From The Feedbag


Nothing Is Wasted!

A few weeks ago I wrote an email blast about the sin of waste – waste of food and the waste of a person’s mind by a lack of conscience formation.  I presented this simple moral message to a group of people with different backgrounds.  It’s not just a sin for Catholics, Christians, Jews or Muslims.  It’s a problem humanity faces worldwide.

(Warehouse of foods donated to Three Square by different vendors, hotels and restaurants. If not donated, it would go to waste! Consider if all were more conscious of this generosity—we could alleviate hunger!)

(Warehouse of foods donated to Three Square by different vendors, hotels and restaurants. If not donated, it would go to waste! Consider if all were more conscious of this generosity—we could alleviate hunger!)

I recently went to Las Vegas, unfortunately known as “Sin City,” to do a talk at a feeding center called Three Square.  While Vegas may be known for sinning in other immoral ways, I can proudly and faithfully say that wasting food is one sin Las Vegas is trying NOT to commit.  This brainchild of Conrad Hilton of the Hilton Family of Hotels accepts donations from all the hotels and different food services in the Vegas area, serving as a “hub” for food products that are used to feed low-income families, support other area food kitchens, and even provide low-priced catering services.

(Executive Chef, showing some of the in-house food products that will go to local, low-income families. Healthy, fresh and delicious.)

(Executive Chef, showing some of the in-house food products that will go to local, low-income families. Healthy, fresh and delicious.)

Special thanks to Executive Chef John Hilton (no relation to Conrad) for the tour of this amazing facility that inspired my faith.  This feeding center is one special concept happening in Vegas, that I pray doesn’t stay in Vegas!

(Gourmet sandwiches that will feed about 3,000 young children in one day. Pretty impressive—but Jesus still holds the record of feeding the multitudes!)

(Gourmet sandwiches that will feed about 3,000 young children in one day. Pretty impressive—but Jesus still holds the record of feeding the multitudes!)

I was invited by the Las Vegas Legatus Chapter to share the Grace Before Meals message at their monthly meeting, held at the Three Square facility.  While I’ve presented Grace Before Meals in many wonderful places, from formal and fancy to humble and cozy, I must admit this had to be one of the BEST cooking demonstration areas I’ve ever used.  A twelve burner oven, double-thick marble counter top and every professional cooking gadget you can think of made this a very efficient set-up to share our common message!  I was also provided with the helping hands of Chef Ryan, who recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, and Chef Ava from France, who directed the event that evening.

(Sous Chef Ryan and Director of Special Events, Chef Ava)

(Sous Chef Ryan and Director of Special Events, Chef Ava)

The kitchen was spotless, even though they feed about 3,000 people each day. The actual facility was constructed by a faithful Catholic construction company, but the organization itself is multi-faithful.  The general manager (a former Baptist seminarian) and I shared a brief conversation at the end of the night, discussing how food, and the loving act of feeding each other, can help heal some of our world’s problems, especially those caused by religious tensions. I found it impressive that there were only a few “hired” employees at Three Square; the rest of the crew is a mix of volunteers who serve food and recently graduated culinary students offering their internship time to learn more than just the practical matters of food service.  In the Three Square concept, they are learning how to share the blessings—with generosity!

(Every meal is truly a special event, especially when we feed the poor!)

(Every meal is truly a special event, especially when we feed the poor!)

This week’s “From the Feedbag” gives us pause to consider the nuances of the moral message about the sin of waste, and how  a better understanding of managing and reducing waste can help all be fed!

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Father Leo,

I am not a Catholic, but I very much appreciate and learn from your writings and ministry.  When I read your recent mailing regarding blessings, I was prompted to write to you.  For some time now, I have been thinking that I would like to pray a blessing of some sort over my young son each morning and evening.  Are there any formal prayers or blessings that might be appropriate?  If so, where might I find them?

Thank you very much,

R.

