It seems like meals are mentioned every other page in the Gospels. The wedding feast at Cana. The multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Jesus dining with tax collectors. And, of course, when He instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Despite being a normal, everyday thing, food is kind of a big deal in the Bible!
When I ponder the meals in the Bible, I realize that it’s really not so much about the food as about the lessons those at the meal are learning, the ways their eyes are being opened to the intangible by starting with the tangible. At the wedding feast at Cana, we see how God cares about the details. When He multiplied the loaves and fishes, we learn no gift is too small for Him to use in a big way. Seeing Jesus dine with tax collectors reminds us that He is a God of mercy, no matter where we’ve been.
So too in our own families, it’s important to remember that the meals we provide aren’t just about the food. It’s about the lessons we can share with our children, the fellowship we can cultivate. It’s easy to get so bogged down by the routine of feeding our families (and cleaning up after them! Mom of two toddlers here!) that we forget the reality that mealtimes are powerful opportunities to draw our families closer to Christ. This doesn’t mean you have to have fresh-baked bread on the table, or have a perfect place setting. It’s okay if the centerpiece flowers are wilting or if there are no flowers at all! Look at Jesus in the Gospels and you will see that His focus during meals was building the relationships around Him and teaching the truths of His Father — what a perfect goal for us as mothers in our homes as well.
If you are looking for a great tool to start conversations about faith around your table, these four placemats from Ascension Press are an excellent option! Each placemat highlights a different truth of the Church and includes the Sacraments, the Beatitudes, the Works of Mercy, and how to make a good Confession. They provide lovely illustrations and wording as a great visual to help your kids memorize and discuss core teachings of the Catholic Faith. While the placemats are designed for ages 3-13, I personally would have recommended them for ages 5-15. I also wish the Works of Mercy placemat explained each work of mercy instead of just listing them, but it provides a starting point for explanation and discussion. The other three mats better explain the teachings listed and give examples as well. My husband wasn’t a fan of the colors and illustrations on the placemats and thought they were somewhat bland for children, but I actually appreciate the more muted colors versus bright primary colors on my dinner table.
Made of thick BPA-free plastic, these placemats are very durable. They are dishwasher-safe, although I have found that they’re also very easy to wipe clean and most likely wouldn’t even need to go through the dishwasher (however, I did test it and they held up great in the dishwasher).
Overall, we have enjoyed having these placemats on our table and will continue to use them. Not only are they great for conversation and learning, but it’s refreshing to have faith-themed accessories for children instead of the usual movie or TV show characters you find in stores. Even as a parent, I need these reminders to focus on heavenly things in the midst of the daily routine.
As we fill our bodies each meal with food, these placemats help fill our minds with the truths God has given us through the Church.
Copyright 2019 Laura Range