Posted February 26th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Lent, Prayers

CRS Rice Bowl Week 2 Recipe:

Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua

How has Lent been going for you so far? Did you have success making last week’s CRS Rice Bowl recipe, UGALI WITH BEAN SOUP? Even after just one week, many of us likely have experienced some adjustments, but stay the course, as your Lenten journey is just beginning and we have many more days (and recipes) to go through.
This week, watch the latest CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen episode where I cook up GALLO PINTO, a special rice and bean dish from Nicaragua. You can also click HERE FOR THE RECIPE. Let us know how easy (or hard) this recipe is to make, and share your experience of cooking it, whether it is for you, your family, or those in need.  God bless!
Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
Click to watch how to make Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.


Calling all chefs and faithful foodies! 

EWTN will be filming episodes of Savoring Our Faith with Fr. Leo in Dallas (May 4-6); Baltimore (June 15-18); Chicago (October 4-6); and the Cleveland OH area (November 7-11).

Fr. Leo recently connected with groups in the Philippines after his last call out to find places, thanks to you. Can you help him stateside?

Each show will feature a religious site, a local restaurant with a great story to share, and a cooking segment.  We need your help!  We’re looking for suggestions on religious sites, restaurants and names of possible culinary assistants. Please comment below and email info@gracebeforemeals.com with your suggestions, and we will look to be in touch with you soon.

Let Us Pray:

(Prayer for 21 Coptic Martyrs)
“Eternal Father, as Your Son spoke to us ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ grant unto your Coptic Martyrs repose for their souls, and Your gift of eternal salvation. May their witness stir our hearts this Lent to live in true charity even in the face of persecution by our enemies, and to boldly witness to our faith in our day-to-day actions.  May the enemies of our Christian faith encounter Your Truth, be converted as was St. Paul, and cease to persecute Your Body, the Church. May we remember in faith You ‘make all things work for the good’ and for Your glory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Posted February 23rd, 2015 | Uncategorized

Calling all chefs and faithful foodies! EWTN will be filming episodes of Savoring Our Faith with Fr. Leo in Dallas (May 4-6); Baltimore (June 15-18); Chicago (October 4-6); and the Cleveland OH area (November 7-11).

 

fr.leopicwithchefs

Fr. Leo recently connected with groups in the Philippines after his last call out to find places, thanks to you. Can you help him stateside?

 

Each show will feature a religious site, a local restaurant with a great story to share, and a cooking segment.  We need your help!  We’re looking for suggestions on religious sites, restaurants and names of possible culinary assistants. Please comment below and email info@gracebeforemeals.com with your suggestions, and we will look to be in touch with you soon.


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Posted February 18th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Menu Inspiration, Video

CRS Rice Bowl Week 1 Recipe:

 Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania

LENT is here, and my video, as part of the #ShareJesus campaign, kicks off this forty-day journey! Redeemed Online is seeking to bring brief videos and guidance from a number of speakers, including Mark Hart, Leah Darrow, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and more straight to your inbox each day in Lent. CLICK HERE to read more. You can sign up for #ShareJesus here!

#ShareJesus Video 1: Ash Wednesday- the shocking good news

It would be silly to think that we can get all the religion and holiness we need in just 40 days of Lent. But it’s a good start.  A good and holy life requires just that: an entire LIFE!  These 40 focused days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are reminders of Christ’s suffering and the suffering of Christians and innocent people around world.  In the midst of the economical challenges, weather-related problems, promotion of dysfunctional relationships in movies and music, and of course, the Muslim extreme terrorist groups who are making new Christian Saint martyrs by their hate-filled religious ideas, it’s helpful to take this focused time of compassion to better understand and follow the heart of the True God – who feeds, comforts, and heals.  The ‘god’ who creates fear, division, and war reveals how Satan, the anti-Christ, is alive and well. In these 40 days, we enter into the desert with Jesus and do battle with the devil.  But, our weapon of choice is restraint of our passions and unleashing the Holy Spirit that gives us Joy!

 

Winning over souls requires joyful people who are joyfully in love with Jesus

So, today and for the next 40 days CELEBRATE your faith.  That means, live it joyfully!  An authentic practice of our faith doesn’t indoctrinate or force a conversion of people. That’s what the Muslim terrorist groups are doing.  Instead, truly celebrate your faith in Jesus joyfully.  In this way, as Pope Francis reminds us, we will win many hearts for the Lord – the true God and giver of Life!

