|A Tribute to the Heroes, the Helpers and the Hurting|
This week America experienced tremendous challenges and pain. These difficult times can either melt us into more compassionate people or mold us into people full of anger.
In the midst of the pain, suffering, confusion and sadness, I’ve heard many different people giving some very good advice to help us get through it all. One piece of advice I heard was to look for the heroes, the helpers and the hurting. In other words, we can sometimes be trapped by our own fear, pain, confusion and sadness. And while we have to pay attention to our own feelings – especially negative ones – we can’t dwell on them. We also need to pay attention to the big picture.
Looking at the big picture helps us to see the inspiring efforts of heroic people and gain encouragement from their selflessness. These examples can warm our hearts, melting away rough edges and brokenness.
By looking at the bigger picture, we also see how these challenges can either mold us into better people with softer and more loving hearts, or hardened hearted people who seek revenge and destruction – like these terrorists. The environments in which we live have that molding effect. We therefore have to make sure we put ourselves in good places and with good people who can mold our hearts into something good.
What better way to describe this reality than through food! Take, for example, a hard cheese like parmesan as an analogy of our own hearts. When heated, it becomes soft, and less prone to being broken. The melted cheese can also be made into something useful, beautiful and of course, delicious to feed the hungry when put over something curbed.
Like this cheese, our own hearts are vulnerable to being broken. But the heat of challenging times, like hearing these tragic events, can actually create an opportunity to “soften” our hearts, melting away the edges, and making us more moldable. These tragic events can either help us to experience more compassion or more hate – depending on who, or what, it is that molds our hearts.
Hopefully you can see how challenging times melt us, but also shape us. It may be a “cheesy” analogy, but it makes sense. The scriptures tell us that we are like clay in God’s hands. In faithful foodie language, it may be more like melted and molded goodness!
Let us pray:
Father in Heaven, we pray for peace in our world, consolation for those who mourn the death of loved ones, courage for those who now face physical and emotional struggles, and thanksgiving for the heroic actions that are trying to bring about a calm and peaceful resolution to the problems in our world. Keep our families safe, and may these moments fill our hearts with the warmth of compassion in order to mold it into the heart of Your Son, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Your comments and questions are so important to our movement. Please post your comments below. And, if you have other questions, post them here or contact our project manager.
Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Prayers In Light of the Boston Marathon Tragedy
After Monday’s tragedy in Boston, MA at the Boston Marathon, where 3 people were killed and over 31 were taken to the hospital with injuries, the entire team at Grace Before Meals wishes to prayerfully extend our deepest condolences and support to the victims’ of this terrible tragedy and their families, especially as Fr. Leo travels to Massachusetts this weekend for the Diocese of Springfield Women’s Conference. As Cardinal O’Malley urged, ” In the midst of the darkness of this tragedy we turn to the light of Jesus Christ, the light that was evident in the lives of people who immediately turned to help those in need. We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.”
Whenever I speak at different venues, I try and encourage parents to make sure veggies are treated with respect. After all, the main reason most children don’t enjoy eating their veggies is because we don’t prepare them well. And, similarly to “nasty veggies,” children can also resist faith – thinking it’s boring or difficult to swallow. We need to learn how to plate, present and most importantly prepare both vegetables and faith in a way that will get our kids to digest the truth (and the food) that is served at every family dinner.
To help you get started here’s a quick recipe for Bacon Brussels sprouts – because nothing keeps spring veggies savory like adding some bacon! This recipe celebrates the “springy” taste of Brussels sprouts – which you can actually get year round – while making it appealing to more finicky eaters. Bacon’s cured saltiness helps to balance some of Brussels sprouts’ pungent flavor. Parboiling and then stir frying the sprouts in a high heat creates a char that can help to eliminate some of the obnoxious smells that come when boiling these mini-cabbages. This process also elevates the dish’s taste while retaining a bit more textural variety.
