Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 28. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope, at audience, encourages parents to teach children to pray

By  Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
  • December 29, 2011

VATICAN CITY - If children do not learn to pray from their parents, it will be difficult for them to ever learn to communicate with God naturally, simply and deeply, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"In the family, children from the tenderest age can learn to perceive the sense of God thanks to the teaching and example their parents give of living in the presence of God," the Pope said at his weekly general audience Dec. 28.

Continuing a series of audience talks on prayer, Pope Benedict looked at the Holy Family as a model of family life marked by faith, work and regular moments of prayer together.

"The Holy Family is the icon of the domestic church called to pray together. The family is the domestic church and must be the first school of prayer," he said.

While the Gospels do not give many details about Jesus' childhood, he said, the Bible is clear that Mary and Joseph were observant Jews, which means they prayed at regular times throughout the day and before meals. They went to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the temple when he was 40 days old and journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

"An authentically Christian education cannot lack the experience of prayer," the Pope said. "If one does not learn to pray in the family, it will be difficult to fill this void, so I want to invite you to rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family in the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth and, in that way, to become truly one heart and one soul, a true family."

Addressing the English speakers among the estimated 7,000 people gathered in the Vatican audience hall, Pope Benedict said, "May the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer, where parents and children alike come to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas."

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