Posted December 28th, 2011 | From the Feedbag, Grace Before Meals, Holiday, Prayers

Continue Gift Giving!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Remember, the Christmas Season lasts longer than the post Christmas sales at the department stores trying to make another quick buck!  This week I wanted to share one letter that encourages giving the gift of faith through effective means of religious education for young people.  Then I want to share a very encouraging and prayerful letter that someone sent to me. The prayer this person offered me is definitely a cherished gift for me to receive!

(Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg MD. Mother and new born Child - God With Us)

(Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg MD.  Mother and new born Child – God With Us)

Hello Fr. Leo,

I hope you’re doing well!  I read the article about you in Guideposts Magazine about 1 year ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I am a master’s student in theology at a Catholic University in Chicago, and my goal is to teach religion in a Catholic high school.  In addition to broadening my knowledge of theology so as to teach it well, I am also preparing myself to present the faith to teenagers in an engaging and effective way.  I remember that your article detailed some of your own questions and struggles with connecting to young people, and I thought that you might be a good person to ask about this.

I read the bio on your website–you must be very busy!  However, if you have a spare moment sometime, I would love to hear any advice you have about teaching the faith to young people.  What do you think are the most important things to keep in mind as a religious educator?

Thanks a lot and God bless–in a very vivid way, your ministry shows the warm and human side of the Catholic Church that many people might otherwise never see, and might assume doesn’t exist.  Yet another way to be a fisher of men!

Sincerely,

Joe

(The Photo Shoot from the Guidepost Magazine)

(The Photo Shoot from the Guidepost Magazine)

——-

Dear Joe:

Yes, I’m very busy, but am so glad that you’ll be joining the ranks of helping to evangelize young people.  We need tons of help, so thanks for being part of our movement!

You ask a great question. There is a bunch of different ways to answer your question, but I thought to give you 5 words that can help characterize good and effective ways to teach and evangelize young people.

(1)  Food! Of course, I’m talking about food for the Body, Mind and Spirit!  Develop a budget or organize local cooks to donate time to make sure every event has some “food” component.  They love eating.  And, if you can “plate” and “present” the faith in a beautiful way, the young people eat it up.

(2)  Dynamism. Don’t be boring!  I think that’s enough of a description.

(3)  Authentic in Authority. Don’t “push” your agenda, but rather authentically and sincerely share with young people how the Faith has helped you.  In so doing, they will not be forced to believe what you believe, but they will sincerely see the true authority in you, namely an authentic Christian life!

(4)  Family:  Often times, youth ministry can separate young people from their families. Although there will be topics that will be specifically geared to young people, I suggest that some of your events include the family’s participation.  We need more “family based” catechesis, events, and sharing opportunities.

(5)  Catholic:  That means, you know, “universal.” Therefore, be sure to keep an open mind and heart to other ways that people can experience Christ – through technology, art, trips and pilgrimages, etc., etc.,  Be like St. Paul who used EVERYTHING to teach people about Jesus!

I could go on and on, but I want to congratulate you for your desire to give the best gift to young people in this Christmas season:  the gift of faith!

(Summer 2011 - Steubenville on the Bayou. These young people helped spread the good news by bringing their friends to this awesome youth conference - attended by thousands of excited young people!)

(Summer 2011 – Steubenville on the Bayou.  These young people helped spread the good news by bringing their friends to this awesome youth conference – attended by thousands of excited young people!)

—–

Dear Fr. Leo,

Thank you so much father for your wonderful recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers.

(My bacon wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with sauteed Kale and Apple, served at Thanksgiving 2011) 

(My bacon wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with sauteed Kale and Apple, served at Thanksgiving 2011)

The good Lord has bestowed on you such incredible gifts of intellectual, artistic, physical, charismatic, and culinary talents that one ought to feel worried for you since: ”  and to every one to whom much was given, much shall be required from him ” – Luke 12:48

I happened to see you a few times on EWTN ” Savoring our Faith” and I absolutely love watching you cooking with the good and sweet chef Aldo on youtube.  But what impressed me the most and profoundly touch my heart is your deep and tremendous love for the Lord which shone forth very clearly throughout . . .

