Posted March 27th, 2013 | Dinner Discussion, Easter, Lent

 

Mary’s Little Paschal Lamb

I want to offer you a brief thought about the Lamb of God for your personal prayer.  It’s the Holiest Week of the year and the food references found in the sacred scriptures are astounding.  Consider the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the oil that anoints Jesus body in the tomb, the fact that Jesus will thirst for us, the Passover supper, and the image of Jesus as the Lamb of God who will be led to the slaughterer.  These remarkable food allusions give the Grace Before Meals movement a reason to pause and reflect on the Eucharist in a most profound way.

Angels in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus is the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.  But we also celebrate the victory of the Paschal Lamb during Easter.  So in our contemplation of the food imagery that surrounds Holy Week, it may be beneficial to first consider why Jesus is called “The Lamb” of God.

Image of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, caring for the lambs.

I was asked to do an interview with the Chicago Tribune about this very topic. You can read some of my thoughts in the article. But as a summary, the lamb is a beloved animal, meek, humble, and so helpful by providing wool, companionship, and yes, food!  The lamb is also an animal that becomes very familiar to the shepherd’s voice.  In other words, lambs are “obedient” to the call of the shepherd.  And if the lamb strays, the shepherd’s job is to follow.  This comparison to Jesus as the Lamb, invites us to become part of the flock by becoming more like Him – meek, humble, and obedient.

Having done the article was a great blessing.  It’s also wonderful to know that secular press is interested in our theological approach to food.  And, after revisiting it myself, the approach makes perfect sense.  This Lamb of God not only feeds the body, but in the Resurrected Body of Jesus Christ, He will feed our souls.  We cannot separate the body and the soul, nor should we try to do that with our food!

Every nourishing meal, eaten with gratitude and humility, and surrounded by family and friends, provides more than bodily nourishment.  We just can’t forget that.

As you prepare for the Easter celebrations, the greatest Christian celebration of all, may you know the joy that Mary experienced when it was revealed to Her that Her little Lamb, Her only child, pure and innocent, has conquered even death itself.

Jesus at the breaking of the bread.
  • How will your family prepare for the Easter celebration? 

  • What’s your favorite part of this season?

  • What’s on the menu? 

Please share your ideas, questions and comments below.  These posts help engage our on-line community and give us ideas for future email blasts. 

Happy Easter Blessings to Come!

National Shrine of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore, MD.

Let us pray: 

Christ, victor over all, bless us in this most Holy Week with an enduring faith.  May the commercial aspects of this season be put into perspective, and may the community of believers keep You as the center of the celebration.  May the risen Christ have mercy on all of the faithful departed, and bless our families with peace, knowing that with You, we can overcome all, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The suffering Christ who submitted Himself as a Lamb before the slaughter.

 

 

APRIL 6-7
ST. CALLISTUS CATHOLIC CHURCH YEAR OF FAITH PRESENTATIONS AND MASS
GARDEN GROVE & ORANGE, CA
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

APRIL 11
CENTRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
GREAT FALLS, MT
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Easter, Lent | 1 Comment »

Posted March 20th, 2013 | Lent, Menu Inspiration, Recipe-Fish
 

Sweet Chipotle Spiced Grilled Shrimp

 

Yes, we’re still in the Lenten Season and families are constantly struggling to find meatless menus.  This one will certainly spice things up, while sweetening the experience of the family meal.

You can find lots of meatless recipes and inspirational stories from the CRS Rice Bowls.

But, before we give the recipe, please remember, that eating fish on Fridays is not just a form of “penance.” Although, depending on how you prepare the fish it can be quite the opposite experience!

Red Snapper – so big, I cooked it 4 ways!

Fish eaten on Fridays offers Christians the reminder of the Greek phrase:  Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.  The first letter of each word in the Greek phrase forms an acronym that spells the word, “FISH.”

So, whenever you eat seafood, remember how God called the disciples to be “fishers of men.” And whenever a person turns away from sin, believes in the Good News, and gives Jesus a chance to love them as their Lord, they become a big “catch” in the nets of God’s love!