 

Recently, the US Ambassador to the Holy See invited me to his home, with a few seminarians from the Pontifical North American College, after a day of cooking for a religious home that cared for women and their children involved in human trafficking.

 
To help you celebrate in this Lenten Season, consider these internationally inspired recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls.  The food is tasty and the recipes are easy enough to follow.  You can even switch it up a bit for your family’s mealtime needs.  During dinner, be sure to have conversations about the country and the people who inspire these CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen recipes.  When we dialogue and have healthy conversations with people, we experience conversions.  Yes, conversations lead to conversions.  In this 40 days of Lent, begin an authentic conversation with God (called prayer) and see who the Lord will bring to your table and next mealtime celebration.

 

Click to watch how to make Ugali with Bean Soup from Tanzania, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.

 

Food for Thought:

(1)  Have you ever made a CRS Rice Bowl Recipe?  Which is your favorite?

(2)  What’s your favorite go-to-Lenten-Friday recipe?

Please offer your comments below as they help us and our community continue the Grace Before Meals conversation.  Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  Consider bringing Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals message or some of his other fantastic presentations to your parish, clergy convocation, or keynote event.  Click here for booking information.

  Let Us Pray:

(Prayer from the Ash Wednesday Liturgy from the Roman Missal)

“Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

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Posted February 11th, 2015 | Menu Inspiration

Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Cutlet

You all know what next week is, right?  Yes, it’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent – that most wonderful time of the year!  It’s that time to more intently and proactively connect with God through the disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.  This Lent, we reconnected with our human family and the CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen to share with you some good news and good recipes, perfect for the Lenten Friday Fasts.  So, stay tuned for weekly recipes!
However, in preparation for Lent, we have a tradition of “Mardi Gras” – which simply means “Fat Tuesday” prior to the Lenten fasts.  For the fun of it, I’m sending out a very meaty blast, perfect for Fat Tuesday.  I made this dish while I was in Rome, visiting a few friends.  While it’s somewhat decadent, it was a reminder that God’s generosity fills every hunger – especially the hungers of the soul.  And while this recipe definitely hit the spot for our hungry stomachs, it was our time of fraternity and friendship around the table that nourished some longing in the soul.   Thank God for good food and faithfully good friends!
Click the image to get the recipe for Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Pork Cutlet.

Food for Thought:
(1)  What’s your favorite Mardi Gras Menu?
(2)  How can you prepare for Lent as Lent would prepare you for Easter?
(3)  What’s your favorite way to prepare pork cutlets.
Let us pray:
In this last week prior to the Lenten Season we pray O Lord, that you sustain us with the grace to know you, love you and serve you.  Help us to remember that as we soon prepare to enter into the Lenten Season that you are the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, who satisfies every hunger and every need.  Yet, remind us that we, who are called to receive you in the Eucharist, may be transformed into you loving presence and help those in need – body, mind and spirit.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Posted February 5th, 2015 | Holiday, Spicing Up Married Life

Valentine’s Day & 50 Shades of Grace

By definition, “passion” comes from the Latin verb, “Pati.”  It doesn’t mean passion exclusively in a sexual sense.  It actually means “to suffer.”  True passion means love worth suffering for.  It’s the kind of love that made Valentine, the martyr for Christ, the inspiration for St. Valentine’s Day. It’s no coincidence that Cupid’s arrow painfully piercing the heart is a popular symbol of love.  Love and passion don’t always feel good.

St. Valentine. Not quite as cutesy as a little angel with a heart-shaped arrow (Picture courtesy of www.history.com)

In light of the controversial highly female-erotic movie based on the popular book to be released on St. Valentine’s Day, I wanted to offer a reflection that can hopefully respect the many different opinions about this film and the topic of love. Since everyone else is talking about 50 Shades of Grey, I instead want to talk about “50 Shades of Grace”!
The classical philosophers note that love has many dimensions, generally characterized as  “shades” or ways of understanding love. Philosopher and Theologian, CS Lewis describes the Greek understanding of storge (affection), philia (friendship), agape (a Godly love of charity), and eros (erotic or romantic love) in his book “The Four Loves.”  While the commercially popularized fiction novel-turned-movie 50 Shades of Grey may not be the best context for discussion, all the talk about this movie shows a real need to discuss the topic of eros for the modern world.
People of faith cannot be afraid of the topic of human sexuality.  There just needs to be a better place to discuss the inner secrets, longings and our human need for physical love in a world that is so broken and inhabited by people equally broken.  While the commercialization of this topic is shameful, we have to overcome the shame that people have when discussing this topic.