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Dear “R”,

I appreciate that you are a part of our movement, and that you realize the message isn’t just for Catholics. In fact, it’s a message for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Regarding your question, I’m equally impressed that you were willing to ask me about this special blessing.  Not praying for your children becomes a “waste of faith,” so to speak, and the Catholic tradition offers a ton of resources—a treasury of faithful prayers, if you will–to help you become a good spiritual parent for your family.  Visit any Christian or Catholic bookstore and you may find (1) devotional prayers, and (2) good biographies of people who demonstrate faith.  It’s one thing to pray over your children; it’s another thing to provide them with good examples of faith, by the witness of the lives of Saints.  Depending on how young they are, you may even want to read to them a bedtime story about the Saints, and say their prayers, along with yours, to bless your children!

Thank you so much for being a part of our movement and for spreading the message!

Kindly,

Fr. Leo

(Special “ecumenical” and “inter-religious” quote from Ghandi. How true!) 

(Special “ecumenical” and “inter-religious” quote from Ghandi. How true!)

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Dear Fr .Leo,

I watched your show this morning on EWTN, in which you cooked your leek soup. I am German, and leek goes into every soup I ever make. However,  it upset me very much to watch you cut the green part of the leek off and throw it in the garbage!! That’s a terrible waste, and in my book, waste is a sin.  Leek costs $2.99 a pound, and throwing away half of it really hurts me.

So please, next time use all of the precious vegetable; the green is as good  (it might take a little bit longer to cook)  as the white part and even stronger in taste.

Respectfully submitted,

“A”

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(July 2011- Film crew for EWTN’s new series, “Savoring our Faith,” due for release in the spring of 2012)

(July 2011- Film crew for EWTN’s new series, “Savoring our Faith,” due for release in the spring of 2012)

Dear “A”,

Thanks for writing about the recipe that you saw on one my cooking shows on EWTN. You are absolutely correct that I probably should have used the whole leek. Without trying to make excuses, I can say for sure that the sin of waste was not my intention. I was simply following the ingredients and instructions I was taught.  And honestly, I don’t know how to take away the strong onion taste from the green part of the stem to maintain the flavor of the dish.  So, along with your suggestion not to waste, I would also like to ask you to send me the recipe or cooking technique you would use. By sharing your tips and techniques, you can help us all avoid wasting!

With gratitude,

Fr. Leo

(The newly renovated St. James Church, where we had mass prior to the Una Fides (One Faith) Luncheon)

(The newly renovated St. James Church, where we had mass prior to the Una Fides (One Faith) Luncheon)

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Fr. Leo,

I met you in Orlando at St.James for an Una Fides luncheon. I bought your cookbook and have made almost everything! Everything has been fantastic, but the lasagna beats them all! I made it for my family and friends including five huge young men and it was  a big hit. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!

God bless,

“M”

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Dear “M”,

I’m so glad that you and your family enjoyed the recipes from my book. The Una Fides luncheon inspired me in that so many people came out to develop and form their conscience with ongoing faith formation and good reading materials.  Keep it up.  As a unique side note, the hearty layered lasagna in my book was created because I was using leftovers, so that nothing went to waste.  Our movement is called Grace Before Meals and I can tell you  I prayed that this recipe would work out.   God blessed the meal of leftovers remade, with deliciousness that obviously brought the real blessings to your table!

Thanks for the recipe review, and please send me any other recipes reviews, even if they are critiques or suggestions for improving any of the multiple recipes that I’ve posted on my website!

With gratitude,

Fr. Leo

(Students from City College Culinary Program distributing some food to the homeless)

(Students from City College Culinary Program distributing some food to the homeless)

Let us pray: Father in Heaven, teach us how to wisely use the things of the earth so that we can share them with others, as a sign of our Faith in You.  Give us grace and strength to make a difference in our homes and our local communities by getting involved in food centers like Three Square, other agencies like Our Daily Bread, and different outreaches, such as St. Vincent de Paul or Catholic Charities.  May our work together, despite our different religions, bring us to a common understanding of what humanity really hungers for:  Faith, hope and love!  Amen.

