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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle | author
Nov 01, 2016
Filed under Columns

Feeding your family’s body and soul

Come hell or high water, when I was growing up as the seventh of eight children, my mother unfailingly made sure we gathered at the same time every evening at our modest kitchen table to break bread and share hearts. She also made certain that we prayed before we dived into the meal.

food-cooperSound idyllic? Possibly so, but it certainly doesn’t mean that all eight of us were behaving with sparkling halos over our heads every night. Still, we were there at the dinner table creating memories and establishing traditions that became etched on my heart.

Being convinced that regular dinner times needed to prevail over the chaotic nighttime pulls of a mulititude of activities outside the home, I carried my mother’s tradition into my own domestic church with my five children. In addition to the “grace before meals” prayer, I added a Hail Mary, as well as spontaneous, heartfelt prayers in accordance with the seasons and various family needs.

One day a young teenager and her family visited our home and asked why I was setting the table with silverware and had placed fresh flowers on the table. She and her parents ate meals separately. Many times she had dinner in front of the computer. It was sad to hear. I prayed silently that our simple luncheon might somehow set an example.

Unfortunately, many families today have allowed the culture and its allurements to dictate how their family dinners should be. They’re often running around in the evening, rather than experiencing communion as a family. They’ve lost the art of coming together at the end of the day to reconnect, share, and nourish their bodies and souls. We need to change that. It’s essential to be a shining example — rich in time together at a family dinner, enveloped in God’s abiding love! The crazy evening schedules can’t always be avoided, but let’s not be robbed of precious family time. We can take countercultural steps to cut down on activities that take us away from hearth and home.

We can focus on our time together by getting the family involved in cooking the meal. We can take it further by teaching a short faith lesson right at the dinner table. How can you be a light of faith to your family and beyond?

DONNA-MARIE COOPER O’BOYLE is a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN host. She is an award-winning author of more than 20 books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. More at


Salmon filet with pesto sauce

Fresh salmon fillet
2-3 tbs unsalted butter
Basil pesto Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt unsalted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place (skin side down) in hot butter. Cook about 3 minutes without turning, spooning butter over top. Transfer the entire pan to oven. Roast 8-9 minutes or desired doneness. Remove from oven. Spoon fresh basil pesto liberally down the center of salmon. Put pan back in oven for 1-2 minutes to heat pesto. Remove from oven, garnish with basil leaves. Serve with sautéed vegetables, angel hair pasta with pesto on top. Light a candle at the dinner table.

Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (or raw
sunflower seeds, walnuts or a
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino,
asiago or parmesan cheese

Combine the fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts in food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process until smooth. Season with kosher salt and pepper and a big squeeze of fresh lemon to brighten and for taste. Transfer to a serving bowl. Mix in fresh cheese. Refrigerate until use.


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