New TV Show on EWTN this Sunday at 8:30pm EST!

Be sure to mark your personal calendars and the family refrigerator calendars for these exciting opportunities.

(A trio of penne pastas for a five-course dinner – an auction prize for Catholic Charities!)

(A trio of penne pastas for a five-course dinner – an auction prize for Catholic Charities!)

Tour the Secrets of Napa Valley!

June 23-28, 2012. Food and wine lovers, reserve NOW for another opportunity in Napa Valley.  Our Fruit of the Vine Tour was so popular and well-received that we’re returning for more faithful and culinary inspiration. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot now!

(One of the international award-winning vineyards to visit.)

(One of the international award-winning vineyards to visit.)

The International Premier – Primetime!

Savoring Our Faith on EWTN

(Click to play the promo for Fr. Leo’s new Show on EWTN: Savoring Our Faith)

Sunday March 4, 2012, at 8:30 p.m.  Be sure to watch the international premier of the full-length series – Savoring Our Faith on EWTN.  Fr. Leo’s little cooking clips on EWTN were so popular the network offered a primetime spot for a full series that features original recipes, special guests, and more faithful foodie inspiration that will feed you – body, mind, and spirit! Tell family and friends!

(Yes, I made desserts and even baked off some tuile.)

(Yes, I made desserts and even baked off some tuile.)

Spicing Up Married Life!

We continue to move forward in finalizing our book designed specifically for couples – dating, engaged, new, and senior married couples.  The response to be recipe testers was so great that we took extra time to prayerfully consider who would participate in this unique opportunity.  We have finalized this extensive list and those names selected will be notified with details.  To those who offered help, stay tuned for exclusive discounts on the book when it’s published this year – just in time for wedding seasons and the holidays!

(Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) with their healthy, happy, and bountifully blessed grandchildren.)

(Picture of my grandparents, who were married some 60+ years!  Grandpa has gone to God, but grandma is still praying her rosary.)

See, Hear, and Taste the message yourself!

If interested in booking a Grace Before Meals presentation, don’t delay.  The schedule continues to fill up quickly for 2013, as we bring our message to all parts of the country and the world!

Watching our segments on TV or online is fun, and we love the cyberspace interactions.  However, everyone who personally experiences Fr. Leo during live presentations says it’s more intense and, in some cases, “life changing,”  Afterwards, some people say they see their faith, their family meals, and the Eucharist differently, more deeply.  Nothing is better than hearing the Grace Before Meals message in person and tasting the food yourself!  So book early, and be sure to check out where Fr. Leo be next!

(Event in Folsom, Ca. Fr. Leo shares his message with a packed house. Thank God Jesus is there to "multiply" the food!)

(Event in Folsom, Ca.  Fr. Leo shares his message with a packed house.  Thank God Jesus is there to “multiply” the food!)

Let Us Pray:

God, continue to bless our Grace Before Meals movement and all of those who are a part of it.  Keep us fixed on our mission to bring families closer to our family dinner table and to Your Family Table of the Last Supper.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(A trio of penne pastas for a five-course dinner – an auction prize for Catholic Charities!)

(Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) with their healthy, happy, and bountifully blessed grandchildren.)

Do you have questions for Fr. Leo?  If you ever had a chance to experience a Grace Before Meals presentation, give us your testimony.  Your comments, question, and even concerns help bring our movement to even more hearts, homes, and dinner tables.  Post your comments below!

(Fr. Leo at the International Festival and Celebration at Corpus Christi ,Tx., Cathedral.)

(Fr. Leo at the International Festival and Celebration at Corpus Christi ,Tx., Cathedral.)

—————————————–

Check out our last MINIFLIPPING video:


A NEW VIDEO THIS FRIDAY:

SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE!

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Responding to Your Questions for MORE!

To help keep the flow of our “dinner conversation,” and at the same time keep you updated with all the Grace Before Meals happenings, I’ll use this E-Blast to give you some great news. First, I’d like to give a response to questions I’ve received – either at the seminary, on the streets, and even in a few e-mails.

What do I think about the recent conversations regarding the HHS Mandate?”

(This is definitely deadly breakfast conversation. But we have to talk about it!)

(This is definitely deadly breakfast conversation.  But we have to talk about it!)

This has been a challenging time for people of faith – no matter what faith.  The ability to make a good decision about whether or not to support the government has been very muddled by confusing the issues.  The issues include

(1) the government’s infringement against the 1st Amendment Freedoms protecting people from government intrusion and impositions on how people of faith exercise this freedom.