(Warehouse at Three Square with donated food. There is enough to feed the world's belly, but only Christ can feed the world's soul!)

(Warehouse at Three Square with donated food. There is enough to feed the world’s belly, but only Christ can feed the world’s soul!)

If you have questions, comments, recipe suggestions, or even “complaints” about our menu ideas, please let us know. Your honest feedback shows how our relationship is one built on trust, humble communication and faithfulness. Post your comments below and be a blessing to us, just as we hope our movement is to you!

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Posted in Events, Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, From the Feedbag, Grace Before Meals, Prayers | 3 Comments »

Faithful Foodie Adventure

A Guest at Our Table

NOTE: Thanks to our readers for catching a grievous typo.  We corrected the spelling of New Jersey and apologize for the clerical error. It was not our intent to offend anyone by our misspelling.

This week we have the special opportunity to share a restaurant review from one of our faithful foodie subscribers and a Grace Before Meals follower.  As you recall, I invited our members to join the fun and submit critiques of restaurants they’ve visited during their travels.

(One of the beautifully plated appetizers served at the Culinary Cruise this past summer. It was a whole week of cooking critique!)

(One of the beautifully plated appetizers served at the Culinary Cruise this past summer. It was a whole week of cooking critique!)

This one comes from Elizabeth Quirino, who lives in the Patterson Diocese of New Jersey.  Elizabeth shares some of her thoughts about a local restaurant she and her family visited while in Delaware called Northeast Seafood Kitchen.  She is also a contributor to the websites:  www.asianinamericamag.com and www.queensnotebook.com.

Restaurant reviews from our viewers give your family the chance to share great food finds, but also give you the opportunity to offer constructive critiques about something extremely important to our travels in life:  good food!  Another interesting point about offering restaurant critiques – they give families a chance to talk about positive and negative qualities and characteristics that can be emulated or avoided in their home or in their own personal lives.  In other words, critiques can be both constructive and instructive.  If they aren’t practiced or are practiced the wrong way, critiques can easily become destructive.  By articulating critiques in an appropriate and selfless way, we can actually learn about ourselves!

(My nephew, very interested in cooking – learning new techniques and improving his skills every day. He may beat me in some “flavor profiles” when it comes to food (he's great at seasoning his meals), but I would definitely take him in when it comes to kitchen cleanliness!)

(My nephew, very interested in cooking – learning new techniques and improving his skills every day. He may beat me in some “flavor profiles” when it comes to food (he’s great at seasoning his meals), but I would definitely take him in when it comes to kitchen cleanliness!)

Go ahead and share some of your thoughts about different restaurants you’d recommend (or not recommend).  Like Elizabeth, your reviews and pictures can help spread the message about good family food in different parts of the country and the world!

Also, be sure to check out her blog, where she will review my cookbook, Grace Before Meals: Recipes & Inspiration for Family Meals & Family Life and one of my recipes, my Arroz Caldo soup recipe.

(Elizabeth Quirino and with her husband Elpidio, and sons Tim and Toby. No wonder she knows her food - she has a household of hungry boys!)

(Elizabeth Quirino and with her husband Elpidio, and sons Tim and Toby. No wonder she knows her food – she has a household of hungry boys!)

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NORTHEAST SEAFOOD KITCHEN : A Restaurant Review

Northeast Seafood Kitchen

By : Elizabeth Besa Quirino

If you’re ever in the south Delaware area, specifically near the beaches, don’t miss going to NORTHEAST SEAFOOD KITCHEN Restaurant. It was a refreshing change from all of the overpriced restaurants down the shore. From the outside, we saw a casual restaurant encased within a strip mall building. But the exterior looks were deceiving. As soon as we entered, we were warmly greeted by the friendly staff. The first sight that greeted us was the busy kitchen that is visible to the restaurant patrons.

