Grace Before Meals and Grace After Meals

A Traditional Catholic Table Blessing and Prayer of Thanksgiving

Family saying grace
1950's style parents and children saying Grace Before Meals. Tim Bieber/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Every good thing we have comes from God, a fact that we should call to mind frequently. Too often, we assume that the good things in our life are the result of our own labor, and we forget that all of the talents and good health that let us perform the hard work that puts food on our table and a roof over our heads are gifts from God as well. Saying grace before and after meals helps us to remember where our blessings come from.

Grace Before Meals

In the traditional Catholic Grace Before Meals, we acknowledge our dependence on God and to ask Him to bless us and our food. We should also offer thanksgiving for the food that we have received by praying the Grace After Meals, the text of which you can find below the Grace Before Meals.

The Text of Grace Before Meals

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace After Meals

Catholics rarely pray Grace After Meals these days, but this traditional prayer is well worth reviving. While Grace Before Meals asks God for His blessing, Grace After Meals is a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the good things that God has given us, as well as a prayer of intercession for those who have helped us. And finally, Grace After Meals is an opportunity to call to mind all those who have died and to pray for their souls.

The Text of Grace After Meals

We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for all thy benefits, Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to reward with eternal life, all those who do us good for Thy name's sake. Amen.

V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Definitions of Words Used in the Grace Before Meals and the Grace After Meals

Bless: to invoke God's favor on something

Thy: Your

Gifts: in this case, the food and drink before us

Bounty: something found in generous amounts

Thee: You (as the object of a preposition)

Benefits: in this case, kind actions or gifts

Livest: lives

Reignest: reigns; rules

World without end: in Latin, In saecula saeculorum; literally, "unto the ages or ages"—that is, "for ever and ever"

Vouchsafe: to grant something, especially to someone who doesn't deserve it on his own

Faithful departed: those who have died in a state of grace; usually used specifically to refer to those currently in Purgatory

Rest in peace: in Latin, Requiescat in pace; to enter into the presence of God in Heaven, having finished one's penance in Purgatory