This year – 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC. He was a famous priest back in the 1940’s and 1950’s and beyond. If you don’t yet know of him (or have forgotten about him) – please stick with this column.
It is interesting to me that Father Peyton wrote his autobiography and titled it All For Her – and he had such great devotion to the Rosary and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as did the late, great John Paul II. And you likely remember the late pope’s motto which was Totus Tuus: ‘totally yours.’ This was a statement of devotion to Mary.
Let me quote from Fr. Pat’s book:
I was born on January 9, 1909, in a picturesque valley in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. On one side were the Ox Mountains; on the other was the Atlantic Ocean.
From my earliest memories, I saw my father with the Rosary beads in his hands and my mother holding hers. My older brothers and sisters and I knelt around them, praying. Father began with the Sign of the Cross, then the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Fathers, the Hail Marys, the Glory Be’s. What impressed me most was the voice of my mother talking to Mary: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
For the first 19 years of my life, this was our daily practice as I grew from childhood to boyhood to my teens.
In good times and bad, in sickness and health, in poverty and hard work, we ended each day speaking to Jesus and His Mother, offering them the greatest tribute that could possibly be given, making the greatest act of faith, and honoring Mary above all the angels and saints.
Because of the daily family Rosary, my home was for me a cradle, a school, a university, a library and, most of all, a little church.”
For the sake of space, I’ll just summarize a bit of the story of this Irishman who became the leader of the Family Rosary Crusade. This prayer effort to promote the rosary and family prayer began a journey to fame and holy success when the Mutual Radio Broadcasting Network (the largest radio network at that time) offered a half hour radio broadcast to the entire United States. The first broadcast was on Mother’s Day and Fatima Day, May 13th, 1945. The show was reported to be one of the most listened to – most favored broadcasts ever. Fr. Peyton had a winning format for his radio broadcasts – he got a number of famous movie stars, bishops and other leaders to come to the studio and participate in prayer. They were often interviewed and it was a most popular approach to this Catholic devotion. Imagine trying this today!
Fr. Peyton built up the devotion to family prayer and the rosary throughout the U. S. and later around the world. There is a story told as follows. Once in Bogota, Columbia, as he had completed a Crusade and was mingling with the crowd, a young priest laughed at him and cried out, “Father Pat, the people need bread and meat and you give them rosaries.” In gentle Irish fashion, Fr. Peyton said, “Son, they need both bread for the body and bread for the soul.”
I mention this bit of biography and history about Fr. Peyton for a couple reasons – to remind us how much we have lost… most of us anyway. The motto of Fr. Peyton’s Rosary Crusade was, “The Family That Prays Together, Stays Together.”
Some people might respond that they pray a night prayer with their children… something like, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” Perhaps in later years, an Our Father and or a Hail Mary… but consider the testimony and example that Fr. Peyton gave to us. My wife Dee and I pray Evening Prayer (Liturgy of the Hours) together just about every night. We pray this together and voice our petitions for family, the sick and other intentions we carry in our hearts. This has made a big difference – a very big difference in our lives and devotion and faith.
Yet I have encouraged Dee that we need to do the rosary together more often. And in that vein – I encourage members of the Catholic Family Podcast to try – try adding more prayer together. Don’t feel as if you have to do it all. Take a small segment of prayer and be faithful to it. Perhaps start with a decade of the rosary – along with a different intention each time you do it.
When kids share in prayer intentions – the poor… the needy… deceased members of the family… for orphans… for peace – it gives them a holy and world connectedness far beyond saying a single Hail Mary at bedtime.
Archbishop Charles Chaput says, “Raising a family is heroic work.” You can be a spiritual hero if you lead the effort to bring more prayer into your family – all of the family, together. Please remember to pray for our bishops, priests, deacons and nuns. And the souls in Purgatory.
Thank you… May your family stay together – in good times and in bad. Dedicate yourself to Mary and ask for her help. Blessings.