I have a great love for all our Catholic priests – – men of brave and noble, generous and loving hearts – –  and enormous respect for the priesthood which is the most sublime and beautiful vocation on this side of heaven, as St. John Vianney had said,

” The priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without priests; they will worship beasts. Go to confession to the Blessed Virgin, or to an angel; will they absolve you? No. Will they give you the Body and Blood of Our Lord? No. The Holy Virgin cannot make her Divine Son descend into the Host. You might have two hundred angels there, but they could not absolve you. A priest, however simple he may be, can do it; he can say to you, “Go in peace; I pardon you. ” Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love. The other benefits of God would be of no avail to us without the priest. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; it is he who opens the door; he is the steward of the good God, the distributor of His wealth. Without the priest, the Death and Passion of Our Lord would be of no avail. The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Seminarians installed as Lectors and Acolytes, Mount St. Mary's University and Seminary Fall 2011)

(Seminarians installed as Lectors and Acolytes, Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary Fall 2011)

We can never thank God enough for our priests, so on behalf of all your friends and fans close and far may I thank you, father, with all my heart, for being a faithful, courageous, and dedicated priest, for giving your life (among other things, you could easily become a world-famous iron chef, an influential and magnetic lawyer and politician, a renowned journalist, a popular taekwondo master, or a most sought-after break dancer and choreographer . . .) to serve God and the Church.  Certainly you have chosen the best vocation of all which has ” the surpassing dignity, the unspeakable blessedness, and  the tremendous responsibility” in the words of St. John Vianney.

Undoubtedly, you will need prayers as much as any of our parish priest does or more given your celebrity status and the inevitable dangers that surround you – a man consecrated to God.

I will pray regularly for you, Fr. Leo, along these lines:

“Dear Lord, please have mercy on your beloved priest, Fr. Leo.  Comfort him in his loneliness and sorrows, strengthen him in his weakness.  Keep him humble and meek, pure and wise.  Please, Lord, take entire possession of his heart and make him love You as You desire to be loved by him and deserved to be loved by him.  Give him the most precious grace of perseverance until the end.  Guide, guard, and protect him all the days of his life . . .”

Love in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Your most insignificant friend (but very sincere) in Christ,

“H D”

———–

(The Photo Shoot from the Guidepost Magazine)

(At Grace Before Meals, we like to have fun!  And encouraging words definitely encourage us.  As long as the members of our movement are fed with God’s love, we’re happy – especially when there’s food involved!)

Dear “H D”,

Awe, shucks!  What you say is so kind that it really inspires me (and hopefully others) to keep going.  Our Grace Before Meals Teams relies on this prayerful support.  We know that God will continue to bless it though the goodness, generosity and faithful people as yourself!

In this season of celebrating God’s self giving, I thank you for giving us the best gift of all – your faithful prayers!

Sincerely,

Fr. Leo

——

May you all have a blessed New Years!  Trust in my prayers for you as we celebrate the great Feast of Mary, Mother of God on January 1st.

If you have questions, comments or just want to share your recipes, please do so. We will always respect your privacy and maintain your anonymity.  But, your words encourage us to keep doing what we’re doing:  bringing people together through food – just like Jesus did.  Post your comments below!

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Grace before Meals new cookbook is out!

Ask Fr. Leo for
fatherly advice.

Posted in From the Feedbag, Grace Before Meals, Holiday, Prayers | 2 Comments »

An Advent Prayer and Christmas Blessing

by Fr. Leo Patalinghug, 2011

From my family to yours.

(From my family to yours.)

The Lord’s coming among us

Increases joy in the hearts of God’s family.

A chance to increase our trust –

An opportunity to share the life of the Trinity.


The Birth of this Holy Child

A gift beyond all telling –

In a stable, He lays meek and mild,

In our hearts, He seeks love and indwelling.


The songs of the angels sing,

“Hosanna and Gloria in the darkest of nights!”

For the light of God this Child shall bring,

Comfort, strength and divine insight.


He shall show the ways of God,

With loving encouragement along the way –

In faith and hope we step towards love

And seek the glory of endless days.