|Bacon Brussels sprouts as a side dish with roasted potato chips and filet mignon, pepe verde (with green pepper corns).|
Bacon Brussels Sprouts:
Serves 2 for side dishes
|I used left over sprouts and added it to some linguine, sautéed it in olive oil, garlic and dusted with parmesan cheese – which made for a fresh, healthy and delicious spring pasta.|
Let us Pray:
Inspire us Lord with desire to feed our children – whether they are our own biological children, or our “spiritual children” – with the good things in life. Give us creative ways to make the “bitter truth” of our faith more palatable, not masking the truth, but to help them digest it more easily. Keep our Grace Before Movement strong by encouraging our members to share their ideas, questions and comments so that we can continue to dialogue about the things that matter most to them. And, finally Lord, bless each member of our movement with Your Grace – before, during and after each meal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Please keep us encouraged by posting your comments below! And, if you have other questions, post them here or contact our project manager.
|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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
On occasion, our Grace Before Meals movement will send out some “Blasts from the Past,” not only because the messages are still relevant today, but it also helps us remember how far we’ve come! Post something by clicking here.
Old Dog, New Tricks
Now I am not truly an “old dog”, though I feel like it sometimes when traveling non-stop or when doing a flying jump kick over some volunteers to break some boards (see picture below). But as the fall approaches, our Grace Before Meals team is preparing to launch some new “tricks” as discussed in last week’s blast, including the long-awaited release of my new book Spicing Up Married Life, coming out September 18.
And if I have to take the designation of being an “old dog performing new tricks,” as humbling as it may seem, I am glad to, as I know I am in good company- specifically, St. Dominic (whose feast day is August 8) and my former spiritual director, Fr. Frank McGauley.
I look back fondly on the many lessons I learned from this amazing priest, who passed away on July 15, 2008. He was 86 years old at the time, and yet, as you will read below, he was always learning something new about his faith and love for God, as well as God’s love for us. And much like St. Dominic, his faithfulness was inspiring and helped me to grow deeper in my own. So please enjoy this stroll down memory lane to remember this great priest and friend from whom I learned so much. And with St. Dominic’s intercession, we ask for God’s blessing on all priests and religious, families and communities, and all those, including Grace Before Meals, who seek to glorify God with their lives and devotion. May we please him by our faithfulness and true love.
St. Dominic – Old Dog, New Tricks
Originally Published August 8, 2007
My spiritual director is an 85-year-old Jesuit Priest who served in the missionaries of India for more than 30 years. He learned their languages and culture in order to serve the poor and local tribes as their pastor, spiritual leader, and friend. He’s worked with Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta and a host of other holy men and women who brought the Good News of Jesus to that part of the world!
His credentials were enough reason for me to “select” him as my spiritual director. But there are so many other reasons, such as his sincere joy, his holy fear of the Lord, his sensitivity and awareness to the battles against evil, and also his down to earth spirituality. Above all, he is humble!
I could jokingly say, he’s everything I’m NOT – but then, I wouldn’t be joking!
Every meeting, without fail, I receive so much spiritual food from his wisdom and counsel. But one thing I constantly marvel at is how this “old man” approaches suffering, trials and challenges – especially the challenge of growing older. He sees challenges as lessons in life, and he tells us that nothing goes to waste! He lives with knowledge and hope that even our problems can be useful in God’s hands.
In my last Spiritual Direction Meeting (I usually go once a month), I heard he had a nasty fall down a flight of stairs. He let go of the safety rail with his one hand because he was afraid of tipping over the plate of food he had in his other hand. Of course my ears perked up, simply because he mentioned food! (I secretly wondered if the meal was worth the fall!) But thank God his athletic skills from his younger days kicked in, so that he fell in such a way to avoid even worse physical damage. Though it could have been worse, it was bad enough to bloody him up and require medical attention. He thanks his angels for helping him out, especially at his tender age!
