Thanks to all for the many messages of encouragement regarding the BIG NEWS about my discernment transition as a priest into the Community of Consecrated Life, Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite. In response to some of the Facebook and Twitter comments, I just wanted to use these early days of the beginning of the year to respond to some of your questions.
Question # 1: Am I still going to be a priest?
Of course I will be a priest, but serving in a different capacity as a priest with consecrated vows! Please know my discernment has led me to an even deeper love for the priesthood, the Catholic Church, and the opportunities of the New Evangelization, as demonstrated by Popes of the recent past and, of course, our current Pope Francis. In fact, Pope Francis has demonstrated great encouragement for such new movements of evangelization.
Question # 2: What’s the difference between a Diocesan Priest, a Religious Community Priest, and a priest of a secular institute?
This is a much bigger question to try and answer in an E-mail Blast. But here are some links to learn about the Diocesan priesthood, also known as “secular priests,” who primarily serve the local bishop, doing parish work or whatever needs ascribed to him by the bishop. A Diocesan priest generally lives at a parish house and cares for the local community to which he is assigned. A Diocesan priest makes promises, not vows, of obedience and celibate chastity – but does not promise to live in “poverty.”
On the other end of the spectrum, a religious priest who belongs to a religious community (such as Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, or many other groups) follows a particular charism of the founder (such as teaching, working with the poor, youth ministry, a life dedicated to contemplative prayer, or some specific apostolic work). A religious priest lives in a community, generally wears a religious habit, and makes solemn vows of chastity, obedience and poverty.
As a priest living in a consecrated life, and in my particular case of a secular institute of pontifical rite, means that I will vow chaste celibacy, obedience to the superior of the community, and obedience to the local bishop, but also obedience to the Pope – and above all, to be obedient to the will of God through a deep process of discernment. I will also vow “poverty,” which means that I’m responsible for my own finances (not relying on a paycheck from the Diocese) and that I must make an active donation to the poor and to support the Voluntas Dei community.
As a secular institute, our job is to permeate the secular world with a message of God’s love and to be “leaven” in society. I am not required to wear a religious habit, but generally follow the local custom – and in my case – continue to wear the black clerical shirt during ministry. I will participate in a community, meeting once per month locally and two to three times each year on a national community level. And, of course, I’ll be connected to a local church community, as assigned by the Archbishop of Baltimore, to be a sacramental and pastoral minister for churches in the Baltimore area that need priestly assistance. Finally, in my case of Voluntas Dei, we accept members who are priests, celibate laymen, and even consecrated married couples. So this will truly be a unique group that reaches out to a universal level of participation and membership.
Question # 3: What are some of the new things that Grace Before Meals will be doing this year?
This is a great question, to which I’ll only reveal a little information at a time. The first NEW thing is the NEW BOOK that’s coming out February 11, 2014, by Servant Books. It’s called, Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation. In this new book I present a “Theology of Food,” highlighting how food is used in Scripture, Tradition, Magisterial Documents, and of course, how we can practically understand God and the Eucharist better if we have a more developed theology of food. The publishers and the people who have reviewed this book are very excited for another outreach approach to further the theological content of our Grace Before Meals apostolate.
Another NEW opportunity will be a not-for-profit organization called “The Table Foundation: Seeking to Elevate Culture and Family Life One Meal at a Time.” With this organization, we hope to work with different groups to provide unique food opportunities with spiritual inspiration – whether it be working with a local soup kitchen, providing classes for culinary students, giving workshops for at risk families, or even serving alongside different support groups in response to emergencies. We are even considering an ongoing food service, like a restaurant group or food trucks! So these are definitely exciting opportunities for investors and other groups to get involved and to spread the Grace Before Meals message!
As you can see, the application process is a great opportunity to see how God may be using our movement in the New Year. We know there are never any guarantees, but with hard work and relying on God’s Grace, we believe our efforts will bear much fruit and feed a hungry world.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- What new plans do you have for yourself or for your family this year?
- If you could get involved more with our Grace Before Meals movement, what would you suggest you could offer?
- Is there anything you would like for our Grace Before Meals movement to consider offering in the upcoming year? In other words, what do you think we should be doing to expand our mission?
