The Website is Almost Here!

It’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for!  The NEW website launches tomorrow, November 1!  Aside from just “looking prettier,” this website is reorganized and will feature the latest news, more ways to share in upcoming events, more of Fr. Leo’s exclusive recipes, the newest videos, and even ways to stay in touch with Fr. Leo and the GBM family.  

Just a quick look at the new, improved homepage.

 

With an updated interface, it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for: from web episodes to recipes, it’s all here!
 

 

Speaking of recipes, how cool is this new layout?

 

With the new interface, people who sign up and register will be signed up for the weekly eBlast and get access to all of Fr. Leo’s recipes all at once. And we want to encourage each of you to share in the movement by sending in stories and photos from GBM events and with your family so that others may be encouraged by the good that be done through one another.
 

 

Fr. Leo will be filmed for the 700 Club on November 30th to talk about his new book, Spicing Up Married Life.

 

You may start seeing Fr. Leo on TV and in articles more often soon in light of the release of Spicing Up Married Life, as we seek to partner with groups to share the book with couples. He will be featured on The 700 Club on November 30, sharing a number of recipes straight out of the book. If you have a local bookstore that you want to offer Fr. Leo’s new book, or if you’re interested in hosting Fr. Leo at your event or show, please contact us at assistant@gracebeforemeals.com.
 

 

Fr. Leo is teaming up with Tom Leopold, a comedy writer who worked on “Cheers!” and “Seinfeld” to host a new radio show on The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM. Check out the schedule here

 

This fall, Fr. Leo has been hosting a radio show with Tom Leopold on the Catholic Channel called “Entertaining Truth with Tom Leopold and Fr. Leo Patalinghug” (appropriately enough). Tom Leopold is a Jewish convert to Catholicism and a comedy writer who has worked on shows such as Seinfeld, Cheers!, and even Will and Grace, but you can read about his conversion here. The next show is airing at 11am on Saturday, November 3, so tune in!

Aside from being on the 700 Club and hosting a radio show, Fr. Leo was also recently in Rome filming new episodes of Savoring Our Faith! It will be a lot of fun and worth catching on EWTN.

With so much going on and a new chapter for Grace Before Meals getting ready to begin, we ask you to keep us in your prayers, and we also extend special prayers to all of the families devastated and affected by the recent Superstorm Sandy. May God bless each of them, especially in light of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

With the Christmas Holiday season coming up, we hope you consider sharing Fr. Leo’s newest book Spicing Up Married Life with friends and family of all ages. Head over to the new GBM Shopping Cart and place your order, and if you want Fr. Leo to SIGN & DEDICATE your books or apparel, then email us at assistant@gracebeforemeals.com and we will be happy to get them to you as soon as possible.

**For those who wish to have dedications, please allow an additional week for delivery to account for Fr. Leo’s availability. He’s all over the place!

Let us pray:   
How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord

which you give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God
In the honour and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow you,
bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.
For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,
they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to you
who were grounded deep within their hearts;
they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with your everlasting grace,
may we rejoice forever
with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in your goodness,
grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.
– Unknown author, 10th century

 FRIDAY & SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND & 3RD

26950 Patrick Ave. Hayward, CA 94544 

CONTACT: Jim 510-471-7766 x 22 stayouthministry@sbcglobal.net

  • This rally kicks off the beginning of the School Year!  High school students from multiple parishes will be able to attend workshops, mass, and a presentation by Fr. Leo.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH

Our Lady of Good Counsel, 8601 Wolftrap Road, Vienna, VA 22182 

CONTACT: Anna Mary 703-896-7425 auction@olgcva.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving a Grace Before Meals presentation and cooking demonstration at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church.  This event is part of an auction effort to raise money for the church.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11TH

St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Community, 4103 Prices Distillery Rd. Ijamsville, MD 21754

CONTACT: Carol Smith 301-695-8845 csmith@e-stignatius.org

  • Fr. Leo will be working with the “Marriage Matters” group at St. Ignatius Loyola to speak on Family Meals and Strengthening Marriages, complete with a cooking demonstration, starting at 1pm after the 12pm Mass.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH

