Posted January 27th, 2012 | Uncategorized

Stay tuned for upcoming information for the upcoming Napa Valley – Virtuous Vacation – Food and Wine Tour!  Exclusive experience, fine dining, and the inside story on all things viticulture! Save the dates June 23-28. Subscribed members will receive first opportunity to register for this trip with very limited space, so register to receive free weekly blasts, recipes and inspiration to feed body, mind and spirit.

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Black is slimming AND good for rainy weather.

(Another beautiful day to March for Life…because everyday is!)

The March for Life took place on Monday and was cold, wet, and WONDERFUL! Thousands upon thousands of people showed up in the dreadful weather and proceeded to fight for the right to life. I was among those there, so be sure to check out my Twitter and Facebook pages for some videos of my exploits, including including another breakdancing cleric.

(Tweeting to an extreme. The March for Life always brings about so many good things, it’s hard not try and keep track of it all.)

Last week, we traveled back to January 2008 as I compared Jesus’ Way of the Cross as being the first March for Life (check it out here). This week, we remember the March for Life 2009 in my blog post “Inaugurating A Movement for Life”, and as we head into an election year, we want to make sure that we help to put an end to abortion by fighting for the family and for life. And with next year’s March being the 40th Anniversary of the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision, it is only appropriate that it is the same week as the inauguration of our 45th President. So let us fight for life in this year’s election and hope that next year’s inauguration will be a truly joyous occasion. And hopefully, I’ll see you in D.C. on one year from today for the March for Life 2013!

January 25, 2012– Legatus Dinner Event in Mobile AL

January 26, 2012– Legatus Dinner Event in Baton Rouge, LA

January 27, 2012- The Mass of Evangelization & Culture

@
Corpus Christi Cathedral

505 North Upper Broadway Street

Corpus Christi, TX

January 29, 2012– An Evening of Decadent Desserts, Sponsored by the Frederick Arts Council

@Delaplaine Visual Arts Center

40 South Carroll St.

Frederick, MD 21701

Keep Up With Us 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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Originally Sent: January 21, 2009

Food for the Body

Inaugurating a New Movement for Life

Some of the major moments of this week are strangely tied together.  These events should be unified if America truly hopes to stay united.  How providential that our Catholic Faith celebrates a week of Christian unity.

(Picture of some of my classmates at our 10 year reunion. Despite our many differences, we are still one in faith.)

As Americans celebrate the historic Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama – a real testament to the greatness of the Civil Rights Movement and the inclusive spirit of our democracy – another group of Americans will celebrate the 36th annual March for Life, the movement for true understanding of our responsibility to protect our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  These historic moments are intimately related, requiring our country and our world to pray as one human family.

Since I write these weekly messages a few days before they are published, I can’t predict what will happen at any of these events.  I only pray that all goes smoothly.  I also beg the good Lord that the true spirit that makes America the United States will bring people together to inaugurate a new movement; not just a new presidency, but a renewed movement to see the dignity and sanctity of human life.  And, what is that true spirit?  It is, of course, the Holy Spirit, our Lord and giver of life.

(This is the view of the main altar. See the Holy Spirit above?)

By now, you know my position on our nation’s laws and how I will always side with upholding and maintaining the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.  Why?  Without a firm position on what makes life sacred, society can be easily influenced to believe just about anything that may harm and degrade humanity.  The tyranny of relativism is dangerous, and it has affected our politicians who claim to be believers.  Looking at our lawmakers, it’s easy to see how their relativistic and utilitarian mentality makes them believe that life is only worth protecting and saving if it’s useful.  That’s why children, especially unborn children, are threatened by a culture that may not see their potential in a mother’s womb.

I thank God that President Obama’s mother saw the potential of her child.  Despite the challenges that the young Obama must have faced growing up (especially as a biracial child) he had an extremely supportive mother and grandparents.  His success is the fruit of a loving family.  Without families coming together to promote the dignity of every human life, our dreams for hope or change remain political rhetoric.

In this week packed with so many fruits of the Holy Spirit, we cannot forget to be thankful for all the ways that God has blessed our world.  Even though I completely disagree with the current President’s promise to give more leeway for abortions, I still thank God the nation stayed together (and surprisingly peaceful) after such contentious elections.  I now pray that President Obama can see Thursday’s gathering of Americans significant and worth listening to, as the pro-life movement is such a young movement.