Your comments and questions will help keep our focus and energies on bringing more people to the Table! Post your comments HERE.
Let us pray:
Father, You call us to a new life in Christ. May we never be afraid of Your call, but be strengthened by Grace, meeting each new day with joyful hope and expectation, trying to follow Your will, and being consoled and protected by Your love. Help us grow our Grace Before Meals movement, inviting all to Your banquet of love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
|Click for the Recipe!|
Originally published June 16, 2010
The Year dedicated to the Priest came to a close this past weekend. I felt it fitting to offer a reflection about the priesthood, especially since I spent this past weekend going to different ordinations and receptions for newly ordained priests!
Also, since food images are so closely related to the priesthood, how could I not write about it!
Priests serve a sacred meal. Pastors feed a hungry flock. Ministers prepare souls for the eternal banquet of Heaven. And since the church is a family, it requires its members to share in the One Bread and One Cup. Despite our differences we become one family united around the commemoration of the Lord’s Last Supper.
Recently I was asked to represent Mount St. Mary’s Seminary at an ordination of one of our seminarians in the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana. In this Diocese, there are several families with multiple vocations within the same family. For example, in one family there are two priest sons, and in another family three brothers became priests. In my work with seminarians, I’ve met twin brothers who are also priests. I guess the idea of “service” runs in those families. While God takes all the credit for calling priests to serve the larger church family, the idea of a religious vocation oftentimes begins at home with the man’s own family – the domestic church.
That was very evident for one very special family in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This past weekend, the Rapisarda family celebrated two priestly vocations – but not as siblings – instead as a father and a son!
Meet Fathers Rapisarda – John and Gregory. The son, Fr. John, was ordained a priest a few years ago. Little did he know he would be privileged to vest his own father in the priestly vestments. The dad, Fr. Gregory, was already an ordained deacon and a widower. As a son, John could technically call his own dad, “Father daddy!” I think Jesus was the only one to have such a privilege, that is, until he taught us the prayer: the Our Father.
This father and son priest from one family is a first for the Premier See. I’m sure it’s definitely a unique situation for the Rapisarda family too. But at the same time, serving the Lord comes very naturally for this faithful family. One could say, it’s their “family style” – the way they approached their family upbringing. I realize “family style” is more often associated with a type of dining – big portions in the center of the table. But as people of faith, the Rapisarda’s also have a “life style” that fostered the sense of vocation. They have always been devoted to prayer, had devotions to the Saints and the Blessed Mother, and have always shared the Sacred Meal of the Eucharist as a family. I’m also confident they had regular family dinners together.
While the death of the late Mrs. Rapisarda four years ago caused great sadness for the family, it also increased their faith to be even more devoted to the Lord. Since her death, her devoted husband and father moved one step deeper into the mystery of fatherhood. Perhaps the Lord saw Gregory as such a faithful dad with his own children that He then called Gregory to a spiritual fatherhood for other children.
Special stories like Fr. Gregory Rapisarda’s are “common” in my experiences of seminary work. I hear marvelous stories of faith from men and women who sacrifice everything in order to serve others. It’s inspiring! While the Rapisarda situation is unique, it does follow a consistent path. Stories of multiple family members going into some religious vocation and even becoming canonized saints has been part of the Church’s tradition – a tradition of families who pray together and stay together! A family that teaches service, by loving one another, usually makes life choices to love others. That’s very much true for the Rapisardas!
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A Happy Father’s Day Prayer for our Dads and Spiritual Fathers
Being a father isn’t easy when culture portrays the male parent as unaware, unintelligent, or even unavailable. Ironically, that description is exactly what dads are not supposed to be. Perhaps it’s just one more trick by the Great Deceiver who wants to break up the family by placing a mistrust in the role of fatherhood – telling us dads aren’t necessary. In God’s loving plan, dads are not only useful, they are called to Sanctity. They are, in fact, quite necessary in helping their children become saints too! This upcoming Father’s Day, remember our fathers – living and deceased. In a special way, also pray for our spiritual fathers, those who help God’s children to become saints as they provide the Daily Bread that comes down from Heaven.