(2) The government’s role in requiring private insurance companies or employers (who have to pay for these premiums) to administer abortions and abortion inducing contraceptives.

(3) the President’s speech during Notre Dame’s Commencement Address that says he will respect and honor those who disagree with abortion, in order to ensure that the government writes appropriate conscience clauses.

(4) The upholding of the Declaration of Independence, which protects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

(5) And the need to consider whether or not mandated contraception is a “Right” protected by any constitutional or federal law?

(Statue of the Immaculate Conception, Mount St. Mary's University Chapel, dedicated in honor as the Patroness of America.)

(Statue of the Immaculate Conception, Mount St. Mary’s University Chapel, dedicated in honor as the Patroness of America.)

There are other issues, for sure.  Some wonder whether it’s appropriate to for the Church to have an influence on public policy?  Or whether or not contraception is a “good” or a “bad” thing in the first place.  And probably the most in depth question is, at least on a moral and spiritual level, “Why is the Church so against contraception in the first place?”

(Once this cute kid – my little cousin – was just a cluster of cells, just like the Easter Egg he's holding. It's a biological fact, life begins at conception. After all, those little cells are living!)

(Once this cute kid – my little cousin – was just a cluster of cells, just like the Easter Egg he’s holding. It’s a biological fact, life begins at conception.  After all, those little cells are living!)

Before this new HHS mandate becomes an official federal requirement, these issues have to at least be addressed.  But by making the contraceptive prescriptions and abortion demands a “mandate,” the President has completely cut off all conversation.

The Church wants to uphold the dignity and equality of women; however, it’s important to put the responsibility of bringing life into this world squarely on the responsibility of those involved – not just women – but also men.  It’s also imperative to see what a secular author had to say about the original “caution” Pope Paul VI offered in his encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” reminding us that God is pro-life.  Finally, the Church does respect the rights of women, which is why we want to protect them from falsely placing all their biological hope on a pill that does not protect them from unwanted pregnancy, diseases, and, above all, a broken heart.

But to put it all together in a way that hopefully inspires people’s hearts, minds, and imaginations, we have put together a little “Mini-flipping” video.

Fr. Leo gives the HHS Mandate the "finger(?)"

Go ahead. Watch it. “Like it.” Subscribe and pass it on to others to watch.

While we will never get full consensus in this matter, we can at least get the conversation started in a way that engages people’s spiritual sensibilities to protect God-given freedoms and rights.

(Pro-Life March 2012.)

(Pro-life March 2012.)

There is another question that has been on the hearts and minds of many people: “When will Fr. Leo have a ‘regular’ show on TV?”

(Since the Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, people have asked when our movement will have a "regular" TV Show.)

(Since the Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, people have asked when our movement will have a “regular” TV Show.)

Well, let’s get the burners ready, because the International Premier of Savoring our Faith will launch on Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 8:30 p.m., exclusively on EWTN.  So for those faithful foodies who are tired of watching reruns of dramatic cooking competitions, check your local listings for where you can find EWTN on your cable “dial,” or watch online at www.ewtn.com, to get new and exciting cooking segments peppered with plenty of inspiration.  It’s about time we bring back some meaning to our meals!

(On location with the "Savoring Our Faith" film crew!)

(On location with the “Savoring Our Faith” film crew!)

Let us pray

God we ask that You change the hearts and minds of people who need to see the bigger picture regarding the sanctity of life and the gift of human sexuality.  Give to us the Grace to love You and Your laws above all other laws – especially those that hurt humanity and separate us from a deeper understanding of the sacrifice required by love.  At the same time, Jesus, be merciful to us who are broken, week, and tempted.  Make Your people of faith more compassionate, so that our teachings show the world the truth as Good News.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Why do we celebrate the Gift of Life only during the Christmas season? We should welcome life and celebrate it every day of our own lives!) 

(Why do we celebrate the Gift of Life only during the Christmas season?  We should welcome life and celebrate it every day of our own lives!)

Let us know what you think about the mini-flipping video.  We know it’s edgy and will “shock” people at first, but we need to wake people up from the spiritual malaise caused by relativism!  Ask us questions you have about food, faith, family, and fun.  Your comments help us do even more to spread the good news and to bring people back to the table.  Post your comments below.

Check out our next video THIS FRIDAY:

MINIFLIPPING...nuff said.

Fr. Leo’s Miniflipping Lesson on the Deadly Sin of Sloth.

