Aleteia

The recipe for a great family meal

family lunch
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Turn dinner time into a joyful occasion with your loved ones.

Sharing meals together is an essential part of being human. The Gospels often show Jesus and his friends gathered around a table. In fact, Jesus’ first miracle took place at the wedding feast in Cana, the symbol of joy to which God invites us all. But can we claim we actually know how to turn the meals with our loved ones into joyful occasions?

Know how to make use of the gift of food

If we’ve never experienced real hunger, we take for granted sitting down to a good nutritious meal three times a day. But we must never forget that we are privileged, and should rejoice and praise the Lord who is the source of it all. By thanking God at the start of each meal, we accept that all food is a gift. 

This gift has been given to us so we must show respect by eating with moderation and making sure we don’t waste food, being mindful of those who don’t have enough to eat, and who work hard to buy and prepare what has been served. While taking into account the likes and the dislikes of each family member, it is vital to learn how to rejoice for having something in our plates. 

A good table is a table where the meal is shared

Do you remember the story about the feeding of multitudes? What would have happened if the boy who had five loaves and two fish decided to keep them to himself? 

No matter what food we share, it is destined to spread joy. It’s all right if there aren’t enough muffins or brownies for all those at the table or if the arrival of unexpected guests forces us to cut a pie made for six into 10 slices. The atmosphere reigning at mealtimes is as important as the food itself. And it all begins with the table, set so simply that even young children can do it. In showing them where forks and knives go, we are also teaching them how to be attentive to others. What will we need for this meal? What is that little something that will make the occasion more special?

The pleasantness of the atmosphere also depends on conversation. If we wish to make everyone feel relaxed, save the controversial topics for another time of day.  

Invite the Holy Spirit to join you

Family meals are not always pleasant. For example, when both parents are exhausted and spend their dinnertime taking care of their misbehaving children instead of eating — not only are they unable to enjoy their meal, but sooner or later everybody suffers. It’s also the case that when there’s a conflict between the people at the table an uneasy silence hangs in the air. So never forget to pray to the Holy Spirit to come and help everyone experience joy.

Christine Ponsard