Yet in all of this, this man of God was able to learn a life lesson, which he conveyed to me. He mentioned that the plate of food could be a symbol of the many responsibilities, privileges, and issues that we carry. These things are precious to us and we are afraid to tip them over. BUT for him, the handrail was a symbol of GOD. No matter how tempted we may be to try and take control (i.e. use both hands) and manage our own affairs, we cannot let go of God. Look at what might happen if we do!
Here is a man who could call himself “a ragged old dog.” Yet he is so willing to learn new tricks! I used this phrase “old dog” because of the Feast we celebrate every August 8th – the Feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominicans. His name and the name of the congregations he founded literally means “Dogs of the Lord” – domini (Lord) canes (Dogs). An image of St. Dominic normally shows him in the beautiful white Dominican Robes pointing up, holding a book, and next to him a dog holding a torch in its mouth.
Even though my spiritual director is a Jesuit, I see in him a true “Dominican” – as he is ever faithful to the Lord, like the old dog “Fido” (which is a form of the word “Fides” – “Faith”). Sorry cat lovers, but that’s why they call Fido “man’s best friend,” because the dogs are ever faithful!
This old faithful – my spiritual director – reminds me that life should be a spiritual journey and that we can find spiritual lessons in every encounter – even if its challenging and full of suffering. After all, Jesus didn’t die on the cross to be jewelry, but to be a visible lesson and reminder of love, forgiveness, and the reality of human suffering, especially in our elderly population – who is so often forgotten. My spiritual director, and all of the elderly patients I minister to remind me of the importance to grow old gracefully and to realize that getting older presents its own challenges. We who are younger can learn tremendous lessons from them, even if the only lesson we repeat is patience, patience, patience!
I’ll close with this story I keep close to my heart whenever I consider working with the elderly. A young priest noticed the old Monsignor sleeping in his pew during prayer. One day the younger priest expressed his displeasure to the old man and questioned how he could sleep during his prayer. The old Monsignor explained that he tries to stay attentive to the Lord in prayer, but sometimes his age gets the best of him. “In those moments,” the old man explained, “I sometimes hear God say, ‘You’re not as young as you were, but your faithfulness is like a dog who sometimes serves his master best by simply resting at his master’s feet!”
With the prayers of St. Dominic, I want to ask God to bless my spiritual director with a long and faithful life – I obviously need that “old dog” around to teach me new lessons!
Orzo Ginger Chicken
The FDA has some ideas for healthy eating for our elderly community. Sometimes we have to wonder, how did people in generations past live such long lives without the FDA? I think they used common sense by eating appropriately, healthy, and festively – and they started young. So start now! But if you do have someone a bit older in your family life, you may want to make them a healthful and soul satisfying meal. Here’s an idea for a very simple and tasty dish that’s not only easy to prepare, it’s also really easy to eat! For the recipe [click here].
My spiritual director has taught me great ways of praying! He reminds me to make sure that “nothing goes to waste.” Therefore, if ever I have certain challenges, I try to reflect on them and ask, “What did I learn from this?” This examination of conscience not only reminds us that our challenges are not useless, but could also be helpful! My spiritual director’s fall taught him and me to always manage the “food on my plate” by not overdoing it, and to always, no matter what, hold on to the railing!
Let Us Pray: Lord, when life gets a bit more complicated, help me to take a moment to gain true balance, so that I can better walk with You and with Your people. Help me to be strong, but at the same time humble enough to keep me dependent on Your loving guidance. Help me to walk, hand in hand, with You! Amen.
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Posted in Blast from the Past, Chicken, Food for the Body, Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Past Emails, Prayers, Recipe, Recipe-Meats, Recipe-Pasta, Recipes, Spicing Up Married Life | 1 Comment »
On occasion, our Grace Before Meals movement will send out some “Blasts from the Past,” not only because the messages are still relevant today, but it also helps us remember how far we’ve come!
Grand Opening: St. James Coffee Shop!
