I’m pleased to announce Julie Miller of Indianapolis, IN as the winner of our gift bag filled with a few goodies, including a bottle of wine paired with a Spicing Up Married Life recipe.
Now that Valentine’s Day has passed TV commercials and advertisements will no doubt be promoting the next big holiday – Easter! As usual, the world will want to skip Lent and show only the “fluffy” aspects about Easter devoid of the Christian message of the Resurrection and the conquering of sin and death.
|The High Altar. St. Stephen Church, New Orleans, LA.|
For Catholics, Christians, and everyone who believes in God, we can relish our liturgical seasons and realize that when God is present, we can celebrate love for each other every day – not just February 14th! And even though Easter is still a long ways away, with God we can still celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord each Sunday, and indeed at every Mass.
|Christ conquers the temptation of Satan in the desert.|
But, as timing had it, I didn’t really have a good chance to delve into the cultural issues surrounding Valentine’s Day or provide a catechism about the happy feast day. I talked a lot about Valentine’s Day on my weekly Radio Show, “Entertaining Truth” on SiriusXM 129, the Catholic Channel. But instead of giving some catechism about that happy feast day, our Grace Before Meals movement offered a drawing for a “Valentine Day gift.”
While our team is very excited about this opportunity to share with our subscribers, I can’t believe I almost missed an opportunity to catechize about Saint Valentine. Thank God one of our subscribers, Fr. Coyle, a missionary priest in the Philippines, sent me an e-mail to offer the perfect reminder, fraternal correction, and catechism notes. And even though we’re sending this information a week late, remember, God’s love is not limited to one day of the year.
Dear Father Leo,
Greetings again from Bacolod City.
Central to your wonderful ministry as a priest is the strengthening of marriage and the family. But you are missing a golden opportunity to make that more effective by promoting ‘Valentine’s Day’ instead of ‘SAINT Valentine’s Day’.
The Irish Carmelite Friars (OCarm), who were given relics of St. Valentine by Pope Gregory XVI, have a shrine in his honor at their church in Dublin. They have a webpage devoted to him. The page includes a link to the Liturgy for the Feast of St. Valentine.
I have been trying to promote awareness of St. Valentine for some years now on my blog, finding the material of the Carmelites very helpful, e.g., here and here. I’ve also tried to promote him on Misyon, the online magazine of the Columbans in the Philippines of which I’m editor.
A diocesan priest martyred by the Emperor Claudius in 269 or 270 for officiating at weddings: surely a witness desperately needed today when marriage is under attack and when so many priests have led people astray.
Let’s put the SAINT back into SAINT Valentine’s Day!
(Fr) Sean Coyle
Thanks Fr. Coyle, for the brotherly reminder to include holiness in our human love, i.e., SAINT Valentine! More importantly, thanks for giving me a chance to share your wonderful and insightful e-mail and encouragement to all of our subscribers. It’s great to know of your missionary work in the Philippines and the faith you share with me in our “digital missionary world”!
|An icon of St. Valentine.|
CORRECTION from Last Week’s eBlast: The title of last week’s blog mistakenly refers to CRS Rice Bowl as “Operation Rice Bowl”, which is an outdated title for the program. Be sure to check out Fr. Leo’s video in case you missed it.
Your comments encourage our movement and help us to keep our topics timely and relevant. Please post your comments and share your questions here.
Let us pray:
Through the intercession of St. Valentine, may we continue our Lenten Pilgrimage, offering ourselves as “witnesses” (i.e., martyrs) of God’s love. May our remembrance of the commemoration of St. Valentine keep us focused on the true source of love, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
Grace Before Meals in Public
In the upcoming Season of Advent and Christmas, we will all be invited to various dinner parties, banquets or meals. Before the meal begins however, there can be an awkward moment. Does someone lead grace? And, what can be done to bring a little bit of God back to these festivities – especially since these are all celebrating (or preparing to celebrate) something holy. This “From the Feedbag” E-Blast responds to a question from someone seeking how to say grace in public, but in a way that invites people together, rather than separate us from each other. And by the way, if you have questions for future “From the Feedbag” responses, click HERE.
