|The hills of Napa Valley.|
|Jesus turned water into wine….and lots of it.|
|Sharing delicious dinners was just another way God blessed us on this trip!|
|The Taylor family and I take a picture on one of the many beautiful spots in Napa.|
|At a tasting in the “Great Hall” at Castello di Amaroso”|
|At Bottega Restaurant for a special welcome dinner|
|This year’s Napa Valley Pilgrims!We had a great time together and pray for more adventures.|
Let us pray:
Father, help us to expand our understanding of faith – not just in our personal prayer, but also in our active search as a pilgrim in this world. Give us a better understanding of why you give us bread and wine as your divine presence at the Last Supper. May a “theology of food” give us inspiration to see food as a sign of love – especially when we share it with those who hunger for You! We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
|A shot of a vineyard.|
At Chateau Montelena with Judy Barrett, owner of the award-winning wine, and her staff who helped me prepare a mid-day feast!
Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait
I’m filming a new season of Savoring Our Faith for EWTN. This time, there’s a wonderful twist. This season, I share the faithful foodie message with people around the country and around the world. I could be coming to a city near you!
|At Steubenville Atlantic in Halifax Canada.|
|My team while in Little Rock AR for a Savoring Our Faith episode.|
|Me with some of the special guests at our San Diego Episodes, Members of our US Military serving in Coronado.|
|Click for the Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait recipe as featured in the upcoming season of Savoring Our Faith|
|Timmerie and Charles from John Paul the Great University sampling one of the dishes before tasting the dessert.|
– What’s the most beautiful (or your favorite) church, shrine, or place to pray in the Phoenix area?
– What’s your favorite restaurant in the Phoenix area, especially if it’s owned by people of faith, well-known for unique cuisine, or has a special story worth sharing with our viewers?
- When you think of food from Phoenix, what do you suggest I learn and cook for TV?
Let us pray:
Father, bless our efforts to strengthen families and relationships through Your gift of food and the family meal. Bless also our efforts to produce these new TV shows and the work of EWTN. May these shows reach people in all parts of the word to inspire faith, communion with each other, and most importantly, communion with You in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sweet and Sour
Being a public person, not just as TV & Radio Host and Speaker, but even just having your face on the internet, opens you up to a whole host of comments. Occasionally, I like to share some of what I receive and even my responses. This week, I hope you enjoy the variety of unique and even awkward messages, along with some inspiring messages.
This one came from my Facebook page, and it’s copied verbatim, so any grammar issues are not mine:
when you cook Italian I want to barf I make home made sausages home made wines home ade pasta, pickle veggies of all sorts and for you to represent a priest maybe studied in Rome dosen’t make you chef of the future . With all do respect try teaching the foods from the country you were born in I beleive Philopines!?
|Me with Chef Jeff of Flip my Food. Celebrity Chef who conquered struggles in his life, including prison, to become the first African American to serve as Executive Chef at the Bellaggio in Las Vegas.|
Dear Facebook Follower:
Thanks for your note, even if it was insulting. Your racial prejudice leads to an illogical result. I enjoy cooking Italian food, like other types of cuisine, because I studied some culinary arts while I lived in Italy for several years. I would hope your Italian heritage would be “complimented” in that other nationalities also enjoy the cuisine. Highlighting other cultures and cuisines provides an encouraging opportunity to experience a global cuisine because we are a global family. You don’t have to be Italian to cook Italian, and being a Filipino American doesn’t mean that I cannot eat, learn and cook other ethnic foods. I never claim to be a “chef of the future” but a cook to bring families to the dinner table. Gratefully, I’ve had Italian Chefs taste my cooking and it was humbling to hear their compliments for my cooking. One day, I’d like to learn from you some of your cooking techniques. In the meantime, I pray you will have the humility, discipline and patience to teach your children and grandchildren these techniques, even if they’re not 100% Italian, so that your memories and meals will last for generations. Buon Appetito!
Here’s a letter I received from a young man, with whom I had the privilege to cook with during a Mission trip to San Diego. I edited some of letter to get to the really good points.
|David, a young man who is connecting generations through food!|
Dear Fr. Leo,
My name is David […] a sophomore at St. Augustine High School. I would say I’m a typical teenager who likes to play sports. But what makes me unique and a little quirky is my love and passion for food. At age 5, my mom remembers that instead of asking for the children’s menu at restaurants, I would ask the waitress, “What is the fresh catch of the day?” I definitely liked fine dining and would say I have developed a pretty good palate….
