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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.

Best Family Tip:  Pray the Rosary together - Free Rosary Guide Booklet

 

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.

 

Best Family Tip:  Pray the Rosary together - Free Rosary Guide Booklet

 

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”.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for January 16, 2019

If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer...

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January 16

 

If you really want to love Jesus, first
learn to suffer, because
suffering teaches you to love.

St. Gemma Galgani


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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Honoratus of Arles

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before t...

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St. Honoratus of Arles

Honoratus was born into a patrician Roman family that had settled in Gaul, present-day France. As a young man, he renounced paganism and won his elder brother Venantius over to Christ.

Although their father objected and placed obstacles before them, the two brothers decided to leave the world. Under the tutelage of the hermit St. Caprasius they sailed from Marseilles with the intention of leading a secluded life in a Grecian desert.

In Greece, illness struck and Venantius died in peace. Also ill, Honoratus was obliged to return to Gaul with his instructor. At first, he lived as a hermit in the mountains near Fréjus.  Later, he settled on the island of Lérins off the southern coast of France. Followed by others, he founded a monastery on the island about the year 400. The monastic community is active to this day. St. Patrick, the great apostle of Ireland is said to have studied at Lérins.

In 426 Honoratus was pressed upon to accept the bishopric of Arles, where he reestablished Catholic orthodoxy, challenged by the Arian heresy. He died three years later exhausted from his apostolic labors.
The island of Lérins, today the island of Saint Honorat just south of Cannes, is home to Cistercian monks who live in a majestic monastery and produce fine wines and liqueurs which are well-known throughout the world.

WEEKLY STORY

Mary and the Muslim

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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