From the Pastor: Prayers in English and Latin
A couple of weeks back I mentioned in a homily that there is a Catholic prayer to be recited generally three times a day but which I never knew, let alone prayed. A good old Jesuit priest taught it to me through example at a parish at which we were both assigned. It is called, “grace after meals.” Yes, there is a prayer for after meals as well as before. The prayer before the meal is actually called the “blessing” even though I had always heard the word “grace,” used, as in, “Let’s say grace so we can eat!” This holy Jesuit priest, God rest his soul, used to complain that poorly educated Catholics too often prayed like protestants at meals. By this he meant that the “blessing” was actually more of a “thanks for everything” prayer that had to be unique every time (rote prayers being too Catholic), include different things to be thankful for every time, had to show off theological competence, had to be poetic or filled with grandeur, and was, therefore, always unduly long and burdensome. “What is wrong with starting the meal with a simple request for God’s blessing upon the people and the food and concluding with thanks for everything He has provided, and remembering in a special way to pray for the faithful departed, which in turn reminds us to strive always for a happy death?” I am poorly paraphrasing him, for whenever he said this he made sound it pretty darn funny!
Enough reminiscing, though. After the homily, I was asked to publish the grace after meals prayer so that those who don’t have the benefit of a Jesuit mentor at their table could also use and memorize it. Before I remembered to put it in the bulletin, though, I mentioned, as I encouraged the men to pray the 54 day Rosary Novena using at least the three major prayers in Latin, that exorcists tell us that the devil hates Latin. Someone then asked for the mealtime prayers also in Latin. Yikes! I have set the bar pretty high, it seems, even higher than I have ever jumped, having never memorized these particular prayers in Latin myself. But, since you asked for it, here goes.
Blessing before meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bénedic, Dómine, nos et haec tua dona, quae de tua largitáte sumus sumptúri. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.
Grace after meals
We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all Thy benefits, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Agimus tibi grátias , omnípotens Deus, pro univérsis benefíciis tuis, qui vivis et regnas in saécula saeculórum. Amen. Fidelium animae, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace. Amen.
There are several English versions of this prayer, each differing slightly. Since this is the version which I learned, this must be the proper one! I take the same stance with the St. Michael prayer after the low Mass. Rather than the one printed in the book (which varies from missal to missal anyway), I use the one I memorized years ago. I also do the same with the Angelical Salutation, for I greatly prefer “amongst women” instead of the more modern dropping of the “st” and I adamantly refuse to switch to “you” from “thee”, to “are you” from “art thou” and to “your” from “thy”. Although there are often differences in translations from the original Latin into any other language, strangely enough I also found a slightly different version of the Latin grace after meals. It begins, “Grátias agimus tibi” and then the rest of the prayer is in the same word order. Why the difference? I don’t know. The meaning is the same, as the word order of Latin is very fluid.
And finally, in case you threw away your old bulletin with these prayers, here you go again.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur Nomen Tuum. Adveniat regnum Tuum, fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris, et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Per orationem tuam sanctitatem,
Fr. Edwin Palka