Dear Father, God bless you for your work…we are all the better for it! Please see that attached email. For the past four years I have been the president of [a] company …and have instituted (did not ask for a vote) a tradition of praying before our banquets, birthday parties and fundraisers. As my term has ended (and I missed a meeting), the group would like to eliminate this practice. (BTW I have never mentioned “Jesus;” I do reference the Hebrew Scriptures …but I do make the sign of the cross…can’t help that). Father, my goal is to bring the love of Jesus Christ to all I meet. And certainly a short prayer…”grace before meals”…is a lovely uniting practice.If you have any words of wisdom…I would be greatly appreciative.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Praying before you eat is a dying discipline and an unappreciated act of faith. It also speaks of a diminishing religious zeal and a lessening of manners. By voting NOT to say a little prayer, people inadvertently (consciously) think it’s not necessary to say “thank you” - to the farmers, ranchers, cooks or wait staff, much less God for the bounty they are about to receive.
I can understand your angst about the “laws” and decisions forbidding a moment of gratitude and grace. Unfortunately, we are living in a world that is increasingly hostile to religion, uncomfortable with praying and downright ignorant of social graces during a meal. I find it commendable that you want to bring some structure and some spiritual inspiration to your dinner parties. However, as we approach a new era of angry secularism, we need to be as “innocent as doves and cunning as serpents” (Matthew 10:16) when it comes to bringing God back to our socializing, and bringing gracebeforemeals.com back to reality!
Here are some suggestions that may help: (1) Instead of saying that you want to offer a prayer at a “non-religious” event, perhaps you can say that you’d like to offer a “few words of thanks and heartfelt remembrances,” or “inspired sentiments.” While this is “distinct” from a formal prayer, it provides at least some avenue in which you can offer a prayerful thought, even if it’s not a formal prayer.
(2) In this moment of sharing inspired sentiments (i.e., prayer), be sure to specifically thank “all those who made this meal possible,” including those who raised and farmed the food, prepared it, serve it, and all of us who celebrate our togetherness. By being “inclusive” in this prayer, we show how God uses human moments to make Himself present. It’s an idea similar to the prayer used at Mass, “Blessed are you Lord of all Creation, for through Your goodness we have this bread and wine to offer, fruit of the vine and the earth, and work of human hands, it will become for the bread of life, our spiritual drink.” By bringing humanity into the “conversation” (i.e., prayer with God), we get people thinking that saying “thank you” is a good, normal and appropriate thing to do at these social gatherings.
(3) While there should be no reason to be ashamed of the Name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord, we have to be attentive and respectful to the plural expressions of faith and those of different religions. Perhaps you can conclude by praying in the name of “God who blesses us to become brothers and sisters – one world family – in the Lord.”
(4) If offering a “few words of inspired thanks” still causes religious suspicion, a group leader, organizer or host of the gathering can offer a sentimental “toast.” A “toast” – a raising of the glass (like the way the priest raises the chalice at mass) – is still a common expression of celebration. However, as believers, we can turn the words of a toast into a moment of prayerful expressions of gratitude. But, keep these comments extra short. And, as you raise the glass, encourage people to have an attitude of gratitude, and conclude by saying “amen and cheers.” It’s an easy way to slide in a prayer without coming across as a religious zealot.
(5) Depending on the gathering, it may be very appropriate for you NOT to offer a public prayer as people can get rather hostile, sad to say. In this case, no one can stop you from praying silently to God. He is the one to whom the prayer is directed. If you are the host, or a guest of honor, it would be very appropriate for you to share your faith. The guests should know that you are a man or woman of faith by how you live your life, and not just because you want to pray before you eat. However, if you’re simply a guest, or a friend of the guest, you should have an established rapport with the host before you suggest that you “lead” a prayer. If you’re not in a position to take a lead role at the dinner or event – that is, someone who is called upon to make a speech, a toast or the official prayer – then it is best that you simply offer a prayer by yourself without making a spectacle or scene. The humble disposition of bowing your head, or making a simple but dignified sign of the cross, is more Christ-like than publicly announcing your faith in an uncomfortable way.
These suggestions can hopefully make your dinner party or event more special, thematically appropriate and a true celebration. Your prayer – whether publicly or privately prayed – will always be heard by God loudly and clearly. And, if you are truly giving your prayer to God, He will use that opportunity to bring souls closer to Him around his Sacred Banquet.
- How do you pray in public?
- Is this advice helpful to you?
- What would you suggest is the best way to introduce prayer in a place where people have different faiths and backgrounds?
- Where are you most comfortable to pray, and where are you least comfortable to share your faith?
Your questions, comments and responses are very helpful in giving our movement the proper focus and relevance to your faithful foodie experiences. Please post your comments below.