Atlantic General Hospital Community Health Fair 

Millsboro Middle School, Indian River School District 302 East State St., Millsboro, DE 19966

CONTACT: Dawn 410-641-9268 ddenton@atlanticgeneral.org

  • Fr. Leo will present at this second annual community health fair.  There will be free adult education and a variety of free health screenings available.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH

Outside Da Box

St. John Neumann 2900 E Main St. St Charles, IL 60174 

CONTACT: Eric 630-242-4898 eric@outsidedabox.com

  • This event focuses on helping families and couples grow in their faith in new ways.  Fr. Leo will give a cooking demonstration and Grace Before Meals presentation.

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH

Catholic Charities “Come and See” Fundraiser

Harrisburg, PA

CONTACT: Mark 717-657-4804 mtotaro@hbgdiocese.org

  • Fr. Leo will present the message of Grace Before Meals at the annual “Come and See” fundraiser. Benefits go to the Diocese of Harrisburg and Catholic Charities.

Posted in All Souls Day, Events, Media, Savoring Our Faith, Spicing Up Married Life, What's On the Table | 2 Comments »

Posted October 24th, 2012 | Uncategorized

 

Preparing for All Souls
I know, I know. Halloween is next week, which means All Souls Day comes right after. But the theme of spirits and demons, along with the salvation of souls, plays a large part in today’s “From The Feedbag” letter, which comes from a listener who is grieving the loss of her nephew, who took his own life.

Dear Fr. Leo,

 

I heard you on Catholic Answers radio show and the subject was spiritual combat.  Thank you for being on the show.  I listened on my way home from work.

 

My nephew took his life this past July.  He stopped taking his medication and thought he was possessed by a demon.  My question, my sister feels that since he prayed the rosary and wore the scapular he is in Heaven?  Can we be certain that his soul is in Heaven? He was married and was expecting his first child this month.

 

Thank you for any advice or literature to read concerning the Church’s teaching on suicide.

God bless you.

 

A Sad but Hopeful Aunt 

——————————————————————————————————–

Dear Sad but Hopeful,

I want to express my sincere and prayerful condolences to you and your family for this sad and unprepared-for loss.  Suicide is a desperate form of communication of hopelessness, at least for that moment for the person who died.

The Church continues to believe that taking a life, including your own, is a sin because no one has that right but God.  At the same time, however, the Church understands the pastoral necessity to explain, along with the sound teachings of true and authentic psychologists, that sometimes a person who commits suicide is not “free” to know the entire scope of their actions. In other words, they may be trying to escape, rather than trying to kill even if it turns out looking and feeling exactly the same namely, death.

  

 

The Death of Christ – statues in Lourdes, France.

 

No doubt there is great confusion for a person that wants to take their own life.  However, it may or may not be a case of demonic possession.  Yet, recently Church has unfortunately experienced a slight increase in the reporting of demonic possession.  But I cannot confirm or deny that in this particular case.  We have to be delicate in explaining the balance that evil exists, but just because a person feels he or she is possessed, that may not necessarily be the case.  It could be a sign of many things that deal more with psychological and personal imbalance, rather than spiritual reality.

  

 

Statue of St. Michael the Archangel fighting against the Devil.

 

One of the things I tell people during this heartbreaking situation is that God understood what the suicide victim was going through and that God loved that person beyond measure especially at the moment of the death.  Sometimes, a person commits this deathly act because there is a loss of hope, a fearfulness of the unknown, and even an impatience with a current situation, especially if the person is trying to escape from pain, physically or emotionally.  Can God forgive a person for these sins and sinful inclinations?  Yes, most certainly He can.

  

 

In the midst of the darkness, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Washington, DC, remains a beacon of hope for all who believe.

