|An Ironic Super September|
For some reason, when the month of September rolls around, I feel like it goes so quickly that I already feel the pressure of Christmas shopping! There’s an ironic truth about how being busy makes the time go faster while the devil can tempt us when we’re idle and bored. So, thank God for a busy September!
Let me recap my month. (By the way, this list is not to “show off” but a personal exercise for me to keep my own sanity!). In this month alone, I had speaking, cooking, or media events in New York City, New Jersey, the western part of Maryland, Washington DC, Ohio, Denver, Little Rock, Arkansas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. In that time, I recorded 4 episodes of my radio show, “Entertaining Truth“ and 3 new traveling episodes of “Savoring our Faith (LINK)” We continue to make great progress with my newest project, “The Table Foundation” – which, if you’ve ever started a non-profit, it’s an exercise of “hurry-up-and-wait.”
In the meantime, our team is organizing trips to bring you and the good news around the world through our faith, food, and culture trips to New York, Italy, Napa Valley. Soon we will extend invitations to the Holy Land and Spain in 2015. In light of the Papal visit to the Philippines, I’m participating in discussions to travel there in January 2015. On top of all that, I’m coordinating a “meet and greet” for people interested in learning more about the Consecrated Life through my community Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite set for October 8.
Despite my sheer busyness, I can honestly say that it all pales in comparison to the busyness that a family goes through, especially if it’s a young growing family. So, while I’m busy, my project manager and his wife are extra busy! Can you please join me in welcoming a new member of the Grace Before Meals family: Joshua Giorgio Hansbrough, the son of my project manager, Joe and Erica Hansbrough, and the little brother to Grace.
As many of you know from working with him to schedule or coordinate events, Joe Hansbrough is just as busy behind the computer or phones while I’m busy on the road. Joe reports that Joshua Giorgio is a real “eater” and has great metabolism! Can’t wait for the opportunity to cook for him as I did for his big sister – another really good eater!
Joshua Giorgio was born on September 11, 2014. On that eerie day for airlines, I was on a plane headed to Denver to film a catechetical segment for the Augustine Institute. If you’re familiar with the Grace Before Meals story, you’ll see the irony. The idea of Grace Before Meals was intimately connected to the tragic date of September 11. With Joshua Giorgio, September 11 now has extra special meaning. God works in ironic, beautiful and wonderfully mysterious ways. A date that reminds people of death and destruction. But for people of faith, this date becomes a date to remember hope, courage, fortitude; a day of new life, and increases love for people that extends beyond the limits of life on earth.
Maybe because of my transition into a community of Consecrated Life I’ve been more aware of the ironic and providential ways that God has been encouraging and affirming our Grace Before Meals apostolate. Little signs, like encouraging emails, cards from children, affirming encounters, and now the celebration of the new life of Joshua Giorgio on September 11th speaks to my heart about how God does not give up on humanity. It’s my prayer that in the increasing challenges of our economy, politics, social struggles and world wars, I pray that humanity doesn’t give up on God!
Let us pray:
Despite our busyness God, may we always hear your voice speak to us a word of encouragement, reminding us to pray, to find quiet, and to never forget your presence in the dignity of humanity and the gift of life! We pray for all who continue to struggle in the aftermath of world tragedies and those who silently struggle in their hearts and homes. I pray that all will be faithful to see the providence of God, sometimes working through the irony of life. May we never give up on you God, as we know You are always faithful to us. Amen.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
|Frying Rice & Grilling Ray Rice|
Let us pray:
Father, we pray for couples experiencing challenges. We pray for an end to domestic violence and for more patient discernment as we try to use these news headlines to educate our children about the real meaning of marriage. Keep us focused on the grace and not the “train-wrecks” of society, lest they become the only model of relationships that unfortunately form our conscious. Help us to remember how your Son Jesus gave us the perfect example of what it means to love one another, without violence and always with forgiveness. We ask this in His most holy name. Amen.
|Jesus came to forgive us our sins.|
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Sioux City, IA
9/20/14 – 9/22/14
The Real Ice Bucket Challenge: Building an Ice Bridge
|Notre Dame Du Cap Shrine in Montreal.|
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, may our generous hearts and prayerful concerns bring about miraculous cures for diseases that people suffer from. At the same time, may You bring about a greater good, such as compassion and service, amidst the suffering. Bless efforts of people doing research to find cures. Inspire them with wisdom, guided by a morality, never compromising the dignity of the human person. May those who suffer experience the consolation of Christ’s Cross, which bridges us from sickness to health, from death to life. Amen.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
(1) Did you participate in the ice-bucket challenge?
(2) How can we be a bridge for those who suffer?
(3) The miracle of Our Lady of the Cape makes us think how God always answers our prayers. Is there a prayer or miracle that you received from God?
Your comments and questions help us to create stronger connections and bridges to our Grace Before Meals community. Post your comments HERE.
