|On a Faithful Foodie Mission|
Before getting into our Dinner Discussion for this week, we at Grace Before Meals want to extend our heartfelt joy for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I!
Pope Francis I, We promise to remember you every time we gather around the Lord’s Table, and to keep your intentions in our prayers.
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on Pope Francis I Your servant, the pastor of Your Church.
Now, for this week’s Dinner Discussion I would like to share some of my Lenten experiences. It’s been a pretty good Lent for me so far. I’ve been keeping up with most of my Lenten observance, but at the same time, keeping quite busy giving missions and spiritual retreats.
This season has been a fantastic opportunity to share our Grace Before Meals message of faith, food, and family, in different parts of the country through the itinerant preaching of “Parish Missions.” I’m grateful that we are “packing the house,” so to speak, with record crowds from all parts, seeking the message of faith.
Missions are a necessary way to communicate the good news to all parts of the world. While the traditional understanding has been to go to different countries and evangelize people of different religions, many priests are finding it necessary to proactively spread the Christian message to people in our own countries – even in our own parishes or local communities.
While most people in America have heard of Jesus Christ many people do not know him well, evidenced by many surveys that speak about a great misunderstanding of the Church’s role. Church, for many people, is not always a good experience. People are bored, upset about various news stories of their priests or community, or confused about some Church doctrine. They may not feel at home in a certain community or may be at a point of even questioning God.
That’s why parish missions are so important. They provide unique perspectives, different voices, and deeper experiences of prayer, teaching, and community. We are proud to say this happens when people from our parish go out on missions! We give parishes an opportunity to celebrate, pray, laugh, learn, and in some cases even eat some gourmet goodness together!
Giving missions is hard work. Committees have to plan in advance, and preparations must be made in order to make sure that people in parishes are not only aware of the mission, but that they are going to come. At my missions, I tell people to bring family, friends, and even non-Catholics. I don’t want the mission to be me preaching to the “choir” but to people from all walks of life. After all, a “missionary” is someone who is “sent” to all parts to give an invitation to the banquet of the King (Matthew 22:2).
We still have a few weeks of Lent. If you have never been to a parish mission, or if you are in a parish that needs some revival, renewal, and an experience to deepen your faith, I encourage you to speak with your pastor about bringing in a mission preacher. While many people ask for missions during the Lenten or Advent Season, I also encourage it during the Easter and Christmas seasons, or during “ordinary time.” During less festive seasons, mission work gives parishes something to do that is often times lacking: CELEBRATE!
Sure, we need to pray together, endure the Lenten pilgrimage together, but I certainly believe that the best way to respond to all of the “bad news” is to celebrate our faith, enjoy each other’s company, and feast as a family. That may be one of the more unique approaches to my parish missions. I encourage people to laugh, express their joy, and use this to combat all of the negativity in the world. I’m certainly no stand-up comedian, but we do have some rip roaring laughs. The cliché is worth repeating, “there’s nothing more funny than the truth!”
As God looks at our Lenten experience, the unique time of our church’s history with the conclave, and hears the cries of the poor; I pray that we will be able to experience God’s Good News sent to all parts of the world – most importantly, sent to your heart and soul.
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!
Your responses, comments and questions are so helpful to our cause. Please post your comments below.
Let us Pray:
Father in Heaven, in this holy season, we ask for the grace to hear Your word as it really is – GOOD NEWS! May all of our family, friends and fellow parishioners know that You walk with our Church in Her pilgrim way, but also – and most importantly – You walk with us each day, providing us the nourishment through the Eucharist and in Your Holy Word to guide us safely to the banquet of Heaven. We pray for missionaries and the “mission” of Grace Before Meals and all of those served by this apostolate. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Most Memorable Meal!
Preparing for Easter Sunday forces us to look at the real meaning of the celebration. It all begins with a Sacred Meal that will occur on the night Jesus was betrayed. He will say those powerful words that unfortunately many Catholic Christians may take for granted,
“Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you! Do this in Memory of Me. Take this all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood. The blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”
(My nephew at his First Holy Communion. He knows this is the most important meal his uncle can give him.)
It is no doubt that the power of food can satisfy the body but also the mind. Consider the smell of mom or dad’s cooking and how it can bring you back to happy times in your life around the dinner table. Food can certainly inspire great memories!
(I can’t make “pancit” – a Filipino Noodle Dish – without thinking of my mom and dad.)
Bread and wine does that for me. EVERY culture has a “version” of this starch and drink. When we eat and drink it, do we think of Jesus and the Last Supper? Generally not, unless, of course, you pray Grace before meals!
