Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Prayers after Meals at St. Vladimir’s

We have developed a somewhat odd habit at St. Vladimir’s. We pray before meals, but not after meals. There is a good reason for this of course. It isn’t that we don’t WANT to pray after meals, it is just that the nature of our meals lends itself to folks leaving at a time that is best for them and their families. That is, there is a clear START to our meals, but there is not a clear FINISH.

Still, it is important for us to pray before and after meals, whether we be at home, at church, or somewhere else. But I think it is especially important for us to model the best practices in this regard at St. Vladimir’s. And so, after 35 years as a parish, I think it is time that we establish the good habit to pray both before and after meals at St. Vladimir’s.

How will we do this you ask? Certainly it is true: folks sort of get up and leave when it makes the best sense for them each Sunday. And that is fine! But we will simply put a little structure into this part of our parish life. About 30 minutes after we bless the food we will say the thanksgiving prayer. And we may find that 45 minutes makes more sense. Or 60. But let’s start by trying 30 and see how that goes. We will only find the right time if you give me feedback though – so please do! It isn’t that I haven’t thought about this in the past. Of course I have. But it never sort of rose to the point of being actionable. Well, one of our young families asked me about our practice and I had to say that we simply are not doing the right thing and we need to. This is what giving feedback can lead to – improving the spiritual life of the entire parish family! So please do give feedback – this will be VERY welcome!

To be clear, just because we say the prayer does not mean that you are expected to leave! You are welcome to stay just as long as you do any other Sunday. It is just that we will pray at some point. This is not the end of the meal – it is just the time of our prayer. So please do not feel any pressure to leave after the prayer!

As with all prayers in English there are many, many translations. None is right or wrong, but we have to use one. So we’ll use this one from the Jordanville Prayer Book:

PRAYER AFTER MEALS

The melody is the Tone 8 Troparion melody – the same as the Kontakion for St. Vladimir (which we all hear just about every Sunday – so we know it). :)

There will be fits and starts here. I will likely forget from time to time. After being here for almost 20 years as a priest and 5 more before that as a student this practice of NOT saying the prayer after meals is pretty well burned into my conscience. But I know you will lovingly remind me if I forget!

Now for the advanced portion: sometimes we will sing this prayer in English and sometimes in Slavonic. Yikes! How will we know which one to use? Simple! If we sing the Lord’s Prayer in Slavonic we will sing the thanksgiving prayer in English. And vise versa too! :) That’s right – we’ll sing the Lord’s Prayer in English sometimes going forward. Don’t worry – we’ll announce which we will use before we start and we’ll try to be as equitable as possible.

Please let me know if you have questions. And please feel free to comment here too.

Fr. Gregory

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