Father in heaven, we thank you for the people who want to make a witness to your goodness by praying in public. Give them the necessary graces, virtue and proper skills to be an effective minister of your presence, a true bridge to your bounty. Teach people how to be humble in their approach to sharing faith, and always trusting that you always hear our prayers – spoken from our lips and held silently in our hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
|At the Church in Palawan Philippines, a nation that is unafraid to express their faith in God. Though a poor and developing nation, it is a joyful nation because of the fervor and faith of the people.|
Family Faith Festival at St. Patrick ChurchSt. Patrick Church, 1000 N. Beckley Station Road. Louisville, KY 40245CONTACT: Tim Grove | email@example.com | 502-719-0362
- Fr. Leo is a very energetic and sincere guest with a flair for performing and engaging audiences. He is committed to helping families grow stronger- body, mind and soul! He’s coming to St. Patrick, Dec. 1 & 2 to present a parish-wide mission.
- While at St. Patrick, Father Leo will spread the good news about the importance of family meals in three ways:
- Father Leo will preach at all Masses
- Father Leo will give a talk entitled, “Spiritual Combat” to our teens at 7 p.m., Dec. 1 in Schindler Hall
- [Mass at 5 p.m. and a light meal will precede Father's talk.
- Father Leo will offer a Family Faith Festival and Fajitas dinner from 1 to 4 p.m., Dec. 2 in the Celtic Center.
- Father Leo also will autograph aprons, and copies of his books, all of which will be available for purchase just in time for Christmas.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6THHoly Hour Presentation at Columbia UniversityColumbia University 405 West 114th St. New York, NY 10025 CONTACT: Fr. Dan O’Reilly | 212-866-1500 | daniel.o’firstname.lastname@example.org
- Every Thursday, Columbia University’s Catholic Ministry has a Holy Hour, adoration, and feature a speaker once a month for the students to see. In December, Fr. Leo will be the featured speaker who will have a chance to speak about Grace Before Meals, share in the Benediction following the Holy Hour, and then mingle with students complete with a cooking demo.
Never Lose Hope
This is a very busy week, preparing for the launch of the new book Spicing Up Married Life, as well as preparing for a celebration for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. And, in my family, if it’s worth doing, then we will do it BIG!
Mom and Dad-young love at heart!
But there’s always time to answer some of the questions that come our way. The questions this week are important ones because they speak to the heart of Faith and food matters. Can we replace things in our faith, as we can substitute ingredients in a recipe? Although there are ways to do this with food, it doesn’t translate well in our faith.
For example, vibrant songs and really good preaching cannot replace the Sacrament of Eucharist but must be seen as an extension to it. This lesson is important for all faithful foodies to learn, and these questions help spell out an approach to making sure the recipes for our faith and family meals are closely understood and celebrated!
One of my mega-bite burgers-a perfect food example that has easily substituted ingredients, but at the end of the day, it’s still a burger.
Dear Father Leo:
My adult daughter recently told me that she had tried to attend different Catholic churches but that the sermons never were inspiring or uplifting. She found the Mass boring. She therefore tried a very large Christian church in her neighborhood. She found it to be exactly what she was searching for. The sermons were very inspirational and brought the message of Christ into the reality of her daily life. She then was connected to a group that met each week for Bible study. She has never shown so much enthusiasm in discussing the Bible. And she tells me that she never misses the Sunday service!
Young men on a discernment vocation camp, praying before the Eucharist-an irreplaceable part of the Catholic Faith.
Although I tried to teach her about our faith as a child, sent her to Catholic High School, and took her to Sunday Mass each week, she also told me that she never really believed in the Eucharist. It breaks my heart to think of this. Please give me any and all advice you can.
A Heart Broken Mom
Dear Heart Broken Mom:
First, never lose hope. This situation is unfortunately very typical, simply because some people feel they aren’t being “fed” at Mass. The Mass, for those who understand it, offers the Word of God and the Eucharist. While that should be enough, it is understandable (on a human level) that people crave a vibrant community, faith education-especially about the Scriptures- and want to feel inspired and experience joy. Let’s admit it: some churches need to work on these things, and I’m very sad that your local parishes didn’t provide this for your daughter. So don’t feel like it’s your fault, as your daughter’s decision is just a natural reaction to something missing in her life. Families need to bring these needs to the parish priests, church staff, and lay ministers. At the same time, families need to proactively seek out organizations and events outside of Mass that will give children a fuller picture of Faith-outside of the one-hour Mass obligation.
Huge Crowds of the young faithful who participated in one of the Steubenville summer retreats this past summer. Parents are encouraged to get their kids involved in these or similar programs to enhance their experience of church outside of Sunday Mass. Check out my homily at one of these masses.