May hearts burn for love of Him,

As we celebrate this season of giving.

May His peace, your soul shall sense within,

Be the grace that fills your days with blessed and joyful living.


(Nativity Scene, St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York.)

(Nativity Scene, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, New York.)

Blessed Advent, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Trust in my prayers and best wishes for all of you! Please stay in touch and remember to share your blessings with those who hunger for food, family, friendship and above all, a living faith in God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Our Lady of the Nations.)

(Our Lady of the Nations.)

With Mary’s Prayers and Christ’s Blessings,

Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug

Tell us what you gave to Jesus for his birthday, and tell us what gift you asked for from the Father in Heaven this Christmas Season.  And, how have the prayers of St. Nicholas blessed your family this Advent and Christmas Season?  Posting your comments, questions and prayers is a great gift to our Grace Before Meals movement!

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

Have a Blessed Mary's Christmas!

Have a Blessed Mary’s Christmas!


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Posted in Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration, Merry Christmas, Recipe- Dessert, Recipes | 14 Comments »

Munchies and More in Minnesota

I love surprises, especially when it comes to great food finds in out of the way places!

("Mill Street Tavern" on a quaint American town main street. As part of their mission, they want every customer to feel at home. I like that!)

(“Mill Street Tavern” on a quaint American town main street.  As part of their mission, they want every customer to feel at home.  I like that!)

At a recent event in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, I encountered a few nice surprises.  The first had to do with the event itself.  My speaking engagements are generally initiated by parishioners who hear about Grace Before Meals on the radio, in the newspaper, or on TV.  Then they usually have to “convince” the pastor to sponsor the event.  And (if I do say so, myself) the pastors wind up very happy the parishioners suggested my name as a speaker or presenter.  In this case, the situation was the exact opposite.  This time Fr. Kythe, pastor of St. Pius V parish and St. Joseph parish in Cannon Falls, actually thought up the idea and had to convince his parishioners to come to the event, as he knew it would spiritually benefit them.  And as we’ve come to experience, the people were certainly fed – body, mind, and spirit.

(Fr. Kythe, Pastor, and one of his parishioners, Chef Brady – a recent culinary school graduate.)

(Fr. Kythe, Pastor, and one of his parishioners, Chef Brady – a recent culinary school graduate.)

The other surprises had to do with two great food finds just around the corner from the parish church.  The first was the Mill Street Tavern – a “pub-ish” type of restaurant with plenty of locals coming to dine on some of their hearty and flavorful foods.  The lunch crowd for a Saturday afternoon was rather impressive, filling up almost all of the tables in the narrow bar room dining hall.

I ordered the house special – a cowboy burger – topped with a fried onion ring, bacon strips, melted cheese, and barbecue sauce.  As a little bit of a “burger snob” I must say I was impressed with this messy, but delicious burger.  The burger’s meat to bun ration was proportionate, cooked to my order, and slathered with a sweet, savory, and slightly smoky sauce.  The chef may have been a little heavy-handed with the sauce for my taste, but it made for a great ketchup substitute for my crispy textured French Fries.

The rest of the menu offered enough variety that regular patrons would never be bored.  And if a well-cooked burger is indicative of the type of foods served at this restaurant, then Cannon Falls residents can be thankful for that touch of gourmet flare found at the Mill Street Tavern.

(One word to describe this: Mmmmm)

It was such a nice surprise to find good-tasting food in a “tavern” style restaurant, I only give them 3 out of 10 Hail Mary’s, which translates to 4 out of 5 stars for this restaurant!  The only penance I detected was a slightly messy men’s bathroom.  And also the lack of soft textures in the room (with an impressive exposed brick wall), made it a bit loud – especially since they also had the TV going in the bar area.  Other than that, this was a good find with friendly service in Cannon Falls, Minnesota!