 

Therefore, it’s very important for us to remember and ask God to continue to forgive the sins of people who have died.  We can intercede on their behalf by telling God that we still love that person who died, even if they are imperfect.  We can beg God to forgive them for their sins and to bring them to Heaven.  The Church teaches we can have a certain hope: that God loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven.  Yet, only God can decide that.  Therefore, we must always and forever continue to pray for that person, because it can help us to learn how to avoid the same pitfalls of depression and turn more and more to God for the help to make it through the depressing stages of our life. 

 

  

Child receiving protection of the Holy Water Font from the temptations of the Devil.

 

I realize this may not be the exact answer you want, but it’s the most sensitive response I can offer in this difficult situation, especially since I don’t have all of the facts about this situation.  At the same time, I can tell you that your question gave me a chance to address all of our subscribed members by reassuring them that God is a forgiving God – as long as we are willing to ask for it for ourselves and others.

Regarding possession and the demonic, I also offer our members a caution that it is real – very real.  As America prepares for Halloween, and Catholics prepare for All Soul’s Day, we have to remember the reality of the spiritual life, to take it seriously, and to take caution not to dabble in things that can invite dark or evil spirits into the heart or your home.  

 

 

Evil wants us to distract us from the good – so be attentive to both, and choose to pay attention to the Good.

 

Also consider protecting your family from the spirits that want to destroy the home by praying together, providing appropriate and beautiful sacramentals in the home such as a holy image of the Lord or the Saints, and by making sure the family prays at Mass and talks about Faith around the dinner table.

 

  

The Mass – the most important family meal.

 

I can say for sure that my own family experienced struggles in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual realm.  But one thing that keeps us strong, safe, and joyful (notice, I didn’t say “perfect”), is a regular celebration of our faith, around the Table in God’s Church (i.e., Altar at Mass) and around the domestic church’s altar (i.e., the dinner table each day together)

 

NOTE: You may notice some changes and/or technical difficulties on our website. We apologize for any inconvenience but the good news is that our new website is officially going to be ready to launch by November 1, 2012 (All Souls Day) and will help more families to grow together in faith and fun.

 

ALSO, with the Christmas Holiday season coming up, we hope you consider sharing Fr. Leo’s newest book Spicing Up Married Life with friends and family of all ages. Head over to the new GBM Shopping Cart and place your order, and if you want Fr. Leo to SIGN & DEDICATE your books or apparel, then email us at assistant@gracebeforemeals.com and we will be happy to get them to you as soon as possible.** More discounts and ways to save will be coming soon.

**For those who wish to have dedications, please allow an additional week for delivery to account for Fr. Leo’s availability. He’s all over the place!

Let us pray:  Father, protect families from evil.  Keep them focused the on theological virtues of Faith, hope and love.  Remind them of God’s healing power. And give comfort to those who continue to mourn the death of family members through the sadness and brokenness of suicide.  Forgive their sins, have mercy on us all, and bring us to everlasting life with You in Heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

 

Jesus conquers the Devil’s temptations in the desert.

 

 FRIDAY & SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND & 3RD

26950 Patrick Ave. Hayward, CA 94544 

CONTACT: Jim 510-471-7766 x 22 stayouthministry@sbcglobal.net

  • This rally kicks off the beginning of the School Year!  High school students from multiple parishes will be able to attend workshops, mass, and a presentation by Fr. Leo.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH

Our Lady of Good Counsel, 8601 Wolftrap Road, Vienna, VA 22182 

CONTACT: Anna Mary 703-896-7425 auction@olgcva.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving a Grace Before Meals presentation and cooking demonstration at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church.  This event is part of an auction effort to raise money for the church.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH

Atlantic General Hospital Community Health Fair 

Millsboro Middle School, Indian River School District 302 East State St., Millsboro, DE 19966

CONTACT: Dawn 410-641-9268 ddenton@atlanticgeneral.org

  • Fr. Leo will present at this second annual community health fair.  There will be free adult education and a variety of free health screenings available.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH

Outside Da Box

St. John Neumann 2900 E Main St. St Charles, IL 60174 

CONTACT: Eric 630-242-4898 eric@outsidedabox.com

  • This event focuses on helping families and couples grow in their faith in new ways.  Fr. Leo will give a cooking demonstration and Grace Before Meals presentation.

