‘Restore family meals,’ Cardinal Tagle says at IEC
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Families should eat together again, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Thursday, January 28, as he slammed individualism at a global Catholic congress here.
“Restore the family meals,” Tagle said at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City.
He explained: “The basic unit of the meal is the table, the common table. Nowadays, the basic unit of the meal is ‘my plate.’ And if I have my plate with food on it, I can go anywhere and by myself.”
“But that is not a meal,” he said. “That is just eating.”
“Individualistic persons know how to eat, but they don’t know how to participate in a meal,” the cardinal said.
The IEC is one of the biggest events in the Catholic Church. Drawing high-caliber Catholic speakers, the IEC aims to discuss the Eucharist, better known as the Mass.
Part of the discussion is the “social dimension” of the Eucharist, which includes everyday concerns such as eating meals. It also involves broader issues such as a “throwaway culture” in all sectors of society. (READ: Tagle hits bishops, parents, politicians over ‘throwaways’)
In a news conference later on Thursday, Tagle explained that his appeal to recover family meals is “addressed not just to families per se,” but to a wider community.
Common meals, common stories
“There are a number of factors preventing people from coming together and sharing,” he said.
One of these is traffic, which prevents mothers and fathers to come home in time for dinner.
“If we want to restore family meals, we should address the issue of traffic,” he said.
Tagle then cited the experience of families “that are rather well off” and that “have a number of television sets, or a number of computers.”
“So instead of coming together in one table, around the same food, each one takes his or her own plate. ‘I go to my television, I go to my computer, I go to my iPod.’ And then we all eat. But not together, as a meal,” Tagle said.
“So can we have, for example, at least once a week, a time when: ‘Okay, no television! We face each other.’”
The cardinal explained: “It is during common meals that we also share common stories. We don’t only share food. We share life,” said the cardinal who also once stressed the value of rest in a busy world.
He also said that during meals, persons “develop sensitivity.”
He cited his experience whenever he eats with others. When he sees there is only one plate of rice and he is eating with 3 people, for example, he will get enough for himself while “making sure that there is rice left for 3 others.”
“Trust, sharing, sensitivity are all developed around the meal table,” Tagle said. “It’s not developed in a seminar.”
“So the moment family meals are absent, where, where do we learn sensitivity and all of those?” – Rappler.com
Follow Rappler’s special coverage of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress