Posted November 26th, 2014 | Holiday, Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Lord’s Altar table to our own dinner table, I pray for you and your family, I also pray for those who go without, and those unsung heroes who work to provide the Lord’s bounty for your table and for your souls! To all of the faithful FEEDERS. Cheers!

Let us Pray:
(From the Book of Blessings for the Roman Catholic Church)

“All Powerful God, we appeal to your tender care that even as you temper the winds and rains to nurture the fruits of the earth, you will also send upon them the gentle shower of your blessing.  Fill the hearts of your people with gratitude, that from the earth’s fertility the hungry may be filled with good things and the poor and needy proclaim the glory of your name. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Traditional Grace:

Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  And, may the Souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Posted in Holiday, Thanksgiving | 3 Comments »

Posted November 19th, 2014 | Dinner Discussion, Pilgrimages

 Tasty Travels

 

I just returned from leading a retreat, pilgrimage, and a ‘taste-and-see-the-goodness-of-the-Lord-tour’ in Napa Valley.

The hills of Napa Valley.
Yes, you heard it! It was a real “retreat” “pilgrimage” with daily rosary, daily Mass, daily meditations, and a daily search to find God!
But you may ask, “Isn’t Napa Valley famous for wine rather than God?”  Well, actually, if you go on my tours you will see that Napa Valley is famous for both. Our Catholic Theology requires both to understand the other.  “Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands” and “Take, eat and drink in memory of me.”  Sound familiar?
Jesus turned water into wine….and lots of it.
Sharing delicious dinners was just another way God blessed us on this trip!

 

A closer (and humbler) look with a Catholic perspective on the Napa culture, the beautiful countryside, and meeting authentic and genuine hard-working folks helped our pilgrims experience God’s powerful presence.  Now, each pilgrim can celebrate and better understand wine, not for itself, but as the instrument through which God reveals Himself in the Eucharist.

 

The Taylor family and I take a picture on one of the many beautiful spots in Napa.

 

That’s what I do in my food and faith pilgrimages.  I’ve been doing these type of culinary trips to Italy, Israel, Spain, on Mediterranean Catholic Culinary Cruises, and all parts of the United States since 1999.  I’ve always led pilgrimages because that’s one way I discovered my own vocation.  What I received, I therefore try and share.  But my tours have always been a little unique, because I use my passion for food as the vehicle for pilgrims to experience God.  Taste and see the goodness of The Lord!  Food is the most powerful unifier!

 

At a tasting in the “Great Hall” at Castello di Amaroso”
Recently Loyola Press wrote an article about Tasty Travelers, and it highlighted how others have recently joined the faithful foodie bandwagon.  That’s great news to me!  I’ve consecrated  our original Grace Before Meals message by putting it in God’s hands.  And God has a penchant for multiplying food!  I’m so glad to read that others are now taking more seriously a “theology of food” which I describe in my recent book, “Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation.”

 

This book will help readers understand why the Food Network is so popular; why restaurants can be more effective than churches in “serving” God’s people;  it describes a balanced diet for the body, mind and soul.  The book explains how both God and the devil use food as the “weapons” to either save and protect or destroy lives.  Epic Food Fight also helps people  understand (and hunger) for the Eucharist.  Perhaps you can read this to prepare for Thanksgiving – an American “feast of feasts.”  It offers a great meditation for the Season of Advent as we await Jesus, in the manger – a word that is closely associated to the Italian word, “mangiare,” which means “to eat.”
At Bottega Restaurant for a special welcome dinner
Please help spread the Grace Before Meals message by learning more about the Theology of Food.  Feed your children with good food, enriched with spiritual conversations around the dinner table. I have other books for that too!  Click HERE to learn more about our products to help strengthen family life through food!  Learn more about our faith and culture by joining me on my tasty travels.

 

This year’s Napa Valley Pilgrims!We had a great time together and pray for more adventures.
I’m proud to offer a “preview” of the next trip I have planned to Spain!  I’ve teamed up with Patrick Coffin, Host of Catholic Answers Live.  As your hosts, we invite you to enter into a spiritually deep, divine and delicious experience of our faith in Spain – a land of mysticism and meaningful meals! Spaces are limited, and the past few trips were sold out very quickly.  So, don’t delay.  These tasty travels will certainly give you so many graces, one bite at a time!

 

Let us pray:

Father, help us to expand our understanding of faith – not just in our personal prayer, but also in our active search as a pilgrim in this world.  Give us a better understanding of why you give us bread and wine as your divine presence at the Last Supper.  May a “theology of food” give us inspiration to see food as a sign of love – especially when we share it with those who hunger for You!  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

A shot of a vineyard.

(1)  Have you ever been to Spain? If so, what was your favorite church and cuisine?
(2)  Do you think it would be “easy” or “hard” to experience God in a place like Napa Valley?
(3)  Are you a wine-lover? If so, what’s  your favorite wine pairing with a traditional Thanksgiving meal?
(4)  Want to join our pilgrimage group to Spain?  If so, call 800-842-4842 to learn more and reserve your spot!
Leave your responses by clicking below and posting on our blog, or by posting on Facebook or Twitter!

At Chateau Montelena with Judy Barrett, owner of the award-winning wine, and her staff who helped me prepare a mid-day feast!

 

 

 

11/20/14 

 

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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Pilgrimages | 3 Comments »

Posted November 12th, 2014 | Menu Inspiration, Recipe

 Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait

 

 

I’m filming a new season of Savoring Our Faith for EWTN. This time, there’s a wonderful twist.  This season, I share the faithful foodie message with people around the country and around the world.  I could be coming to a city near you! 

At Steubenville Atlantic in Halifax Canada.
These traveling shows are an opportunity to showcase how food and faith are expressed a little differently depending on where you’re eating or praying.  Granted, we are all called to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith, and the Holy Communion is a sacred sign of our communion.  But, there are nuances from location to location.  These episodes are a combination of travel tips, personal profiles, exploring religious sites, restaurant reviews, and a cooking show all wrapped up in a half hour episode.  
My team while in Little Rock AR for a Savoring Our Faith episode.
The places we visit are in conjunction with my traveling Grace Before Meals apostolate.  I film episodes the same days that I’m giving parish missions, talks or other presentations.  Talk about multi-tasking!  That means you’ll see Savoring our Faith in Little Rock, AR; San Diego, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and even possibly filming shows while I’m in the Philippines! 
Me with some of the special guests at our San Diego Episodes, Members of our US Military serving in Coronado.
With each new episode comes new recipes, highlighting the local cuisine. Recipes will be truly tasty and faithful to the local flavors.  Remember, you can always download recipes from our own website HERE.  You can also access more recipes from the EWTN website as well.  
To give you a little highlight, I’ve provided a recipe for one of the episodes devoted to healthy consciousness of students for an episode highlighting the John Paul the Great University near San Diego California.
Click for the Fresh Berry Yogurt Parfait recipe as featured in the upcoming season of Savoring Our Faith

 

Our next taping will be in Phoenix, Arizona in December. I’m giving a parish mission at Our Lady of Perpetual Help from December 7-10. You’re invited!  Click here for more information. To film in the Phoenix area, we need your helpful suggestions!
Timmerie and Charles from John Paul the Great University sampling one of the dishes before tasting the dessert.

– What’s the most beautiful (or your favorite) church, shrine, or place to pray in the Phoenix area?

– What’s your favorite restaurant in the Phoenix area, especially if it’s owned by people of faith, well-known for unique cuisine, or has a special story worth sharing with our viewers?

– When you think of food from Phoenix, what do you suggest I learn and cook for TV?

Your responses are not only helpful for our film crew, it’s especially encouraging to our Grace Before Meals team!  Please post your comments below.

Let us pray:

Father, bless our efforts to strengthen families and relationships through Your gift of food and the family meal.  Bless also our efforts to produce these new TV shows and the work of EWTN. May these shows reach people in all parts of the word to inspire faith, communion with each other, and most importantly, communion with You in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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Posted in Menu Inspiration, Recipe | 3 Comments »

Posted November 6th, 2014 | From the Feedbag

 

 

 

Sweet and Sour

 

 

Being a public person, not just as TV & Radio Host and Speaker, but even just having your face on the internet, opens you up to a whole host of comments.  Occasionally, I like to share some of what I receive and even my responses. This week, I hope you enjoy the variety of unique and even awkward messages, along with some inspiring messages.

This one came from my Facebook page, and it’s copied verbatim, so any grammar issues are not mine:

Rev Leo,

when you cook Italian I want to barf I make home made sausages home made wines home ade pasta, pickle veggies of all sorts and for you to represent a priest maybe studied in Rome dosen’t make you chef of the future . With all do respect try teaching the foods from the country you were born in I beleive Philopines!?

Signed,

FaceBook Follower

Me with Chef Jeff of Flip my Food. Celebrity Chef who conquered struggles in his life, including prison, to become the first African American to serve as Executive Chef at the Bellaggio in Las Vegas.

Dear Facebook Follower:

Thanks for your note, even if it was insulting.  Your racial prejudice leads to an illogical result.  I enjoy cooking Italian food, like other types of cuisine, because I studied some culinary arts while I lived in Italy for several years.  I would hope your Italian heritage would be “complimented” in that other nationalities also enjoy the cuisine.  Highlighting other cultures and cuisines provides an encouraging opportunity to experience a global cuisine because we are a global family.  You don’t have to be Italian to cook Italian, and being a Filipino American doesn’t mean that I cannot eat, learn and cook other ethnic foods.  I never claim to be a “chef of the future” but a cook to bring families to the dinner table.  Gratefully, I’ve had Italian Chefs taste my cooking and it was humbling to hear their compliments for my cooking.  One day, I’d like to learn from you some of your cooking techniques. In the meantime, I pray you will have the humility, discipline and patience to teach your children and grandchildren these techniques, even if they’re not 100% Italian, so that your memories and meals will last for generations.  Buon Appetito!

——

Here’s a letter I received from a young man, with whom I had the privilege to cook with during a Mission trip to San Diego.  I edited some of letter to get to the really good points.

David, a young man who is connecting generations through food!

 

Dear Fr. Leo,

My name is David […] a sophomore at St. Augustine High School.  I would say I’m a typical teenager who likes to play sports. But what makes me unique and a little quirky is my love and passion for food.  At age 5, my mom remembers that instead of asking for the children’s menu at restaurants, I would ask the waitress, “What is the fresh catch of the day?”  I definitely liked fine dining and would say I have developed a pretty good palate….

This past summer, food would take on a different meaning to me. My grandfather suffered a stroke. His movements and abilities definitely slowed down.  My grandfather, who was a chief cook in the US Navy, was having a hard time cooking dinner for himself and my grandmother.  My mom started making dinner for them 1-2 times a week and bringing it over to their house. I started helping her and enjoyed learning how to cook other meals and I also enjoyed talking to her and hearing some of her childhood stories.  Then when we delivered the food to my grandparents I learned so much about them.  I heard stories of how my grandfather met my grandmother, which was pretty funny.  […] Every time he would talk about his Navy days his eyes would swell up with so much gratitude that the Navy gave him the opportunity to raise his family in the United States.  I realized at that moment food was connecting generations […]  I have been so busy with sports, tournaments and studying that I was missing out on learning about my culture and my family.  It’s sad to say that my generation is so focused on being the best in everything that we’re spending less and less time with our grandparents.

What I wanted to do is to start a movement of “Connecting Generations with Food.”  The problem is I don’t know how to begin. How can I promote this in my school and in the community?  My mom told me about your movement, “Grace Before Meals.”  Perhaps I can get involved in your ministry and [perhaps] you can mentor me on how to get my movement going.

Thank you for your guidance,

David

One of blessings of my work is that I get a chance to speak to large groups made up of different generations. Young, old and everything in between love the Grace Before Meals message!

 

Dear David:

This letter brought tears to my eyes.  You are embodying my Grace Before Meals message. You see that food has power!   That’s why Jesus became our “food” in the Eucharist.  I’m proud that you’re making the connections with your parents and grandparents.  I’m so excited to hear of your ideas.  To help you get your movement off the ground, here are a few suggestions:

(1)  Say a prayer, and ask God for help! With God, all things are possible.  Even for a cook like me to win a recipe cooking competition against Bobby Flay!

(2)  Talk with your teacher or school principal on possibly getting a club together, one that combines food and different traditions. You could even host a school-wide cooking presentation. AND, I’d love to come and present the message to your fellow students.

(3)  Keep on learning about your grandparents, parents, and one another. Keep learning cooking skills from different cultures and cuisines.  Don’t be afraid to try different foods, but also learn its history.  And, above all, keep learning about your faith that has the power to connect you to more than your grandparents. Faith can help connect you to the Saints in Heaven!

———

Finally, here’s a question that I’ve been getting since I was given permission by the Archbishop of Baltimore to enter a formation process for consecrated life with Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.

Me praying at the tomb of the founder of the Voluntas Dei Ponfitical Secular Institute, Fr. Louise Marie Parent, in Trois Riviers, Quebec, Canada.

Dear Fr. Leo,

Are you still a priest? I’m confused because you said you’re now in a “secular” community?  Does that mean you’re no longer able to say Mass and hear confessions?  

Signed, 

Confused


—-

 

Dear Confused:

Yes, I’m a very happy Roman Catholic Priest and will, God willing, die a priest – faithful to the Lord, His Church and to my priestly promises.  Since January 2014, I received permission to enter a communion of consecrated life, called Voluntas Dei (the Will of God), a group known as a “secular institute.” That means that my job is now to help be a leaven in the “secular world,” following the example of the Lord who sent his disciples ‘into the world’ to spread the good news! (Matthew 28).  So, I’m a priest. I still say Mass everyday. I hear A LOT of confessions because now I speak at large venues and evangelization conferences. I still celebrate the sacraments. I’m connected to my community through monthly gatherings.  In fact, we’re starting a local “Voluntas Dei Team” in the Maryland area. What has changed is my living situation and priestly duties.  Now, I live in a small private place, where I can experience solitude in the midst of my busy schedule.  As part of our charism, we do not live separate from the world, but in the midst of the world – again, just like Jesus.  My work is not focused only on the local parish, but now the universal church. That means, with the permission and support of my community and superiors, I travel as missionary, a preacher, retreat director, conference and keynote speaker, and TV and Radio host spreading the news beyond the walls or geographical church boundaries.  For many years I felt a call to heed Jesus’s Great Commission: Go out to all the world and spread the Good News!  Now, as a priest member of Voluntas Dei, I finally sense that I’m doing His specific call for me.  Pray for me!

At a great parish mission for Sts. Anne and Joachim Parish in Fargo, ND

Let us pray:

Father, help us to recognize how your voice is communicating a powerful message to us through the Scriptures, the prayers, the wisdom of the saints, and even through the emails and voicemails we may receive.  May we always listen for your voice and have the strength the follow your will.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Post your comments, questions or concerns HERE.  It helps us to stay focused on our mission! Help spread the word by passing this email on to family, friends, pastors and parishioners!  And, if you want to experience Fr. Leo’s message live and in person, contact the project manager HERE.

(1)  How do you handle critical emails and social media posts, like the one I received from my Facebook page?

(2)  What suggestions do you have for David to get his “Connecting Generations with Food” movement off the ground?

(3)   Besides parish administration and sacramental ministries, how do you think a priest can help build up the body of Christ in this modern world?

Me with Fr. Schmid in Phoenix Arizona, he was the cover picture for a new book to help priests learn how to cook!

 


11/9/14 – 11/14/14

 

 

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Posted in From the Feedbag | 6 Comments »