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

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“FLIPPING OUT” at Filipino Restaurants

By now you know I enjoy the challenge of using “poor man’s” food – which I believe is the tastiest type of food on the planet – and elevating it to a whole new level.  As a self-professed “fusion-style” cook, I’m not afraid to experiment – within reason, of course.  Different techniques can aid the home cook in creating beautiful-looking plates out of something that tastes both familiar and comforting, while at the same time special and celebratory.

(An Italian spaghetti, flavored with a brine and a hint of tomato sauce, topped with a fried "sardine" and sprinkled with shreds of a soft cow's milk cheese. Uniquely delicious and stunning presentation with a slice of calimansi lime.) 

(An Italian spaghetti, flavored with a brine and a hint of tomato sauce, topped with a fried “sardine” and sprinkled with shreds of a soft cow’s milk cheese.  Uniquely delicious and stunning presentation with a slice of calimansi lime.)

During my trip to the Philippines, I found two restaurants that were unique, bold, and, in a word, “wonderful!”  It was worth getting very excited – even “Flipping Out” – for these unique culinary destinations!

(Had to show this photo of poor kids having the time of their life on this grassy hill "sliding" board. No expensive video game equipment, just a little sprinkle of imagination and tons of fun!)

(Had to show this photo of poor kids having the time of their life on this grassy hill “sliding” board.  No expensive video game equipment, just a little sprinkle of imagination and tons of fun!)

The first restaurant was on the Island of Palawan.  This Island is remarkably pristine.  The Mayor of the city outlawed litter, based on the philosophy that personal dignity requires the effort to show it.  This island is home to underground rivers that have been voted the most impressive natural wonder of the world!

(A little explanation of the “Underground River” – a natural wonder of the world AND a miraculous place, if my sister can keep quiet in the cave! Click to watch exclusive video!)

(A little explanation of the “Underground River” – a natural wonder of the world AND a miraculous place, if my sister can keep quiet in the cave! Click to watch exclusive video!)

The mayor’s leadership, combined with the beautiful (and clean) surroundings, has makes Palawan a heavily visited tourist spot by naturalists, adventurists, and leisure vacationers.

(The mayor's no littering mandate stopped the diseased bearing mosquitoes, but not the thieving monkeys!)

(The mayor’s no littering mandate stopped the diseased bearing mosquitoes, but not the thieving monkeys! Click to view exclusive video.)

As such, this Island has many dining options for locals and tourists alike.  But I recommend Ka Lui’s. This restaurant offers smaller but satisfying plates of traditional flavors fused with European cooking techniques.

(Ka Lui's Jalapeno-filled baked fish on a base of luscious cream sauce!)

(Ka Lui’s Jalapeno-filled baked fish on a base of luscious cream sauce!)

Ka Lui is beautifully constructed in bamboo open-air island fashion.  It’s elegant, refreshing, and remarkably clean.  The unique ambiance is heightened by the fact that everyone – including the all-male wait staff – is barefoot and fancy free!

(Felt like beach dining with upscale flavors – and no sand!)

(Felt like beach dining with upscale flavors – and no sand!)

(My review and explanation of this fun restaurant with tasty food and fantastic ambiance. Click video to watch.)

(My review and explanation of this fun restaurant with tasty food and fantastic ambiance. Click video to watch.)

Manila’s humongous urban sprawl makes it a food haven on every busy and overpopulated corner.  However, in the Fort Global City of Manila celebrity Chef Bruce Lim offers traditional flavors in bold and exciting ways at his signature restaurant, The Chef’s Table.

I think Italians would be impressed, even if slightly confused, by a spaghetti dish topped with a Filipino fried fish.  Or how about a “carbonara” that has grilled chicken and banana heart fruit cream sauce!

(Chef Lim's Filipin-ized "carbonara" made with grilled chicken, banana heart, cream, and scallions. Delicious!) 

(Chef Lim’s Filipin-ized “carbonara” made with grilled chicken, banana heart, cream, and scallions.  Delicious!)

This restaurant offers a completely different way of eating Filipino food by serving individual plates, not “family style,” with a side of rice.  However, it’s become a popular spot for many locals seeking a European flare to break up the monotony that can happen with too much of any ethnic cuisine.

Filipino's don't drink too many martinis. But they would seriously enjoy this one (NCR – No One Can Run), especially since it has the sharp and robust taste of roasted garlic oil and chili heat!

(Filipino’s don’t drink too many martinis.  But they would seriously enjoy this one (NCR – No One Can Run), especially since it has the sharp and robust taste of roasted garlic oil and chili heat!)