Take a look at this blessed an unique coffee shop in Rochester MN. Yes, there is a Eucharistic Chapel and yes, they are cheaper than Starbucks!
Having just returned from another Steubenville Conference in Rochester MN (truly fantastic once again!), I thought this would be a great time to promote the opening of a great new Catholic coffee shop called St. James Coffee, complete with a Eucharistic Chapel and good coffee to boot…and it officially opens today! Check out my tour of the place and if you are up in Rochester MN, be sure to stop in for more than just a good cup of Joe, but the Grace of God. The perfect place to share Grace Before Meals!
Want an Odd Job Assisting Fr. Leo?
Don’t worry, it is not that odd! Fr. Leo and the GBM team are looking for young adults with a culinary background and missionary-hearts living in the Baltimore area to potentially assist with the cooking at events in the future. As we seek to create the best presentations and demonstrations possible, there is much work that needs to be done at each event, so your help could make a big difference. The position is not regular, but does offer payment. If you are interested in this opportunity to help Fr. Leo with food preparation at different events, please send your resume and information to email@example.com. Think of it as a cool and helpful way to gain culinary and spiritual training!
Coming Home 20 Years Later!
Originally posted November 12, 2008
A few weeks ago, about 50 “ young” men returned to their alma mater for their high school reunion. I wanted to stress “ young” because I was one of them!
We celebrated our 20 year Mount St. Joseph high school reunion. It was strange to walk through halls where I once wandered aimlessly as a lost freshman, where friends played practical jokes on each other, and where I was yelled at a few times by teachers. We celebrated on the grounds of the newly constructed sports stadium with homecoming victories over our rivals in football.
For a few hours, several of my classmates shared life updates, visited old classrooms, marveled at the new structural additions, and most importantly, remembered moments that made high school more than just a building. In that brief reunion with my former classmates, I must say that it was good to be home.
Students at Mount St. Joe are referred to as “Mount Men.” Our patrons are St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis Xavier, the founder of the Xavarian Brothers, the order of religious brothers that staffs this school and many others around the world. The Mount “Tower,” part of the original building, still remains a focal point for the modern campus. It is a symbol of what each Mount St. Joe student is to exemplify – a strong, enduring, visionary beacon for the community and world. Even though none of us former students would have admitted it 20 years ago, we were all very proud to be a part of the Mount family.
Looking back, I realize the high school years can be some of the most challenging for young people. It’s a time of internal conflicts: bodies (and hormones) develop at an unbelievable pace, but limited psychological and life experiences prevent teens from fully understanding these inevitable changes. As high school students, we wanted to be treated as adults, yet we tended to act like unruly kids. Change occurs so quickly that some teachers hardly recognize students after a summer of growth spurts. Parents marvel at how clothes sizes change as dramatically as voices drop from tenor to squeaky baritone. The amount of transformation that occurs in a young person during this time requires the watchful eyes of faithful teachers. Change can be good, if we change into something good . Therefore, teachers must see that their objective isn’t simply to educate students so they can graduate. Teachers must see their vocation as vital assistance to parents in the formation of these children through academics, virtue- based development, and by sharing the gift of service with others.
Thank God for good high schools like Mount St. Joe, a place where the Brothers, Priests, and lay teachers watch, guide, and care for students as they would a brother or son. As parents entrust children to these institutions for about 8 hours daily, school should be an extension of the family. At the Mount, we are a large family of brothers. Granted, it isn’t perfect, but what is perfect this side of Heaven?
During the reunion, I was so proud to learn that from a class of about 200 men, three of us became Catholic priests and one non-Catholic student was ordained as a Protestant Minister. Many of my classmates are now working in secular industries. Some serve in the military, in manual labor, as doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, and a handful are fire fighters. Classmates spoke lovingly about their wives and how proud they were to be fathers. It did my heart good to see how one guy who arrived after the opening speech and prayer bowed his head to offer Grace before he ate his meal. I was even more honored to celebrate the Mass for several of my classmates, many of whom expressed their congratulations and prayerful encouragement of my work as a priest and as host for the Grace Before Meals movement. Some were surprised to learn that I entered the seminary only six years after graduating high school.
