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Serving at the Table

Posted: April 27, 2016 | Author: Fr. Leo


The Patron Saint for Altar Serving is St. John Berchmans. I take people to his amazing shrine and tomb on my trips to Italy because it's a beautiful tomb that holds the remains of a great saint - even though many don't know of him. But as foodies, we can learn a lot from his life!  

St. John Berchmans

I was grateful to have visited a place with a connection to this Saint and Servant, especially after a very busy and tiring week of work and travels. First, I was in Maryland for a Marriage Enrichment Dinner, then I filmed three episodes of my TV show in Alabama with a Swiss Guard, then I gave a Corporate Presentation for about 2,000 people for Thrivent Financial - a Lutheran-based Financial Group. The travels involved and energy I give to these presentations left me feeling pretty tired. But, I had one more stop with two cooking events:  Shreveport, Louisiana, which boasts of the only Cathedral in the world named after the Altar Boy, St. John Berchmans!

The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, LA. 

Obviously that young saint was praying for me because I was feeling fatigued and needed a boost to keep me going. But meeting the Rector of the Cathedral who has a faithful servant's heart, working with great local chefs who humbly and generously assisted me for these big cooking events, and finally, collaborating with the parishioners who genuinely love their faith, as made evident by their selfless service, gave me the necessary motivation to continue my mission - to bring people to the Lord's Table and their own family dinner table.  Needless to say, prayers from saints in heaven are very helpful!

A glimpse of the dishes prepared for these events to support the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. 

When I visited the Cathedral, I was pleased to learn how the Louisiana State Flag, with the Mother Pelican feeding her young with her own flesh, was also the image on the altar.  I'm not sure if the Louisiana government realizes the Christian origins of the imagery representing The Eucharist. Click HERE for a further Explanation.

The Louisiana State flag.

The visit and seeing the image encouraged and reminded me that my priesthood and the Grace Before Meals "mission" requires me to be a real servant at The Table - requiring selflessness and self giving, just as the Lord Jesus showed to us - no matter how tiring or demanding this mission can be.

Notice the same Pelican symbol on the altar at the bottom? Pretty awesome!

Gratefully, I wasn't serving alone!  As I mentioned, the Rector and his close collaborators, along with the generous family who opened their beautiful home for the private dinner; the parish staff who volunteered to serve and be dishwashers; and Chefs Gio and John who assisted in the meal preparation and production - were exactly who I needed to do what I was invited to do at their diocese - feed people body, mind, and soul!  

Some of the many people who were integral to making the event a success!

God is always trying to encourage us in our work as His "servants".  I know it's tough to do. But if we take the time and reflect on the lives of Saints, while recognizing the goodness of those working around you, we can become servants to one another and do our jobs better as we give ourselves in selfless service. Without good service, even the best food will go unappreciated.

Chefs involved with preparing the meal for the Thrivent Financial event who I had a chance to work with at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.

Let us pray

Even though it's not the feast of St. John Berchman, and even though many people don't know who he is, I pray dear Lord that You give us the same encouragement and faith that he had to live his young life in dedicated service to the Gospel values and message. May we become servants to each other. May we be humble servants, even if we're in leadership positions. And may our service in Your Holy Name remind us that we are actually serving You when we serve the least of our brothers and sisters. We ask this through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Food for Thought

(1) What qualities do you expect from a good restaurant waiter or server?
(2) What is the most challenging thing about being a servant of the Lord?
(3) How can we encourage our family to serve one another? 

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