CASC Lumen Magazine_Spr 2021

Our Daily Bread: A reflection on food, grace and ‘Babette’s Feast’


Actress Stephane Audran as chef Babette Hersant preparing the feast.

vital and necessary part of a Catholic understanding of community and spirituality. The short story and 1988 Oscar- winning Danish film “Babette’s Feast” was a great entry into why food, and the community formed around it, has much more than physical importance. “Babette’s Feast” introduces us to two elderly sisters, Filippa and Martine, who seek to forego the pleasures of the world as to keep their focus on their eternal reward. When they welcome refugee and notable French chef, Babette, to their home as a housekeeper and cook, this begins to slowly change. The story climax is an elaborate French feast that Babette prepares

for the sisters and their friends. The dinner surpasses all expectations of simple comfort. The food and gift of Babette’s cooking is transformational for everyone present. Hurts are forgotten, love is rekindled, and a grace is actualized at the table – an unexpected and almost ecstatic moment for the guests. The sisters’ experience how the things of the world have the powerful ability to draw us closer to eternity, rather than distracting from it. GOING BEYOND PHYSICAL NEED Eating as an activity, consuming mere bread and water, goes beyond physical need in the Catholic understanding. From the Church’s perspective, it is impossible to have

“For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” Psalm 85:10, from the dinner scene of “Babette’s Feast” Throughout college I lived with women who enjoyed cooking and sharing meals together.Whether it was a planned and hosted dinner, or an impromptu “let’s clear out the fridge” meal in Rome or in our small apartment kitchen, I experienced the joy of how food and a prepared meal draws people together in community, promotes conversation, and nourishes the body and spirit. My graduate degree master’s essay was slowly born out of the great blessing of these shared dinners. In the essay, I explored how food is a

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