By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog
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What is up with the pre-blessed food in the temple cafeteria?
Sorry, how do you know its pre-blessed? Are they putting up signs now?
“Please DO NOT waste time blessing your food. NO MATTER WHAT. We have done this for you.”
How do you ever know if it’s been blessed? Technically, you merely ask for a blessing on the food. Has the food been blessed just for the asking?
It sounds like a nice service, although I don’t know why they’d take away an extra chance to pray.
Yes, there was a little, official-looking placard saying “this food has already been blessed for your convenience,” or words to that effect.
It’s not just the opportunity to pray, it’s the communal aspect of a blessing that this seems to deprive people of. What am I missing?
In the temple, a place of divine regulation and human implementation, I can imagine certain folks getting huffy if the cafeteria reverence level was too loud for their individual blessing. Maybe that’s how it came about.
(What’s more, the little signs complicate the task of wiping down the tables before lunch. I found this out recently.)
Holy cow, I’ve never before heard of this.
It sounds pretty weird. I think the cafeteria manager at your temple is probably a fallen cafeteria manager.
We just need a little Mormon “Kosher” or somesuch sticker to put on our processed food now.
Our Temple doesn’t have a caffeteria, just a lunchroom, which I found when I was woozy from fasting at my first visit. Do they have paying eating establishments in other temples, or is it potluck type food brought by workers?
Wow. No such signs in our temple’s cafeteria (as of 2 wks ago). Maybe having someone say a prayer aloud for a whole table full of guests was becoming distracting? My husband and I do individual silent prayers to avoid that problem.
Yeah, I’ve heard of it. The explanation I have heard relates to efficiency; long (and possibly above-whisper) prayers in the temple cafeteria have the potential to disrupt not only the peace of other patrons but the quick and smooth running of the cafeteria. It’s a little unusual but nothing I really get too excited about.
I always thought it was a bit of humor.
I can easily imagine some workers hearing the urban legend that all the food in the Temple is pre-blessed and having a good laugh about it (certainly not a loud laugh, just a good one). Then a week or so later one of them shows up with a little placard that they had their brother-in-law who works at a placard engraving place put together.
Though how awesome would that be to be called as the Temple’s official food blesser.
People bless their meals all the time in family style restaurants.
What this means is a blessing on the food is now more welcome at IHOP than at the temple.
Starfoxy, good point. Who does the blessing? And do they pray over every single dish as it is prepared, or do they just bless the entire kitchen in the morning?
Being grateful for it is more important than blessing it anyway. I don’t think that blessing it is the primary benefit you’re supposed to receive, and the sense of gratitude and receiving “daily bread” is.
Let’s face it, kids, it’s still weird.
Some more questions:
If I brought my lunch with me from home instead of buying it from the temple cafeteria, is it also pre-blessed?
I wonder how the sandwiches and apples and twinkies in the vending machines got blessed?
I just went ahead and said a prayer for all the food that anyone will be eating tonight anywhere in the world, so no need to bless your dinner tonight, I’ve got it covered. No, don’t worry about it, I was happy to do it. This one’s on me, I’m sure you’ll have my back next time.
Well sometimes you’re just too busy to bless the food. Attending the temple is obviously such a time.
If you were eating a meal at God’s table with Him sitting there, would you fold you arms and pray for a blessing or would you assume its blessed and focus on the thanks in your heart?
That’s weird. I thought blessing the food was actually not blessing it at all, but thanking God you had food to eat. So you don’t get to be grateful in the temple?
Really, that’s just tacky.
Who does the blessing? And do they pray over every single dish as it is prepared, or do they just bless the entire kitchen in the morning?
They bless the whole kitchen. Anyone can do it, but the prayer’s efficacy is directly proportional to the prestige of the calling of the person acting as voice. Efficacy is measured in terms of how long the blessing remains in effect.
For example, if the prophet does it, you’re good for about seven years. As a result, most temples go through a seven-year cafeteria blessing honeymoon period when they open because it’s easy just to throw it in with the dedicatory prayer.
An apostle will get you a good twelve months; a seventy’s blessing expires in three weeks; the temple president is good enough for the whole day; and with any old worker, you-re lucky to get 2.3 hours, on average.
As for bringing your own food from home, it only falls under the umbrella of a general authority blessing. So, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting GA-Certified Blessed Food® when you go through the line or you should probably just bless it yourself anyway, just to be safe.
What Steve said. No big deal, one way or another.
This makes me wonder if some temple worker subscribes to the “prayer-as-poison-eliminator” theory.
“I just went ahead and said a prayer for all the food that anyone will be eating tonight anywhere in the world”
In similar fashion, I blessed all the food that I (but not others) will ever eat, back on September 4, 1986. Seems to have worked so far.