At the helm of the busy operations was Chef Bryan Muzik, who is also the General Manager.  I had met Chef Bryan at a “Beach Eats” Cooking Demo right there on the shore, during our week at Bethany Beach, Delaware. After watching his amazing cooking demos, we were convinced to go eat at NORTHEAST SEAFOOD KITCHEN.

(One of the booth settings at Northeast Seafood Kitchen.)

(One of the booth settings at Northeast Seafood Kitchen.)

As soon as we arrived at Northeast Seafood Kitchen, we were brought to our table, which was in a nice, comfortable corner spot and offered a great view of the excitement going on in the Chef’s kitchen.

Our waitress was kind and helpful with the evening’s entrees. What was hard was deciding which delicious dish to pick from. Everything on the menu looked delectable.

(Fish & Chips)

(Fish & Chips)

We started with 2 appetizers: Roasted Mussels in Chorizo, a superb starter which had some spicy chorizos, swishing around in a zesty, tangy tomato sauce. Another great starter was LEO’S FAMOUS HOT CLAM DIP with Kettle Chips. The kettle chips were light, crisp, had just the right amount of saltiness that complemented the creamy and cheesy hot clam dip.

The appetizers came quickly and were hot, fiery and good. It went well with the beverages we ordered all around. The restaurant has a fine, sturdy wine and beverage list that does not disappoint.

(Grilled Salmon Salad)

(Grilled Salmon Salad)

The entrees came soon after. My “FISH and CHIPS” was light, crisp and non-greasy. It had huge portions and the crunchy fries that came with it were amazing.

Other entrees our family ordered were : “GRILLED SALMON SALAD, which was elegantly nestled on top of a bed of fresh vegetable greens, laced with a tantalizing dressing.

(Look at the delicious lobster in the mac & cheese)

(Look at the delicious lobster in the mac & cheese)

Next up was the LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE , which according to my son, was terrific with just enough of a sharp cheddar bite swirling in it. There was also some fresh celery mixed in it which totally complemented the cheesy flavors.

We also ordered the LOBSTER BLT with SPICY MAYO, and Arugula . This came with a hefty portion of crispy, homemade kettle chips.

(A Lobster BLT served with Kettle Chips)

(A Lobster BLT served with Kettle Chips)

When the meal was over, we were so stuffed that dessert was farthest from our minds. We were mulling on ordering a few scoops of ice cream which we eventually did, when out of nowhere Chef Bryan came over with a complementary generous serving of the New England Style Oatmeal Pie Cinnamon with Whipped Cream. Did I mention it was heavenly?

The personalized service, the casual laid-back family atmosphere, and the sensational seafood courses are some of the many reasons why my family and I gave NORTHEAST SEAFOOD KITCHEN a “cool” stamp of approval for this seaside resort town in Delaware.

(Bethany Beach, DE)

(Bethany Beach, DE)

Summer doesn’t need to end. Even as the fall weather sets in, drive off to the coastal towns of Delaware …take in the sea sights, enjoy some long walks, great tax-free shopping and best of all, savor the seafood at Northeast Seafood Kitchen, which is open year round.

Northeast Seafood Kitchen Restaurant

29 F. Atlantic Ave.

Ocean View, DE 19970

302-537-1785

www.northeastseafoodkitchen.com

Price Range: $ 15-$20

Attire: Casual

Wine List : Good solid choices

Reservations not accepted. So come early!

Elizabeth Besa Quirino is a freelance writer  and food blogger of 2 blogs http://www.asianinamericamag.com and http://www.queensnotebook.com. Elizabeth develops recipes, reviews restaurants and cookbooks, enjoys travelling with her family and writes about these culinary adventures in her 2 blogs. Both blogs are about FILIPINO & ASIAN food, as well as GLOBAL CUISINE, cooked from the comfort of home. Most of the recipes featured on her blog, are family recipes from her late Mom, handed and passed around for generations.

Currently, Elizabeth, her husband, Elpidio, and their sons Tim and Toby are parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Flanders, New Jersey. She is also a Contributing Writer for http://www.HomemadeQuirk.com, a community blog of Quirk Books.