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19TH

Catholic Charities “Come and See” Fundraiser

Harrisburg, PA

CONTACT: Mark 717-657-4804 mtotaro@hbgdiocese.org

  • Fr. Leo will present the message of Grace Before Meals at the annual “Come and See” fundraiser. Benefits go to the Diocese of Harrisburg and Catholic Charities.

 

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE!
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Posted October 17th, 2012 | Menu Inspiration

Scallops with Balsamic Glaze
There is a food and Faith analogy in scallops.  The scallop shells are generally quite tough to crack, strong, and also quite beautiful.  The shell is obviously there to protect the fish from within.  But, on the inside, these delicacies are truly that – delicate, sweet, soft, and valuable. 
Scallops in the shell. Photo from www.thescallopshack.com.

 

We all need to have a toughness of exterior to protect our hearts and souls.  But we obviously know that we need to let people in our lives – willingly.  Studying a little about scallops, or any shellfish really, they have to let in the elements (i.e., food), in order to stay alive.  Yet, at the same time, this toughness can have a double meaning.  One way to understand a healthy form of toughness means that we don’t cry at the drop of the hat or cower when our faith is confronted, and that we become confident – rather than cowardly.  In other words, we can be confident in who we are and in who we believe – God – who can help us maintain the balance to be strong but gentle.

The late Pope John Paul II, a great image of a tough and authentic man, who also showed the compassion and love of a gentle man.

Unfortunately, there is another form of toughness that can hurt more than help.  We’ve all met or probably know people who have such a tough exterior – possibly as a defense mechanism from being hurt in the past – that they let no one into their lives, including God. I recently thought of this dual understanding of toughness when I made scallops for dinner with a group of priests.  Dinner provided us a time to share our experiences, especially the challenges that can easily harden us, including our hearts – something we obviously want to avoid!  The dinner discussion helped to give us the confidence which serves the purpose of the shell to the scallop so that we can protect the goodness within – namely, our hearts!

The crowds at the Our Lady of the Star Cultural Center in Ponte Vedra, Florida, where Fr. Leo Patalinghug offered a cooking demonstration and talk for the Palmer Catholic Academy.

The next time your family asks for scallops, you can think of this simple message and share with them more than a delicious recipe.  Share with them some spiritual insights.

NOTE: You may notice some changes and/or technical difficulties on our website. We apologize for any inconvenience but the good news is that our new website is officially going to be ready to launch by November 1, 2012 and will help take our movement to the next level. We are excited to share the new site with all interested in family meal ideas, easy access to Fr. Leo’s recipes, videos, event details, and other involvements and ways to share the movement with others. So please stay with us the next 2 weeks as we seek to serve up a wonderful experience for each “GBM fam” out there.

Let us pray:  God, help us to become appropriately tough – not wimpy, scared, or overly sensitive.  But tough enough to handle the stresses and challenges of life, while also maintaining a heart that is good and compassionate – not afraid to hurt, and also willing to love even if it does hurt a little.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
  • What’s your favorite scallop recipe?
  • How do you teach your children to find a balance between being strong and gentle at the same time?

Post your answers below, and share the love of good food that feeds body, mind, and spirit.

Scallops with Balsamic Glaze

Another way to present the same scallop recipe, over a slice of tomato with drippings of the balsamic glaze

 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 10700 Aboite Wayne International Airport

CONTACT: frjshafer@seasfw.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving three presentations and will concelebrate masses.  He will present particularly on beating the fast food mentality and on the importance of spending time with family.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD

26950 Patrick Ave. Hayward, CA 94544 

CONTACT: Jim 510-471-7766 x 22 stayouthministry@sbcglobal.net

  • This rally kicks off the beginning of the School Year!  Highschool students from multiple parishes will be able to attend workshops, mass, and a presentation by Fr. Leo.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH

Our Lady of Good Counsel, 8601 Wolftrap Road, Vienna, VA 22182 

CONTACT: Anna Mary 703-896-7425 auction@olgcva.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving a Grace Before Meals presentation and cooking demonstration at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church.  This event is part of an auction effort to raise money for the church.