The homecoming reunion weekend at Mount St. Joseph made me reflect on the importance of religious orders that focus on the education of young people. We need more teachers who see that educating young people is more than a job, it’s a calling from God. We need more high schools that challenge young people to grow, not just in body, but in mind and spirit. We need families to ensure that what young people are learning in high school are life lessons and not just useless facts. Too often we hear stories of teachers who use the classroom to indoctrinate students in relativistic tendencies, to question authority (especially legitimate religious authority), and who try to convince children that opinion is fact
These problems in high schools are very real. What is necessary to make certain high school becomes a good foundational experience for young people? The parent, the primary educator of the child, who talks with sons and daughters about what’s being taught in school. And after all, the best place for home schooling is the kitchen table.
After 20 years, it was wonderful to see a good number of us Mount Men, some prodigal sons, return for this special homecoming. We may not have had a fattened calf prepared for us, but we did feast on four years of memories. And at Mass, the greatest learning institution in world history, we celebrated the fact that we were more than classmates; we were students of truth, children of God, and brothers in the Lord .
A Mature Palate! Vitello ai Funghi – Veal and Mushrooms.
20 years ago, I never thought that I would become a priest, and I had no idea that food would become such an important part of my life. 20 years ago, I don’t even think that I could grasp a concept that combines priesthood and food .
Recently, I had an opportunity to be a guest on the show Franciscan University Presents where we discussed that very unique combination of theology, food, faith, and family.
In the discussion with Fr. Michael Scanlon and Dr. Regis Martin, the concept of maturity in regards to faith and food was presented analogously. We can’t appreciate certain theological concepts or even certain foods as children, because we have not yet grown up. 20 years ago, I would have never thought that I could ever enjoy a pan-seared slice of veal with a wild mushroom sauté. For me, pizza and nuggets were all I needed. On occasion, I eat foods that young people enjoy, but I definitely changed in that I would much rather have something fresh, with more veggies, and bold flavors that doesn’t require ketchup . Perhaps, moms and dads can make this very mature meal for their young high school students as a way to test the maturity of their palate. I can tell you, we didn’t get this in our high school cafeteria. At that age, I don’t think we’d even know what to do with it .
Please click here for the recipe.
Being back at my old high school forced me to examine how much I’ve grown up. I did some pretty stupid things as a youngster , from which I have learned many lessons , especially through the act of confession. I’m still learning some of those lessons. One thing I’ve learned for sure, even after 20 years, Mount St. Joseph is still like a home. The priests, brothers, and teachers of my alma mater made sure the students were raised to be men who would continue to be true gentlemen and lifelong students – always learning, always growing!
Let us Pray:
Father, high school can be a tough time for young people. We pray that all involved in educating high school students can do so with patience and familial care. Give to the students a desire to learn and the motivation to grow. Protect them from harmful things that can destroy a young person’s future, even his or her life . Give to parents the grace to be patient with young people especially by helping them to remember, they, too, were young once . Let’s not forget to pray for the entire staff – the lunchroom crew, the janitorial staff, the coaches who urge us to victory, and even the bullies who hopefully grow up in life. And Father in Heaven, during the month of November when we remember the faithful departed, grant to all our teachers who have died eternal rest . Amen.
This was Brother Donald, the MSJ Librarian. In all four years of HS, this man was the only one who gave me detention for talking too much in the library. We miss you!
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All Soul’s Food
Two days ago many children celebrating Halloween dressed in costumes, approached a stranger’s home, knocked on the door and insisted for candy. Or else, suffer the tricky consequences!
(Typical of seminarians, always playing tricks – even on food.)
It’s redundant, but so worth repeating: Halloween is just another example of a secularized holiday, rooted in the Christian celebrations, that brings the community together through FOOD. Namely CANDY!
