2. Keep your expectations low.
We didn’t ask our children to pause and pray at each Station of the Cross or say a rosary on the path of the sorrowful mysteries. Your child may want to do those things, and that’s wonderful.
Our sons generally want to see as much as they can as quickly as possible. For the most part, they want to run and climb. So we worked that into the visit.
We did struggle with keeping silence in the grotto, but we certainly tried.
And we saw many smiles from understanding adults who could see they were trying—but also bursting with enthusiasm over every new discovery. One kind man smiled as he thanked Daniel by name for moving out of the photo he was taking of his friend.
It was tempting to encourage our boys to focus on the mosaics and statues and religious art.
They did look at those—but they wanted to take in everything.
They noticed the plants and trees. They spotted birds. They loved seeing the bubbling stream.
In my visits to the shrine before, I had never noticed as much natural beauty. It was magnificent.
Yes, there might have been two boys jockeying for the best position on the kneeler next to me, but I still had a chance to talk to Jesus. And I wasn’t just praying that no one would knock me off the kneeler—though I may have slipped in that request. It worked.
They couldn’t believe I was letting them hold the long wicks with flames on the ends. And they lit many more candles than I had intended, but that meant we prayed for more people than I had planned to, too.
We drove with our friends in their car, which was a highlight of the day. I brought plenty of snacks and drinks because it was an outing. As we were leaving the shrine, we stopped at the gift shop and the children picked out small, inexpensive items. Then we went out to lunch and had chicken and rice soup and hot dogs. Any day that includes a hot dog is inherently fun. I don’t know why.
I had hoped to take the children to the Seton Shrine, too, and time-wise we could have fit it into our day. But we also wanted to end on a high note, and not go home with tired, droopy children who felt they had been dragged around all day.