While it is important for you to be grateful for the fact that your daughter continues to go to a Christian Church, you also need to learn more apologetics and lovingly (and patiently) share this information with your daughter. The Eucharist is a profound Faith reality that your daughter will eventually have to confront-after all, unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we will have no life in us.
I recommend that you do a little more learning and teaching about these essential aspects of Faith, called apologetics, a lot less worrying, and engage in more loving conversations with your daughter about Faith. And the best way to have this discussion is a delicious dinner. While you cannot (yet) agree on the Everlasting Food of Heaven, you can at least try to reach your daughter’s heart and mind by going through her stomach.
At a high school youth rally in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Dear Fr. Leo:
I was looking at your Easter pasta and asparagus recipes, and I am wondering what ingredient I can substitute for the wine in any recipe. There are Catholics who can no longer consume alcohol, and I am dating one of them! And by the way, I love your cooking show!
A presentation at Black Ankle Winery in Maryland-top-notch wine!
I’m glad you like the show. Coming soon:-all-new episodes, including some filming that I’ll be doing in Rome! Now on Wednesdays at 6:00PM EDT on EWTN.
Filming for the show.
As for using a white wine substitute, I recommend a combination of a ¼ cup of chicken broth, 2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp of water, and ¼ cup of ginger ale or non-alcoholic beer. While it will never have the deep flavor that comes from wine, it will have some mellowness and tartness to give a richer flavor to sauces and reductions. Bon appétit!
Wine-tasting on one of our faithful foodie excursions!
|Let us pray: Father in Heaven, I pray for all those who send emails and questions to me, those who are part of our movement, and in a special way, those who are separated from the Faith. May our work in the new evangelization be a source of community, inspiration, and vibrancy for all those who hunger for God. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.|
Your questions, comments and responses are very encouraging. They tell us that our message is making an impact. Please leave your comments below.
Event: Spicing Up Married Life Pre-Release Event at St. John’s Regional School in Frederick, MD
Tonight, Fr. Leo gave families from St. John’s Regional school a special treat by cooking one of his new dishes from his latest book, Spicing Up Married Life, called Bacon and Butternut Squash Creamy Brandy Penne Pasta, and giving out the first copies of the book to the general public in anticipation for Saturday’s release date.
Event: Fr. Leo to Appear on FOX 45 on Friday, September 21!
Fr. Leo will also be seen on Baltimore FOX 45 Morning News this Friday, appearing at 9:45am to talk about the book and his mission to save marriages and families with faith-filled lessons and delectable meals for two. He will also be appearing on a radio show on Q1370 with Maynard Edwards and Shari Elliker later that afternoon.
Event: 40 Days for Life Kickoff Rally
Date: Saturday, September 22, 2012.
Fr. Leo will be among the speakers kicking off the 40 Days for Life rally event this Saturday as hundreds of people will gather to support those who need it most: the unborn. Fr. Leo will be speaking at 11am and will have his new book available to commemorate the release, while encouraging couples to place their love for one another in God. So come kickoff 40 Days for Life this Saturday.
Location: Calvary Chapel, 8064 New Cut Road, Severn (Baltimore/Annapolis)
Event: The 50th Anniversary of Carlos and Fe Patalinghug (Fr. Leo’s Parents)
Date: Saturday, September 22, 2012
Of course, Fr. Leo and his family have a most special celebration to commemorate Saturday as his parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage. It is through their example in faith and love that inspires Fr. Leo everyday to share the “recipe” for a strong marriage: faithfulness, sacrifice, selflessness and of course, good food. We congratulate them on their milestone and pray for many more years together.
Fr. Leo is going back to Great Falls, MT to speak at the Montana Catholic Conference September 28-29.
Click here to find out more: http://gracebeforemeals.com/montana-catholic-conference
All the while, Holy Family Catholic Church in Davidsonville, MD is offering their second church wide “date night” and will have Spicing Up Married Life books available for any couple who would like to take advantage of free babysitting and a romantic evening with your spouse, whether dating, engaged or married. Check out the Catholic Review Article at http://www.catholicreview.org/article/home/parish-national-efforts-fortify-marriages-through-date-nights
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Encouragement and Foundation
Viewers of the show and members of our movement are starting to see how we’re reaching out with food for body, mind, and soul.
Hi Father Leo,
I was watching you on [an EWTN show] this morning with my wife. [We] heard you talking about your new foundation.
