“What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This quote from the beginning of the Gospel of John points us to the reality of Christ as the light of the world.
Beginning with our Baptism, we are charged with shining that light in our daily lives, our families and beyond. A Catholic family here in the Diocese of Phoenix is doing that quite literally and called me recently to explain how they’re inviting others to do the same.
Michael and Mary Poirier and their Holy Family Apostolate are a shining example of what family life can be.
“After exchanging vows in 1994, we consecrated our marriage to be formed under the care of Our Lady of Guadalupe and dedicated ourselves to helping build up and encourage families in the Church,” their website, prayerbreaks.org, states. They’ve spent the last 25 years presenting missions, concerts and holy hours of Eucharistic Adoration at parishes, military bases, classrooms, hospitals and in homes.
“When our families are disrupted, that’s part of the chaos that we’re seeing lived out in all different degrees around the globe,” Michael told me. That chaos is something you’ll see in headlines each day and it’s the poisonous fruit of widespread acceptance of contraception, divorce, abortion, pornography and sex outside marriage.
“We forget the importance of our family peace,” Michael said. “It’s critical and it’s not held up by anything in the media. It’s actually belittled, but the truth is, it’s the most important aspect of what can help our society right now. People wring their hands instead of folding their hands.”
As Ven. Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC, founder of the Family Rosary Crusade, famously said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” The Poiriers have a simple yet ingenious way to help make that happen: Family prayer lights, available at leavealighton.org.
The six-inch tall, wax, flameless candles bear sacred images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and various saints. The LED, battery-powered lights have a built-in timer which allows families to set them up to illuminate at a specific time each day and stay on for five hours.
“It’s a family reminder to pray because the light will go on automatically,” Michael said. “Any child in the family can say, ‘The prayer light is on!’ If you have it on your table, and it goes on right around dinner time, that’s a beautiful reminder to pray. It’s not threatening — it’s comforting which is what prayer actually is.”
The Poiriers are hoping the prayer lights and their apostolate will help families to open up and use “The Family Prayer Guide,” a book published by the Diocese of Phoenix that accompanies “Complete My Joy,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s most recent apostolic exhortation.
The tome shouldn’t suffer the fate of many coffee table books or Bibles that look attractive on display but aren’t actually opened and used, the Poiriers say. They’re hoping they can help families draw together in prayer and then visit other families and encourage them to do the same — to shine the light of Christ in the darkness of a broken world.
May, a month in which the Church holds up the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, seems an ideal time to launch this effort to bring families together for prayer.
“We’re also encouraging the families to consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That just totally ignites everything else,” Michael said. “Being inside her heart is what helps us to see the need and reason for prayer.”