Getting some time with Our Lord might not be as hard as it sometimes seems ...
Okay, don’t let that title deceive you. There are no set words for “the prayer while folding socks,” because the words don’t really matter. What matters is this – that you take advantage of this miraculous, life-changing opportunity of being alone in the Presence of God as your children nap or watch cartoons and your hands come into contact with a large bin of second-class relics belonging to the ones you love most – yes, I mean their socks.
What’s a “second-class relic?” Catholics use this term to describe items that have come into direct contact with a saint, such as Padre Pio’s sandal or Mother Teresa’s sari, or in the case of the future saints living under your roof, their soccer knee-highs and ruffly Easter socks. [Note: A “first-class relic” would be a tooth or a toenail – a direct part of the saint’s body.]
While this idea of relics may seem down-right wacky at first blush, it’s biblical and such veneration is a natural part of the human experience. It takes place in a similar way in avenues of civil society all the time – from the pillow Abraham Lincoln bled and died upon, which still sits today in a museum in his honor, to the baseball bat Babe Ruth swung to win his 7th World Series. How much more exciting is it to come into contact with tangible mementos of our Faith! Also, Tradition holds that when we pray with relics present, those to whom the relics once belonged are mystically interceding with us to the Father.
Now about those socks …
No, they’re not truly relics yet because your family members most likely have not achieved sainthood if they’re still scampering around your house. But seeing that holiness is the ultimate life goal for every Christian (Matthew 5:48), let’s hope – and pray – they’re on their way.
7 Keys to praying without ceasing
So with your arms elbow-deep in the sock bin, here are a few ideas to get you started:
“Dear Jesus,” (said while pairing your eldest daughter’s purple knee-highs) “guide her feet into your truth. Give her boldness as she stands up to the mean girls at school; help her be a light in the world.”
This kind of prayer sure beats letting your mind simply wander. It sure beats worrying about the mean girl who’s been bullying your daughter during recess. It also sure beats fantasizing about pulling said mean girl’s stupid pony tail. Speaking of that mean girl, go ahead and pray for her too. In this way, you’ll be “tak[ing] captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Here’s another hack:
“Dear Jesus,” (match your husband’s running socks this time) “bless him and keep him and make your face shine upon him.”
That one’s really powerful, especially if you had a fight with your sweetie while he was rushing out the door to work. Teresa of Avila once said “prayer is an act of love,” which always makes me conclude that it’s impossible not to love someone I’m lifting up in prayer. So go ahead and give it a shot. The shortest, genuine request offered in the time it takes to fold a pair of his socks will multiply your love for your husband, much like the loaves and the fishes (Mark 6:30).
Your hands will work, your soul will pray. Pray and work, work and pray – it’s an ancient Christian monastic practice associated with the Rule of Saint Benedict, in which the Abbot taught that the two actions of prayer and work are partners, constantly inspiring one another. Catholic author Chris Sullivan comments on this Benedictine principle in her article “Work and Prayer in the Style of St. Benedict”:
Instead of wondering how to squeeze prayer into the busy schedule of our work days, we can adopt a new vision in which all that we do is the work of prayer. We consecrate to God the whole cycle of the day, from rising and drinking our morning coffee to carpools and meetings and classes and household responsibilities until we crawl into bed for sleep.
“Amen!” I say to that one, with my coffee cup in one hand and two mismatched, partnerless tube socks in the other. “Amen!”