The Common Good

A Pre-Consumption Prayer

"Consumption" isn't a bad word. Even as we watch the excesses of the consumer economy crumble and collapse around us, we should remember that the word "consume" also means "to eat."

On Thursday, many of us consumed to excess as eaters; today, on "Black Friday," many of us also consume to excess as shoppers. But as Eugene Cho pointed out so thoughtfully last week, buying stuff at low prices isn't by itself a mark of shame or weakness. It is, in our post-agrarian, post-industrial society, a necessity. The issue isn't whether we buy or not buy things. It is whether we do so with appreciation for all of God's creation.

Before we eat, we say a prayer to acknowledge our gratitude for God's bounty. Through prayer, we express both humility and appreciation. If we pray mindfully (rather than out of rote habit), we simultaneously acknowledge our joy at what we have while also feeling compassion for those who have not.

What if we said a prayer each time we bought something

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