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Header - Family Tip 2 - 1 Family Meal - 10 Powerful benefits

By Antonio Fragelli

For many families these days, holding one meal a day together is a challenge. But the time and effort is well worth the investment because the interest pays. In our fast paced world, gathering the family around a well set table once a day is a dwindling practice. Yet this practice holds a secret that yields incalculable benefits.

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Here are ten reasons why:

 

1) Creating the sense of Family
When we talk about the “sense of family”, what do we mean, exactly? The “sense of family” is the sense of oneness, the sense of belonging to a unique family in which each member is uniquely valued. We feel that we are all made of the same stuff, members of the same body. So we defend our own as we defend our own limbs.

A daily family meal tremendously enhances this sense of family. And the sense of belonging is the best psychological/emotional help you can give a human being.

 

2) A chance to talk, to listen, to bond
Family meal time is the best of quality time. It is a time when, after all are served and appetites are appeased, parents have a chance to calmly converse with their children, listening and talking about the things that are important to them.  This interest promotes trust, respect and family bonding.  It will also provide the opportunity for parents to show their concern and to inquire into what may be troubling their children. Only God knows how many problems are avoided in a family who shares a meal a day. Good food has the power to satisfy, calm and relax. These are the times when joy is promoted, trust is nurtured and growth is supported.

 

3) Appreciation, Confidence and Decorum
Little by little, children will begin to feel more appreciated because of the fact that mom and, sometimes dad, go through the trouble and effort of cooking a homemade meal for them–everyday.

They will complain about this or that, I hate vegetables, and that sort of thing, but as they grow older, in a subtle, imperceptible way, drop by drop, day by day, they will develop a deep sense of self-worth, directly linked to their parents’ daily dedication to their well-being.

A young priest was recently asked in an interview who was the person that influenced his vocation the most; he said: “My mother. Though not particularly religious, she never failed to serve our family. I wanted to serve others like she served us.”

Another important part of this is a well set table.

When a friend invites you out it is a treat. But when you arrive and realize the meeting place is a fine restaurant, with the best of china and service, you feel indeed valued in friendship.
In the same way, in a family, children who are treated to a daily well-prepared-meal on a well-set-table, begin to feel that they are worth it.

This is a key point in children’s formation. Confidence and decorum learned not from a book but through daily habit generates secure men and women capable of navigating any social situation. They will have the inner self-assurance needed to face the world confidently and not be engulfed by it.

 

4) A time for instruction
Few places are better for instruction than the family table. The table is a place where parents can instruct their children in what we call Christian Civilization. A good way to begin are good manners. No better place than the dinner table:

“Susan that is not the way you hold your fork.”
“Thomas, say please when you ask for the salt.”

And so on.

 

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5) Discipline
As children grow older, they must be taught to control their animal appetite:

  • To wait until all are served or not to pile a huge amount of food on their plate. If they are really hungry, to go for seconds but not all at once.
  • To use a napkin and not the table cloth, shirt sleeves or arms to wipe their mouths.
  • To sit up straight and not stick their faces into their food.
  • For a child to learn to wait until the last one is served to begin on their dessert is equal to a Masters in self-discipline. Later in life, if they can discipline themselves, they will be able to discipline others. The reverse is not possible.

The lack of self-discipline in the early years, is perhaps the main cause of later-date criminals.

 

6) Instilling a sense of order
Another important benefit from the One Meal a Day is a sense of order. This will help children and the family to organize their day. Meal is a set time and it is important to strive to keep the schedule. This will not only help the sense of order in their young minds but also a sense of consistency, stability and accountability. It is something they can always depend on.

 

7) Good taste in food
I once commented to my mother that three brothers who are my friends, are very good cooks. My mother’s reply was: “I know their mother and she cooks very well. They grew up knowing what good food tastes like, so they strive in their adult lives to duplicate it.”

 

8) Eating healthy
A family meal a day is a way to ensure that the family enjoys not only good food but healthy food. A healthy meal goes a long way to keep people healthy and to avoid medical bills. And in this world of fast food and preservatives, this is crucial. The meal is therefore a benefit for soul and body.

A meal a day will also help children not to raid the fridge or snack all day. With one sure daily meal, mom can establish a few rules as to resisting the easy carbs in between meals.

 

9) Instilling the sense of God and gratitude for His benefits
A family meal should always begin and end with grace, blessing and thanking God for what He has given us. The idea that we owe the daily bounty to God is a crucial concept to instill in children, the concept of gratitude and religion.

 

10) A great place to learn the art of conversation
Besides all the above benefits and things to do at the family table, there is also the added benefit that while sitting around and enjoying a meal (minus electronic devices) we also learn to take notice of others and interact. This is a prime opportunity to develop the art of conversation.