This past summer, food would take on a different meaning to me. My grandfather suffered a stroke. His movements and abilities definitely slowed down. My grandfather, who was a chief cook in the US Navy, was having a hard time cooking dinner for himself and my grandmother. My mom started making dinner for them 1-2 times a week and bringing it over to their house. I started helping her and enjoyed learning how to cook other meals and I also enjoyed talking to her and hearing some of her childhood stories. Then when we delivered the food to my grandparents I learned so much about them. I heard stories of how my grandfather met my grandmother, which was pretty funny. […] Every time he would talk about his Navy days his eyes would swell up with so much gratitude that the Navy gave him the opportunity to raise his family in the United States. I realized at that moment food was connecting generations […] I have been so busy with sports, tournaments and studying that I was missing out on learning about my culture and my family. It’s sad to say that my generation is so focused on being the best in everything that we’re spending less and less time with our grandparents.
What I wanted to do is to start a movement of “Connecting Generations with Food.” The problem is I don’t know how to begin. How can I promote this in my school and in the community? My mom told me about your movement, “Grace Before Meals.” Perhaps I can get involved in your ministry and [perhaps] you can mentor me on how to get my movement going.
Thank you for your guidance,
|One of blessings of my work is that I get a chance to speak to large groups made up of different generations. Young, old and everything in between love the Grace Before Meals message!|
This letter brought tears to my eyes. You are embodying my Grace Before Meals message. You see that food has power! That’s why Jesus became our “food” in the Eucharist. I’m proud that you’re making the connections with your parents and grandparents. I’m so excited to hear of your ideas. To help you get your movement off the ground, here are a few suggestions:
(1) Say a prayer, and ask God for help! With God, all things are possible. Even for a cook like me to win a recipe cooking competition against Bobby Flay!
(2) Talk with your teacher or school principal on possibly getting a club together, one that combines food and different traditions. You could even host a school-wide cooking presentation. AND, I’d love to come and present the message to your fellow students.
(3) Keep on learning about your grandparents, parents, and one another. Keep learning cooking skills from different cultures and cuisines. Don’t be afraid to try different foods, but also learn its history. And, above all, keep learning about your faith that has the power to connect you to more than your grandparents. Faith can help connect you to the Saints in Heaven!
Finally, here’s a question that I’ve been getting since I was given permission by the Archbishop of Baltimore to enter a formation process for consecrated life with Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.
|Me praying at the tomb of the founder of the Voluntas Dei Ponfitical Secular Institute, Fr. Louise Marie Parent, in Trois Riviers, Quebec, Canada.|
Dear Fr. Leo,
Are you still a priest? I’m confused because you said you’re now in a “secular” community? Does that mean you’re no longer able to say Mass and hear confessions?
Yes, I’m a very happy Roman Catholic Priest and will, God willing, die a priest – faithful to the Lord, His Church and to my priestly promises. Since January 2014, I received permission to enter a communion of consecrated life, called Voluntas Dei (the Will of God), a group known as a “secular institute.” That means that my job is now to help be a leaven in the “secular world,” following the example of the Lord who sent his disciples ‘into the world’ to spread the good news! (Matthew 28). So, I’m a priest. I still say Mass everyday. I hear A LOT of confessions because now I speak at large venues and evangelization conferences. I still celebrate the sacraments. I’m connected to my community through monthly gatherings. In fact, we’re starting a local “Voluntas Dei Team” in the Maryland area. What has changed is my living situation and priestly duties. Now, I live in a small private place, where I can experience solitude in the midst of my busy schedule. As part of our charism, we do not live separate from the world, but in the midst of the world – again, just like Jesus. My work is not focused only on the local parish, but now the universal church. That means, with the permission and support of my community and superiors, I travel as missionary, a preacher, retreat director, conference and keynote speaker, and TV and Radio host spreading the news beyond the walls or geographical church boundaries. For many years I felt a call to heed Jesus’s Great Commission: Go out to all the world and spread the Good News! Now, as a priest member of Voluntas Dei, I finally sense that I’m doing His specific call for me. Pray for me!
|At a great parish mission for Sts. Anne and Joachim Parish in Fargo, ND|
Let us pray:
Father, help us to recognize how your voice is communicating a powerful message to us through the Scriptures, the prayers, the wisdom of the saints, and even through the emails and voicemails we may receive. May we always listen for your voice and have the strength the follow your will. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Post your comments, questions or concerns HERE. It helps us to stay focused on our mission! Help spread the word by passing this email on to family, friends, pastors and parishioners! And, if you want to experience Fr. Leo’s message live and in person, contact the project manager HERE.