The recent death of Fr. Richard Neuhaus reminds me of how powerfully he allowed the Civil Rights Movement to change his life.  He realized that human rights are not limited to social or racial activism.  In order to be truly socially just and to afford equal rights to all, we must pay close attention to human life.  Fr. Neuhaus said it best: the pro-life movement is the natural extension of the Civil Rights Movement.  Interestingly enough, Dr. King’s dream is not yet realized, even with an African American president, until we see the dignity of every human life.  If you don’t believe me, just listen to what Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has to say about it.  She now works with Priest for Life to show how the pro-life movement is not a political group, but a group of true Americans.

Our Grace Before Meals family recognizes that our American family must see the connection between Tuesday’s Inauguration, Thursday’s March for Life, and this week’s prayer for Christian unity.

The only way we can have true hope is if we change this culture of death into a culture that is truly pro-life.

Can our country come together as truly united states that protect the dignity of life from conception to natural death?  Yes, we can.

Food for the Body

An Unlikely Combination – Beef Stew-styled Crab Soup

Somehow strange combinations seem to work.  If the Inauguration crowd joined the March for Life, that would be a strange combination.  But, it would really work because they share the dignity of life as their base.

The same is true for a very simple recipe.  Obviously fresh ingredients are always better than canned, but I think I came up with a real winner.  This strange combination works because of the soup’s great broth base.  It’s crab soup made out of canned beef stew.

This warm soup would definitely be a crowd pleaser for all those who gather in  freezing temperatures this week to celebrate and march for change.  Click here for the recipe.

Food for the Soul

Inaugurating Life in the Spirit of Unity

This prayer comes from the opening prayer for Christian unity that we pray at Mass.

Almighty and eternal God, You keep together those You have united. Look kindly on all who follow Jesus, Your Son.  We are all consecrated to You by our common baptism; make us one in the fullness of faith and keep us one in the fellowship of love.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit; one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in Blast from the Past, Events, Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, Recipe-Meats, Recipes | 1 Comment »

BLAST FROM THE PAST: WALK THE TALK

The new semester has started at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, so Fr. Leo is up to his ears with lesson plans, reading and even upcoming events (Check out our events calendar to find out where he will be). So with the March For Life coming up this Monday, check out this old eBlast from 2008 about the March for Life and how the Way of the Cross stands as the first March for Life!

The BIG news is that “Savoring Our Faith”, Fr. Leo’s cooking show on EWTN will premiere on Sunday March 4 at 8:30pm. Be sure to tune in and enjoy the weekly series!

Have a blessed week and be sure to spend time with your family. Thank you for choosing life!

Watch “Savoring Our Faith” Premiere on March 4, 2012 at 8:30pm on EWTN!

Keep Up With Us 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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Originally Sent: January 22, 2008

Food for the Body

Walk the Talk

Every year, a staggering number of people converge on the streets of Washington – as well as on other main roads of cities across the United States – to proclaim Life is a Precious Gift!  Yesterday, at the annual March for Life, hundreds and thousands of people walked the talk.  With every step, they reminded the world life is worth living – from conception to natural death.

For the past 35 years, Pro-Lifers have been called “antichoice” by the media.  Since the first March for Life, the media and proabortion advocates have underplayed the significance of this March, questioning the sanity and good will of the participants.

But I’m here to inform the media that the ploy to redirect the issue by playing word games (such as “pro-choice” versus “proabortion,” and “fetus” instead of “baby”) is not working.  People are smarter than that!  I also want to inform the politically motivated news agencies that not paying attention and not covering this incredible event as a true front-page headlining story will NOT make Pro-Life marchers go away!  In fact, the number of Pro-Life marchers continues to grow!

OK, I’ve released some of my frustration!  I feel better now.

But before I get accused of being too political in this Blast, I want to offer a spiritual reflection about the first march for life, which took place nearly 2000 years ago.  It was when Jesus took up His Pro-Life sign (the Cross), and walked to a hill called Calvary outside another capital, Jerusalem.  That Way of the Cross is the first and most perfect March for Life!  We walk in His footsteps!

