Daily Food

When I lived in Rome I noticed a curious phenomenon from time to time. No matter with whom I was conversing, no matter what we were talking about, the conversation eventually, inevitably, drifted to food and wine. I would be talking to some egregious ecclesiastic. Or, I would be joking around with my students. Or, I would be having a relaxed conversation with some of my Italian friends. We might be talking about philosophy, religion, culture, theology, art or everyday life. In about fifteen minutes we would be talking about food or wine. I conducted this experiment many times. Every time the result turned out to be the same.

I began to question myself: “Why do we always come back to the topic of food and wine?” Then it dawned on me. Food and wine are central to the Italian ethos. When you mention “Italy” to anyone one of the first things they think about is food or wine. It is then that I recognized the centrality of food to the Italian culture. I also understood the reason why. Food and wine are crucial to the Italians because family is very important to them. And they know that family is created, nurtured and strengthened by gathering around the table and sharing food and wine.

The same is true in India. I remember the numerous occasions when the family gathered around the table. Not a day went by when we did not share meals together. Eating alone was never an option. All our celebrations and festivities revolve around food. Once again food is very important in Indian culture because family is central.

The same is true for us here. We become family by eating together. We forge our families around the kitchen table and the dinner table. We form friendships sipping coffee or wine together. Often I encourage the couples I prepare for marriage to learn how to cook. I insist that they should share meals together on a daily basis. I tell them that between preparing the food, setting the table, sharing the meal and cleaning up afterwards, they would spend at least three hours of quality time with each other.

The God who made us is fully aware of this fact. He knows how we humans are wired. Jesus gave us the greatest Sacrament in the form of food because he knows that we become community by sitting around the Eucharistic table. We need to break Bread together. We need to share the Cup. Jesus is categorical in his command: “Take and eat. Take and drink. Do this in memory of me.” We need to nourish our spirits on a regular basis.

Sometimes Catholics ask why they should go to Mass on Sunday. Here is one valid reason. If we take our belonging to the community seriously, we cannot but gather around the table every Sunday. If we are Catholic not just in name only, we have to participate in the Sunday liturgy. That is where we become community. In fact, the community is at its best at the Eucharist.

Long time ago one of my fellow seminarians pointed out that Jesus did not give Himself in the form of expensive, exotic French pastry. He gave Himself in the form of ordinary bread so that we will consume everyday and not partake of Him only on special occasions. We are invited to approach the Sacrament as often as we can, just as we nourish our body on a daily basis.

All of us will do well to read John’s gospel where the evangelist presents Jesus’ great discourse on the Bread of Life (chapter 6). As we contemplate the wondrous gift of Christ’s presence with us, let us thank God for the gift of the Eucharist. Let us heed the Lord’s command and gather to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday. Let us not forget that it is the Lord who calls us around the table. We are not worthy, but God invites us anyway.

The last Communion that a Catholic receives is called “Viaticum.” It literally means “with you on the journey.” The last Communion gives the disciple the strength on his/her final journey when he/she will cross over to the other side. St Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian of the Eucharist, wrote these words regarding his viaticum: “I now receive you who are the price of my soul’s redemption, I receive you who are the food for my final journey, and for the love of whom I have studied, kept vigil, and struggled; indeed, it was you, Jesus, that I preached and you that I taught.”

The Eucharist is the food, not only for our last journey but also for the everyday journey. We need to return to the Table so that we will have the strength to fight our everyday temptations, to live up to our Christian vocation. As we are in this Easter season we are reminded that the Risen Lord is alive and with us. He continues to stay with us in the Eucharist to feed us and nourish us.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

Liturgical Schedule


   Monday through Friday

   8:30 am - Upper Church


   4:30 pm - Upper Church


   7:30 am - Upper Church

   9:00 am - HFC

   9:30 am - Gym

   10:30 am - Upper Church

   12:00 pm - Gym


   1st and 3rd Friday

   after 8:30 am Mass

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   3-4 pm - Upper Church


   8-9 am - Upper Church

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Contact Information

St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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Phone: (847) 825-7605

Mass Schedule

Monday - Friday

8:30 am - Upper Church


4:30 pm (vigil) - Upper Church


7:30 am - Upper Church

9:00 am - Holy Family Chapel

9:30 am - Gym

10:30 am - Upper Church

12:00 pm - Gym