Let us Pray: Father in Heaven, keep us ever grateful for the gift of fatherhood, which You have shared with our dads and our spiritual father. Help our fathers to remain close to Your loving heart. Give them grace to live virtuous and holy lives. Remind them of Your love for them by reminding us children to love them as You love them. Forgive any of the faults of our fathers caused by human weakness, and in Your mercy, grant them a path to peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Catholic Culinary Confession:
One World Cafe
As we continue our journey in the Lenten Season, I know that we make a big fuss about “fasting” on Fridays before the Easter Celebration. To help us with eating meatless meals, I offer you a unique faithful foodie adventure about One World Café in Baltimore that I wrote in collaboration with the Catholic Review Newspaper’s Culinary Confession. If you bring a copy of the article with you, this vegetarian restaurant will even give you a discount on your final bill! So go support this deliciously healthy and Lenten-friendly restaurant, owned and operated by two sisters, and a local parishioner!
In the Book of Daniel, because they didn’t want to break their Jewish dietary restrictions, the prophet Daniel asked the prison guards to give the Jewish servants only vegetables instead of the food from the king’s table. This allowed them to keep within Jewish tradition, but I think they must have also known something parents have always encouraged: eating vegetables is good for you! And sure enough, at the end of their trial period, these “faithful foodies” were much healthier – truly a sign of Godly living.
Now I know that when it comes to going to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, it can worry some meat lovers. Will I be satisfied? Do they just serve salads and veggies? Admittedly, I also find it difficult to enjoy a “forced upon” diet, especially if it comes with a moralizing, or what some might call “tree-hugging” or “animal-protecting” attitude. I don’t need to feel guilty just because I like steak.
But rest assured, while One World Café certainly caters to veggie lovers, I was very satisfied by the food and comfortable with the casual and friendly service. I was also edified to hear the sisters who own One World were subscribers to the Catholic Review.
The One World atmosphere is eclectic. The front room is a true college-hipster hangout. Bright painted walls give a modern vibe for an area that serves as a bar for alcoholic beverages, coffee, and pastries. Wi-Fi invites the earphone-wearing laptop crowd for homework or hanging out. The main dining room, by contrast, is a bit bare, but clean. Diners were equally eclectic, encompassing seniors, college students, and families with young children. However, street parking and stairs down to the dining room may be inconvenient for some patrons.
The staff was primarily young and bohemian-fashioned with tattoos and piercings, especially the, I have to admit, ominous-looking bartender, who turned out to be very kind and well-mannered. Our waitress was informative and patient with my many food preparation questions. I sensed no meat-lovers guilt trip. The staff seemed content simply to serve good-tasting food. And, to their credit, the food was quite good.
With a combination of vegetarian and vegan foods (no animal products or dairy), I sampled familiar flavors, including a Philly cheese steak (less), packed with caramelized vegetables and a well-marinated seitan (“wheat meat”) that produced the texture of tender beef. The baked non-chicken parmesan used densely breaded tofu that looked and tasted like layered lasagna, served with a tasty but, in my opinion, unnecessary side of linguine marinara. A Greek-inspired veggie gyro, a tasty variety of vegetables wrapped in pita, was served with a traditional tzatziki sauce. The creamy mushroom soup was hearty and comforting. They even offered vegan desserts that still felt rich and decadent.
The food portions were generous, especially considering the moderate pricing. These dishes, personally created by chef-owner Novak, left me feeling satisfied. For me, the most creative dish was the Maryland-inspired crab-less cake, made with shredded zucchini. Combining it with traditional binders gave the cake the texture of back fin crabmeat.
My experience of One World Café gave me a new perspective and respect for plant-based menus. Hunger satisfaction and a non-preachy approach to healthy eating makes One World Café a great restaurant for more than vegetarians and Friday meals during Lent.
Your comments help encourage us and our movement. Please post your comments here!
Let us pray:
Father as we continue this Lenten tradition of abstaining from meat on Friday, help us to hunger for the Body and Blood of Christ. May this discipline remind us of what we can do without, and how we cannot do without You. Sustain our Lenten observance and help us to become more the people You want us to be. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
ST. TIMOTHY’S: WOMEN OF HOPE RETREAT & PARISH MISSION
ST. FRANCIS HIGH SCHOOL & THE CATHOLIC FOUNDATION OF SACRAMENTO
- 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