Monday, October 20, 2014

Everyday Prayers – Grace before Meals

How often do you pray grace before meals? Do you say the “traditional” Catholic prayer of grace as below?

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Even if you do pray this little prayer several times a day, do you ever stop to think about what it really means? Or do you just rattle it off out of habit? 

In this post, we're going to take a close look at this familiar prayer and discover what it tells us about God, about His gifts, and about ourselves.

1. Bless us, O Lord – We begin the prayer by asking for God's blessing upon us. Think about the verb “bless” for a moment. We use the word and its derivatives all the time, but do we really understand what they mean? Do we really know what we are asking when we ask God to bless us?

When we ask God to bless us, we are requesting that He pour out His divine favor upon us. We are begging Him to shower down His love upon us and to give us all the good things that we need. What's more, we are urging Him to set us aside for His purposes, to make us His own holy people, consecrated to Him and sanctified for His service. That's a lot of meaning and a big request in one little word! But God is all too happy to bless us. We just need to open our hearts to accept the blessings He gives us.

2. and these Thy gifts – Everything we have ultimately comes from God. He is the Creator, Who has provided this world for us to live in, food for us to eat, and materials to make our clothing and shelter. When we pray these four little words, we admit that fact, acknowledging our dependence on God, recognizing His gracious providence, and gratefully accepting His wonderful gifts.

Further, we ask God to bless these gifts that He has given. We request that He pour His favor out upon His gifts so that they can be maximally useful to us and meet our needs perfectly. 

3. which we are about to receive from Thy bounty – Once again, we are acknowledging the great gifts of God and proclaiming that everything we have comes from Him, the divine Giver. What's more, we recognize that God possesses great bounty. All things belong to Him, but He shares them with us. He provides for our needs, often very lavishly when it is to our benefit.

4. though Christ our Lord – The Father uses a specific channel when He pours out His gifts upon His people. Everything comes through Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is the God-Man and the mediator between God and man. He is the Word of God through Whom and for Whom all things were made and in Whom all things live and move and have their being.

5. Amen – In saying Amen, we give our assent to everything we have just prayed. We say “yes” once again to our prayer and to God.

Next time you say grace before a meal, then, be sure to think closely about what you are praying and mean every single word you say.

1 comment:

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