An important family tradition that pays homage to the faithful departed.
Many families maintain a tradition of invoking God’s blessing upon their food before eating. It is a simple way of thanking God for the bounty he has provided, recognizing his providential hand in our daily care.
It is a Catholic tradition to add to this thanksgiving a short remembrance of the dead. This is traditionally prayed at the conclusion of the meal, though in practice many families recite it after saying the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer.
While often glossed over, it is an important tradition that recalls those who have gone before us in the sign of faith and who can no longer participate in our meals. This becomes especially powerful after the death of a close family member.
The short prayer recalls the presence of the departed family member and includes them in a spiritual way at the table. In this way, gathering for meals presents an opportunity to not only thank God for gifts given, but also to remember the dead and to make sure their memory survives. It is also a way to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, asking God to shorten their time so that they can embrace the joys of heaven.
In this way, each meal anticipates the heavenly banquet that the liturgy calls the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” where we will be united again with the faithful departed for all eternity.
6 Other ways of saying grace besides “Bless us, O Lord…”