Whole from tail to nose, the best way to eat fish!

 

 

Fr. Leo offers a great recipe for Oven- Fried Portobello Steaks from Spicing Up Married Life as part of the Catholic Herald’s six-week feature for meatless meals during this Lenten season. See what he is cooking up!


FR. LEO ON NPR: WILL POPE FRANCIS ANSWER MUSLIM PRAYERS AS WELL?

In light of the big news of Pope Francis being elected and in the middle of NCAA basketball ‘March Madness’, Fr. Leo stops in and speaks with program host Michel Martin, culture critic Jimi Izrael, attorney Arsalan Iftikhar, sports writer Pablo Torre. You can read or listen to their entertaining discussion by clicking HERE.

One way that Jesus tries to draw us to hear the message is by feeding us.  I’m glad to say the recipe below converted a non-fish eater! Let me know what you think. If you have pictures, be sure to send them to us as well.  Your culinary comments and questions help encourage our movement.  Please post your comments below.

Let us pray:

Father in Heaven, you bring about our conversion through the Holy Spirit’s actions working in the Church and through the lives of holy people.  Help us to become holier so that we may collaborate with the apostle’s mission on drawing others to God and becoming “fishers” for all of humanity.

Amen.

MARCH 21-23
ST. BRIDGET’S: PARISH MISSION & YOUTH RALLY
RICHMOND, VA

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

APRIL 6-7
ST. CALLISTUS CATHOLIC CHURCH YEAR OF FAITH PRESENTATIONS AND MASS
GARDEN GROVE & ORANGE, CA
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

 

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On a Faithful Foodie Mission

Before getting into our Dinner Discussion for this week, we at Grace Before Meals want to extend our heartfelt joy for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I!

Pope Francis I, on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica during his first address as our Holy Father.

 

Pope Francis I, We promise to remember you every time we gather around the Lord’s Table, and to keep your intentions in our prayers.

God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on Pope Francis I Your servant, the pastor of Your Church.
May his word and example inspire and guide the Church, and may he, and all those entrusted to his care, come to the joy of everlasting life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen. 

________________________

Now, for this week’s Dinner Discussion I would like to share some of my Lenten experiences.  It’s been a pretty good Lent for me so far.  I’ve been keeping up with most of my Lenten observance, but at the same time, keeping quite busy giving missions and spiritual retreats.

Realistic Crucifix from St. Daniel’s Church in Phoenix, AZ, commissioned by the pastor there and good friend of mine, Fr. Thaddeus McGuire. Notice the sign on the cross doesn’t say “INRI,” but “Jesus Christ King of the Jews” written out in different languages.

 

This season has been a fantastic opportunity to share our Grace Before Meals message of faith, food, and family, in different parts of the country through the itinerant preaching of “Parish Missions.”  I’m grateful that we are “packing the house,” so to speak, with record crowds from all parts, seeking the message of faith.

Missions are a necessary way to communicate the good news to all parts of the world.  While the traditional understanding has been to go to different countries and evangelize people of different religions, many priests are finding it necessary to proactively spread the Christian message to people in our own countries – even in our own parishes or local communities.

One of the many young folks that came to the mission at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa.

While most people in America have heard of Jesus Christ many people do not know him well, evidenced by many surveys that speak about a great misunderstanding of the Church’s role.  Church, for many people, is not always a good experience.  People are bored, upset about various news stories of their priests or community, or confused about some Church doctrine.  They may not feel at home in a certain community or may be at a point of even questioning God.

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

 

That’s why parish missions are so important. They provide unique perspectives, different voices, and deeper experiences of prayer, teaching, and community.  We are proud to say this happens when people from our parish go out on missions!  We give parishes an opportunity to celebrate, pray, laugh, learn, and in some cases even eat some gourmet goodness together!

