September 24th – FAMILY DAY!
Have we got an exciting week to come!
Grace Before Meals has teamed up with The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) in order to promote Family Day on September 24. Their research discovered and confirms the important fact that families who eat regular meals together have a significant decrease in the risk of children being addicted to alcohol and substance abuse, as well as decreased risk of destructive behavior such as adolescent sexual activity and suicide. Their findings are impressive and back up what God has been trying to tell His own family for years. Celebrate and eat together! A family that eats together proves they love each other enough to make the sacrifice to spend these few precious moments in each other’s company.
Personal interaction and conversation naturally happens at a family meal. Even though young people may not always act like they recognize it, family dinners encourage a subliminal and subconscious foundation that supports young people in their day-to-day struggles. On September 24, families are encouraged to share this meal as a sign of family strength, unity and love. But this celebration should not be considered an isolated event. It’s a day for everyone to make a “new year” resolution – as a family!
CASA’s work is a source of encouragement for us at Grace Before Meals. It shows there are other people and other institutions out there who can read the writing on the wall. If we lose the importance of the family and the family meal, our sense culture and our society will be seriously threatened.
This week, I am doing some radio interviews and conferences at George Mason University and in the Dioceses of Charlotte, N.C., and Charleston, S.C., to promote this important day and to encourage more families to join the simple, but significant step in the right direction. Why? Because that’s my job! As a priest, I encourage a regular weekly parish family meal called Holy Communion. In the same way, I encourage the domestic church to take seriously the responsibility of feeding the family – body, mind and soul. Grace Before Meals is committed to helping as best we can.
This past weekend, I was in Chapel Hill, N.C., to encourage families to see themselves as “Primary Educators” and the “Domestic Church.” It was a great group organized by the staff and volunteers of St. Thomas Moore Church. They were quite an impressive group! These were also the first to get their hands on the newly released, hot-off-the-press BOOK!!!
Yes, the BOOK is now available: Grace Before Meals – Recipes for Family Life. To order your copy, click here. It’s an exciting opportunity to help families grow stronger and to enjoy the blessings that God wants to provide at the “altar” of the “domestic church” – your dining room table. The book reminds us that family meals are the perfect opportunity to digest more than food! Children can feast on their parents’ love for them, and parents can enjoy the true blessings around the table. This sacred act doesn’t need a “national holiday” per se, but I’m sure glad certain groups are recognizing and promoting the culture of life through family meals and this National Holiday.
I realize that I’m probably preaching to the choir. But it’s with almost scientific accuracy I can say that if people took their faith seriously, went to church regularly, received Holy Communion in the proper state of grace, and really participated in church activities viewing other parishioners as brothers and sisters, that the risk for deadly and sinful behavior would significantly decrease.
Notice I did not say sinfulness would be eliminated, in the same way CASA’s research does not claim that “family meals” are the “be all end all” solution to family problems. But look at what is being said: the more regular meals you have with your family (whether biological or with your parish family), the more you will significantly decrease the likelihood of abuse of addictive substances and dangerous behaviors. Regular meals do not eliminate the reality of a flawed humanity. That is why we need GRACE. But regular meals – regular feast days – put us in the proper forum to become better people. Family Meals put us in the forum of family, which is God’s gift and response to society’s unhealthy emphasis on individualism that can lead to personal loneliness. The practice of regular family meals translates into stronger family unity. For a believer, a regular meal with God’s family leads to holiness – a stronger communion with God!
"In honor of the September 24, National Family Day, we ask that you forward this email to as many people as you can and encourage them to have a family meal.”
Chicken Parmesan a la Captain Richard!
On the plane ride to Chapel Hill, N.C., I met Captain Rich, a US Marine from Kansas. He recently returned after his third tour in Iraq, which he described as a place that has seen so much improvement, despite what little of it we may see on the news. He was visiting his alma mater, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, M.D., for his 5-year reunion and the homecoming football game. If you know anything about Annapolis and the local Mids (Midshipmen) hangouts, he was the one at the game carrying around the armadillo from the local restaurant. Anyway, Captain Rich was an impressive young man who was looking forward to getting himself oriented again after the experience of war. He mentioned a “debriefing” conducted by the chaplains, to encourage positive behaviors and to help put their lives and experiences back into a healthy perspective. One thing encouraged is to reconnect with family and friends. I asked him what would be a great welcome home meal for him. He said military food can’t really replicate Italian Cuisine, so he had a hankering for Chicken Parmesan. Cap’n Rich, this meal is dedicated to you and all of those brave men and women serving our country’s fight for freedom! This comfort food is my way of welcoming you back and also my way of expressing condolences to Navy’s loss at the homecoming game. One of these days I would love to make this meal for him. For the recipe [click here].
CASA’s National Family Day shows that Faith and Reason go hand in hand. Their research backs up what true religions have always offered – a sense of feast days for the family! Therefore, as a way to support this important celebration, I offer this blessing to all families and to CASA for the good work they are promoting. This prayer comes from the Book of Blessings for family life.
O God, You have created us in love and saved us in mercy, and through the bond of marriage You have established the family and willed that it should become a sign of Christ’s love for His Church. Shower Your blessings on these families gathered in Your name. Enable those who are joined by one love to support one another by their fervor of spirit and devotion to prayer. Make them responsive to the needs of others and witnesses to the Faith in all they say and do. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ask Fr. Leo for fatherly advice.