Twinkies are holy, divine in their very nature (ref. “Spiritual Twinkies”). Of course they don’t need to be blessed.
So can I just bless my groceries when I bring them home?
I’m just going to bless Winn-Dixie on my way home tonight.
I recently drove down a long stretch of California’s Central Valley, blessing the orchards, groves, and fields as I went. If you eat an almond, walnut, orange, peach, or raisin in the next several months, it’s likely covered.
Some of the elders on my mission had the rather endearing habit of saying, just as you were blessing your food, “Get mine too.” Though some of the elders would be offended by it, I thought it was funny.
Jacob J – I knew my pizza tasted extra good tonight.
Funny thing is, I don’t even “bless” my food. I just give thanks. I figure that if my neighbor who has never prayed over a meal in his whole life has never suddenly keeled over, then my food probably doesn’t need to be blessed.
It’s a pretty good conversation starter too when we visit someone else’s home and they ask me to say the prayer… I give thanks, ask for the spirit, etc… and say amen. Almost without fail someone will say “You forgot to bless the food” and my wife will roll her eyes and it starts all over again :)
Can the tample patrons express my gratitude for me too?
Oh wow, Kristine, I’ve never heard of this practice. That’s just hilarious!
Make the food increase in price, thus making the cafeteria independent of tithing money.
Funny thing too (re: #30) my mission president would say one prayer in the morning for all his food, then would never say grace in public.
As for me, I like praying. Over pre-blessed food especially–I know where those roaches like to hide.
Maybe they were having problems with people building rameumptoms (rameumpti?) out of the chairs and tables.
Since the Manhattan Temple has no cafeteria, I’m hoping that the peanut M&Ms I bought at the newsstand in the 59th street subway station were somehow covered by some blessing, somewhere.
If I’d been thinking, that time waiting for my wife by the desk with the prayer roll slips could have been put to better use. Something like “Everybody, including me, who might buy a snack from a newsstand tonight.”
No Latinate endings for Hebrew-origin words, Kristine.
My guess is that there were folks having a blessing at table 3 while folks at table 5 were wolfing down their tuna casserole and jello, and they had to stop eating in order not to be irreverent, and as soon as they got ready to dig in again, the kids at table 12 started praying, so the tuna casserole got cold and the jello did whatever it does when you don’t eat it in a timely manner (probably nothing, come to think of it), and on and on and on. So, rather than putting up signs saying “No praying over the food allowed in the temple cafeteria” which struck some people as too ironic even for Mormons, they came up with the bless it all at 5:00 a.m. and hope it holds until 10:00 p.m. (especially since some of that stuff that made it onto the display shelf at 5:00 a.m. may still be there waiting for the midnight snackers wannabes at 10:00 p.m.).
No Latinate endings for Hebrew-origin words
“Please bless all the food that ever has been, is now, or ever will be, material and immaterial, many yet one, in all things, and through all things…”
It is kind of funny, but I didn’t mean to mock (well, maybe a little, with tender affection). I actually think there are some interesting questions in there. My own hypothesis (no more than that) is that, in our historically-rooted aversion to anything that smacks of “papishness” or high churchiness, we’ve completely eliminated the liturgical imagination from Mormonism. We think of ordinances as a series of boxes to check off (and we really do have boxes for them on our membership records!). Even our only real liturgy we usually call “temple work.” On that model, it makes perfect sense to pre-bless the food–we’re just trying to get the boxes checked in the most efficient manner and avoid disruption. It’s the juxtaposition of our most elaborate ritual with our drive towards efficient checking off of ordinance-boxes that strikes me as endearingly Mormon.
Its fast-tracked to nourish and strengthen.
I’ve never had temple cafe food. Does it cause bowel situations like MTC food did?
It’s possible that I’ve overthought this! heh.
Matt, that out to do it. Just to be clear, did you already say that prayer or were you just working on the wording. I don’t want to risk double blessing my food tomorrow.
Reading Mother Goose tonight I found an appropriate verse:
There I met an old man
That wouldn’t say his prayers;
I grabbed him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs.
Mormon food-blessing piety is odd indeed. The sign is evidence of a belief that blessing the food is an act of magic — we bless the food to literally bless the food. If that’s what you believe, then it doesn’t matter who does it and when — the fairy-dust has been sprinkled.
But surely blessing the food is about more than this. For our family it’s a communal act and one which, at least in my mind, is useful in instilling a sense of gratitude before our bounty. The sign removes this altogether, which is to be regretted.