 

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE!
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

 

Posted in Menu Inspiration | 2 Comments »

Posted October 10th, 2012 | Faithful Foodie

 

A Conversion – Inside and Out!

This week, I’d like to share with you a restaurant review that I did for the Catholic Review, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s paper, for Catholic news and culture.  It’s about a local restaurant that was featured on the Food Network’s hit show, “Restaurant Impossible,” with master chef, Robert Irvine.  I love this show because it reflects the pain but also the power of “conversion” by showing to the failing restaurant owners the “sins” in the restaurant industry, while giving them hope through a transformation process.  You can see the food and Faith analogy very clearly.  Enjoy this faithful foodie adventure and culinary confession.

Culinary Confession - Zandi's Grill
Culinary Confession – Zandi’s Grill

Conversion – in Faith or in the food business – transforms us inside and out.  That’s what Zandi’s Grill in Millersville, MD, experienced.  Located near my new assignment, but obscured in the back of a business plaza, Zandi’s once-failing restaurant received an extreme makeover by Food Network’s muscled, meaningfully meal-minded superstar-chef, Robert Irvine, in his hit show “Restaurant Impossible.” He transformed the restaurant and its owners, with just $10,000 and 48 hours.  It’s rather dramatic seeing how the change of heart is often more difficult than physical changes of the space.  But both are needed in a true conversion.

Zandi’s has about 15 tabletops and a bar area that seats about 12 people.  Bright colors, modern fixtures, and a signature eye-catching wall design create a whimsical place for breakfast or lunch – the only meals served there.  The layout restricts groups or large families, but it’s ideal for singles or couples.

Even if you go to a restaurant for your monthly date night as my new book suggests, you can still take the information and questions with you and have a fruitful and faithful discussion about marriage.

 

Steadfast time slots for breakfast and lunch restricts the menu choices.  Brunch is not an option, and this presented challenges in evaluating their food.  I was just too late to get an omelet!  Disappointing – especially since an omelet, featured on the show, is easy to make (but also easy to mess up).  The polite waitress apologetically explained how the kitchen was too busy, even though the restaurant was only half-filled when I arrived.

Zandi’s crab cake appetizers – quite delicious and moist.

The dishes I ordered were well-prepared and flavorful, even if the signature burger (bacon and blue cheese with a fried egg) was overcooked, not medium-rare as I requested. Hand-cut fries, a flavored aioli, creamy crab cake appetizers seared on a griddle, and the tilapia sliders were tasty and appropriately priced.  However, it took 30 minutes to arrive!  The milkshake, also featured on the show, was typical but a sweet ending.

My new book even has desserts! So order your copy today.

My biggest concern was the slow service.  While the solo waitress and one of the owners were polite and friendly, they seemed frazzled and unprepared – not an uncommon experience according to online reviews.  It is obvious that they need more staff – especially since the Food Network show gave them much-needed exposure and a boost for success, i.e., busyness! The show revealed how the owners lacked passion in their approach before the renovation.  My experience at Zandi’s indicated an ongoing need for conversion in this area. But it’s understandable, since a conversion of heart and a change of old ways don’t happen in just 48 hours, but a lifetime.

Fr. Leo signing the Grace Before Meals apron – a reminder of the responsibility to serve, as Christ put on an apron on the night of the Last Supper, served the meal, and washed the disciples’ feet. To order your apron, click here.

I enjoyed visiting Zandi’s, especially since I’m a fan of Chef Irvine’s show.  I wish them well.  But this experience reminded me that conversion doesn’t come instantly.  Like this restaurant, our Faith communities need to be ready to serve the hungry crowds.  If we aren’t ready, they will go elsewhere.  And, if our churches aren’t packed on Sundays – like a good restaurant – then perhaps we may need ongoing conversion ourselves: a transformation inside and out.  And Zandi’s proves it is possible.

