The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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December 22, 2000 Issue

Feasting on good news

Christmas shows us God's interest in us

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

A recent debate in Italy about food serves up a mental meal.

Massimo Salani, a theologian in Pisa, served the first course when he told an Italian newspaper that McDonald's-type fast foods signal the "complete neglect of the sacred nature of food." He also equated fast foods with a Protestant way of thinking as opposed to the Catholic idea of a community meal.

McDonald's rejected Salani's reasoning, as did Swiss Fr. Georges Cottier, the papal theologian, who said he prefers traditional Italian food as a matter of taste - not religion.

But, Fr. Cottier said, both church and society need to reflect on the increasing reliance on quick meals. "In the Christian vision, there's a deeper meaning to meals, which we find in the Bible, where it speaks of special feasts and fasting periods." He also spoke of the importance of prayer before meals.

Salani, who has published a book on food and the world's religions, said Christianity, unlike other faiths, has no taboo foods and generally leaves eating choices up to human freedom.

Why are theologians checking our plates and take-out bags? The answer may be found in our name - Catholic. The word Catholic means universal - both in the sense that Catholics are in every racial, national and ethnic group in the world and in the sense of an interest in whatever pertains to us as God's creatures.

If we needed any more proof of that second truth, we need look no further than Christmas. It celebrates the Second Person of the Trinity becoming human. As one of us, Jesus immersed himself in daily life - work, worship, friendships, conversation and meals, even feasts. Plus, he gave us himself as the bread of life and living water that will erase all our hungers and thirst.

Meals are our chance to gather as home church where we invite Christ into our midst, thank God for the food and let the Spirit enliven our meal, companionship and discussions.

Our meals - be it the Eucharistic banquet at Mass or family dinner - should enrich our entire being, both on Christmas and throughout the year. Bon appétit!

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