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Congratulations, Elizabeth, for a great restaurant review and great websites.  From reading this review, I’d say Grace Before Meals would give this restaurant only three out 10 Hail Mary’s, which translates to about 3.9 stars out of 5.

Dear Father, we know what is right and wrong in most things in life.  It takes great humility to hear when we are doing wrong and to accept the praise when we do something right.  Give to us that grace to be humble and to learn from critique, by learning how to critique, and to celebrate the fact that nothing is perfect, until it reaches its fulfillment in Heaven.  Thank You Lord for our Grace Before Meals movement, the friends and subscribers who help us give meaning to our meals, and in a special way Elizabeth and her contributions to our efforts.  May God bless us all, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Click the picture to watch Fr. Leo's latest video, where he traveled to St. Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown, PA for a "Food Fight")

(Click the picture to watch Fr. Leo’s latest video, where he traveled to St. Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown, PA for a “Food Fight”)

Do you have a restaurant you’d like to promote, or even warn people about.  There’s no need to be afraid if you’re just trying to be helpful in spreading the good word about good places.  Your restaurant reviews are always welcome.  Simply send us your review.  We’ll not only provide links for your websites or events, we’ll even send you a little Grace Before Meals thank you gift for being such an important and active part of our family.  Click here if you want to share a restaurant review. Post any comments and questions below.

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Posted in Contributor, Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals, Lobster, Prayers, Restaurants, Restauraunt Reviews, Video | 3 Comments »

Menu Inspiration

Tender Inside and Out! Savory and Sweet Pork Tenderloin

Tenderness describes many things – emotions, food, a romantic feeling, or a recovering wound.  The word opens our minds to something delicate, and something very much needed in a world that can be so harsh and hard, dry, and lifeless!

(The tender image of the Sedes Sapientiae – Seat of Wisdom – and how Mary serves as a "chair," i.e., someone who tenderly cares for Jesus, who is Wisdom Incarnate.)

(The tender image of the Sedes Sapientiae – Seat of Wisdom – and how Mary serves as a “chair,” i.e., someone who tenderly cares for Jesus, who is Wisdom Incarnate.)

This week’s Blast will celebrate a great fall recipe that can bring some tenderness to your table, on your table, and around your table.  I cooked this pork tenderloin for some of our Baltimore seminarians studying here Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  In the midst of a busy semester, they needed a little fraternity and food.  While they would never admit it, these moments of friendship and brotherhood are compassionate moments of goodness and even tenderness.  The food helped bring out the gentle side of these Christian gentlemen.

(At the recent Baltimore Book Festival, fellow Mount St. Joseph High School alumnus, Glen, class of '88, came out to watch and support me, a fellow Mountie. High School is an important and tender time of development in the life of teenagers. Be sure to encourage friendships that endure – even if the friends don't always see eye to eye!)

(At the recent Baltimore Book Festival, fellow Mount St. Joseph High School alumnus, Glen, class of ’88, came out to watch and support me, a fellow Mountie. High School is an important and tender time of development in the life of teenagers. Be sure to encourage friendships that endure – even if the friends don’t always see eye to eye!)

I hope you enjoy this pork recipe that is tender inside and out.

Kale and Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

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(Kale and apple stuffed pork tenderloin.)

(Kale and apple stuffed pork tenderloin.)

This week’s recipe has a couple different parts to it: first, preparing the filling, composed of sautéed kale and diced apples; second, wrapping the tenderloins in good quality bacon to keep the outside texture crispy and tender at the same time!

(Filling in the sautéed kale and apple in the butterflied tenderloin.)

(Filling in the sautéed kale and apple in the butterflied tenderloin.)

(After rolling the pork tenderloins, top off with a few rosemary leaves, not just for garnish but for an extra savory taste.)

(After rolling the pork tenderloins, top off with a few rosemary leaves, not just for garnish but for an extra savory taste.)

This meal can help heal tender wounds and provide the tender consolation of table communion with family and friends.

