With this latest edition of Caffeine and Catholicism, a new video series designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic Faith, which we’re producing at my job, I share the FIVE Best Meals at Your Local Catholic Parish.
Yeah, that’s right. Food. We love to shove it in our mouths while zipping through the drive through, but let’s be honest: Food shared amongst friends and family is always better and actually has surprising benefits. Our friends, Fr. Leo Patalinghug from Grace Before Meals and Jeff Young from Catholic Foodie, have been attesting to this for years.
In fact, one Columbia University survey showed that teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are much less likely to have substance abuse problems and more likely to get better grades in school.
Food shared amongst people with common beliefs and common goals and a common focus on knowing, living, and sharing our faith is infinitely more enriching than eating alone.
So what are the best meals to find at your local parish?
Starting with Number Five is Spaghetti Dinners. Not my personal favorite, but they’re easy, kid-pleasing, festive, and casual, with great opportunities for impromptu conversations.
Number Four would be Pancake Breakfasts, often put on by your local Knights of Columbus who use the proceeds to support important initiatives. So you get your griddlecakes with a heaping helping of service to others.
Number Three is the perennial Lenten fish fries, which now often come in healthier options. But I’ll still take my fish fried.
Number Two is after Mass Coffee and Donuts. To this day, my parents are still extremely close friends with people they met at my childhood parish while sharing Krispy Kremes and bad coffee.
But the number one shared meal offered at every single Catholic parish is The Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ which we as Catholics receive as a Community at the shared table of The Lamb’s Supper each time we receive Communion at Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Church – The People of God – “is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.”
This is not just symbolic thing, but as Lumen Gentium teaches, truly The Eucharist is “The source and summit of the Christian Life.”
Paragraph 1324 of the Catechism says, “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself.”
So yeah, partake of donuts and pancakes, spaghetti dinners and fish fries, but the number one best meal to be found at your local parish is the meal found in the Eucharist at every Mass.
It’s at this meal that we’re brought together as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It’s the best meal in town.