All that said, there’s nothing worse than faux food-blessing piety. I never bless my Weetabix, but in the MTC I felt compelled to bless every last strawberry lace because that’s what everyone else was doing. A temple cafeteria could also be an occasion to pray to be seen of men. At least this sign might help avoid that.
This is what I find so fascinating. Temples are highly regimented and ordered places, and what happens in them is seen as authoritative. If it happens in the temple, you can take it to the bank. And yet on this policy concerning blessing the food, one temple differs from another.
That is, if Kristine is telling the truth. I still think pre-blessed food sounds too weird, even for us.
And with this sign on the table at the temple, I now find it beyond hilarious that many Mormons will become apoplectic when the topic under discussion is prayer in the schools, sending out spam emails and warning darkly about this erosion of our God-given rights.
My Dad would often refer to blessing the food as “taking the curse off it”. ( but that’s just his sense of humour)
See also #23 Poison Eliminator Theory
1. Too. Wierd. Not only that it’s done, but somebody went and had signs made to put on every table.
2. When I was single, a date who prayed over a restaurant meal was a sign of no second date.
Interesting… and I find the comments just as interesting.
Am I the only one who immediately thought of it as being symbolic of the family nature of temple ordinances, and the communal nature of Mormonism?
I don’t know how often I have arrived late late for dinner and been informed “it’s already been blessed”. Now one response is: “Does more than one blessing harm the food?” Obviously my family knows that it does not- so why would they inform me that the food is already blessed?
Because I’m included in the family, and when they prayed to ask God to bless the food I was involved in that ritual- despite my physical absence.
Temple sealings bind us together as one family. The communal blessing of the food is a reminder that all of those attending the temple should be united in spirit. In the same way that I am united with my family in spirit- to the extent that when they bless the food as a family I am included whether physically there or not.
Personally I find it nice, because it reminds me that I am not just a separate individual but I am part of a greater whole. Something that I think very appropriate for the temple to teach.
There are many symbols in the temple you know- not just in the Endowment.
Left field (re: 25) – My father has been advocating blessing the groceries when we bring them home for years.
My kids have begun blessing the food that it will be inuring us, instead of nourishing us.
But maybe the policy could be to help avoid the empty vain repetitions of most food blessing prayers. Or conversely, because people are in the temple, they would be more aware of what they’re saying, so they feel the need to go out of their way to say an original, meaningful prayer, even if it is just for the food, thus leading the to disruptions in #35.
On the whole, I think a silent prayer of gratitude is always appropriate.
I would bet that many prayers on food have some variation of “bless this food to be nourishing and strengthening to our bodies.” At least that’s what we learned growing up, and that’s what we continue to say most often in our blessings on food.
I agree that the blessing itself is more an expression of gratitude than anything else. But do we really believe that by blessing the food it will somehow improve its nutritional value? I always think it is funny, for example, when at a ward or stake function when that type of blessing is offered for cake or brownies or cookies.
I just blessed all the food in Vegas. What you bless in Vegas, stays blessed in Vegas.
Good one MCQ.
Did none of you eat in the Morris/Cannon center at BYU??? One of the great discriminators of the faithful from the swine was who prayed — silently but distinctly — over their meal three times a day. Of course, I refused, if only out of principle. To think I went a year without ever blessing my food…
Funny, I can’t remember what I did in the MTC. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it there either.
Now, my kids want us to pray every time we eat out anywhere. Go figure.
I think the blessing is the part where you ask for it to be “blessed to nourish and strengthen the partakers.” The thanks gratitude part is just that being grateful. We usually combine it into one. Probably the Temple caferterias have someone come in give a blessing over the food and thanks for it’s preparers, and for having a beautiful all white kitchen, etc.
However, that can shorten your time at the table when you bow your head and say a quiet thank you for your food whether you brough it from home or bought in the line. Giving thanks is always appropriate and can be very quick. We live in an area populated many Christians who are not Mormons and I always appreciate that quiet moment they take to say thanks.
Also, I have heard blessing pronounced specifically on food to help heal and restore someone (specifically by name) who was ill and in the household. And I think that could be a strong statement of faith asking for that in a blessing at meal time.
My mom is a temple worker in Oakland and she has told me that they pre-bless all the cafeteria food there. They’ve been doing it that way for years, but a year or two ago an old lady (my mom’s also an old lady so the other one must have been really old), criticized my mom because she didn’t see her saying a prayer before she ate. My mom told her that it had been taken care of.
And when my mom brings her lunch, she actually does say a silent prayer.
I did a shift as a Temple support worker at the Boston Temple one morning this past July and the meal was blessed during the morning staff meeting and prayer.