In meditating on this decisive Pro-Life March of Jesus, I offer some reflections for other Pro-Lifers to consider.  Even though this Blast comes one day after the official marching date, who says advocacy for life issues is limited to just one day?  The Pro-Life effort isn’t simply to host a big event, but to educate, inspire, and to help create a culture where life, even if it isn’t perfect, is still worth celebrating and rejoicing!

First: Jesus’ Pro-Life March was taken up out of love.  That should always be our motivation!  It’s easy for Pro-Lifers to get zealous, pumped up, and sometimes even angry about the state of affairs in our world, especially when it comes to the undeniable crime of abortion.  But we cannot forget that we are called to love all people – especially those who consider the Pro-Life cause an enemy to their unfortunate “choices.”  After all, Jesus’ Pro-Life March ended with Him imploring forgiveness for those who persecuted Him!  He did not walk in anger, but in love.

Second: Jesus marched patiently!  There are times when we may get discouraged – that despite our best efforts, things don’t seem to improve.  That’s why I believe Jesus allowed Himself to fall – three times!  To show us the courage and faith required to take the positions and the stands that are NOT supposed to be easy.  We must be patient with our Pro-Life efforts, and be patient to walk the Pro-Life message not just one day a year, but every day of our lives.

Third: Jesus didn’t walk alone!  Even though He bore the Cross alone, we know He was never completely abandoned.  His family – the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Beloved Disciple, and the sanctified Mary Magdalene – was with Jesus every step of the way.  There may be times when we feel isolated in our belief of the gift of life, especially when we constantly face people who tear lives apart!  But this annual event reminds us we are not alone.  Besides the fact Jesus promised His eternal presence with us, he also sends God’s family – the Church – to encourage us every step of the way, by walking with us every step of the way.

In my experiences of the annual March for Life, I’ve been truly edified to see so many people come together and be a witness for Life.  It’s moving to see families bringing their children – the best “sign” they could display!  I’ve witnessed counselors who have given out pamphlets for free services to anyone who needs help with their pregnancy, or how to cope with a bad “choice” they may have made in the past.  The event brings together so many young people that one would think they were at a high school convention/party, with the exception that these teens aren’t partying, but praying.  The participants also see a vast array of the different religious groups proudly carrying their Pro-Life banners, not on placards, but through the witness of their religious habits and clerical dress.

If you’ve never been to a March for Life, be sure to come next year!  It’s a great way to strengthen your faith and conviction for this important cause.  If you are unable to come due to physical conditions, please know we proudly walk with you and for you!  We know you’re there in spirit.  If you are not sure what your position is on Pro-Life issues, come anyway; get the information the media won’t provide.  And see for yourself that you can find strength in numbers, especially since Christ walks among us.

It’s true.  Action is louder than words.  This annual March for Life is not new.  It is simply reminiscent of Jesus’ first walk for eternal life.  This walk, His and ours, leads us to a crossroads in our lives.  We are given a choice: Will I join our Lord, and, with His family, take the steps that lead to Life?

Food for the Body

The TV News Segment Recipe!

This week, I had the opportunity to do a cooking segment on WBAL.  Check here to see the news segment at WBAL-TV.com. [The video has since been removed. Check this one out instead.] I made a recipe that I used in other news segments, as well as for a recent dinner with my priest fraternity group.  It’s a traditional Roman dish that uses the unique taste of smoked salmon, but in a pasta!  It was a hit each time I made it, so I hope you get a chance to try this recipe for yourselves.  It’s a great way to warm up, especially after a cold day of Marching for Life!  For the recipe, [click here].

Food for the Soul

Pro-Life Prayers

There are many times in prayer when we don’t know what to say. I recognize my inability to pray well – and quite regularly!  It’s at that moment I sometimes think that God perhaps doesn’t want us to say anything.  He just wants us to live!  Perhaps, our very lives are a form of prayer, too.  Can we consider how just “being” with God is better than words?  At the March for Life I see many people praying – some saying rosaries, singing songs, reading the scriptures, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It’s all quite beautiful and inspiring.  But I’ve also noticed people who are not as “healthy” as most.  They may be in wheelchairs, carried by people who love them dearly!  They don’t say much.  But I’ve seen them smile.  That smile is a beautiful prayer we can offer to God, and hopefully a detectable reaction on our faces when we think of how our lives are a gift from God, and how our lives are meant to be a gift for God and one another!