Father, help us to remain open to the tenderness of charity, the kindness that comes from authentic faith, and the consolation that hope gives to believers.  May we always remember those who go without family, faith, and food.  Keep us generous in our desire to feed those who hunger for the great gifts You generously give to Your people.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Another tender image of St. Joseph comforting the Lord Baby Jesus as he was crying, maybe fussing as Joseph tried to put Him to bed. Can you imagine the tender love that Mary and Joseph had for Jesus?)

(Another tender image of St. Joseph comforting the Lord Baby Jesus as he was crying, maybe fussing as Joseph tried to put Him to bed. Can you imagine the tender love that Mary and Joseph had for Jesus?)

Give this recipe a try, and tell us your thoughts.  Do you have a recipe or cooking technique that helps keep meat tender and delicious?  Your culinary comments help our members connect food, faith, and family.  When you ask questions and share your stories you remind our Grace Before Meals team of the positive influence our work has in the world.  Post your comments below.

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Posted in Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe- Pork, Recipe-Meats, Recipes | 8 Comments »

Dinner Discussion

Dinner Discussions from the Grace Before Meals movement gives “food for thought” for your family meals, by combining some aspects of faith, food, and family fun.  Hopefully this little article will give you something to talk about with your family at the kitchen table – a blessed place that enhances family communion.  If you have a comment, a question, or a topic you would like to discuss, be sure to contact us at www.gracebeforemeals.com.

The Sin of Waste

At the recent Baltimore Book Festival, I gave a presentation and cooking demonstration.  I offered a few suggestions on how to make the most out of foods, from meats to herbs.  My goal was to make sure nothing goes to waste.  My parents often told me about the plight of poor and hungry children around the world who would be quite happy to eat what I so casually wasted.  In my smart aleck fashion, I suggested to my parents that they package my uneaten brussels sprouts and send those hungry people my unwanted veggies.  My flippant attitude alone constituted a sin.  But the primary sin fell under the category of disregarding God’s blessings, i.e., waste.

(At the press conference with the Mayor of Baltimore and a few favorite story book characters.)

(At the press conference with the Mayor of Baltimore and a few favorite story book characters.)

We can fulfill our moral responsibility in making sure we don’t waste food by putting a few cooking tips into practice.  Prepping food a few days in advance, being creative with leftovers, and simply being organized when shopping can all help alleviate waste while at the same time recognizing the blessing of food.

Coming from a poor country, my parents were very “faithful” when it came to food.  Leftovers filled our refrigerator.  But my mother’s creative culinary skills let her reuse food, but not repeat meals.  A little inspiration and creative technique can certainly help avoid waste and sin!

(Mom making sure I cook it the "right" way, i.e., "her" way!)

(Mom making sure I cook it the “right” way, i.e., “her” way!)

Food, however, is not the only thing that’s wasted in our world.  Our Grace Before Meals movement doesn’t just focus on the food for the body, but the food for the soul as well.  As such, I want to draw your attention to something else that can be wasted:  our minds.  Our conscience!

Events like the Baltimore book festival give me an opportunity to consider how not to waste our minds.  The Grace Before Meals presentation gave spectators – not just Catholics and Christians by the way – an opportunity to feed the mind with some bite-sized theology.  But I was also inspired to see how so many people came out to dive more deeply into the real potential of books.

(The IKEA stage cooking demo staff and volunteers.)

(The IKEA stage cooking demo staff and volunteers.)

Reading a book, particularly classical books with enduring truthful themes, can be a remedy to the relativism and lackluster creativity that plagues our world.  The lack of imagination has certainly infected younger people, who have become technological geniuses, but relatively inarticulate drones with regards to normal human conversation, morality, and even common sense.  Take away the computer game joystick and put something in the hands of young people that give true joy:  a good book!

(At a book signing for Bobby Flay's Book – Fall 2010.)

(At a book signing for Bobby Flay’s Book – Fall 2010.)