Both of these restaurants highlight my personal style of cooking, characterized as “fusion.”  And  in both restaurants I was most edified to see families as the primary patrons.  So these restaurants not only highlight my style of cooking, but also the message of our movement.  Go ahead and be creative with your food and your family meals!

(Young culinary students who assisted me at the BergHOFF store and studio – to raise funds for the victims of the recent typhoon. They're now going to intern at top restaurants around the world!)

(Young culinary students who assisted me at the BergHOFF store and studio – to raise funds for the victims of the recent typhoon.  They’re now going to intern at top restaurants around the world!)

Let us Pray:

Lord, we know that You bless the poor with good things.  Help us, by this movement, to remember that being poor in this world means that we inherit the blessings and the kingdom of Heaven.  We thank You for the “simple” but delicious meals that bring comfort to our tables – especially since these “simple meals” bring our families together in love.  Bless our families and especially those that struggle to put food on the table, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What is your favorite fusion-style of food?  Do you have a recipe you want to share?  Do you have a restaurant you think would characterize fusion foods.  Your comments help us think of ways to share the Faith through the medium of food.  Please post your comments here, and know that each posting comes with sincere thanks and heartfelt prayers for this movement!

NOW. . . check out the newest extension of the

Grace Before Meals movement:  MINIFLIPPING!

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

This is for your families, especially if you have teens or young adults.  Fr. Leo and a crew of “mini-flippers” share a positive message in a dynamic way, challenging the status quo, and hopefully bringing out mini-conversions in the hearts and minds of the viewers.

To help us get this Good News out there, tell your kids to watch, to subscribe, to “like” it, and to leave comments and questions.  And then tell them to get all their friends to do the same!  It’s certainly worth “FLIPPING OUT ABOUT!”

Just click it already!

Check out our next video THIS FRIDAY:

FR.LEO TAKES ON THE PRESIDENT’S MANDATE ON CONTRACEPTION.

NO MORE MR. NICE PRIEST.

MINIFLIPPING...nuff said. Follow Fr. Leo on Twitter!Become a Fan of Fr. Leo and Grace before Meals on Facebook!Watch Grace Before Meals episodes on Youtube!

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

Posted in Audio, Faithful Foodie, Grace Before Meals, Miniflipping, Prayers, Restaurants, Restauraunt Reviews, Reviews, Video | No Comments »

Pinoy Plates!

Pinoy” is a nickname for Filipinos.  However, it describes more than a people.  It also describes the culture, including the food culture.

(Open market – Boracay, Philippines.)

(Open market – Boracay, Philippines.)

In this week’s Blast I want to share with you some cuisine, Pinoy style.  After all, people ask me, “what is Filipino food?”  My quick answer is:  DELICOUS!

In a more technical sense, I would describe Pinoy food as a unique fusion of Asian and Spanish flavors.  It has truly become a place of world flavors.  Colonized by Spain, situated in the middle of Asia, and heavily visited by Europeans, Australians, and Americans for military purposes and exotic getaways, Filipinos have adapted their traditional plates to create unique flavor profiles.

(Fresh Lapu-lapu, a type of grouper – a delicacy because this fish is particularly difficult to catch.)

(Fresh Lapu-lapu, a type of grouper – a delicacy because this fish is particularly difficult to catch.)

(Lunch at a seafood restaurant on Mactan Island, Philippines. Check out some of my observations and descriptions about the food.) 

(Click to watch a video: Lunch at a seafood restaurant on Mactan Island, Philippines.  Check out some of my observations and descriptions about the food.)

Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, No Reservations, showed the struggle to discern what is truly Filipino Food.  The fact that the Philippines’ nation is comprised of more than 7,000 islands means each island has its way of doing things.  Yes, the “island mentality” means the inhabitants of each island think their food is the best!  But Chef Bourdain agreed, Philippines is the “Land of lechón!”

(Lechon – filipino style.)

(Lechon – filipino style.)

Let’s start with the common foods.  Filipinos eat pork, seafood, and chicken, in familiar sautéed, grilled, stewed, and fried preparations.  Philippine beef is not as succulent as well-fed Midwestern cattle or Japanese Wagyu.  Instead, the red meat more often used is goat.  Slaughtering the fattened calf comes only during big celebrations.

