There is a wonderful freedom we enjoy when it comes to Christian prayer.
As long as it is said from the heart, with due adoration, respect and humility, it's a good prayer! And so it is with any prayer of thanksgiving before eating a meal.
But here's a traditional Chamorro version that has been around for many years :
Asaina, bendise este siha na nengkanno' ni para in kanno'
ni man måfåtto ginen i gineftao i kannai-mo, gi na'an i Tata,
yan i Lahi-ña, yan i Espiritu Santo. Amen.
Loosely translated, you will recognize the standard Catholic grace before meals in English :
Asaina, bendise este siha na nengkanno'
(Lord, bless this food)
ni para in kanno'
(which we are to eat)
ni man måfåtto
ginen i gineftao i kannai-mo
(from the generosity of your hand)
gi na'an i Tata, yan i Lahi-ña, yan i Espiritu Santo. Amen.
(in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.)
BLESS THE TABLE
A standard comment one hears at many Chamorro gatherings is :
Fanohge para i ma bendisen i lamasa!
(Stand for the blessing of the table!)
To which someone invariably responds :
Ti i lamasa para u ma bendise, na i nengkanno'!
(It's not the table to be blessed, but the food!)
WHO BLESSES THE FOOD?
If there is a priest present, it is the norm to ask him to bless.
Of course, a bishop outranks the priest and he would be asked first, but the bishop could cede this to a priest if, for example, it's the priest's occasion.
If no clergy are present, the honor of leading grace before meals goes to one of the mañaina (elders and/or people of stature) such as the nåna (grandmother) or techa (prayer leader) or matlina (godmother). Yes, women usually get the spot, but sometimes also men.
WHO GOES FIRST?
As you can see in the pic above, clergy go first. Then it was pretty much whoever else, since the very elderly didn't line up at all but were rather catered to. The elderly sat at their tables and someone else fixed a plate for them (ma na'yåne).
Today, as the culture wanes, it's everybody for himself, which means the energetic and agile kids get to the line first and Påle' has to go by the law of the survival of the fittest, on many occasions.