I give this restaurant a “penance” of only 3 out of 10 Hail Mary’s (which is equivalent to 4 stars out of 5.)

penance penance penance

Across the street from the tavern, I found another gourmet surprise:  a local winery, Cannon River Winery.  I picked a perfect time to visit, because to my surprise the area wineries were putting on a wine tasting weekend.  This “winery walk” gave locals a chance to sip, sample, and savor some tasty blends.  One particular wine caught my attention and my taste buds:  St. Pepin.  Wait!  I just discovered another surprise in the faith and food connection!  St. Pepin would be very pleased with the product that bears his name.  This wine combines some balanced melon flavors with the crispness of a Sauvignon Blanc, along with hints of deep flavors from a Pinot Grigio.  I enjoyed the ash scent that contrasted with the citrus and herbal tastes so much that I bought a bottle and gave it as a gift to Fr. Kythe.  After all, it was his pastoral vision that brought me and the Grace Before Meals message to this quaint part of the world.

(The unassuming facade to the Cannon River Winery, but inside was a bustling crowd of wine and gourmet food enthusiasts!)

(The unassuming facade to the Cannon River Winery, but inside was a bustling crowd of wine and gourmet food enthusiasts!)

If you are ever in the area of Cannon Falls, you have two highly recommended spots for great food for the body:  The Mill Street Tavern and Cannon River Winery.  But the most impressive place is right around the corner – St. Pius V Church, where we celebrated goodness and feasted on foods that fed body, mind, and soul!

(A family that came to the Grace Before Meals presentation.)

(A family that came to the Grace Before Meals presentation.)

Let Us Pray:

Dear Lord, thank You for these wonderfully surprising food finds!  Thank You for the many ways that You graciously provide.  May our world be transformed with an improved experience of culture through good food and drink, so that strengthened with bodily strengths, we may have the vigor and virtue to nurture and feed those who hunger for the blessings, which we so often take for granted.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(Another satisfied taste-tester. That's my sauce all over his face!)

(Another satisfied taste-tester. That’s my sauce all over his face!)

Do you have a local winery or a great restaurant in your local area that you’d recommend?  Do you know anything about St. Pepin?  Do you have a restaurant close to your church that you would recommend to our subscribers?  Your comments and responses are not only helpful to our subscribers, but they also motivate us to continue spreading the word.  Post your comments and questions below.

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Posted in Events, Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals, Prayers, Restauraunt Reviews, Reviews | 4 Comments »

Posted December 7th, 2011 | Dinner Discussion, Grace Before Meals, Holiday, Prayers

Dinner Discussion

You’re Welcome!

We teach children about being polite, and remind them to always say  “please” and “thank you.”  It’s also important to teach them to say, “you’re welcome.”  However, “you’re welcome” can mean more than one thing.  We can say it as a response to someone’s gratitude. But if the person doesn’t say “thank you,” and we feel he or she should be grateful, we may say “you’re welcome” to make the point that he or she should have better manners, or to remind that person to be more grateful.

(Learning how to pray grace before meals at a young age.)

(Learning how to pray grace before meals at a young age.)

Today, we need to tell the world to be more grateful for Christians.  Please don’t think I’m rude.  I just need to set the record straight.  The world’s economy needs to thank Christians for Christmas!  And for all other Christian holidays for that – matter – at least on a socio-economic level.

The success department stores enjoy on big Black Friday sales.  Economic increases for online retailers on Cyber Monday.  The extra perks nonprofits earn with their annual food and toy drives.  The days off that students and employees of academic institutions enjoy.  The busy travel days that rake in business for airlines.  The Christmas cheer and generosity the less fortunate receive.  And even the government and the White House’s opportunities to show off tasteful holiday decorations.

(Quite the tree to display, but notice they can't even top it with a star.)

(Quite the tree to display, but notice they can’t even top it with a star.)

In that spirit, and on behalf of Christians everywhere, I have something to say to the world: “YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Christians who sincerely celebrate Christian holidays keep the world moving and turning in significant ways.  Without the extra spending people do on Christian holidays, our economy would suffer even more than it has in these past few years.  But instead of being thanked, Christians get made fun of, and our love for Jesus is constantly challenged and even downright mocked in public sectors!  Some people in the government want to remove crosses or religious symbols from the public, and manger scenes – or any remotely religious imagery – can no longer be displayed with confidence.