Filipino fruits and Asian vegetables help maintain healthiness in a diet that can be saturated by fatty fried, but oh so tasty, foods.  The use of rice wine vinegar to help break down richly flavored foods brings a vibrancy and variety to the flavor profile of dishes such as the lechón, Filipino manok (friend chicken with infusion of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce), and adobo (vinegar-braised pork or chicken that would be drained and refried).

(Seaweed and tomato salad with rice wine vinegar.)

(Seaweed and tomato salad with rice wine vinegar.)

Pancit, the famous clear rice noodle that combines poultry, pork, and seafood can be prepared in several ways.  So too, the Filipino egg roll, called lumpia, which uses rice paper to wrap all types of fillings (primarily beef and vegetables) before its deep fried to a perfectly crisp golden brown.

(My mom's egg rolls – a taste that makes you say "Thank you, GOD!")

(My mom’s egg rolls – a taste that makes you say “Thank you, GOD!”)

There are some very strange foods, like blood pudding (dinuguan); the famous Fear Factor speciality, Balut (a gestated and fermented duck egg); and a few others too unique for this family friendly E-mail Blast!

Despite the unique (or odd) foods, travelers to the Philippines never go hungry.

(Filipino fish monger at an open Philippine market.)

(Filipino fish monger at an open Philippine market.)

In fact, visitors often rave about the seemingly endless variety of flavors you can choose from, as long as you’re willing to be at least a little adventurous.  For the American and European palate, Filipino food is best described as well marinated and exploding with flavor.  If someone has to add salt or pepper to a Filipino dish, then that person must have muted taste buds!

(Mrs. Dorothy's Philippine Herbal Cookies – completely healthy (gluten free, and cholesterol free, i.e., really good for you) and really tasty!)

(Mrs. Dorothy’s Philippine Herbal Cookies – completely healthy (gluten free, and cholesterol free, i.e., really good for you) and really tasty!)

I (half) joke with people and explain the reason why I had friends as a kid was because my mother cooked so well.

(A Grace Before Meals presentation at a private pro-life function at the home of Steve Peroutka. Good food makes good friends.) 

(A Grace Before Meals presentation at a private pro-life function at the home of Steve Peroutka.  Good food makes good friends.)

Maybe you can try my version of Filipino Food.  Click here for the recipe.

Let Us Pray:

God bless our families with faithfulness, celebrations around their dining room table, and the perseverance to celebrate together around God’s sacred Table – His Altar of Sacrifice.  In a special way, God bless those families that struggle with putting food on the table and bringing their families around it.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Nephews keeping vigil at a Marian Shrine at a beach resort. Expressions of faith at world class beaches!)

(Nephews keeping vigil at a Marian Shrine at a beach resort. Expressions of faith at world class beaches!)

What was your favorite traditionally ethnic family meal?  Have you ever had Filipino food? If so, what is your favorite?  Your comments help encourage our community to share ideas and to spread the word.  Be sure to encourage family, friends, and fellow parishioners to sign up for these free E-mail Blasts.

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 Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe, Recipe- Pork, Recipe-Fish, Recipe-Pastry, Recipes | 7 Comments »

Posted February 1st, 2012 | Dinner Discussion, Prayers, vacation

Filipino Family Fun

(Some would call this "fun?" Petting a 20 foot python!)

(Some would call this “fun?” Petting a 20 foot python!)

As you may know I spent Christmas break with my family in the Philippines.  The entire family, plus a few family friends, island-hopped from Cebu to Boracay to Bohol to Palawan to Manila.  I want to share so much with you that I’ll need the entire month of E-mail Blasts!

(Shangrila Hotel in Makati, Manila.)

(Shangrila Hotel in Makati, Manila.)

What repeatedly impressed me, no matter what island we happen to visit, was the faith of the Philippine people.

(One of the oldest churches in the Philippines, Baclayon Church in Bohol.)

(One of the oldest churches in the Philippines, Baclayon Church in Bohol.)

The Catholic faith came by way of the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, in the name of King Philip (hence the name, little Philip, i.e., Filipino).  This world navigator came to the Philippines to colonize the country and share the Faith, hence the heavy Spanish influence on this Asian island nation.  In the process, Magellan also needed to militarily rule the land.  The tribe leader Lapu Lapu sought freedom for his people and ended Magellan’s life in the Battle of Mactan.  The liberation, however, did not stop the Grace of the Catholic Faith.

(Monument where Lapu Lapu defeated Magellan's forces in the Battle of Mactan.)

(Monument where Lapu Lapu defeated Magellan’s forces in the Battle of Mactan.)

