The Growing in Holiness article series shares the stories of Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta who are striving to grow in holiness through the means provided by the heritage of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 2013: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” (LG 40 § 2) All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
Olivia Plucinski of St Nicholas of Myra Parish, Penrith and the Catholic Campus Ministry at Western Sydney University, says grace before meals to ground her in gratitude to God for the gift of life.
“The practice of ‘grace at meals’ entails thanksgiving prayer before consuming every meal, as well as remembering those less fortunate, homeless or those who have less than what I have,” Olivia said.
“I believe praying before every meal has allowed me to be more thankful to God, not only for the food he provides for me but also all the other ways he helps me and guides me.”
Her mother encourages this devotion in Olivia, who has since practiced it for several years. This grateful attitude has opened more opportunities for Olivia to thank God.
“I heard about it during youth group a few years ago when I was an early teen, but more recently my Mum has really helped me develop this way of showing appreciation for the food I eat,” Olivia said.
A traditional form of saying grace is making the sign of the cross and saying:
Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts,
which of thy bounty we are about to receive
through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
“It has also allowed me to remember God a few times a day – especially during those busy days – and from this I find I am able to turn to God in many more situations, such as before driving a car praying for safety,” she said.
Catholic layman G.K. Chesterton wrote ‘gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder’ and playfully described thanking God for all of life’s joys.
“You say grace before meals.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera,
And grace before the play and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
Collected works of G.K. Chesterton, 1994, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press) Volume X, Part I, p. 43
Olivia points out the source of this devotion is found in the example of Christ in the New Testament, where He prays before providing food to His disciples and those around Him.
A striking example is at the Feeding of the Multitude: “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.” (Mt 14:13-21)
“Praying before meals has allowed me to grow, and continue growing in holiness as it has opened up many more opportunities for me to pray to God or call to him throughout my day,” she said.
This devotion allows Olivia to live her faith throughout each day on top of attending Mass and her youth group.