A (Dinner) Prayer Before and on Holidays

[I came across this beautiful prayer on a Cemetery Website without attribution. After a few mounts of online research, I was delighted to dissever it was written by Father Austin Fleming. I have know this priest since the late 1970’s.  Spend some time with this post and consider his suggestions.  You can access his blog — concordpasfor — on the blogroll in the right hand column of my blog.  He is one of the best preachers I know.]


For many reasons, the holidays are a difficult time for many people.

For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, Thanksgiving and Christmas (especially the “first” of each) can be particularly hard to experience. Nothing can make these moments easy but prayer can offer a path to walk through these days with greater peace and even opportunities for healing.

I’m posting this prayer a week before Thanksgiving because it might help to sit with it for a while, to pray it over several days.

Some might find it helpful to use a prayer like this as the blessing before Thanksgiving Day dinner. Others might find it helpful to pray it alone, or to share copies of it with other family members and friends.

The Lord was a man well acquainted with grief: no stranger was he to a broken heart. He is with us in our pain as surely as he is with those whom he has welcomed to his arms of peace.

In those same everlasting arms he gathers us this Thanksgiving…

Dear God,

There is an empty chair at our table,
an ache in our hearts
and tears on our faces.

We may try to shield one another
from the grief we bear
but we cannot hide it from you.

We pray for (names)
whose presence we miss 
in these homecoming days.

Open our eyes and our hearts
to the healing and warmth
of the light of your presence.

Assure us, Lord, that those we miss
have a place at your table
and a home in your heart
as well as in ours. 

Open our hearts to joyful memories 
of the love we shared
with those who have gone before us.

Help us tell the stories
that make the past present
and bring us close to those we miss.

Teach us to lean on each other
and on you, Lord,
for the strength we need 
to walk through difficult times. 

Give us quiet moments
with you, with our thoughts,
with our memories and prayers.

Be with us, Lord,
and hold us in your arms
even as you hold those whom we miss.

This is the day you have made, Lord:
help us to rejoice in it
and in the promise of your peace.



[PHOTO by dblshell on photobucket.com]


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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One Response to A (Dinner) Prayer Before and on Holidays

  1. Kelly Rose says:

    Hmmm? Why am I wondering how old Pastor Fleming is? I always get hung up on things, want to know the personal? I like his caricature picture better than yours. But I like the name of your blog better than the name of his blog: ) Have you heard Alicia Keys’ new song? Not necessarily a big fan, but this song was hard to ignore.

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