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Lent season is here and for practicing Christians, it is a season of abstaining from meat and such other dishes and a period of prayer and fasting. Times have changed and hardly a few people practice these traditional customs now.

 Lent can be an excellent time for the entire family as a unit to practice spirituality. Picture this. In a typical family these days, the mother and daughter may be having a quick dinner at home before the daughter has to be driven to her dance school. The father is meanwhile fetching the son from soccer practice and they are so hungry on the way that they grab some fast food on their way back; half of which is eaten in the car and the rest while watching their favourite hockey show on the television at home. Oh and then they don’t feel like eating dinner anymore and the food goes into the fridge.There are children who are so involved in multiple activities and parents who are so over worked and tired that sitting down together becomes a great ordeal. Children have to be hauled into so many activities or else parents feel that they will remain behind. It is a vicious circle. Parents behave more like chauffeurs than as parents. In the process most of us forget that we are “human beings”and not “human doings”! We forget to just breathe and live but are instead busy doing things and rushing through life.

There are so many examples of excellent parents bemoaning about their children leading confused lives. It need not be so. Children tend to pick up strongly from what goes on in homes. If everyone is busy and eats their meal at different times, it becomes challenging to build a connection among members. I personally consider television the biggest bane of family time. It also leads to mindless eating.

With the rapid increase in technology and technological gadgets, life instead of becoming simpler, has become even more complex and busier. The same technology that connects people around the globe, in many ways creates distances between individuals within homes. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter,Google plus, phones, IPhones, PlayStations, videogames, texting, music downloads all are good things and keep people, especially children busy but when it gets in the way of communication within families, then it becomes an issue.

Even if it is only one mealtime a week, everyone should adhere to it and come together for sharing time at least that one time. Everyone can pitch in and help during such time. The children can set the table, while the mother finishes her cooking and dad can help with the dishes. This can be fun and make your children independent by learning and observing what you do. Don’t we do this all the time during those Holidays...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.? Why not make a habit of it? It has been proven that children who have regular family meals get better grades in school, are better nourished, are more well mannered, do not binge and are better communicators.

We come across the symbol of breaking bread so many times in the New Testament. It is a sign of love and communion that has been taught to us from the biblical times. There are so many things going on in the world right now, so many influences that children are exposed to these days, it is very challenging to keep them grounded. But if we as parents initiate some rules then it becomes easy for them. Some sort of thanksgiving can be given before each meal. After all everyday is a gift to us. It could be a simple prayer such as the one taught to children in Catholic schools here in Canada:

Bless us O Lord,

For these thy gifts,

Which we are about to receive,

From thy bounty,

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or the youngest member of the family can come up with a new prayer.

And then it would not be wrong to say: “A family that eats together stays together”!