I wasn’t serving food, but feeding souls at the Women’s Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

 

Giving missions is hard work.  Committees have to plan in advance, and preparations must be made in order to make sure that people in parishes are not only aware of the mission, but that they are going to come.  At my missions, I tell people to bring family, friends, and even non-Catholics.  I don’t want the mission to be me preaching to the “choir” but to people from all walks of life. After all, a “missionary” is someone who is “sent” to all parts to give an invitation to the banquet of the King (Matthew 22:2).

We still have a few weeks of Lent.  If you have never been to a parish mission, or if you are in a parish that needs some revival, renewal, and an experience to deepen your faith, I encourage you to speak with your pastor about bringing in a mission preacher.  While many people ask for missions during the Lenten or Advent Season, I also encourage it during the Easter and Christmas seasons, or during “ordinary time.”  During less festive seasons, mission work gives parishes something to do that is often times lacking:  CELEBRATE!

Minor Seminarians from Lincoln Nebraska that came to an event in McCool Junction.

 

Sure, we need to pray together, endure the Lenten pilgrimage together, but I certainly believe that the best way to respond to all of the “bad news” is to celebrate our faith, enjoy each other’s company, and feast as a family.  That may be one of the more unique approaches to my parish missions.  I encourage people to laugh, express their joy, and use this to combat all of the negativity in the world.  I’m certainly no stand-up comedian, but we do have some rip roaring laughs.  The cliché is worth repeating, “there’s nothing more funny than the truth!”

The Smile of Baby Grace Hansbrough, my project manager’s beautiful daughter at an event in DC.

As God looks at our Lenten experience, the unique time of our church’s history with the conclave, and hears the cries of the poor; I pray that we will be able to experience God’s Good News sent to all parts of the world – most importantly, sent to your heart and soul.

To learn more about the Grace Before Meals missions, the combined cooking demonstration and inspirational theological message, and to join the fun of our movement, simply contact us.

 

Click the picture for recipes from the first season!
A new season of Savoring Our Faith has arrived and now airs Sundays at 5pm EDT. We are excited for this season and hope that you can watch it each week on EWTN. Check out their schedule HERE.
Click for the show’s schedule

 

Also, if you subscribe to Sirius XM Radio, you should tune into The Catholic Channel every Thursday at 1pm to catch Fr. Leo’s weekly radio show, “Entertaining Truth” with Tom Leopold, former writer for “Seinfeld” and “Cheers”. And if you don’t subscribe, then you may want to consider it, because these guys are funny!
  • How is your Lent going?
  • Have you ever had the chance to hear Fr. Leo or another mission preacher? 
  • Was it helpful to you?
  • How are you going to be part of the mission and spread the good news?
  • Is there a place in the world or in your own community that may need God’s Good News?
  • Why do you think our new Holy Father chose the name “Francis”?
  • If you could cook Pope Francis I any meal, what would it be?

Your responses, comments and questions are so helpful to our cause.  Please post your comments below.

Let us Pray:

Father in Heaven, in this holy season, we ask for the grace to hear Your word as it really is – GOOD NEWS!  May all of our family, friends and fellow parishioners know that You walk with our Church in Her pilgrim way, but also – and most importantly – You walk with us each day, providing us the nourishment through the Eucharist and in Your Holy Word to guide us safely to the banquet of Heaven.  We pray for missionaries and the “mission” of Grace Before Meals and all of those served by this apostolate.  Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. O’Keefe, Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Zionsville, Indianapolis, with Kimberly, the parish’s Director of Faith Formation.

 

 

 

 

MARCH 14
DIOCESE OF SPRINGFIELD YOUTH RALLY
CARLINVILLE, IL
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
MARCH 21
ST. BRIDGET’S: PARISH MISSION
RICHMOND, VA
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

 

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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Lent, Prayers, Special Religious Theme | 2 Comments »

 

Journeys in Lent, to Italy, and to Heaven
In the midst of our Lenten journeys, we are currently without a Pope after Pope Benedict XVI retired and prepare for the conclave when our new Holy Father shall be elected. We encourage you to pray for all of the candidates and be a part of this momentous occasion in church and world history. We have shared a prayer in the “Praying Together” section from beholdconference.com which is a great Novena in this time.
A joyful Jen Sturdivant (1976-2013), who passed away this morning.

