Guest Post: Grace Before Full Plates

By Fr. Kevin Mohan

DiPaul & Shea

Last month, one of my go-to Catholic bloggers, Mark Shea, quipped, “Instead of Cafeteria Catholicism, I prefer All You Can Eat Catholicism.” I was instantly reminded of one of my favorite catchphrases of the late Larry DiPaul.  Shea’s phrase reminded me of how Larry would point out the common excuse that “there’s a lot on my plate” and in response would wonder, “How big is your plate? Is it a salad plate? A coffee saucer?”

Asked to offer grace before meals at this year’s Justice for All Dinner, the two quotes came together in classic Ampersand fashion. Here in the Diocese of Camden, we have a lot on our plates. Two of the poorest cities in our nation are members of our Diocese. But, we also have many gifts for use in the face of those full plates. “All-You-Can-Eat Catholicism” is a great image for the work of Catholic Charities.

Grace Before Full Plates

Almighty God, thank you for putting a lot on our plates. Thank you for making it harder and harder these days to avoid the people we encounter on the street and in the mirror – the poor and the sick, the distressed and depressed – and for nourishing us with your presence there in distressing disguises. Thank you for giving us big plates, great big appetites to serve, to engage, and to love. Thank you for the gifts you give us in your Spirit to serve your church and your world; increase your gifts in us.

As we consider these plates before us, soon to be obscured by food, help us to appreciate what you ask us to do, to see how you bless us in the fullness of our plates, and to increase our generosity toward the people you place in our way. We offer you our lives as readily as we accept our portion of food. As we sate our appetites, reveal to us our hunger for you, and remind us that our lives and our plates are made for your glory: to be filled and cleaned so as to be filled again. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Fr. Kevin Mohan is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Williamstown.

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