My first “date” with my husband Rick was when we were college sophomores, on Valentine’s Day, a coincidence of timing, not of purpose. We had already met a few times, but on this day, at a co-ed dormitory party, something sparked between us. Smitten, we spent the rest of the evening talking and dancing, quickly became inseparable, and married a few years later.
You’d think that since our love story started that way, we’d make a fuss over Valentine’s Day. We don’t. Over time, we grew somewhat jaded by the rampant V-day commercialism, the pressure to BUY BUY BUY – candy, gifts, jewelry, dinners, flowers… to “show her/him you love her/him.” Instead of heartfelt expressions of affection, these gestures can end up just being forced, obligatory chores for couples. At any rate, Rick and I just give each other funny cards to mark the day, and ignore the rest of it.
This year, there’s a twist…it’s Va-LENT-ine’s Day
Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday (the last time this happened was 1945). Religious leaders, and even the Pope, have gently reminded the faithful that we are nonetheless expected to practice fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday. Some have helpfully suggested that we feast on chocolates a day early instead, on Mardi Gras (let the good times roll!).
For Rick and me, there’s an added twist because it is our FIRST Valentine’s Day, AND Lent, as deacon and wife (Rick was ordained last May). Maybe because of this rare calendar overlap, I feel inspired to put more LOVE into Lent, and share more together.
Taking on Lent, together…Is it possible?
As a couple, we tend to do our own thing at Lent, keeping our sacrifices and special prayers to ourselves. With demands on his church schedule growing, even attending Mass together can be a challenge. Our weekly schedules are often out of sync too; I’m up with the roosters, Rick is a night owl…Still, we’d like to do more together this year. We’re going to try some new Lenten practices which we hope will take root and fuel our faith journey.
Five ways to share Lent
- Pray the rosary together, or even a decade, over coffee or while driving to work (using hands-free technology, of course)
- Volunteer for an hour together at the local food bank or soup kitchen
- Pray a Lenten Dinner Blessing*
- Eucharistic Adoration – spend an hour together (the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ is beginning daily Adoration in their pastoral center chapel starting Feb. 14)
- Read scripture – choose a scripture passage from the day’s readings to discuss during or after dinner (to avoid common pitfalls of couples’ bible study, check this out (from Word Among Us – I think you’ll chuckle a bit) For those with children at the table, this can be family friendly, too.
We know it will take some adjustment and flexibility, but we believe it will be worth it. I will let you know (honestly) how it goes!
Now, we want to hear from YOU.
What ideas do you have for getting the most of Lent with your husband and family this year?
What have you tried before that has worked, or not?
*Lenten Prayer before Meal
Through the hardship of the cross you give us peace, through the pain of the cross you heal our wounds.
As we make our way through the mystery of your passion, fortify us not only through the food we share
but through the love we share for one another and you, in whose name we pray.
Photo credit: Heart and cross photo from Sisters of Providence website spsmw.org