Monday, May 14, 2007
The Sign of the Cross IV
PRAYING AND MAKING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS OVER OUR FOOD
Those who abstain from praying before eating dishonor the entire human race. They dishonor the human race because they resemble the beasts. Up to today, in nature it is known of only one species of beings that does not pray before eating. Everyday we know of two: the beasts, and those who resemble them. I say to those (men) who resemble them: Between a dog and a man who eats without praying, what is the difference? I do not see any! And the Academics of Science do not see any more than I do. For them, the first one is a bipede and the second is a quadrupede, but both are beasts nonetheless. Bipede or quadrupede, seated or stretched on the ground, singing, chatting or roaring, with hands or with claws, with eyes, heart and teeth immersed in matter, devouring savagely their nourishment, without raising their heads towards the hand that gives it to them. The man who acts thus puts himself outside his own (human) species. He who eats like a beast remains a beast.
Praying over our food is as old as the world, so extended as the human race. The Jews did it according to the Law of Moses, “Blessed be the Lord Our God Who has created the fruit of the vine.” “Praised and blessed be Our God Who has extracted bread from the earth.” All these rites are more venerable when we consider the fact that our Lord Himself did this. What does the adorable Master of the human race do at the Last Supper? What does He do after Supper is ended? He sings with His disciples hymns of Thanksgiving! In many other instances we see Our Eternal Model, Jesus Christ, praying before receiving or giving food (When He feeds the 5 thousand people). The Incarnate Word has done this to teach us, according to the Church Fathers, to not eat without blessing and giving thanks. In addition, the Apostles and the first Christians did the same in imitation of the God-Man, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tertullian: “Eating begins and ends with prayer.” Similar quotations could be cited from both the Latin and the Greek Church Fathers. “O Thou Who give nourishment to all that breathes, deign to bless the gifts that we are about to receive…” Even Protestants, despite their attacks on the Church, have preserved similar traditions and prayers. But something that will seem much stranger is that the blessing before eating was practiced even by the pagans. Yes, my friend, the Greeks and the Romans religiously practiced that which many of your friends now are ashamed of. “The ancients,” says Atheneus, “did not ever take any food without having first appeased the gods (through prayer).” He also says of the Egyptians, “After having seated at the table, they stood up, then knelt and the head of the family or a priest began the traditional prayers.”
Those ancient masters of the world did not touch their food without first having it consecrated to the divinity. Even the barbarians imitated the civilized in this practice! So, you see my friend, that to bless our food is a law of the human race. To be ashamed of saying graces before meals, as your peers are, great speakers of freedom and independence that they are, makes them slaves, and slaves of the vilest tyrant: HUMAN RESPECT! Poor creatures! Who, to mask their slavery, end their objections by saying: The Sign of the Cross is a useless practice… and an old-fashioned one. It is my duty, then, to take off the mask with which your friends (or enemies) try to hide themselves.
Three tyrants dispute the freedom of man, mine, yours, and even that of your companions. These tyrants are: the world, the flesh, and the devil. These three tyrants claim a right and power over us that they do not have, and want to make us slaves. They try to keep us from making the Sign of the Cross. We would be so weak and stupid, were we to submit ourselves to them. If we did, we would be committing the sin of greatest ingratitude!!!