Holy (Not Perfect) Family
As the year comes to a quick close, I often times reflect on all the ways God has blessed me. One of the greatest blessings is, no doubt, my family. That’s one of the primary reasons why our Grace Before Meals team works so hard – to help strengthen family life through the family dinner.
Everywhere I go, I meet different families with the same “problem” – they aren’t “perfect.” But after each Grace Before Meals presentation I offer around the country (and the world), families learn how to celebrate togetherness, love, and each other, despite their common problem of being imperfect.
Thanks be to God the Sunday after Christmas our Catholic Faith celebrates the Feast of the Holy (not perfect) family. While St. Joseph was a chaste and upright man, and Mary was conceived Immaculately, and Jesus Himself was the perfectly pure Son of God – their lives were wrought with difficulty and far from perfect. They had less than ideal living conditions, situations, jobs, and income. In other words, while they were perfectly faithful the Holy Family was not exempt from struggle, toil, and challenge. In fact, they had quite a lot of struggles in life.
Recently, I had the opportunity to mediate further on family and perfection when I stayed at the Rectory of the Holy Family Catholic Church in New York City, almost immediately across the street from the United Nations. There I had a great opportunity to meditate on family life – my own family, the parish family, the Church family, and the human family. In every account, I was able to find great imperfections – in each family and in myself. From the smell of the homeless man sitting in the pew behind me to the big UN protest brewing across the street, I was finding imperfection was all around me!
It was only by divine Grace that I was able to manage a small meditation, which I will share with you now in hopes you share it with others. Sitting there, in a very imperfect prayer experience, I realized that our perfection will only be attained in Heaven. However, between now and then, we get glimpses of perfection when we allow ourselves to imitate the virtues that made the Holy Family perfectly faithful in an imperfect world. We can also have small victories towards perfection by inviting Jesus more deeply into our imperfections and asking Him to help us and heal us.
Some other ways to heal include praying a sincere grace before each meal, making time for mealtime conversations, practicing Christian virtue, and frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation, aka the sacrament of saying, “I’m Sorry!” After all, none of us are perfect.
Despite the imperfections of our loved ones, institutions, and the nations of the world (our human family), we have to show a faith that seeks perfection through patience, charity, and serious prayer. The upcoming feast and new year, offer our Grace Before Meals family an opportunity to do better. And while we are certain to make mistakes, our faithful – though imperfect – family, will seek to make each day of 2013 a blessing!
Let us pray:
“O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of Your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (From the opening prayer of the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family.)
Fr. Leo appeared on NPR on Christmas Eve. Listen to it!
Fr. Leo appeared on National Public Radio’s show “Tell Me More” ans shared with the nation information on his book and the Grace Before Meals apostolate. While he stresses the importance of a romantic meal as instructed in his book, he tells host Celeste Headlee, “If the food stinks at the end of it all, call carry-out. You can still celebrate each other.” Read about it here!
We wish you a Mary’s Christmas!
We have only a few weeks until the birth of Christ. All focus is on Jesus’ Birthday. But in this month of December, the Catholic Church celebrates has two major celebrations that focus on his Mother – Mary. December 8th, we had the Holy Day of Obligation to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. Today – December 12, we celebrate one of the most popular devotions, especially for Spanish Speaking countries, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
While some may question, why such a focus on Mary instead of Jesus, the Church teaches that Jesus’ mother helps to prepare for the coming of Christ. Her presence in Scripture offers profound theological reflection for Christians. But, without turning this E-Blast into a Mariology class, it’s important to remember that a pregnant woman prepares for the birth of her baby unlike any other member of the family. Since Mary is the mother of Jesus, she knew Him intimately for nine months in her womb. She would feed Him with her very body. She would be there at the first miracle (a food miracle) when Jesus turned water into wine. She would be the first Christian invited to the banquet of the Lamb of God in the feast of the Assumption.
While many prepare for the Birth of Christ by getting gifts for family members, Mary seeks to prepare room in our hearts to love Him. And she invites us to clean our hands and our souls (through the sacrament of Confession) so that we can eventually hold Him. In other words, Mary wants to give US a gift: the gift of the Life that is in her womb.
