Laudato Si: “Give thanks to God before and after meals”

Halfway through these daily posts on the eco-encyclical, we listen as Pope Francis stresses the small things

One expression of this attitude is when we stop and give thanks to God before and after meals. I ask all believers to return to this beautiful and meaningful custom. That moment of blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation; it acknowledges those who by their labours provide us with these goods; and it reaffirms our solidarity with those in greatest need. Laudato Si', 227

Pope Francis the pastor knows that most of the faithful are not in positions of worldly power. In the eyes of God, however, each of us wields the same influence to live simply and with gratitude, which is a trademark of the saints.

And so in addition to living our faith among our family and friends and in our places of work, Pope Francis is asking us simply to live under the banner of "less is more" (222) and to do so giving thanks to God always.

Of all the exhortations—great and small—that he’s laid before us in Laudato Si’, the one that struck me most is his call to say grace before and after meals.

Odd that this seems to have been generally overlooked by commentators of the encyclical. (I haven’t heard much about it, have you?) Saying grace is easy to do. It grounds us in the great reality of being part of and dependent on creation. It draws families together. And it gives witness of your faith so that others may see in you a different, more peaceful way of life. (Yes, you have to say grace at restaurants, too. Even if you’re the only one saying it.)

Calling to mind a favorite saint of many, Pope Francis underscores why a simple life is so powerful:

Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. In the end, a world of exacerbated consumption is at the same time a world which mistreats life in all its forms. 230

[Ed. Note: Catholic Ecology will be blogging daily on particular elements within Laudato Si' until the Feast of SS Peter and Paul.]

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.