Ronan: we bless the food to literally bless the food. If that’s what you believe, then it doesn’t matter who does it and when —
So, if I bless the food, the real questions are: do I need to lay my hands upon it? And am I usurping some priesthood power by doing so?
Not if you cook it with consecrated oil.
You can’t make a consecrated omelet without breaking a few consecrated eggs.
I remember seeing a sign at BYU’s Helamen Halls cafeteria saying the food was already blessed, back in the early 1990s.
#50: Are they using this definition of inure?
To become accustomed to something unpleasant by prolonged exposure.
FHL, we call that “blogging.”
#62 In the case of stir fry, an unintentional yes. First it was the tofu that was objectionable. We told them they had to eat it until they could eat it without complaining. Now that they like the tofu, they complain about the mushrooms.
Cool! I’ll have to check that out. It sounds like Jewish Kosher items one can buy in many stores!
Anyway, I am sure this was done with the best of intentions, and that the Lord won’t mind if the person who partakes of the edibles thanks him again in a prayer.
I am kind of random when it comes to visibly and/or vocally praying over food (never in public–not that there’s anything wrong w/ that.), but I’m not at all surprised or offended.
For what it’s worth they pray over the laundry too. I know. I volunteered in the temple laundry and not only was it a surprisingly good time, but the prayer meeting the regular temple workers invited the volunteers to attend was a beautiful and humbling experience.
Now that did take me by surprise.
I didn’t know they served laundry in the cafeteria.
Is that how they get it all done? I’m totally praying over my laundry and those stains.
If that sign existed, I’ll call that a bold-faced lie. As a assistant chef in the Cannon Center 91-93, I can safely say the meals I made and supervised were not blessed by me or anyone I saw.
I think if you are not present for the blessing of the food it doesn’t count. To me blessing of the food is an acknowledgement of graditude to God, and to those that provided and prepared the food, and to the lives given (plant and animal)that went into the meal. I’ve never thought of a blessing as somehow changing the food in some way, which seems to be the assumption of the temple temple-food-blessers blessing your meal for you. To me the blessing on the food is a blessing on our relationship with God and the things that support and sustain our eartly bodies. No realtionship is possible if you don’t participate in the ritual. It seems to me. If I didn’t give an Amen in there, I’m not counting it. Maybe my temple food will get double blessed but too bad, I’m saying my own.
In the temple, everything is done by proxy. Even blessing the food.
I like the idea of eating for the dead.
Does it cover the mints I sneak into the session?
About the Cannon Center, I’d be worried about eating any of that food that’s been around since 1991 or so, no matter who pronounced the blessing on it. Way past expired!
One thing’s for sure is that no amount of blessing would take the place of following food safety regulations when preparing food.
Sadly, the pre-blessed food does not apply to any food from outside the Temple. I am anxiously awaiting Blessed Food 2.0 that actually covers the fast food that the night watchman eats during lunch.
Out of the abundance of the prayer, the food nourisheth !!
Where, oh where is the ‘higher’ and more reverent way of consideration.
All things ARE spiritual unto the Lord.
There are MANY things that are happening
or exist in the “unseen” world.
We simply cannot judge all points, but CAN
have our own understanding and bring even the act of eating UP to a HIGHER level…
Both in our minds in thankfullness…..AND
for our bodies in nourishment / health / metabolism.
Sincere prayer is in all counts..NEVER wasted.
LOL Blessed Food 2.0!
For me “blessing the food” has alaways been about GIVING THANKS and not making the food safe or whatever. You can bless the food Im gonna eat all you want, but until I give thanks then it isnt going in my mouth.
I’m a volunteer truck driver for the Bishops’ Storehouse. As is customary, I had a prayer with the storehouse director before I left this morning. He prayed that the food might be blessed to nourish and strengthen those who eat it. So I guess at least in this case, food from the Bishops’ Storehouse is pre-blessed also.
For many years my aunt was the Matron of the LA temple (her husband, who was the temple President, recently passed away). Last night I asked her about the practice. She told me that, during their presidency at least, the honor of blessing the food for the day came to the first patron of the day. She didn’t think it was unusual at all.
I must know…At what temple(s) has this sign been seen?? I’d ask for a picture of said signs, but you’re supposed to check those at the desk.
This is like saying your boss paid tithing on the money he got, before he paid you, so you don’t have to pay tithing.
Let there be as many prayers as the Lord’s people will create.
Oh, and Abraham and Adam prayed for their children, so – don’t bother to pray for your little rascals. Already been done.
The thought of this literally made me laugh. Can anybody verify if this is true? I might ask the workers in cafeteria next time I go to the Temple. My guess is they will probably laugh and think I’m joking.
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