For me it doesn’t matter if the book is read on bounded paper or from modern mini-monitors like the Kindle or iPad – as long as the reader’s mind absorbs information from the great and creative literary works of art.  Don’t let our minds go to waste!  Remember, waste is a sin.  Waste of the mind by not challenging its potential, filling it with “bad things” to the point of corruption or spoil, or starving it from flavors of higher education constitutes an offense to God.  God, who gave humans the unique gift of a rational soul, unlike any other created being in this world.

(Quebec street performers. Perhaps not the most rational stunt, but certainly very exciting!)

(Quebec street performers. Perhaps not the most rational stunt, but certainly very exciting!)

Many people ask me what books I would suggest to avoid wasting a mind?  In my opinion, it all depends on a person’s interest.  But I think people ought to contribute some time reading from catechetical texts, stories about the lives of saints, inspirational novels, and listening to engaging audio lectures and faithful sermons.  While I can offer these suggestions, I admit I’m not as well read as I would like to be.  However, I certainly enjoy reading – especially if I don’t have to be tested on the materials later!

In this week’s Blast I want suggest two books – both that deal with waste and sin.  The first is the classic novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.  The story chronicles the story of Jean Valjean, who at the outset is convicted and severely punished for petty theft.  After years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread, he is paroled.  Out of desperation and the fact that he knew very little other than prison cruelty, he continued to live a rogue life.  Then the example set by a charitable Bishop opened Valjean’s mind to a spiritual conversion and a life of grace.  Valjean showed the possibility of moving away from sin towards sanctity – even in the midst of the turmoil and drama of the French Revolution.

(More French-influenced street performers in Quebec City.)

(More French-influenced street performers in Quebec City.)

I watched different film versions of Les Miserables along with theatrical productions – more than once!  But nothing compared to reading the novel.  The words opened my mind and my soul to God’s Grace.  At my own pace, the book let me read, reflect, and see how nothing (and no one) in God’s sight is a waste.  Even sinners and the inexperience of miserable injustice can become moments for grace.

Another book to recommend recently topped the charts of Catholic books.  It was written by SiriusXM radio host Lino Rulli, aka, The Catholic Guy.  His book, Sinner, offers personal reflections on the crazy antics of a talented young man, who despite the foibles and falls of humanity, continues to follows God’s will – even as a sinner.  This book offers down-to-earth stories of fallen humanity on the way to sanctity.  Lino’s humor shines through, and his stories touch a chord shared by young people – especially young men who can admit how the pressures of stereotypical masculinity can impede a life of sanctity.  His book has done quite well, receiving the support of Archbishop Dolan of New York and even Howard Stern – at the same time!  It shows nothing is wasted with God, and even a sinner’s life is worthy to God.

(Lino Rulli and I had a chance to hang out in D.C. this past summer. Here you can see him goofing off – which he does so well!)

(Lino Rulli and I had a chance to hang out in D.C. this past summer. Here you can see him goofing off – which he does so well!)

If you haven’t picked up a good book in a while, give these titles a try.  Consider how our minds are like empty plates, which we can fill up with junk food or a healthy, delicious, satisfying feast for the body, mind, and soul!

God, Wisdom beyond compare, help us to learn, live, and use all of the gifts You give to us.  May we never let our minds go to waste.  May we tap into our deeper conscience in order to see the great sin of waste.  Give us the strength to also do what we can to help those who hunger in our world.  May we share all the blessings we have received with them – food from our table and faith from our hearts.  Amen.

(The entrance to the John Paul II Expo in Vatican City, decorated with a large book to symbolize the late Pope's extensive reading and writing.)

(The entrance to the John Paul II Expo in Vatican City, decorated with a large book to symbolize the late Pope’s extensive reading and writing.)

What was the last book you read and would recommend?  Have you experienced Les Miserable or read Lino’s new book, Sinner?  What do you think of it?  Your comments encourage our movement and give new insight to our subscribers.  Post your comments below.

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Ask Fr. Leo for
fatherly advice.

Posted in Dinner Discussion, Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, Grace Before Meals | 6 Comments »