Fish and Chips for Valentine?

Fish and Chips for Valentine?  

What can a family focus mean for Lent? As a family is the little church of the home, the domestic church, what happens in the parish can be duplicated or even pre-empted in the family or it can have its own unique approach. Take for example Shrove Tuesday, pancake Tuesday in some families. And Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday could pose some problems.  Valentine was a priest and a martyr who protected Christians from persecution. His association with love comes from legends including one about helping young couples to marry.  the whole idea became increasingly commercialised but as it falls on the day of fast and abstinence this year how about a fish and chips  feast (not prawns and crayfish of course!) and accompany it with some of the secular love songs that have been co-opted into the body of church music e.g. Plaisir d’Amour.  Reconciliation can be practised within families before Catholic members go to confession.  A family prayer meal or some form of paschal meal can be celebrated before Holy Thursday.  Fast and abstinence of course do happen in the home and most forms of penance will have a “daily life” dimension.

Below are extracts from a general Lent and Easter Suggestion Sheet “Lent and Easter for Families with MARFAM,” to help families at home during this special season. It is published in full on, can be uploaded onto parish websites and is available as a pdf doc to download and print.  MARFAM printed Lenten resource booklets and articles are listed or published on

A HOME ALTAR.  Set up in a special place with a Bible, crucifix or statue or religious picture and pictures of family members, especially those absent from home.   The home is where the family is rooted and a home altar can remind us to pray for one another, if just in passing.  It is said that every home has three altars, the parents’ bed, the diningroom table and the place where the family prays.  How true is that today?

FAMILY NIGHTS.  As a special Lenten event a weekly family night with various activities chosen by family members can bring the family together even for some fun, talking, eating and drinking.  Current affairs can be discussed as faith sharing and prayer are a regular part of this, but these events don’t have to be purely religious.

GIVING TO OTHERS.  Skills and talents can be used to make things to reach out and give away to others in need, knitting, sewing, baking, pottery, planting, TV games, e-books  etc.  Clothes and books can be collected and money saved by fasting or “doing without” can be given to the Bishops Lenten Appeal or to the poor.  Pray too, especially for the needs of the country at this confusing and crucial time of transition.

SYMBOLS can be used and built into activities e.g. Easter lamb, hot cross buns. An Easter garden, veneration of the Cross and remembering our baptism are other activities.

LOVE AND MARRIAGE. February is the month of love. Some places celebrate Valentine’s Day or WORLD MARRIAGE DAY around this time.   Find ways, also by making sacrifices, to give the love relationships in the family a boost.

“LOVE DOES MATTER” is our family theme for the month.  Suggested ACTS OF LOVE AND SACRIFICE are also published in THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY. Pope Francis stresses that it is not the sacrifice but the love for God and neighbour that accompanies the sacrifice which makes our Lenten journey an encounter with Jesus.   TR Family Weekly 14 February 2018

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