Young Couples from the Manila Philippines, some of whom are connected to the movement, “Couples for Christ.”

Where is the best place to discuss this topic?  Our faith teaches us that we ought to talk about these topics in a few different places – and the movie theatre is not the best place!  Instead of talking about this topic so publicly, it is best to start a conversation with God in prayer.  Yes, God won’t blush if you’re honest with Him in prayer.
Another place to discuss this topic, especially if we let the brokenness get the best of us, is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession isn’t a “counseling” session per se.  The priest – especially an experienced confessor who has heard a lot of confessions – can tell you that private sins, if brought to the light of grace in the Sacrament can be a real opportunity for true and humble love. Confession really provides education about this sensitive topic – which is much more than a novel or movie can offer.
Finally, another place to discuss this very private topic is with your spouse.  What should be obvious is not. Admittedly, many couples do not know how or have the courage to share their concerns about physical intimacy or sexual needs with their spouses. Despite the age of information, many couples are uninformed or misunderstand the church’s very positive outlook on human sexuality. Certainly, the Church’s teachings approach the topic of sexuality with sensitivity but not out of embarrassment. It is always out of respect for the power eros possesses.  Eros has power to do great-saint-making-good, but also great destruction.  It requires a sensitive, honest, and faithful discussion!

One of the many couples who attended the Marriage Enrichment Night near Pittsburgh.

A priest can’t stop a person from watching the movie or reading this book or other books and movies like it. It is interesting that even many secular observers have deemed this movie raunchy, seedy, or inappropriate for public consumption.  That should be prevention enough! Perhaps in prayer you may realize that God offers you a better experience of love – all shades of it – if we  allow Him into the inner, most intimate recesses of our hearts.  While the content of the book and film will raise eyebrows, and in some regards, bolster the efforts of a misguided sexual revolution, it remains a legitimate topic that ought to be discussed.  My questions and challenges for you are where, how and with whom ought this discussion take place?
The title of this email blast “50 Shades of Grace” came from my meditation on the 50 beads of the Holy Rosary.  Yes, Mary was a passionate woman.  She can really help women understand the deeper meaning of love.  On St. Valentines Day, do something romantic and passionate with your spouse:  pray the rosary together.  It’s truly more than 50 shades of Grace!

Mother Mary.

As you prepare for St. Valentine’s Day, use this opportunity to learn more about what the Church teaches about marriage, sexuality, intimacy and couple’s conversation through my book, Spicing Up Married Life. This book has been used by marriage preparation programs, couple enrichment nights, and couples across America. Counselors use the book to help heal and strengthen those relationships that need God’s grace.   Couples who have used this book develop an understanding of the theological language of marriage.  They begin to appreciate, not fear, the Catholic Church’s very positive teaching on human intimacy, sexuality, and the need for all types of love – including romance!  Consider this book a gift for you and your spouse, fiancé, or a couple preparing for marriage.

Click to order the book online in time for Valentine’s Day!

In our world where love and sex can become mutually exclusive or confused, it’s always helpful to know that there is someone you can talk to about your deepest desires of love and intimacy –  the true doctor, the Divine Physician.  Let God pull you out of the grey areas of this topic and bring you into the light of true love.  The Doctor will see you now!
Let us Pray: Lord, teach us how to love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the confusion of emotions that we get lost on our way as we seek the Love that fulfills.  We pray for those who are hurting because of unbridled and abusive power of the eros.  We pray for those caught up in the industry that confuses sex for love.  We pray that none of us become destructively critical, but humbly aware that these sins – no matter how embarrassing they may be – are ultimately forgivable by God’s loving mercy.  Help us to love dear God as Jesus taught us by his Passion! Amen.

Food For Thought:
(1) Do you have a book title to help you understand the church’s teaching of human, physical love and intimacy?
(2) What special meal do you have planned to celebrate St. Valentines Day?
(3) How can you make God a more intimate part of your relationship with your spouse?

 

Do something romantic for Valentine’s Day and consider giving a trip of a life time!  Join me and Patrick Coffin to Spain, and learn about the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila” and the mystic Spanish Doctors who help us to know God as the Beloved!

 

 

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