Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris in his pastoral letter Return to Hospitality stated that “In a society where eating has degenerated into a hasty, distracted activity, leading to poor dietary habits and the damaging consequences at so many levels, hospitality in the form of a FAMILY MEAL may help to restore the bonds of communion and companionship.”
In light of this, the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) embarked on highlighting this theme by encouraging families to share a meal together. Being part of the Integrated Pastoral and Communications Plan (IPCP) ad hoc committee, the AFLC took up the challenge of educating individuals by sharing this message of hospitality using all communications tools/resources available.
Families are encouraged to send in photos and voice notes via WhatsApp of the experience of sharing a meal together.
Here is one father’s experience: “We all had to wear proper clothes, and we had to remove the pot from the table which didn’t look right. We had to make sure that we had good dishes and matching plates and pull down the curtains because they were tucked in the windows as the room was hot. It was drama! We were hot, hungry, falling asleep and trying to look good. One person was taking long, another didn’t want to be in the picture, and we are all trying to get it done before praying, eating, smiling and looking like a family. I used the moment to teach them a lesson that what they see on camera and social media more than often is not the truth.”
Another family: “It was awkward sitting to eat together today, even though we did it regularly. One member of the family had been behaving strangely and not talking. Then a quarrel erupted as one child was being told to use the cutlery properly. Sitting at the table seemed cold and useless. Just then one member exclaimed that ‘This is not making sense. It is better we stop this eating together.’ We hurriedly gobbled down our food, prayed and left the table. While seated in the living room, the mother asked her withdrawn daughter about her behaviour. The daughter shared about the pressures of school and the need to communicate with friends using the social media, which she was not supposed to use. This led to a discussion about social media pros and cons, which lasted about an hour and one could sense the relief we all experienced after sharing our views and feelings. This reminded me of what Pope Francis stated, ‘If in a family there’s something that doesn’t work, or a hidden wound, at the table it’s understood immediately’.
As we seek ways to recover family togetherness we invite you and your family to sit and share a meal together. Take the risk, enjoy the drama and remember to take that family meal photo. We would also like to hear of your experience as well. You can send the family meal photo and voice note via AFLC’s WhatsApp 299-1047 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit the AFLC’s website: aflcrc.org and Facebook page: Archdiocesan Family Life Commission for more information.