The best way for ongoing conversion to happen is through the regular practice of going to confession. 

Check out this video of a parish in North Carolina – where my friend is the pastor, and check out how a transformed church has resulted in a vibrant and packed church every Sunday!  Click Here 

Let us pray:  Father in Heaven, help us to experience a conversion of our life both inside and out – which affects not only our physical changes, but also the interior transformation of heart and mind.  May all of those who seek to improve experience the grace of someone who is willing to intervene and point to the One who can give us a New Way, New Hope, and New Life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
  • Do you like the show “Restaurant Impossible?” Why or why not?
  • Have you been able to apply Chef Irvine’s message about the need to change your own life?  And if you had money and time to transform something failing in your life, what would it be?

Are there any restaurants that you would like to review? Please post your comments to give our members your unique insights – these help us all!  Post your comments below! 

 

A slight change of the environment, such as putting crab cake balls in a martini glass, elevates the simple crab cake into a glamorous meal. Maybe a change like that can do the same for our lives as it does for our meals.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17TH

St. Anastasia Parish, Troy, MI

CONTACT: rsimony@stanastasia.org (248) 689-7192

  • Religious education Kick-Off fall family gathering!  This is a multi-generational event that involves 1st through 8th graders, their parents, and anyone else who would like to join!
  • The event focuses on growing together in Christ, attending weekly Mass as a family and eating together as a family.  A family that prays together stays together!  By the time the event ends, you’ll be excited, touched, and inspired to better serve our Lord and to live out the vocation of a Christian family.
  • Fr. Leo will be presenting on these event topics and will also be doing a cooking demonstration and will also be there for a book signing.
  • There will also be a family activity to help families grow even closer.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 10700 Aboite Wayne International Airport

CONTACT: frjshafer@seasfw.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving three presentations and will concelebrate masses.  He will present particularly on beating the fast food mentality and on the importance of spending time with family.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD

26950 Patrick Ave. Hayward, CA 94544 

CONTACT: Jim 510-471-7766 x 22 stayouthministry@sbcglobal.net

  • This rally kicks off the beginning of the School Year!  Highschool students from multiple parishes will be able to attend workshops, mass, and a presentation by Fr. Leo.
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE!
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

 

 

Posted in Faithful Foodie | 4 Comments »

Posted October 3rd, 2012 | Dinner Discussion

Hands On Food! 

In some countries, eating with your hands is perfectly acceptable.  Obviously, in formal settings utensils are necessary – whether it’s a fork, spoon, or even chopsticks.  But for some foods and in some settings, a hands-on approach is perfectly appropriate.  But what if you don’t have hands?  

 

 

Trying to hand feeding a deer – a mounted trophy deer head, that is.

This past week I had the chance to read a book, What’s Your Excuse, from motivational speaker, John Foppe, who was born without arms and hands.  The big question for me when confronting unique individuals like John is, “how does he eat?”  His experience shows me a different approach to “hands-on” eating.  He eats with his feet!

John Foppe, motivational speaker and Executive Director of the St. Vincent DePaul Society in St. Louis, MO.

His story is remarkable.  I met John and his lovely wife at a Legatus presentation this past summer in St. Louis.  They provided me some materials about his wonderful work.  As a motivational speaker, John inspires people with the knowledge that some things are even more important than hands and feet – such as a determination to hope; a zeal to live with knowledge that God is here to help us; and a love that disciplines us to be God’s child first and a person dealing with a condition (such as being born without arms and hands) second.   John and I had an instant connection in that he also loves to cook – using only his feet!  He would put me to shame if the competition required us to tie our hands behind our backs!

Bobby Flay personally signing his Throw Down book for me. If we had to tie one hand behind our backs, who would win?  By the way, the Throw Down Episode will re-air on October 25 at 9:30am EDT.

