“Not only in Israel, but among the ancient peoples generally, a meal was much more than a meal, understood as an occasion of eating and drinking. A meal was a sacred occasion, something that is hard for us to understand in these days of ‘fast food’, when eating is little more that a biological function. Even a few decades ago, when grace before meals was quite common in Western countries, there was some sense that eating and drinking are not merely biological occasions, but carry ( or may carry) many connotations.
The fact that grace before meals has become something of a rarity nowadays is symptomatic of the change that has taken place. Even when people sit down together at table they are often in a hurry to get away so that they can get to some other matter, whether business or pleasure, that seems to them more important. Even when graces are said nowadays, it is often on the least appropriate occasions, lavish banquets in city halls, colleges, or similar institutions.
But the point I want to make is that the disapperance of grace points to the fact that there has been a loss of any sense of the sacred ina meal, any sense of gratitude to God who has provided for the maintenance of life in his creation, or even to those human beings whose labor brought the fruitfulness of earth to a form in which it can nourish the human race.”
John Macquarrie, A Guide to the Sacraments, 102