Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and Holy Cross Family Ministries are gradually releasing a four-part study on young Catholic families. More than 1,000 adults aged 25-45 responded to the survey, providing insights into faith and family that the Family Feud show would never have dreamed of.
Each section of the report is being released monthly:
June 2015: The Catholic Family: 21st Century Challenges in the United States (available here)
July 2015: The U.S. Catholic Family: Demographics (available here)
Aug 2015: Practice of Faith in the Catholic Family
Sept 2015: Catholic Families and Media Usage
This impressive research coincides with the upcoming World Meeting of Families as well as the Synod of Bishops on the Family in October. Clearly, family is on the brain these days. Specifically, the Church is looking for more effective and loving ways to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to families.
The Apostleship of Prayer follows all of these goings-on closely. We already provide ministry to families through family retreats, parish and school presentations, radio and TV appearances, and prayer materials for all ages. Inspired by St. Ignatius's love for the magis (“more-ness”), we want to go deeper.
We were surprised to read some of CARA's findings on family prayer, but encouraged by the call to redouble our efforts:
The Holy Cross Family Ministries website cites their CARA survey, saying that, while 71 percent of parents ackowledge that prayer is critical to faith life, “only about 36 percent pray at least once a day.”
The second special report on Demographics reveals that not many families pray together. Instead, parents who do pray “consider prayer to be their personal conversation with God.”
In reporting on the surveys, the National Catholic Register commented, “One of the starting places for the evangelization of the family will be family prayer. According to CARA, most parents agreed prayer was essential, but more than three out of four parents preferred to pray alone.” Curiously, families “were not likely to pray together before meals or together as a family.”
When I began working at the Apostleship of Prayer, I heard from parent after parent about their vague desire to pray more, and to pray as a family–but they simply didn't know where to start. Praying together can feel awkward and can be difficult to manage with family members of different ages and personalities.
Other families pray together regularly, but sometimes grow weary of the routine.
This book takes a fresh look at the power of prayer and encourages families simply to try praying. Chapters include stories and tips on spontaneous prayer, memorized prayer, scripture, song, silence, and reflection. Naturally, there are many other ways to pray (like dancing, if you're not a complete klutz like I am), but this book is a lovely place to get started or to get a little creative.