This message is perfectly captured in today’s feast day, Our Lady of Guadalupe. This devotion has a very special place in my heart, because I had the incredible opportunity to actually visit the vault that holds this ancient tilma that bears the image of Jesus’ mother. The history, the facts and the inspiration of this incredible image are purely miraculous. The story of this image is so powerful that it should be told, not just in words or in a book, but on the big screen!
That’s why I want to invite you to a special screening of The Blood & The Rose from award- winning producer, Tim Watkins. He is also the Executive Producer of Grace Before Meals. This film is more than a movie or docudrama. It’s a history lesson, homily, meditation, and work of art. The screening will be held in Washington D.C., the night before the March for Life. I will also be there to give a talk to help introduce this incredible movie. Please come and celebrate life that came from the Virgin Mother’s womb and placed it in our hearts, minds, and souls – as food – to save us and bring us to Heaven.
Your messages, comments, questions, and critiques help us engage with our subscribers, and they inspire us to keep our movement alive and strong.
Do you want to give the Grace Before Meals movement a “gift?”
Then give a gift to family, friends, and fellow parishioners. Helps us grow our movement by
1) Giving our GBM products as Christmas gifts;
2) Encouraging family, friends, and church parish members to sign up for the free weekly E-mail Blasts;
3) Consider “sponsoring” a month worth of e-mail blasts by donating money to advertise your company, movement, or website to our thousands of subscribers;
4) Ask your pastor or church leadership to host an event where Fr. Leo can perform a cooking demonstration, lead a retreat, and offer a book signing;
5) and most importantly, pray for us!
Read a testimony from a couple who used Spicing Up Married Life to strengthen their marriage:
Recently my husband and I were going through some difficult times. On one particular day, things were not going well for us and I decided I needed to spend some time in adoration. I spent about 30 minutes in the chapel asking God for help and guidance; I left the chapel at peace, but with no answers. My husband had called to see how adoration had gone and I told him it went well, but “no lightning bolts or great ideas to help us”. I headed home and realized I did not have anything for dinner, except the hamburger I had defrosted. I looked through a couple cookbooks and saw your new book – Spicing Up Married Life. After looking through the index, I found the recipe for Sweet potato shepherds pie and started to make it. After getting the dinner started, I sat down with the cookbook and wanted to see what chapter the Shepherd’s pie came from. What a shock I had when I saw the chapter title – The Honeymoon is over – good thing I was sitting down. I started reading and felt the lightning bolt I was looking for during adoration. I called my husband and told him about the book and instead of discussing our current situation, would he mind if we read the chapter together after he got home. He agreed and we sat down for about an hour- we read, talked and prayed. It was great and although there are always going to be issues and challenges, we started some great communication that was desperately needed. Just wanted to share a success story for your book and some divine intervention once again brought through breaking bread together –
Share this gift with the ones that you love and help bring them together in faith and love…and food.
Let Us Pray:
Father in Heaven, You gave us Mary to be our spiritual mother. May her prayerful intercession, virtue, and holy example inspire us to love Jesus as she loves Him, and may our faith in Jesus help us also to learn to love Mary, His Mother, as He loves her. Amen.
SUML and GBM both reviewed by Plan To Eat!
Plan to Eat, a popular blog that shares recipes and ideas for meal planning has shared their review of not only Spicing Up Married Life, but also Grace Before Meals, and even had a contest to give away a copy of SUML. Congratulations to Julie D of Wisconsin! Read the review here and also read about the reviewer’s time with Fr. Leo’s Creamy Vegetable Soup here.
The USCCB recommends Spicing Up Married Life ‘For Your Marriage’
Foryourmarriage.org is an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to help save relationships and marriages by providing them with proper guidance and tips from a Catholic perspective. In other words, its the perfect fit to share Spicing Up Married Life! Check out their review by clicking here.
Back in Fr. Leo’s old stomping grounds, the Frederick News-Post, Frederick county’s premiere local paper, had a chance to interview Fr. Leo and share information on his newest book. Additionally, they share two of the recipes from SUML, so check out their review on GBM.com.
