As-Dad-Sees-It-PirilloWe have been in our new home for nearly four weeks. It’s a different town, and although we live near family, there have been quite a few changes.

Nearly all of the boxes are unpacked. The kids are enjoying their new rooms. LEGO creations are on the desk in the boys’ room. There are also shirts in the closet and on the floor. Grace, 12, chose a shade of turquoise, I believe; although I’m a little unsure and since it’s late, I won’t wake her.

Abby’s room was a shade of green and is now pink. Her room stays pretty clean for a 4-year- old, as she will often descend the stairs and tell us, “I cleaned my room.” I’m always sort of impressed and worried because that wasn’t my experience as a child. And she also likes broccoli, another head scratcher.

On the first day we moved in, Joseph, 10, didn’t have the luxury of a basketball hoop so he set up a cardboard box in the driveway into which he could shoot. The next door neighbor, who attends a local high school, generously invited him over to shoot. He also let Joseph know he could use the hoop whenever he wanted.

We’ve already had family over for a few dinners, cooking on the grill on the back patio. There is even a resident mouse outside that you can see scurry across the bricks from time to time, frightening family members.

Even more exciting than watching a mouse scurry across your patio is the chance to change up some routines. To this end, we’ve been trying to be a little more intentional with prayer in our new home and community.

One small change we’re testing is the placement of the television. We put it in a smaller family room to the side on the first floor. It still gets used, but it isn’t the primary thing we see when we are resting, sitting and talking with each other.

We got this idea from friends. A family we know had the great idea of hanging their rosaries up near the fireplace, which we have tried as well. It makes it easier to have the kids go and grab one, other than relegating them to a drawer where they are tangled and not being used.

We don’t pray the rosary every day, or even every other day, but we are more inclined to be reminded to do so as a family with them hung more conspicuously. And as a bonus, the cats haven’t seemed to bother with them.

Our walls are still fairly bare, but we also want to be more intentional about placing Catholic images in the house. If we had visitors enter our home, would they be able to tell we were Catholics? Would it be as obvious as say if I were a devout sports fan?

Our new parish offers reconciliation on Wednesday nights. We’re eager about grafting this into our life. For whatever reason, it has always been more difficult getting to reconciliation on Saturdays. Teresa works on most Saturdays, and after a morning of chores or a project, it has often, in the past, been put off. Wednesdays after work seem easier.

There are also a number of small group activities, and I’ve enjoyed participating in a men’s Scripture group. Every other Tuesday we’ve been meeting to discuss the upcoming Sunday readings. We’ve also met a number of kind and generous families with whom we’ve been able to share our faith.

Every Sunday after Mass we sit at tables and talk about the week, our blessings, trials and comedic outtakes.

The Lord has blessed us richly with a number of opportunities to draw our minds upward in this not-so-new place, which – as I think about it – seems to be a pretty good definition of prayer. The catechism teaches us that prayer is the “raising of 
one’s mind and heart to God or 
the requesting of good things from God.”

And given that we’re instructed by St. Paul to pray without ceasing, such opportunities are divine gifts. There are so many ways we can be distracted: the excessive use of phones, screens, political news, celebrity news, sports news. It’s nice to consider how many opportunities there are to fill our lives with prayer. It doesn’t have to be the kneel-by-the-bed sort of prayer. But, it’s still prayer.


(Joe is married to Teresa. They have four children: Grace, 12, Joseph, 10, John, 8, and Abigail, 4. Opportunities for heavenly-inspired humor abound. Joe, an academic librarian and Teresa, a physical therapist, recently moved to the Fox Valley area to be closer to work and family, and they attend Mass at St. Gabriel Church in Neenah in the Green Bay Diocese.)