But how?

This is the topic of Family Tips for next month. A concrete, down to earth, genial idea, from an old American family, on how to get our children not only “jabbering”, but actually “conversing”.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 17, 2021

The heart of man is, so to speak, the paradise of God. Since...

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April 17

 

The heart of man is, so to speak,
the paradise of God.
Since His delights are to be with you,
let yours be found in Him.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Stephen Harding

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked a...

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St. Stephen Harding

Stephen Harding was an Englishman of an honorable family, and heir to a large estate. Born in Dorset, he was educated at the monastery of Sherborne and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.

Desirous of seeking a more perfect way of Christian perfection, he, with a devout companion, traveled into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and to Rome. On their return journey, the two travelers chanced upon a collection of huts in the forest of Molesme in Burgundy, where monks lived in great austerity. Struck by their way of life and finding kindred spirits in Robert the Abbot, and Alberic the Prior, he bid his friend goodbye and threw in his lot with the monks.

After some years, finding that religious fervor had waned considerably, Stephen, Robert, Alberic and others went to Lyons and with the support of Bishop Hugh struck a new foundation in the forest of Citeaux sponsored by Rainald, Lord of Beaune, and Odo, Duke of Burgundy.

Later Robert returned to his monks of Molesme who reclaimed him as their abbot, and upon the death of Alberic, in 1109, Stephen succeeded him as Abbot of Citeaux.

He immediately instituted such austere measures to keep the spirit of the world out that he alienated the support of many who had helped to establish the abbey. Novices ceased applying, and to make matters worse, a mysterious disease decimated his monks to the point that even Stephen’s stout heart began to quiver wondering if he were really doing God’s will.

God answered him dramatically when thirty noblemen knocked at the abbey’s door seeking admittance. They were headed by young St. Bernard who in his zeal had convinced his brothers, uncles and a number of his acquaintances to give up the world with him.

Increasing numbers called for additional foundations and the first two were made at Morimond and Clairvaux. To the general surprise, Stephen appointed twenty-four-year-old Bernard as Abbot of Clairvaux. When nine abbeys had sprung from Citeaux, Stephen drew up the statutes of his Charter of Charity which officially organized the Cistercians into an order.

Stephen Harding died in 1134, advanced in age and nearly blind, and having served as Abbot of Cîteaux for twenty-five years.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is...

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Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayer?

Question:  I pray and pray, but I feel as if God is not listening. We always had a good, peaceful family life, but these last years have been tough. We don’t seem to be getting along and our finances have taken a turn for the worse.

I am so anxious about this situation that, not having anyone to turn to, I turned to God.

But God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists, who laugh at prayer, saying it is nonsensical and only a figment of the imagination with no real value?

Answer:  God is faithful to His promises, and God promised to answer our prayers. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

If God promises to answer our prayers, He will do so infallibly. But in prayer there are two sides: he who asks and He Who gives.

Our part is to ask. How must we ask?

Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church, teaches in his book Prayer, the Great Means of Salvation that prayer must be persevering and humble.

So many times we hear people saying: “Oh, I used to ask God for this and that and the other, but He never gave it to me. Now, ten years later, how glad I am that He didn’t!”

One thing is certain: God will not fail to answer a humble and perseverance prayer. Whether He chooses to grant what we ask immediately or make us wait, we must trust that He, regardless of appearances, is doing us good. What we think is good and what He thinks is good may be two different things: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways My ways” (Isa. 55:8), but here is where we must abandon ourselves to His beneficent will. Our part is to be patient, calm and, above all, faithful, because this is the time for testing and later will come the time for full enjoyment.


Answering Atheists and Agnostics
As for atheists and agnostics, their skepticism proceeds from the fact that they, respectively, deny God’s existence or deny men’s capacity to know God.

In this case, we can only express our regret over their ignorance of this Supreme Being, our omnipotent Creator and loving Savior.

We may direct them to a few sources that may help in their search for the truth of His existence. Atheism and agnosticism can only be sustained in ignorance or ill will because the evidence of God’s existence is overwhelming.

Moreover, God will not hide Himself from those who seek Him sincerely and unconditionally.

Another consideration pertaining to non-believers is this: If God were to grant us absolutely everything we ask at a moment’s notice, such people might start believing purely out of self-interest.

They would look at God as a wand-wielding wizard. And God Our Lord is infinitely more than that. He wants us to know, love, and serve Him for Himself so that He can treat us as children and heirs and grant us unending happiness in Heaven.

"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady of Fatima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God."  Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fatima.

 

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I turned to God, but God seems to remain deaf to me. Why is that? In addition, what do I say to certain people, agnostics and atheists,

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