The Philippines is the only Christian nation in a primarily non-Christian part of the world, and is also one of the most devoutly Catholic countries in the world.  Proudly, the Philippines hosted the world’s largest World Youth Day (arguably the largest gathering in world history) – over 5 million people on a tiny Island nation.  The Papal Mass was celebrated at that Quirino Grandstand, where I had the privilege of being a special guest concelebrant at the Black Nazarene Festival.

(Statue of the Black Nazarene.)

(Statue of the Black Nazarene.)

The Philippines’ faith is strong for many reasons.  I can offer two for your dinner discussion.

First, faith and family go hand in hand.  Just consider what a family needs to be a family – faithfulness to each other!  When families don’t practice their faith, their fidelity to each other is compromised.  For Filipinos, going to church as a family, praying together, and yes, saying Grace Before Meals, helps them to be faithful and faith-filled families!

(Family that inhabits a beach resort Island near Palawan, Philippines.)

(Family that inhabits a beach resort Island near Palawan, Philippines.)

Another reason why the Faith may be so strong in the Philippines is because they are still a developing nation, i.e., not rich, or more bluntly – “poor.”  What they lack in material goods, however, is replaced by an abundance of spiritual blessings.  They are joyful, happy, fun-loving people, despite their lower economic status.  Yes, I know it’s cliché, but in the Philippines the sentiment couldn’t be more true – money can’t buy happiness!  Money can buy good and memorable times (this trip wasn’t cheap), but the joy I encountered from the Filipinos made me rethink my approach to money and materialism.  I need to be more grateful, more generous, and more dependent on Almighty God for happiness, and not on the almighty dollar.

(At Berghoff German Cookware studio and store in Makati, Philippines. Me with two recently graduated culinary student sous-chefs, who assisted me in making the Fusion Fajitas as a part of a fundraising effort for the victims of the recent typhoons.)

(At Berghoff German Cookware studio and store in Makati, Philippines.  Me with two recently graduated culinary student sous-chefs, who assisted me in making the Fusion Fajitas as a part of a fundraising effort for the victims of the recent typhoons.)

On this trip I met a young man from Europe.  He traveled alone.  He had money and seemed to enjoy himself freely.  In our brief chat I learned his parents were divorced, and therefore he had no real family to spend the holidays with.  While it sounded exotic to spend the holidays exploring foreign lands, it also sounded lonely.  At the end of our conversation he “confessed” that he was impressed by my family (“jealous” was the actual word he used).  He observed us playing football or making sandcastles or making fun of each other.  He explained that he wished his family was still together on a vacation like ours.  My heart was heavy for him, and I could only pray that he would one day discover the key to a faithful and loving family – faith, hope, and love in God!

(Sunset at Boracay Beach, Philippines.)

(Sunset at Boracay Beach, Philippines.)

Of course my family is far from perfect.  We had our share of “Griswold” moments.  But this trip to the Philippines showed me just how blest I am for the great gifts I received over the Christmas break.  The cost of the trip meant we didn’t exchange presents this year.  Instead, this trip opened my eyes to the greatest gift of all – a faithful family!

(My nieces, nephews, and good friends, Stefano and Lauren, who we met in Boracay. They speak Italian, so we just chatted it up and celebrated together!)

(My nieces, nephews, and good friends, Stefano and Lauren, who we met in  Boracay.  They speak Italian, so we just chatted it up and celebrated together!)

Let Us Pray:

Father in Heaven, thank You for the chance to celebrate as a family in my native homeland, the Philippines.  We rejoice in Your goodness as we petition Your care for those who go without family, food, and faith.  Give safety and guidance to all who are alone in this world, and show them the way to peace on earth that always leads to eternal peace in Heaven.  Amen.

Fruit of the Vine

WE HAVE EXCITING NEWS:

THE VIRTUOUS VACATION TO NAPA VALLEY IS A GO! RESERVE THE DATES JUNE 23-28, 2012, AND SIGN UP!   SPACES ARE VERY LIMITED.  CALL CORPORATE TRAVEL AT 313.565.8888.

(Views of the vineyards from the Castello Amaroso in Napa Valley.)

(Views of the vineyards from the Castello Amaroso in Napa Valley.)

How did you spend your Christmas break?  What was the gift that you are STILL grateful for receiving on that blessed day?  Have you ever been to the Philippines?  If you could spend Christmas anywhere, where would it be?  Your questions and comments encourage us in our movement.  Thanks for posting your comments 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!

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

Posted in Dinner Discussion, Prayers, vacation | 5 Comments »