Baltimore Catechism No. 4 (of 4)
THE BLESSING BEFORE MEALS
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our lord. Amen.
GRACE AFTER MEALS
We give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits, O Almighty God, Who livest and reignest forever. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
"Grace" means thanks. We saw in the explanation of the Our Father how God provides us with all we need, and most frequently with food. It is the least we can do, therefore, to thank Him for it, when it is just placed before us. We should thank Him also after we have eaten it and found it good, pleasing, and refreshing. When God provides us with food He thereby makes a kind of promise that He will allow us to live awhile longer and give us strength to serve Him. How shameful it is, then, to turn God's gifts into a means of offending Him, as some do by the sin of gluttony! Again, it is very wrong to murmur and be dissatisfied with what God gives us. He does not owe us anything, and need not give unless He wishes. What would you think of a beggar of this kind? He comes to your door hungry, and you, instead of simply giving him some bread to appease his hunger, take him into your house and give him a good dinner, new clothing, and some money. Now, instead of being thankful, suppose he should complain because you did not give him a better dinner, finer clothing, and more money, and should look cross and dissatisfied; what would you think of him? Would you not be tempted to turn the ungrateful fellow out of your house, with an order never to come again, telling him he deserved to starve for his ingratitude? We are not quite as ungrateful as the beggar when we neglect grace at meals, because in saying our daily prayers we thank God for all His gifts, our food included, and hence it is not a sin to neglect grace at meals. But do we not show some ingratitude when we murmur, complain, and are dissatisfied with our food, clothing, or homes? God, even when we are ungrateful, still gives; hence His wonderful goodness and mercy to us.