(1) How do you handle critical emails and social media posts, like the one I received from my Facebook page?
(2) What suggestions do you have for David to get his “Connecting Generations with Food” movement off the ground?
(3) Besides parish administration and sacramental ministries, how do you think a priest can help build up the body of Christ in this modern world?
|Me with Fr. Schmid in Phoenix Arizona, he was the cover picture for a new book to help priests learn how to cook!|
Keeping the Dead Alive
You’ll notice the title of this blog seems somewhat morbid, right in line with the Halloween season as it has come to be known. But as October comes to an end, we enter into several sacred celebrations: All Hallows’ Eve, All Souls Day and All Saints Day! These Feast Days give us opportunities to reflect on family and friends who have gone before us and we pray have experienced God’s mercy in heaven. While it’s easy to put on a Halloween costume, these feast days remind us to ‘put on the virtues’ that make our deceased family and friends so missed. That means, keeping the faith of our loved ones alive in our hearts, mind and actions!
|Click to watch Joe’s tribute video for his Dad, and share your comments about your own loved ones.|
|Joe’s son Joshua at 6 weeks old, named for his late uncle. He’s got some family to look over him from above!|
Let us pray:
Father in heaven, as our church celebrates All Hallows’ Eve, All Souls Day and All Saints Day, we pray that see the spiritual significance of our prayers by remembering the souls of the faithful departed and by living lives of sanctity so that we will one day share in the eternal victory celebration in heaven. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Seafood, Sex, the Synod and the Pearl of Great Price
Connecting food and faith is what I do. And if I were to characterize my faith the past few weeks as a food it would easily be that particular shellfish: the crab! Admittedly, hectic travel, news of spreading Ebola, terrorist threats, political mudslinging commercials, rude people in restaurants and airports can make anyone “crabby.”
|Sometimes, it is easy to feel crabby, right?|
For me, the greatest frustration came when I read church chatter about the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family. What was supposed to be an honest dialogue about difficult pastoral issues turned into a media circus that distorted Church teachings and made Church leadership look like out-of-touch-mean-spirited-shepherds. According to pop-culture news, sabotage, dissension and mistrust characterized the conversation. Unfortunately, the labels “conservative” and “liberal” seemingly replaced “faithful” and “compassionate.”
In the midst of these struggles, I thankfully had an event in sunny Florida, giving me a day to walk along the beach and pray. Being close to the ocean reminded me of God’s ocean of mercy. We all need it! There, I sensed God telling me to help people think of the Church, not as a crab, but as another type of shellfish: the oyster.
Pope Francis called this extraordinary synod to discuss how to pastorally serve the Church’s families, which includes separated, divorced, remarried and homosexual persons. When boiled down, the Church’s leadership was talking about sex and sexual practices that don’t fulfill God’s plan. Sex, as a topic, makes us a little defensive and nervous, like parents explaining “the birds and the bees” to inquisitive children. But it’s about time the Church got practical in its discussion because the spirit of the world talks about sex in ungodly ways! It’s been reported that some synod participants said the Church’s teachings are clear and that “pastoral discussions” are just watering down the Faith, creating even more divide between “progressive” and “traditional” Catholics. So who’s right?
