The Popes have also attached a "plenary indulgence" to those who pray 5 decades of the Rosary "as a family" (when the other usual conditions are met*). This plenary indulgence cannot be obtained by private recitation - only in the context of a "family" recitation. This stipulation demonstrates that the Catholic Church privileges praying the Rosary as a family. The reason for this is that the Rosary is the "rose garden" of sanctify for children. As the Holy Spirit teaches us: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Saint Louis de Montfort gives us another eight more reasons for praying the Rosary daily:
1. It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ.
2. It purifies our souls, washing away sin.
3. It gives us victory over all our enemies
4. It makes it easy for us to practice virtue
5. It sets us on fire with love of Our Blessed Lord
6. It enriches us with graces and merits
7. It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God
8. It gives us the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the science of salvation through our meditations on His life, death, Passion and glory.
Okay, are you convinced? The family Rosary is the most powerful tool you have for edifying your family in grace.
So how do you get a bunch of children under the age of reason (or above the age of reason) to pray 5 decades of the Rosary every day? How can they sit still for 15 minutes? Is it possible?
Twelve Tips for Praying the Family Rosary Daily
- Prayer using alternation (The father/leader prays first half of Our Father and everyone else prays second half - same goes for Hail Mary and Glory be).
- Pray the Rosary after dinner but right before bed - this means homework needs to be finished before dinner. Homework kills the Rosary if you don't stay on top of it. You'll also need to say goodbye to watching prime time television - since this is the ideal window of praying together as a family.
- Pray the Holy Rosary always at the same place at the exact same time. Devotions become strong - even invincible - by constant custom and habit.
- Pray the Rosary in a special room and set up a little altar with a Bible on it, candles, a statue or image, holy water, or a relic.
- Dim the lights and the candles when you begin. If you let the little ones light the candles - they will love it. Kids love fire. Make this a "special time" different from other times. We even burn incense on our domestic altar on feast days. (You can do this easily by placing a little metal screen over a votive candle and then by placing a few grains of incense on the screen. It's fast and easy. This way you don't have use charcoal.)
- Maybe begin with a hymn or Bible reading to slow things down and set the tone.
- The father sets the example. I recommend that the father kneel for the whole Rosary. This communicates importance and solemnity to the Rosary. Children attach importance to what dad does, e.g. mowing lawn, going to work, driving the "dad car," etc.
- Make it a rule that which ever child prays all the responses and volunteers to lead a mystery (10 beads) gets to stay up 10 minutes more than everyone that night - at our house this means you get to watch baseball or have a book read to you. This may be the most important tip. Kids under 7 or 8 need this sort of incentive. If you tell a 6 year old, pray the Rosary so that you receive grace and sanctity - they don't get it. If you say, pray the Rosary so that you can stay up and read a book with me - they'll hit their knees and become like angels.
- The one who gets to stay up also gets to blow out the candle at the end. This gives another incentive to pray the prayers - especially for the younger ones. For some reason, blowing out the candle is a really big deal to younger children. You'd be amazed how a four year old will try to stay still if he can only place a grain of incense on a flame or blow out a candle. Again, kids love fire.
- End with invoking everyone's patron saint (your children's names, confirmation names, and other patrons). E.g. "Saint Thomas: pray for us. Saint Jude: pray for us. Saint Anne: pray for us." Always finish with St Joseph and then Holy Mary Mother of God. Then say "Sacred Heart of Jesus: have mercy on us," three times. If you're shooting for the plenary indulgence, make sure to pray an Our Father and Hail Mary for the Pope.
- If family Rosary is new, start with one decade for a week. Then go to three for a week. Then go to five decades on the third week.
* The other usual conditions for receiving a plenary indulgence (full remission of temporal punishment - the kind remitted in purgatory) is to receive Holy Communion on that day, receive the sacrament of Penance within "about 20 days," prayer for the Pope, and full detachment from all sins.