This Week’s Recipe
9/13/14 – 9/17/14
|Back to School|
The rush to get families back to school and all the other activities brings about the blessing of a regular schedule, but also the struggle to get back into a routine after a (hopefully) relaxing summer. Our Grace Before Meals Team feels that same pressure. For that reason, we want to keep this week’s Blast nice and simple: we want to pray for the blessing of the school year and also to provide highlights and links to events and news in which you can participate.
We have so much to share with you that we hope you stay in touch through our social network on Facebook,Twitter and more regular blogging on the gracebeforemeals.com
Things to keep in mind:
Napa Valley Trip November 9-14, 2014:
Registrations will close by the end of next week so sign up and reserve your spot for this gourmet food and wine spiritual retreat. Click here for the brochure or call Diane at 313-565-8888 x 122.
Holy Land Food and Faith Tour February 1-12, 2015:
Jerusalem is truly a city of peace. Despite some of the tensions shown on the news, Christian pilgrims go to the Holy Land each day and share in the blessings of the land. We have once again opened up our registrations for this incredible opportunity to grow in our faith, help spread the efforts of peace, and show our solidarity for the Christians living in the Holy Land. Our tour operator can provide all the information to let you know all of the safety measures that are taken to ensure a beautiful and enjoyable tour of the Holy Land. Click here for the brochure or call 800-842-4842.
The new season of EWTN’s popular show, “Savoring our Faith” will commence filming this September with a traveling show. Fr. Leo will visit different parts of the country, share some of the spiritual blessings, bring you to Catholic owned restaurants to share their culinary perspective, and then take us all into the kitchen to learn how to make these foods that will remind you of the the blessings from your own travels. You can watch Fr. Leo’s weekly show on EWTN by checking your local listings.
Let us pray:
God our Father, help us to be good disciples (students) in the call to live lives of loving service to You and each other. Please Lord, give to our schools teachers blessed with patience, wisdom and a dynamic ability to communicate truth. Provide for our students a heart that seeks wisdom, a humble disposition, joy and gratitude for the opportunity to learn. Offer the gentle reminder to families that the primary educators of all children are their parents who teach a way of life and encourage faith which begins at home. May our saints, especially those gifted with intelligence and learning, pray for us so that we can learn the greatest lessons in life; lessons that teach us how Jesus came to this earth to teach us by His words and example. Amen.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Do you have any questions that you’d like for Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals Team to help answer for you?
Would you like Fr. Leo to come to your parish, organization or (arch)Diocese? Simply reach out to my project manager Joe Hansbrough at 410-667-1400 or at email@example.com.
Your communication encourages our efforts. Please post your comments and questions HERE.
This Week’s Recipe
Breaking Boards and Bread
Originally Posted 8/31/11
NOTE: Every so often, we offer “Blasts from the Past”, which are older posts that still provide a great message and often times, food. With the Napa Valley trip coming up November 9-14 (click the link above to register), check out this letter from one of the Vineyard owners who felt blessed following Fr. Leo’s last “Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands” pilgrimage in 2011.
Yes, this is SPAM, but in French it’s called “KAM!” Why not just call it Spamé?
This week, I offer two unique e-mails. One came from a vineyard I visited during the “Fruit of the Vine Retreat” I offered in Napa Valley last June .
|Some of the pilgrims from the tower of Castello di Amorosa Vineyard in Napa Valley.|
This trip was a highlight of the summer. The pilgrims who came along experienced incredible faith opportunities, complemented with food and wine, exquisite views, and fantastic people. I can’t say enough about it! I’ll just have to leave up to you take advantage and truly understand for yourself when we offer this trip again next year. So many people are already calling/e-mailing me about when we’ll go to next year. Let’s just say the plans are in the works. So stay tuned! [Note: You can still register for the November 2014 trip by clicking HERE.]
|A top of the mountain view of Napa Valley from Hall Winery.|
One of our stops took us to the beautiful home of the Taylor Family, with a vineyard of the same name. While we never discussed the specifics of faith in detail, the family definitely had plenty of it as they embarked on this new venture to produce high quality wine with a personalized, family touch. While I was there, I blessed the vineyard (at their request). So after getting drenched I prayed for God’s protection on this land, with the hopes that the land, like our souls, will be fruitful, productive, and yield a harvest to be shared with a hungering and thirsting world.
|Getting a hands-on lesson about growing grapes.|
Here’s a pleasant and surprising e-mail from the owner. You’ll read how blessings DO work! You better believe that the next time I lead a group there, we will go back and visit this family and celebrate God’s blessings around our table and in the Lord’s vineyard!
