Kimberly Novak shares how her family makes dining out shine with elements of gratitude, love, and community.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. (Luke 24:30)
As Catholics, we celebrate Eucharist as a means of coming together, sharing a meal, and encountering Christ. The meal is victorious over all other meals and is worthy of a prayerful blessing. Sharing the body and blood of Christ is a loving and established way of remembering our Lord and His sacrifice as a community of believers.
After receiving this holy meal, I am continually refreshed and inspired. Eucharist sets a tone for the day and carries on into the week. Perhaps it is the act of Father blessing the bread and wine or consuming the meal that is the cause of my bliss. In either case, the banquet is an excellent source of enhancing my relationship with the Lord.
I’d like to consider what it is like when we can incorporate the elements of the Eucharist into our daily life. Whether we gather together or are simply enjoying dinner on our own, every feast should shine with elements of gratitude, love, and community. Recently I had a conversation with a colleague who shared with me a practice of saying grace while dining out.
On a couple of occasions, I adopted this routine, which has proven to be very inspiring. The suggestion enhances the mentioned components of gratitude, love, and community. The idea is to include the server in your mealtime prayer. At first, I found this somewhat intimidating, but I soon found a simple way to make my approach.
At a time most comfortable, while ordering or upon delivery of the food, take a moment and ask the server this question: “My husband is going to pray over our meal; how can we pray for you today?”
I recall when we approached a server with that question, and she shared with us her heart. She was celebrating an anniversary of sobriety on that date. Her face lit up with joy, and my eyes welled with God’s love for her. In this selfless act, not only are you extending a blessing to the server, but God presents you with a gift.
Often, during Mass, some are not consuming Eucharist yet still participate in the blessing. In extending a blessing upon a server, or those preparing the meal, we are in line with the Eucharistic tradition offered in Mass. Incorporating this into our daily meals, whether in our own homes or in public, allows us to share the Love of God with others. You may never know the effect this simple act will have, but you will feel the blessing as you offer the grace.
Another example is a painting unlike any other and proved to inspire and bring blessings to many. In 1951 Norman Rockwell painted “Saying Grace” for The Saturday Evening Post’s Thanksgiving issue. The inspiration for this painting came from a reader who saw a Mennonite family praying in a restaurant. Popularity grew for the loving portrait, which won an award for favorite cover in 1955 and selling for $46 million in 2013. One individual’s reaction to the observation of prayer proved to be of significant value. Aside from the monetary appreciation, I imagine many families would have modeled themselves from the portrait.
Looking at that painting now, it is clear that times have changed; however, prayer remains constant. God still calls us to say grace reverently and in community with others. I realize that there may be apprehension when praying in public for some, and when that feeling bubbles up, it is best to remember where Jesus began his ministry. Your offer of prayer to the individual serving you might be the life-changing moment God has been planning on their journey.
Copyright 2022 Kimberly Novak
About the Author
Kimberly Novak is a wife, mother, author, retreat facilitator, and Spiritual Director. Her passion to inspire, and motivate those on a spiritual journey has bloomed into various ministries. Kimberly’s mission is to enhance each journey by guiding others where the light of strength is…God’s love. Her debut children’s book will be released in the spring/summer of 2022. Her writings and blog are at KimberlyNovak.com.