Repost from 2014
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank. — Ex. 24:9-11
Back in 1993 I went on a guided retreat at a Trappist monastery that included a series of reflections on monastic wisdom for eating. A few things really benefitted me that I still try to implement, with some success. I try every Lent to re-implement. They also had advice on what kinds of food to eat, as well as on how to engage in the preparation of food as a sacred work. Made me want to be a chef!
Here’s a sample of what I learned:
- Always remember preparing food and eating food is always a sacred event of great importance.
- Remember that, whether it be animal, fish or plant, something has given its life to nourish you.
- When you invite God into your dining, even silently, great peace comes.
- Make dining human, not efficient.
- Never eat while multitasking. St. Benedict’s saying age quod agis “do what you are doing” should govern all eating. When you eat, eat. Never eat while watching TV [now read, or using a phone].
- Never eat alone if possible. Food is a holy communion, and in the middle east that is not just a spiritual idea but a physical one.
- Never snack between meals.
- Be grateful for bodily hunger, a sacrament of the soul’s hunger for Christ our true Food and Drink.
- Have an ordo for eating, a set rhythm of times.
- Never eat without first giving thanks to God, remembering the hungry, and invoke God’s blessing on all whose labor went into your meal.
- Practice mindfulness when you sit to eat. Engage all five senses. Eat slowly, savor the taste, chew well.
- Eat in silence now and again, even with others, to cultivate mindfulness.
- Fast at least twice a week, feast on feast days, practice moderation otherwise.
- Give thanks and pray for the dead at the end of the meal.