Enter my previous analogy of the Church as an oyster and how an oyster’s pearl is made. This shellfish, like the Church, always appears tightly closed to protect itself. But in order to survive, the Church’s protective walls are open, like the eye of the needle – big enough for a camel to enter, but difficult for the rich and righteous to enter (Matthew 19:24). A pearl is made when, for whatever reason, foreign substances penetrate even the most tightly-closed hardshell, implanting itself within, like an ‘intruder.’ To protect itself, the shellfish doesn’t discharge the intruder but instead secretes a protective substance, called nacre. Over time, the nacre builds up and it becomes a pearl. What started out as something negative and unwanted within the shellfish, eventually becomes something miraculous and beautiful to behold.
|Caught up in the waves.|
As I walked the shore, I sensed God telling me that nacre is Grace. The “intruder” is the sinner who, like a child crying and fussing to be heard, is the future pearl of great price. We all know that some of our greatest saints were the greatest sinners. St. Paul was even a former “enemy” of the Church! How difficult was it for St. Peter and other apostles to accept him in their fold? A sinner’s presence in the protective shell of the Church provides an opportunity for the merciful Lord to do His miraculous cure by covering that sinner with Grace. In dealing with people, who through sins experience a separation from the Church, it’s tempting to just hunker down, tighten up the shell, or immediately throw out the sinner. Instead, the synod sought to better understand the reality of individual complex situations. It simply tried to surround that future pearl of great price with miraculous Grace. While excommunication remains a viable option for the Church to protect itself, Jesus seemed to reserved that action to only a few instances, such as money changers and the self-righteous at the end of time.
The pearl of great price is not some ideology of puritanical faith, but a result of a miraculous and grace-filled process. We have to trust that God is in charge of that process. God will not allow even confusing or conflicting news about the synod to destroy the Church. The Fisher of Man is praying for Peter’s Successor, Pope Francis. (Luke 22)
|Pope Francis blesses a child.|
The challenging synod discussions simply recognized how divorced, remarried people, and any well-intentioned and sincere members of the homosexual community are already within the Church’s protective shell. What do we do with them? Are we trying to “get rid” of them or rather shower them with Grace and patiently wait for the Grace to build up despite our broken nature?
Walking along the beach, praying for more Grace to make sense of all of life’s difficulties reminded me to be faithful, patient and “less crabby” in the process. We’re called to never give up but be faithful and trust that God can use these difficult situations to strengthen our faith, even if we can’t easily see God’s plan. After all, despite the tumultuous history, the Church continues to produce great saints, pearls of great value, making this world a better place.
As I walked along the beach, I prayed for my heart to be a pearl-producing oyster. Honestly, I still felt a little crabby knowing I had to get on another airplane, deal with security lines and read the news headlines. But God’s Grace can transform even a tough-shelled crab into something delicious, satisfying and worth celebrating. It just requires a recipe to boil the “hell” out of the crab, season it with the salt of the earth and earth’s bitter herbs like a blend of chicory, coriander and chives.
There’s good news! The Church IS a pearl-producing oyster. We’re not all crabby! But, there’s even hope for crabby folks! Melted butter for dipping and a cold beer.
|Click for the recipe for Seafood Stew with crab and a coconut curry cream sauce|
Let us pray:
Father, turn us into the pearl of great price by surrounding us with Grace. We know our sins should be an automatic “eject” button for us, but you allow us to remain inside the Church’s family. Transform us into pearls of great price. Help us to be patient and more trusting of the process, especially as the synod deliberates the difficult topics of the day. May faithful people desire to act union with the Pope. May honest disagreement be spoken in charity. Lord, silence our arrogance. Holy Spirit, continue to convert the heart of each synod participant to become like the Good Shepherd – not just in intellectual orthodoxy but also in the practical compassion that welcomed the prodigal son to the feast. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
- Who’s your favorite saint, who just happened to be a former sinner? Mine is St. Paul.
- Have you ever found pearls in your shellfish? What did you do with it?
- What’s your favorite shellfish?
- Do you have any good oyster recipes to share with our Grace Before Meals family?
Help us to spread the message by sending this email to your family, friends, parishioners and even your pastor, and post your comments below.
10/25/14 – 10/28/14
Taste of Travel – Bitter Sweet
|Passion fruit dessert with bitter sweet chocolate mousse|
|Averna Amaro, an Italian bitter sweet after dinner drink to help digest your meal. Amaro means “bitter”.|
|We are called to carry our crosses in life, through which we prove our faith and prepare ourselves for heaven.|
|Happy Christians, eh?|
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Let us pray:
Palm Beach, FL
San Diego, CA
- 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
- The Table Foundation
- What's On the Table