My Conversion Story

To read my conversion story, I have posted it in .pdf format available for download.

Monday, July 25, 2016

"These Thy Gifts"

At Mass yesterday, the Gospel reading was from Luke 11:1-13. Included is a shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer. Father Mike had a lot to say about it. But what really struck home was how he asked us when is the last time that we asked God how we should pray. Often we presume to know the mind of God and what we pray about and for, and it affects how we pray.
It called to mind something that happened earlier this week. I was getting ready to pray, telling the Lord how thankful I am for bringing my family back home from Texas to live nearby. It wasn't during a meal. But it was a silent prayer and out of habit I accidentally started to pray what's commonly called the "prayer before meals".
Bless us, Oh Lord,
and these thy gifts,
which we are about to receive,
from thy bounty,
through Christ, Our Lord.
I stopped myself about midway through and changed it. I then apologized to God that I prayed so flippantly that I just started to recite it by rote. But then before I was done with that prayer I stopped and thought about this prayer before meals again. It was as if the Lord said "finish it anyway."
It never really hit me before--the genius behind this prayer, and why it has lasted for so long. It first appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary dating from the late 8th century, but is probably at least 300 years older than that.
Notice what it doesn't say. It says nothing about meals at all. This is not just a prayer to be thankful for your food. It's to be thankful for all the gifts God has given us.
"These thy gifts." Just what all can be considered "thy gifts"? The food we eat, the money we earn, the work we do, the church we go, to the friends we have, the lifestyle we live, our family, our friends, our possessions, our opportunities for service.
So many other things that we could say are all summed up in this little one sentence prayer..
And notice that this prayer has been associated with food, but in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says 'give us this day our daily bread.' Obviously he wasn't talking about just flour and water. He was talking about daily sustenance.
But what else does that include? In John 4:34 "'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'" Our Christian duty is our "food" also. To reflect Christ in all we say and do.

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