It was such a pleasure hosting and meeting you and your entire group during your recent Napa visit. Thank you for taking the time to visit us and for the vineyard/estate blessing. Several weeks ago while our fruit was in bloom we had a very strong storm come through Napa that caused a lot of damage in the vineyards. I am convinced that your blessing protected our vineyard from damage as miraculously we escaped major “shatter” from the 1 1/2″ downpour. Many of our neighbors had considerable loss in their vineyards. Thank you so very much.
I hope that you decide to return to Napa. I would love the opportunity to cook alongside you in our new wood fired oven.
Sandra Taylor Carlson
|Our Lady’s Fruit, Jesus, blessing the vineyard of Meritage Winery and Resort – our hotel with a chapel!|
And now for a completely unrelated question/topic about the martial arts, and its connection to my faith and my spirituality that also promotes peace. It’s a question I receive regularly. Most recently I reflected on it as I participated in my sister’s 4th Degree Black Belt test. There, I had a reunion with my former instructor and my students. I even had a chance to “spar” against a few of the testers. Yes, it brought back memories and reminded me of how God worked even in the midst of my martial arts training.
Hello Fr. Leo,
I had a quick question about the Catholic faith and learning martial arts. If man is ordained a Catholic priest, could he still learn/practice a martial art? If not, why can lay Catholics engage in the martial arts but not Catholic priests?
A Catholic Priest IS permitted to practice martial arts. I still do, to some degree. As a former instructor, I taught my students – no matter what religion they professed – the need to practice natural virtue while engaging in martial arts training. To be a good and effective practitioner of martial arts, you have to be humble, obedient, and disciplined. That doesn’t sound bad, does it?
|Me and my former instructor, Mr. Fred Ocampo.|
The popularized/Hollywood impression of martial artists is that they’re all tough guys who go around bullying people. In fact, the opposite is true. Most of the traditional practitioners were monks, who were willing to defend their country and culture if necessary.
For most modern practitioners, martial arts is a sport. It gives training to the body and mind. Some people make it a “religion,” which, at my school, we heartily rejected. While we could be considered “masters” of the art, we all preferred to just be called “teachers,” as humble martial artists recognize there is only one trust Master: God of the Universe!
As a sport, you can approach it with humility or pride. I’ve seen more violent basketball, baseball, and football players than martial artists.
|“Great in the Lord Conference” – The “Bread Breaker” now “Board Breaking.”|
My suggestion: take martial art training for all the right reasons. Do it for exercise, for toning, strengthening muscles, and gaining flexibility. Study and respect the antiquity of the Asian culture, which has produced incredible inventions and unique techniques that still work today! Practice this skill with the intent to be humble.
If you have the opportunity to use it to defend yourself or your family, then thank God you know how to. The fact is, God gives us strength, wisdom, and a right mind to avoid situations where we will have to use it. In other words, martial artists don’t frequent rough and tough places. Our skills teach us to avoid problems and to only use the skills as a last resort.
To help you formulate a better understanding of the art, I offer you the “creed” students said before every class:
The Martial Arts is: A peaceful life secret, only to be used in defense. It is a commitment to develop and succeed for the good of society. It’s a way of life, following our positive natural virtues, of courtesy, perseverance, and self-control and indomitable spirit.
|Using martial arts techniques for a popular youth conference talk called “Spiritual Combat,” for about 5,000 teenagers at the Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, 2010.|
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
- Did you ever have something blessed and then afterwards truly feel that the blessing worked, like the Taylor Vineyard blessing?
- Do you practice a martial art, and how would you reconcile your spiritual commitments with this potentially deadly skill?
- Do you have any questions for which Fr. Leo can offer a perspective – a “food for thought?”
Your communication encourages our efforts. Please post your comments and questions below.
Let us pray:
Father in Heaven, teach us humility so that we, like vineyard workers will depend on You; and, as soldiers, we will hear the command and be willing to fight – not with weapons but with faith – against forces that want to harm our souls. Give us Grace, Lord, to put all things in Your hands – our food, our sports, our hobbies, so as to transform these into gifts, rather than weapons! Amen.
READ: Fr. Leo Interviewed on BeautyInBelief.com
|Click to read the interview on BeautyInBelief.com|
READ: Fr. Leo’s Eggplant Caponata Recipe featured on CatholicMom.org
8/23/14 – 8/26/14
- All Souls Day
- Blast from the Past
- CRS Rice Bowl
- Culinary Confessions
- Dinner Discussion
- Entertaining Truth
- Epic Food Fight
- Faithful Foodie
- Feast Days
- Food for the Body
- Food for the Soul
- Food for Thought
- From the Feedbag
- Grace Before Meals
- In Memory
- Menu Inspiration
- Merry Christmas
- New Year
- Past Emails
- Recipe- Dessert
- Recipe- Pork
- Recipe-Side Dishes
- Restauraunt Reviews
- Savoring Our Faith
- Simply Blogging
- Special Religious Theme
- Spicing Up Married Life
- Taste Tester
- What's On the Table