Also, we would like to request your prayers for the repose of the soul of Janina “Jeni” Sturdivant, sister of GBM Project Manager Joe Hansbrough, who passed away this morning with her family by her side after an 11 year battle with leukemia. She was 36 and leaves behind her husband Chris Sturdivant and their two sons Alex and William. St. Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, please pray for us, that the Lord may be pleased.

Jeni, Chris, Alex and William. Please pray for them in this tough time.

 

We would like to continue to encourage you in your journeys, whether you gave something up or have added a daily offering to your schedule. Remember that this is meant to be a time to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection, so know that you have much to look forward to! If you are struggling with meatless recipes, you can check out our Recipes page for a number of different dishes, including Salmon Fillets with Capers (Fr. Leo’s mom’s recipe).

Try these and many other delicious recipes for Lent on Gracebeforemeals.com
Another great way to share meals during this Lenten season is with the CRS Rice Bowl program. As you may remember in a recent eBlast, Fr. Leo teamed up with Catholic Relief Services in a video to help spread the word on how we can help make a difference in the lives of the hungry and malnourished. As Fr. Leo wrote,
The video highlights the important work done by CRS through the CRS Rice Bowls. I’m sure you’ve seen these little boxes before, a Lenten tradition, in which people put in money as part of the Lenten practices.  Instead of purchasing something that we really don’t need, like a cup of coffee, dessert, candy, or what have you, you simply put that money into the box.  You’ll be amazed at how much we spend on things we don’t need.  The money from the boxes builds up and collectively, it can make a difference in the lives of so many people around the world – people who are hungry, in need, or learning how to be self-sustaining! 

Watch the video below and start making an impact today! 

Another journey that Grace Before Meals, Ave Maria Radio and Corporate Travel Service would like to announce is a special marriage retreat in Italy. Fr. Leo will be joining Teresa Tomeo and her husband, Dcn. Dominick Pastore to lead retreat-goers to a special trip where they can see some of the most magnificent sites in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica, and grow closer to one another and God, from May 18-27, 2014. The retreat is a perfect event for fans of Spicing Up Married Life and Grace Before Meals. Click here to download the registration form.

Click here to find out more about this special trip to Rome with Fr. Leo!
Click the picture for recipes from the first season!
A new season of Savoring Our Faith has arrived and now airs Sundays at 5pm EDT. We are excited for this season and hope that you can watch it each week on EWTN. Check out their schedule HERE.
Click for the show’s schedule

 

Also, if you subscribe to Sirius XM Radio, you should tune into The Catholic Channel every Thursday at 1pm to catch Fr. Leo’s weekly radio show, “Entertaining Truth” with Tom Leopold, former writer for “Seinfeld” and “Cheers”. And if you don’t subscribe, then you may want to consider it, because these guys are funny!
This prayer was originally posted on www.beholdconference.com, written in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI was elected, and is a perfect prayer for the conclave, as we look for the next Holy Father to lead the Catholic Church to victory over evil.
 

 

Heavenly Father,

We, the people of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history.

 

We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. 

 

With Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son.

1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!

 

It is already March and Fr. Leo is already all over the place, having wrapped up a Lenten Parish Mission in Mesa, AZ yesterday, a high school and Catholic Foundation event in Sacramento this evening, and heading to the Holy Trinity Apostolate in Sterling Heights MI before finishing up another parish mission in Raleigh NC from March 10-12. Crazy times! Be sure to keep up with upcoming events by checking out the “Upcoming Events” section in the weekly eBlast and our website at www.gracebeforemeals.com/events.

MARCH 9
HOLY TRINITY APOSTOLATE SYMPOSIUM
STERLING HEIGHTS, MI
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
MARCH 10-12
OUR LADY OF LOURDES: PARISH MISSION
RALEIGH, NC
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.

 

 

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Posted in In Memory, Recipe-Fish, Recipes, Video, What's On the Table | No Comments »