(Tattoo: Not ashamed to show his faith, but not exactly what I was talking about.)

(Tattoo: Not ashamed to show his faith, but not exactly what I was talking about.)

Let’s admit, there is unfairness to those Christians who really want to celebrate the true meaning of the season and symbols!

Just consider New Years.  Champagne sales go up.  Thank you Dom Peringon – a French monk who “invented” that bubbly drink!

(Sedes Sapientiae Statue – Seat of Wisdom and some celebratory bubbly!)

(Sedes Sapientiae Statue – Seat of Wisdom and some celebratory bubbly!)

In spring months, retailers sell pretty Easter dresses, holiday foods such as lamb and ham, food coloring for egg dying, candies and chocolates, and much more.  Thank you Jesus for rising from the dead!

(Cute little cousin finding eggs – stuffed with some religious symbol.)

(Cute little cousin finding eggs – stuffed with some religious symbol.)

The same can be said for SAINT Valentine’s Day and All Hallow’s Eve!  Chocolate, fresh cut roses, jewelry, and candy sales all benefit, because of this Christian Saint and the solemn Christian commemoration of the beloved dead!  Thank you, Christians, for being serious about love and the afterlife.

No doubt, Christian holidays bring a great boost to the economy.  The gift-giving – inspired by Saint Nicholas (an early Christian Saint) and of course, God’s generosity in giving to us His only begotten Son – encourages families and shoppers to show their love by generously purchasing gifts for each other.  While it doesn’t require high-dollar spending, the buying of Christmas gifts is one way of symbolizing religious fervor and spiritual generosity.  So, what should the business owners and sales associates who benefit from this season say to Christians?

(This guy, praying at the Grotto of Lourdes at Mount St. Mary's University, knows what to say!)

(This guy, praying at the Grotto of Lourdes at Mount St. Mary’s University, knows what to say!)

Parents ought to use this time to teach children about how “gift giving” can be done well or done poorly.  Society’s approach to these Christian holidays can be confusing.  The meaning of the season is lost through commercial and materialistic desires.  However, that doesn’t mean families ought to give up on the joy of gift giving.  We just need to make sure we understand what we’re doing and in whose name we do all of this buying:  Jesus Christ!  We also need to use this time to teach children to be more grateful.  If not, they could grow up with the tendency to become jealous and complain about what they don’t have, similar to spoiled brats in the malls and even those occupying some of our cities’ streets and parks.

(Grandkids and their gratitude to grandma!)

(Grandkids and their gratitude to grandma!)

But between now and the time the rest of the secular world understands the spiritual meaning of these Christian holidays (i.e., economic and spiritual boosters), I’ll just have to be a “spiritual father” and remind the world of their lack of manners, and challenge the disrespect they often show to Christians in their lack of gratitude.

So, once again, to the world that benefits (but may never acknowledge) the positive impact of Christian holidays, especially the upcoming Christmas season:  YOU’RE WELCOME!

(From the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland.)

(From the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Emmitsburg, Maryland.)

Let Us Pray:

Father, may Christians who celebrate and prepare for the coming of Your Son be patient with those whose faith is weak.  May our sincere Christian joy in these Holy days be that which helps inspire true faith in other people.  May the world see a deeper meaning for the coming Christmas season, and may those who benefit because of the Christmas cheer be thankful to You for sending us Jesus, whose birthday we all joyfully anticipate to celebrate.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

(Some of the children of the faculty and seminarians making Christmas cookies. Yummy!)

(Some of the children of the faculty and seminarians making Christmas cookies. Yummy!)

How are you preparing for Christmas?  Do you get excited about shopping for Christmas gifts?  What was your favorite Christmas gift that you bought or received?  Are there any other reasons for which the world needs to thank Christians?

Your comments help motivate us, give us new ideas and reminds us that our message is making some impact of good for the world.  Post your comments or questions below.


Watch Grace Before Meals episodes on Youtube! Follow Fr. Leo on Twitter!become a Fan of Fr. Leo and Grace before Meals on Facebook!

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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Grace Before Meals, Holiday, Prayers | 15 Comments »