Santa IS Real!
This week, December 6, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. So lay aside any fears about how to talk with your children about Santa not being “real.” He is 100% real and quite alive as a saint in Heaven.
But parents, your job is still not done until you can successfully translate the more popular notion of St. Nicholas to the more accurate description of the Man who lives so far North he’s now in Heaven. You can’t get anymore “North” than that!
I’ll admit to getting more impatient with the more worldly approach to Christmas that we see with each passing year, especially with regard to Santa Claus. I think Saint Nick would be a bit annoyed, too, with the caricature we’ve all come to know him as.
My impatience arises from angry secularists who work to diminish the religious significance of Christmas, because they find celebrating the birthday of Jesus to be “offensive.” If we can celebrate Presidents’ Birthdays and get a “day off” for a courageous civil rights leader, what’s the big deal about giving Christians a chance to celebrate the birthday of our God? However, I also get impatient with ill-informed Christians who simply think of the Christmas season season as a storybook representation to the point that St. Nicholas obscures Christ on His birthday! Obviously I need to have more patience, just as St. Nicholas did.
Dear Santa Claus,
For Christmas, please intercede for me and grant me the gift of patience!
How can we best deal with this Christmas confusion? My short answer is to give Saint Nicholas a chance to explain himself. Give Saint Nick an opportunity to talk with your children about Jesus’ birthday! Allow the real St. Nick to please stand up!
Parents have an awesome responsibility to translate the “magic” of Christmas into a celebration of faith. Faith and magic are two completely different things. We need to know that and, more importantly, to explain it to our children.
By teaching children about the real St. Nicholas, we help them avoid the trauma when they realize the fat-jolly-chimney-crawling image of St. Nicholas is more fictional (thank God) than factual. Yet, the “spirit” of St. Nicholas should be fostered and discussed regularly. Yes, it is always fun for children to have imaginative fairytale characters as part of their growing experience. But it’s also important to help children see that the popular stories of St. Nicholas help them develop virtue and morals, such as intercession, being nice rather than naughty, and the “gift” of gift-giving!
By concentrating on the positive qualities of important childhood characters, you let children use their imaginations but also inform their consciences. The technique and conversation you use to explain that SpongeBob, Cinderella, and Superman are “not real” can easily be applied to Santa. Concentrate on the “virtue” of the character as real – 100% truthful – even if the saccharine stories about Santa are incredulous.
I offer this “Dinner Discussion” E-Blast as something for parents to think about, pray about, and eventually discuss as a family. Don’t be afraid to approach your children with the truth about Christmas. The Saints, especially Santa, will intercede so that your efforts to dispel myths and strengthen faith in your children will be fruitful and even fun.
Your responses, questions, and comments help us develop topics for future E-Blasts. So please help us out and post your comments below.
Let Us Pray:
Father in Heaven, You give us St. Nicholas as a way to prepare us, especially children, for the great feast of Christmas. May our great and holy intercessors in Heaven help us to find the real meaning of this holy season, and may the saints help us to love Jesus as they did! And may we always know of Jesus’ love for us, as the Saints experienced. Through Christ or Lord. Amen.
Holy Hour Presentation at Columbia University
Columbia University 405 West 114th St. New York, NY 10025
CONTACT: Fr. Dan O’Reilly | 212-866-1500 | daniel.o’firstname.lastname@example.org
- All Souls Day
- Blast from the Past
- CRS Rice Bowl
- Culinary Confessions
- Dinner Discussion
- Entertaining Truth
- Epic Food Fight
- Faithful Foodie
- Feast Days
- Food for the Body
- Food for the Soul
- Food for Thought
- From the Feedbag
- Grace Before Meals
- In Memory
- Menu Inspiration
- Merry Christmas
- New Year
- Past Emails
- Recipe- Dessert
- Recipe- Pork
- Recipe-Side Dishes
- Restauraunt Reviews
- Savoring Our Faith
- Simply Blogging
- Special Religious Theme
- Spicing Up Married Life
- Taste Tester
- The Table Foundation
- What's On the Table