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in Blast from the Past, Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, Recipe, Recipe-Fish, Savoring Our Faith | 1 Comment »

Food for Thought:

2011’s Top 10 Food Experience Countdown

Part II – Continuing the Countdown of Grace!

Last week I shared a philosophy of healthy spiritual living:  look back at last year prayerfully to discern how God has blessed you – even in the midst of struggles.  Also, look ahead with faith, hope, and love to see how God is calling you to live this year even better!

And now, without further adieu, we’ll countdown the Top 5 Faithful Foodie Experiences of 2011.

5. Mount St. Mary’s University Cafe

I worked the line at Mount St. Mary’s University Café for a dinner service, cooking up my fusion steak fajitas (perhaps you’ve heard of them) and coconut cream risotto with creamy adobo chicken stir fry.  Check out the huge line of students waiting for meals!  It made me all the more appreciative of the dedication of cafeteria workers.

4. Guam

My trip to Guam this past year was certainly a great highlight!  I would have shown you pictures of the beautiful beaches, the crowds of people who came to our events, and of course the lovely families that made these events so special.  But from a culinary point of view, this trip inspired me to turn SPAM into a gourmet meal!  In fact, I cooked a “spam-onara” – sautéed spam carbonara, for several YouTube friends in L.A.!

(Me with some YouTube personalities.  They encouraged me to start up a new YouTube channel.  More information to come!)

3. Mediterranean Culinary Cruise with Canadian Chef Marc

This was most certainly a highlight, as it was the first trip we took as a Grace Before Meals “family.”  On this trip we saw the world through the eyes of faith and through the religious experience of eating together.  Our meals were exquisitely prepared.  The scenarios were breathtaking.  The fellowship was inspiring.  And the experience would be unforgettable!

(A “bella vista” from France.)

(An open market in Spain.)

(A private wine testing on board.)

2. Fruit of the Vine – Napa Valley retreat and recreation!

A small group of us stopped by a family vineyard to sample their delicious varieties and to visit “Napa Valley Family” style.  On this trip we connected faith to the process of wine making.  While it sounds like a stretch, just consider why Jesus would use wine to reveal himself at both the first miracle and the Greatest Miracle at the Last Supper.

(Our Lady of the Grapes at Meritage Spa, Resort and Vineyard.)

And my top food experience of 2011 is:

1. Malmstrom Airforce Base as one of the judges for the Warrior Chef Competition.

I want to do all I can to serve the brave men and women of our military.  They deserve it.  These missile base chefs have talent, discipline, and gusto!  The secret ingredient for the competition was: apples.  Four teams consisting of two chefs composed and prepared dishes highlighting any variety of apple.  After 1.5 hours, they presented their creations with ceremony.

During the visit it was well noted that the mood and morale of the personnel on these bases were greatly affected by the chefs.  These chefs served more than food for the body.  I certainly experienced the level of attention to their craft.  Even though they had limited ingredients and supplies, they had one mission:  to serve great food to those who work to keep our country safe.  Besides having great affection for our military, I had the chance to cook in one of the Top Secret missile base kitchens.  Sorry, I have no pictures of that Top Secret installation. But it’s no secret that our military deserves our thanks, prayers, and a delicious home cooked meal with extra servings of family and friends.

Let us pray:  Father in Heaven, may our early days of this New Year be filled with great anticipation of faith, hope, and love.  Bless our family and friends, those near and far.  Keep us safe in Your care, and bless our tables with meals that make memories that will last a life time.  Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


What was your favorite meal from last year?  What are some of the new dishes you hope to try and experiment with this year?  Your questions, comments, and even critiques will help us serve you in this coming year.  Stay tuned, and spread the word about Grace Before Meals to your family, friends, and parishioners.

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

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

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Food for Thought:

2011’s Top 10 Food Experience Countdown

In these early days of the New Year, people feel compelled to “turn over a new leaf,” make resolutions, or try to start off on the “right foot.”  We look ahead for good reasons.  With faith in God, we can hope for good things to come.  But authentic faith also requires that believers look back with a discerning eye.  In fact, the memory of God’s saving power is what makes up the Psalms.

