fever?» «No, mommy, I’m fine, here on my heart is an atomic bomb of peace and forgiveness. It’s the Holy Rosary, the weapon of Our Lady in Heaven and this morning I said my “yes” to Mary because I want to help her. I belong to the Armata Bianca, do you know mommy that there are many of us in the world and we are all united with the white beads of the rosary. I am proud to belong to the Armata Bianca». (G.P. – Rome)
The theory of the little Roman girl isn’t far from reality: the rosary, recited in the family, activates a process of chain reaction, just like the atomic bomb, and only the Holy Spirit knows its potential of Light and Life.
For an example and a confirmation, we will tell you «the story of a rosary», the story of a small Prayer Nest formed by a mother and her daughter in the far away country of Ukraine.
STORY OF A ROSARY
Once upon a time there was a white rosary… It was part of a group of 70,000 rosaries, all white like her who, after a long journey of 4,000 km, from Italy arrived in Ukraine, in the Armata Bianca’s first Peregrinatio made in 1991 in that immense Eastern nation.
In Berdicev, a small town of 50,000 inhabitants 200 km from Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, we met some children at Natascia’s house who consecrated themselves to Our Lady and formed the first Prayer Nest in the town. Since then, these children have gathered every morning at 7:00, together with their parents, in front of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Carmel, to pray the rosary so that the church, closed by the communist government, may reopen for worship.
A year later, in November 1992, we returned to Berdicev and we had the joy of learning about the story of this rosary, narrated by Inga, an 11-year-old girl, Natascia’s schoolmate who had gone to school wearing the rosary on her neck. Let’s let her tell the story:
«Natascia, my Polish friend, came to class with the rosary. I didn’t know what it was. I asked her where she got such a beautiful thing. Natascia told me she got it where she went to pray. So I told her that I wanted to go too to get such a beautiful thing and that I would go too… even to see what they did. The next morning I went to Natascia’s house, who lives near me, and her father David drove us to the sanctuary: people were singing and praying, and I liked that a lot. I felt inside me a GREAT STRENGTH and I decided to go and pray every day at 7:00 in front of the church. Then I told my mother: «Mommy, you have to come to pray with me too, because it’s a good thing». My mother accepted my invitation, and came to pray too. Then we started to pray at home by saying the rosary and a few days later my mother decided to get ready for Confession.
For Christmas we went to see some relatives in Poland, and my mommy made her first Confession and her First Communion. Afterwards, she felt a great joy and lived her conversion in a very powerful way, she started doing works of apostolate with her family and converted her sister, her mother and her mother’s sister…».
At this point Alina, Inga’s mother, enters the scene:
«It was difficult with my sister, because she said she couldn’t go to church. I prayed a lot together with Inga and, after several months of prayer, my sister opened up and told me: «Now I see the meaning of faith: I want to go to confession, receive communion, get married in church and baptize my children…».
My grandmother (Inga’s great grandmother) was a Polish woman who – having married a very convinced communist, who died during the war – had become communist too and didn’t teach her children any notion of her original Catholic faith. For this reason, my mother didn’t have faith, but felt in her heart a great emptiness and read everything that talked about God; she often reproached her mother and accused her of being selfish because she didn’t help her in her search. She was baptized as a young girl, but then never had the chance to live her faith. Now my mother, after six months of preparation, went to confession and started a real Christian life. But my grandmother still does not want to hear about faith and she criticizes Inga and I because we go to church. But we pray, pray, pray. In the meantime, I convinced a nurse, a colleague of mine, to receive Baptism: she has converted to the faith along with her whole family.»
We’ll let Alina, Inga’s mother, draw the conclusion of the story of this little rosary:
«The period after my conversion was very difficult because many people laughed at me, especially in the hospital where I work. But the deep, very deep peace I had in my heart gave me the strength to go ahead. I would never have thought there could be such a wonderful peace».
We asked Alina: «Are you able to talk about God at the hospital?»
«There are many occasions to bear witness to God. A friend of mine, Alessia – who attends medical school and is twenty – has come closer to God because of my witness and is preparing for her first Confession because she wants to unburden herself of all her sins. Her Orthodox parents give her many problems, but she overcomes them by praying.
Then there are many other examples: once, while visiting cancer patients with Alessia, a woman about 40, who was practically at death’s door, told me: «If you’re a believer, find me a priest to hear my confession». So Father David went to the woman and she went to confession, received Communion and then died. Through these visits to the sick, many other people came to the Sacraments».
Do you see what a little rosary of the Armata Bianca has done? Three families (Inga’s and her mother Alina’s, Alina’s mother and her colleague’s) have come to the faith and live in profound joy. Her grandmother is still missing, but Alina and Inga continue praying, and we are sure that soon she too will wear the rosary around her neck… When we get to Heaven, the other 69,999 rosaries will tell us their adventures too.
Father Andrea D’Ascanio