In another thread someone wrote:
Grace before meals is a laudable practice; however when we say this prayer, the food is not blessed. The prayer of Grace does not impart any blessing upon the food--it is no different afterwards than it was before; even though saying this prayer is certainly a good thing. For the food to become "blessed food" it has to be blessed by a priest or deacon.
According to the Internet, this is the standard Catholic meal before eating:
Bless us Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Why would we say the above prayer if the food is "no different afterwards than it was before"?
Why is saying the prayer a good thing?
At least in the US asking God to "bless the food" appears to have become the custom, but I wonder if that custom is a good one, or if there might be a more appropriate prayer before eating.
I was looking at various prayers on the internet, and the ones that I really liked, actually, were the Jewish ones:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Je ... ing_a_meal
Apparently they have different prayers for each item of food that is brought to the table, but the following seems to be pretty representative:
Blessing over the bread
This blessing is made only for bread made from one or all of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt.
ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ.
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam, hamotzi lehem min ha'aretz.
Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth."
If I rolled with a prayer like that before eating would I be a heretic?! Honestly, I like the prayer. It seems like more of a "thank you" than a "please do" type of prayer.
I don't really have a problem with the standard Catholic prayer, but I don't quite understand what we are asking God to do if priests are the only ones who can really bless food in a strict sense. . .
In general, what are the general purposes that we should aim to achieve when we choose a prayer to say before a meal?