As I read these words what immediately came to my mind was the family and home of Saint Therese de Lisieux. The funny things is that I don't think of it in terms of how perfectly her parents provided her the atmosphere that formed her in becoming the great saint. Rather, I considered it in terms of the "imperfections". Therese's mother died when she was quite young. Therese admits to being terribly spoiled as a child. Her father had emotional and mental problems of his own. The family suffered through the loss of siblings. And yet, it seems her parents did create an atmosphere that brought ever closer to God. And not just Therese, but her sisters as well. It was an atmosphere that could overcome all these worldly imperfections. As I look in, removed by time, place and circumstance I truly feel that this is an atmosphere brought on by grace. Both the grace of her parents vocation of marriage and grace overflowing from their own daily lives rooted in prayer and trust in God. So for me, as I strive daily (and I do mean daily) to create this atmosphere, I know I will fail if I am not rooted in my vocation and in prayer.
On a practical level it means that I need to really understand what it means to have all my children present with me in the home every day. It means they see all of me, good and bad. If I want them to grow in virtue well then I'd better show them virtue shouldn't I. Do they see me taking time for prayer...every day? Do they know that this is "their" home and are they free to truly live in every part of it? Do they hear gentle words, full of love, encouragement and kindness?
My favorite quote: Oh, the wonderful and dreadful presence of the little child in the midst!
This made me laugh as I considered my "shock" when I hear something dreadful come out of my children's mouths. Why would they talk to each other like that? Hmmmm, reading about atmosphere made it clear to me that I need look no further than myself.