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Edmund Adamus, the Director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life, takes a look at the importance of family meals in nurturing the life of prayer.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of that great Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church, St Teresa of Avila. What strikes me about Teresa’s wonderfully simple take on prayer is that it's ultimately a conversation with a Friend, Jesus Christ, as this statement from a recent exhibition at the Cathedral explained.  

St Teresa ‘understands prayer as an activity embedded in daily life. It is not something that can only be done in silence and solitude but amidst the "pots and pans"'.  

It reminds me of that old adage, can you smoke whilst you pray? No, but you can pray whilst you smoke. In other words the Spirit of Christ is to be found in the seemingly mundane and ordinary stuff of life, so long as we actually make the effort to seek Him and invite Him there. It’s all part of the ‘kitchen table theology’, the domestic church in real time if you like, which is why I was struck by another obvious but revelatory piece:

Family dinners have been found to be a more powerful deterrent against high-risk teen behaviours than church attendance or good grades...and children will learn 1000 more rare words at table during conversation than being read to aloud.

Family dinners or lunches at the weekends have their own interpersonal qualities argues the piece: well of course they do, which is why every meal shared among loved ones, especially family, is reminiscent of the Christ-centred Last Supper and a foretaste, however small, of the great feast of heaven. Hopefully they humanise us in preparation for the great banquet where we will become most human, with Christ, Our Lady and all the Angels and Saints.  

Excerpt from Edmund's weekly e-newsletter, Friday FAST. You can read more or subscribe to Friday FAST here.