Providentially, in the same week I finished reading John Foppe’s book, I also gave a presentation at a conference in Great Falls Montana where the other keynote presenter was world-famous Tony Melendez, a speaker, singer and guitar player who was also born without arms and hands.  He does everything with his feet!  He humbles me in that he lives his faith, not just in his words and songs, but in how he walks the walk – as that’s what God gave him!  Tony, like John, shows the world that they live life fully, even if differently.  And, despite their condition (and in their case because of their condition) they do great things.  When Tony sang a song and played the guitar with his feet for Pope John Paul II, the Pontiff left his throne and kissed the armless musician!  Now talk about amazing!

Tony and me taking a break during the conference.

This double dose of examples of people with special conditions, in particular, those born without arms, hands, legs, etc., reminded me never to take life for granted.  They also showed me never to underestimate the abilities of people who face unique obstacles.  They tell the world a powerful message that having faith, hope, and love of God is given to all people equally – no matter who they are or how they’re born.  A life without faith handicaps a person by limiting their ability to see only the objective physical reality.  Faith, however, provides a great insight to see meaning and purpose, even if you can’t see your hands in front of your face. The inspiring examples of Tony and John also show us how the gift of life, though different for each person, is always a gift from God that we need to protect from the womb to the tomb.  Both John and Tony have changed millions of lives for the better.  They arguably have done more than many people who are born with arms and hands.

Tony Melendez in action playing the guitar with his feet.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a meal with both Tony and John.  While watching them use their feet, just leaning to grab their food in their mouths, can honestly be a bit shocking at first.  Then you realize the unique beauty in God’s way of using the rest of human body to compensate.  It is really a “grace before meals” moment to see how God will use anything to feed his people with inspiration, including people who have no arms or hands.

Even my graceful mom can’t make a sloppy burger look dainty.

 

There are times that I pray that I don’t cut myself (which I’ve done) while doing a cooking demonstration on TV or in a live presentation.  I feel that if I cut myself, the inability to use one or both of my hands would really limit my ability to do what I believe God calls me to do – feed people.  But, in Tony and John’s case, I need to rethink my prayer.  After all, Tony and John have fed my spirit and so many others.  They can boast that they have fed the “cooking priest” using no hands!

Conference program from the Great Falls Montana Culture of Life Conference.

 

Let us pray: Father, bless John and Tony, their lives, their families, and their mission and ministry in feeding souls, while dealing with unique and challenging physical conditions.  Give to all who hear their message – either by listening to Tony’s beautiful songs, seeing John’s remarkable paintings, or watching them in action – a great sense of hope to help them with their own struggles in life.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Eucharistic Adoration in the chapel of Our Lady of the Fields.

 

  • What struggles have you overcome in life?  
  • Have you ever had to cook anything when you’ve been limited?  For example, I cut my hand one day and had limited use of that hand.  
  • Where in your life do you believe you need to overcome struggles? 
  • What do you think about Tony and John’s example of faith and inspiration?  

Your comments help us to strengthen our commitment to serve you through this Grace Before Meals apostolate.  Please post your comments HERE. 

 

And remember couples (whether dating, engaged, or celebrating major anniversaries) will get some grace-filled help with their marriage in my new book, Spicing Up Married Life. Click here to order your copies for yourself and for other couples you know.

 

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17TH

St. Anastasia Parish, Troy, MI

CONTACT: rsimony@stanastasia.org (248) 689-7192

  • Religious education Kick-Off fall family gathering!  This is a multi-generational event that involves 1st through 8th graders, their parents, and anyone else who would like to join!
  • The event focuses on growing together in Christ, attending weekly Mass as a family and eating together as a family.  A family that prays together stays together!  By the time the event ends, you’ll be excited, touched, and inspired to better serve our Lord and to live out the vocation of a Christian family.
  • Fr. Leo will be presenting on these event topics and will also be doing a cooking demonstration and will also be there for a book signing.
  • There will also be a family activity to help families grow even closer.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, 10700 Aboite Wayne International Airport

CONTACT: frjshafer@seasfw.org

  • Fr. Leo will be giving three presentations and will concelebrate masses.  He will present particularly on beating the fast food mentality and on the importance of spending time with family.
 
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