(Granted, it’s not candy, but these sweet desserts prepared by the seminarians of Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, are definitely my kinds of sweet “treats!”)
Now that Halloween is over and children are still on a sugar rush, parents have a responsibility to properly integrate the social fun with the solemnity of the holiday. If not, the silliness of costume dress up combined with the demand of for treats could stunt the spiritual maturation and psychological growth of our children. If kids don’t see a deeper meaning to the lighthearted expression of this holiday, little kids can turn into “big kids” – not necessarily mature adults.
“Big kids” still “dress up,” but in a different way, i.e., they prefer fantasy to reality, and they put on titles and attitudes rather than discover their true identity. Big kids seek adult “treats,” – expensive technology, fashion, luxury, or high dollar socializing. And if they don’t get it, big kids may play tricks that come in the form of vandalism, or theft. They may even organize themselves and demand the sweet things in life through obnoxious bullying or “protesting.” Unless as kids we grow up seeing a more meaningful side to Halloween, those childish tendencies can stick with us for a very long time.
Today’s solemn Feast Day of All Souls offers gentle reminders and a helpful perspective to young children about how the Halloween fun has a deeper meaning. All Souls Day celebrates life in a spiritually healthy way. It reminds us of the humility with which we must approach life, knowing that life ultimately isn’t about costumes and candy, but the salvation of our soul.
(An ironic picture: we’re like “walking dead” until we get that cup of coffee in the morning.)
Now please don’t think I’m a fuddy-duddy when it comes to the Halloween fun! I sincerely hope the young children had fun dressing up, parading around the neighborhood, and just being children who love candy. At the same time, I hope parents can help their children see a more prayerful and serious approach to Halloween – an approach that’s connected to today’s feast of praying for all the souls of the dead, minus that feeling of just entering a haunted house. Go ahead parents, and take your children to church today, or even visit a cemetery to pray for the beloved dead.
Today’s celebration and the prayers and prayerful remembrances of the faithful departed remind us that life will eventually lead to God’s door. We will knock and He will answer. We won’t be dressed up, but in fact it will be the exact opposite – our real identity will be completely exposed. No tricks can be played, and the only “treat” offered is the banquet of eternal life to those who did not mask their Christian identity. Yes, this Feast Day, connected to Halloween, reminds us that only the souls of the just receive that sweet reward of eternal life.
(Seminarians in procession at Mount St. Mary’s Emmitsburg Cemetery, located at the National Shrine of the Lourdes Grotto.)
That’s what we pray for today.
The modern world approaches the afterlife, death, and the subject of spirits and souls with a creepy hesitation and subconsciously imbedded fear. The Church, though, offers children of all ages an opportunity to mature in their understanding of this mystery through study and prayer.
You can certainly see that Halloween doesn’t bother my Christian sensibilities. I think parents that let their kids have a little neighborhood fun are healthy people. At the same time, I encourage families to make sure they share the real “treat,” if you will, the Eucharist – true food for our soul.
(Enjoying a sweet treat with my project manager, Joe, and some YouTube artists in Hollywood, California! Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming YouTube channel.)
Let us pray:
Father, we ask Your mercy on all of those who have died, especially in this past year. May they experience Your purifying Grace, be welcomed into the eternal communion and participate in the feast that gives eternal life to our body and soul. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Did you let your children go trick or treating? What costume did they wear? Do you remember your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? What was your favorite candy? And what type of candy did you give to your neighbors? How will you celebrate All Soul’s Day and talk about it with your children?
By the way: My favorite Halloween costume was “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” And my favorite candy was chocolate covered malt-balls! Just loved that sweet chocolaty crunch!
(Instead of turning pumpkins into scary faces, turn that jack-o’-lantern into something beautiful – or even a pie!)
- All Souls Day
- Blast from the Past
- Culinary Confessions
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- Past Emails
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- Restauraunt Reviews
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