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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Saying Grace: It's Not Just for Meals Anymore

Most of us are familiar with the traditional prayer we say before meals: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen. We call this prayer grace. Praying it reminds us of the essential giftedness of food. But isn’t all of life a gift?

Saying grace before meals…

The British writer, G. K. Chesterton thought so. That’s why he suggested we pray grace not only before meals, but also before other activities throughout the day. This is a practice I have adopted over the years.

For example, upon awakening, while still in bed, I make the sign of the cross or I trace a cross on my forehead. Then I say something like, “Good morning, God” or “Bless this day, Jesus” or “Melannie reporting for duty, Lord.” That’s my grace before starting my day.

Here are some other times during the day when we can “say grace”:

+ While getting dressed. Many religious congregations had the practice of praying while putting on the various parts of the religious habit—the dress, cape, veil, etc. I’m not saying we should return to that. But we could utter a simple, “Bless this body and all it will do for You today, God” or “Thank you for the clothes I am lucky to have.”

+ Before praying. We can simply ask God to bless our prayer time. And we can be thankful that we have time to pray.

+ Before reading the newspaper, watching the news on TV, or checking the headlines online. We can pray for all the individuals and situations we will read or hear about today in the news. And we can ask God to make us attentive to the stories that touch us most deeply and might be stirring us to action.

+ Before driving anywhere. While pulling out of the driveway, we can utter a quick prayer asking God to help us to drive responsibly and to bless the purpose of our trip. As a child, I

Saying grace while getting the shopping cart...
Saying grace while getting the shopping cart…

remember when our family came home from a trip—perhaps after visiting our grandparents—as we pulled into our driveway, my mother would often say something like this: “And we thank you, Lord, for a safe and pleasant journey.”

+ When getting the cart in the grocery store. We can thank God for the abundance of food we have to choose from. And we can remind ourselves to pick up something for our local food pantry.

+ Before meeting with family and friends. We can say “thank you” to God for having these individuals in our lives. We can also ask God to bless our time together.

+ Before reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music. We can thank God for the arts and the enrichment they bring into our lives.

+ Before starting a project. Whether we’re writing a report, beginning a meeting, cooking a meal, raking leaves, or cleaning a bathroom, we can ask God for the attentiveness and strength to do the project well—and to do it with gratitude and joy.

Saying grace before relaxing...
Saying grace before relaxing…

+ Before relaxing. Whether we’re finding our seat at the theater, sitting down to watch our favorite team on TV, heading for the golf course, or starting our latest craft project, we can say thank you to God for having this time to engage in an activity that relaxes us and brings us joy and satisfaction.

+ Before going for a walk. We might thank God for the ability to walk and for having a safe place in which to walk. We can also ask that we might be attentive to the people and things we see along the way.

Grace: It’s not just for meals anymore. It’s a way of making us more aware of the many gifts we receive on any given day. And, more importantly, saying grace connects us with God, the Giver of all gifts.

Happy Thanksgiving to each one of you!

Our prayer/song is a medley of traditional Thanksgiving songs.

Do you have any response to this reflection or the song or Thanksgiving Day itself?

25 Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Sr Melannie!

    I like to say that every day is a gift. Thank you for reminding us that there are frequent opportunities during the day to say, “Thank you, Lord”

    The hymn medley is lovely.


  2. Happy Thanksgiving Melanie, and thank you for all you insights during the year. May God bless you Always, Roberta

  3. Thank you for the many times and ways you thank God. While in Ireland a friend gave me a holy card with a prayer to say before I began driving anywhere. This has helped me a lot, especially to be thankful for safe journeys.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Mary

  4. Happy Thanksgiving Sr Melannie. Once again you are so correct – saying grace throughout the day helps refocus on all the ways I am blessed and all the opportunities I have to invite God to hold and direct my actions.

  5. Every day is a blessing. Every action of the day is a blessing. Thank you for sharing simple ways we can be thankful and to realize everyday is a grace and a blessing.

    May you have a blessed Thanksgiving celebration.

  6. What a wonderful idea of extending the grace before meals to other activities! It is a good way to remind us of God’s presence with us during them too.

  7. Thank you Sister Melanie…a gentle reminder that we all must be grateful for the blessings we have each day. I am so thankful that you come into my life each week with your uplifting messages. Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless you.

  8. Thank you Sister Melanie for your Sunflower Seeds columns on Mondays! I am thankful for this and other spiritual writers like you who inspire us to be a little better every day in every way! These ideas you presented today are a perfect example of that.

  9. Thank you for the reminder to be thankful and to have unceasing prayer. You make it so easy!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Thank you for giving all of us so much every Monday…you are our angel!

  10. I try to remember to ask for the grace to complete every task ahead of me.
    Thanks for the thought of thanking God for our clothes, hands, feet, food,

  11. What a precious reminder and thanks for the inspiring song! You Sr. Melanie are a real Gem! With a prayer for your ministry.

  12. Great thoughts, Mel. When I arrive home at a certain stop sign I say “thank you God for bringing me home safely.”

  13. Sister Melannie, this is beautiful. Thank you. I think it is good to have a reminder each day of the things for which we should be grateful. Each morning on awaking I remember to say thanks to God for my bed where my strength is renewed each night with restful sleep. A few years ago we had a retreat director who taught us what he called the WIT prayer — with him, in him, through him. So when I begin an action I ask that I may carry it out with, in, though … for example, live this day with me, in me, through me, eat this meal with me, in me, through me, write this reflection with me, in me, through me. It is a good reminder that I am not alone in whatever I do.
    I look forward to Sunflower Seeds each Monday.
    Thank you so much.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Thanks so much Melannie for the insightful ways we can be thankful or thoughtful . I also like to pray for people affected when I see an ambulance or fire truck or police car rushing to a place. I likewise offer a prayer for the departed when I pass a cemetery or a funeral cortège.
    It’s amazing how many times we can pray for others in one day. I read recently to remember to pray for the person who planted the seed when we eat a piece of fruit!
    And, I pray for you that you may continue to touch so many hearts.
    Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. Josita

  15. Thank you, Sister Melanie. I shall happily adopt this habit of praying before beginning some of my most unpleasant tasks—Ironing and Paying Bills. Thank you, Lord, that I have things to be ironed, and resource to pay my just debts. Blessings for you, dear Sister, for your wisdom.

  16. Thank you. The message is easy & the comments reminds one that we are not alone in making every day easier walking with our God. Blessings to all.

  17. Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Sister Melanie
    A few years ago, I became an “all day thanks giver” As soon as my eyes pop open, I say thank you God, for another day to do your will.
    I manage all during the day to say thanks sometimes for silly things perhaps… but I know God has a wonderful sense of humor…so when I manage to get through three green lights in a row… I say a Thank You… Amen… silly perhaps…. but it is the small things in life, that are really the big things. I give thanks for my family today especially and for my friends who are also “family” may you and all your “Sunflower” Faithful know they are loved and blessed each and every day.
    Peace and love

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Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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