The Eucharistic Liturgy incorporates an anamnesis – a remembrance of the Paschal Mystery.  Each night, as part of a healthy spiritual practice, a person can benefit by looking back on the day to recall the sin that needs forgiveness, and also to reflect on the ways God revealed Himself in the good times and bad times.  Motivated by the great ways God has blessed our Grace Before Meals movement in 2011, I begin 2012’s e-mail Blasts by looking back at the past.

Currently, my family and I are in the Philippines celebrating a family vacation, so I hope to update everyone on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  Click here to join the fun!  Also, during the month of January we will send some reflections from previous years, and our team will include exciting updates for up-and-coming projects and events this year, too.

For now, I offer you some of my top 10 favorite foodie experiences of last year.  In this reflection, I definitely saw God’s wonderful and generous hand in every experience.  Every Grace Before Meals presentation, visit, or cooking demonstration was a great blessing.  I hope these top 10 picks help you celebrate with us.  And, hopefully, you’ll remember to keep our movement in your prayers in this new year!

10. Family “tailgating” – a great opportunity for food and discussing important values, such as sportsmanship.

10. Family “tailgating” – a great opportunity for food and discussing important values, such as sportsmanship.

9. Serving up “inspiration” with a Grace Before Meals’ feature of my mom’s pancit recipe on Guideposts magazine.

9. Serving up “inspiration” with a Grace Before Meals’ feature of my mom’s pancit recipe on Guideposts magazine.

8. Teaching my young cousin Bernadette how to cook a meal for my family in Canada, assisted by her friend (and now mine), Michael.

8. Teaching my young cousin Bernadette how to cook a meal for my family in Canada, assisted by her friend (and now mine), Michael.

7. My first meal cooked in my new residence – which actually has its own kitchen! This first meal was definitely a special moment for me. Bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin, oven roasted root veggies, and grilled lime and chili shrimp.

7. My first meal cooked in my new residence – which actually has its own kitchen!  This first meal was definitely a special moment for me.  Bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin, oven roasted root veggies, and grilled lime and chili shrimp.

7. A TIE! I realize these are loose rules, so please forgive me. But home-cooked meals are even more fun when the nieces and the nephews go spatula-to-spatula in a cooking competition. Each group had to compose a main course and a dessert. While the girls won overall, the guys had bold flavors – and left a lot of mess!

7. A TIE!

I realize these are loose rules, so please forgive me.  But home-cooked meals are even more fun when the nieces and the nephews go spatula-to-spatula in a cooking competition.  Each group had to compose a main course and a dessert.  While the girls won overall, the guys had bold flavors – and left a lot of mess!

6. Young students from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Bismark, North Dakota. These young students embraced the Grace Before Meals message and cooked with me in preparation of serving a couple hundred people for an event to celebrate Catholic School’s week. It snowed several inches during my visit, and I wondered if the event would be cancelled. I obviously forgot where I was. In North Dakota, they don't stop school unless the air is so thick with snow that you can't see your hand in front of your face! They all came, some even wearing shorts!

6. Young students from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Bismark, North Dakota.  These young students embraced the Grace Before Meals message and cooked with me in preparation of serving a couple hundred people for an event to celebrate Catholic School’s week.  It snowed several inches during my visit, and I wondered if the event would be cancelled.  I obviously forgot where I was.  In North Dakota, they don’t stop school unless the air is so thick with snow that you can’t see your hand in front of your face!  They all came, some even wearing shorts!

To be continued…

Next week I’ll share with you my top 5 picks!  I gotta keep people in suspense.  That’s how God has kept things for me – always waiting and wondering!

Let us pray:  Father, in Heaven, as we begin this new year of Grace with our families and before our meals, we pray that You will help us to prayerfully look back in this past year through the lens of Your mercy, and to help us look forward with joyful expectation of how You bless those who put their trust in You.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

DINNER DISCUSSIONS:

What was your favorite celebration last year?

What was your favorite meal that you ate or your favorite dining experience from 2011?

Share your story, especially if you have any recipes that will be worth repeating in 2012!

Your comments, questions, and even expressed concerns help our movement grow.  Please encourage your family, friends, and parishioners to sign up for our free weekly E-blasts!

AND WITH FURTHER NEWS ABOUT 2012, WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW!

Click the picture to hear about this year's exciting new adventures!

Click the picture to hear about this year’s exciting new adventures!

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

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, Grace Before Meals, Holiday, New Year, Prayers, Video | 1 Comment »