I couldn’t find anything about them on your website so they are probably pretty new. I have a friend whose son is interested in helping the poor and I thought your programs would be perfect. My friend is from the Philippines…He actually recognized your last name and is going to come up with where the connection is…
Take care, God Bless.
(Film crew and home studio host family for “Savoring our Faith.”)
As Grace Before Meals continues to grow, we want to begin the discussion for a foundation that will help connect culture, the culinary world, and the Catholic Faith, as well as outreach to our hungering world. We have plans to hopefully initiate a nonprofit foundation by the end of the year. With this foundation, you can help further the movement with a tax-free deduction. But, as we are still in the initial phases of the foundation, I kindly ask for your prayers that God will continue to guide us in forming a foundation that will truly grow our movement.
(Some of the local poor, working families on a Filipino Island. I’d love to make sure some of our foundation money would go directly to feed families with hungry children…)
I enjoy your show a lot. I’m very touched by the way you link food with God. I loved to cook and bake since I was 7 years old. It’s a passion for me and I truly believe it is a gift of God that I have received. The best part for me is the “sharing” part of it.
Cooking makes me happy, but even more the fact of sharing my cooking either by feeding friends and family or by teaching what I know about it.
Last year, I volunteered cooking classes in [my] Parish in Florida where I held weekly classes. I enjoyed them so much just to see how happy the parishioners were with these classes… And our Pastor, was happy too.
(Cooking demonstration in the Philippines at the Berghoff cookware store.)
Our daughters helped me with the classes and my husband was very happy too with the project.
I’m planning on doing it again this year and YOU are an inspiration to me. We share not only the passion for cooking, but also that link between food and God. Every time we cook together, we sit together and eat together, that communion is there, we can feel it. The energy that is created while we sit around food is just overwhelming! And I speak to my students about it, so they can be conscious about it and then transmit it to their own circle of people.
My big dream is to have a cooking show one day where I could share what I feel and what I know about cooking and sharing, cause both go together. Even as a volunteer, I’d love to share all these nice feelings with others.
Father, please keep me in your prayers. I’ll keep you in mine. By the way, my sister’s son is a Priest and he always encouraged me to continue sharing this gift of God that I have received since I was just a kid.
Thank you so much for your show and for transmitting happiness, hope and faith.
God bless you,
(Cooking event at a private event.)
E-mails like this make my day! To know that our Grace Before Meals movement inspired at least one person to share their gifts and talents for God’s greater glory. It’s even better that you’re sharing your gifts directly with your local parish church. I certainly pray, and with your prayers, that all our members, viewers, and fans will discern the talents God gave them and share those talents abundantly with their family, church, community, and the world! That’s what the Saints did, and that’s what we’re invited to do!
(Missionaries of Charity, started by Blessed Theresa of
Calcutta, is feeding the world by giving their simple gifts with great love.)
Love what you are doing. It is exciting to get our families saying our prayers before meals. Also bringing the family back to eating together.
I am a Health Coach and I help my clients by eating fresh growing garden vegetables….washing dishes together…cleaning their pantries and sharing their food, praying with others. My favorite is meal Fresh tomato and Spaghetti and fresh salad!
(Volunteer food servers at a Corpus Christi Youth Event.)
It’s great to get kudos from a health coach, especially since my style of cooking isn’t exactly the “healthiest.” I especially appreciate how you encourage families to pray, work, eat, and clean together! I consider cleaning up after a family meal “grace AFTER meals.” And, if you ever have a spaghetti recipe to offer me and our viewers, please be sure to let us know!
(Here’s a unique spaghetti dish – without red sauce – consisting of black pepper and cheese at Eataly in New York City. Delicious!)
To all the readers:
We appreciate all of the e-mails, questions, and comments. It reminds us that our mission and our movement are making a difference. But we still have so much more to do and more places for our message to go!
(Ellis Island in New York City – a place that opens up worldwide opportunities!)
God, our loving Father, I thank You for the opportunity to share a positive message with the world. You are the initiator, sustainer, and the consolation of the Grace Before Meals movement. Help us to stay focused, motivated, and ever joyful in our work. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Sky’s the limit!)
If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please be sure to let us know. Post below.
Watch Savoring Our Faith on EWTN!
This Week’s Episode- What God Declared Clean or Unclean!
God put all of creation here for our use. Fr. Leo is joined by avid hunter Fr. Mitch Pacwa to discuss the need for respect for all of God’s creatures as they prepare some wonderful dishes from wild game.
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