We will stay connected with these beautifully simple foods! It is my hope that every time a server brings your dinner rolls, whenever you make your kids a sandwich, volunteer to put out bread for the homeless, pour a glass of wine, teach your kids responsible drinking, or offer cheers at your next dinner party, you also say a prayer and think of Jesus.
(Bread and Wine)
The simple elements of bread and wine, so common in Jewish tradition, become the perfect vehicle for Jesus to live in His disciples’ memory. And because Jesus has the power to transubstantiate, i.e., change the substance of something, He has the power to live and exist in the elements of the consecrated bread and wine. We call that the Real Presence!
(Group of young men in a discernment camp praying before the Blessed Sacrament – the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.)
Interestingly, Jesus takes the most common food and drink and elevates it to something supernatural, incredible, and for some, unfortunately, unbelievable. Why is it so hard to believe that Jesus can make bread and wine into something more than it really is? In a more sacramental, intense way, it’s similar to thinking about grandma when you bite into a buttery, crusted apple pie.
No doubt, we need to consider again and again what Jesus meant when He said the words, “This is my body, this is my blood! Eat, Drink in memory of me.”
(Jesus breaks bread during the Sacred Last Supper)
In preparation for this Easter Sunday, talk to your family about what this Sacred Meal is all about. Remind your family, like with the Jewish Passover, of the meaning of the Sacred Meal – the Bread and Wine offered at Mass. The REAL Easter meal isn’t baked ham, colored eggs, Easter chocolates, or lamb – although I love all of those things! I even have a great recipe featured in my new show, “Savoring Our Faith,” and in this article in the Chicago Tribune!
The Sacred Meal, in memory of Christ, is more profound and yet so simple. Bread and Wine – His Body and Blood – given up for you! Take, eat, and drink in Memory of Him!
Happy preparations for this upcoming Easter celebration!
(11th Station of the Cross: Jesus is nailed to the cross.)
Father in Heaven, teach us how to prepare for the Sacred Meal. May it ever be on our hearts, minds, and lips in a way that brings dignity to this feast for the soul. May our new members of the Church experience the sweetness of the Communion they celebrate with You and with all of Your Children, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How will you prepare for Easter – spiritually? How will you prepare for Easter – in a culinary way? What is your most memorable meal, and whom do you think about when you eat it? Your comments help us stay focused on our mission, and let us know you care. Post your comments HERE.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Napa Valley Virtuous Vacation and Retreat has been postponed until 2013.
With the announcement of the New Archbishop of Baltimore, Fr. Leo has decided to participate with the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the investiture of the Pallium for Archbishop William Lori, the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore. Corporate Travel will provide more information about the trip next year to all of those who registered for this year’s trip. I sincerely apologize for having to reschedule this trip, but it’s not every day that we get a new Archbishop – that is, a new boss!
(Archbishop Lori (left) is welcomed by his predecessor, Most Rev. Edwin Cardinal O’Brien.)
Check out the Chicago Tribune article above for some thoughts and recipes about the Lamb during this Easter Season.
I was also featured in an article with The Phillipine Daily Inquirer, so check it out at http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/41807/holy-cow-food-faith-and-fr-leo.
And be sure to watch this week’s episode in which I prepare that same lamb recipe on “Savoring the Faith” on EWTN this Sunday at 8:30pm EST.
And we just wrapped the photography for “Spicing Up Married Life” and let me tell you, it looks delicious and fantastic! We can’t wait to share new recipes and inspirations with you later this year. It will definitely be worth the wait!
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A few people have asked me to share some Lenten Meals. I’ll admit, Lenten Meals are difficult for me to make. I think of them as bland, boring, small, unsatisfying meals. That’s hard for me to do. But before I become a neo-pelagianist, I thank God that the Catholic Church gives us clear guidelines about fasting and abstinence. That means our Lenten mortifications don’t have to make us miserable!
(Chef Carlo gives me a fabulous Lenten Meal – that still makes me celebrate. My “penance” was to only order ONE portion! It was a challenge to not indulge!)
So here’s my suggestion: If you’re going to make something for a Friday meal, just make less of it; use less seasoning that would normally give it the extra boost in flavor – less salt, pepper, garlic, spice, and, of course, less cream or butter.
Another idea would be to learn new ways of making vegetables even better and making that your main meal.
(Honestly, asparagus and herb crusted grilled bread with olive oil is completely satisfying. But if you top it off with caramelized onions, apples, and blue cheese, there you have a feast! See below for a link to the recipe!)
Certainly Lent should never be considered a time to “simply” engage in a more healthy diet. That would be confusing the means with the end. However, even medical studies agree that a little bit of fasting and abstinence will bring benefits to the body. So when we offer these Lenten disciplines as a way to make our relationship with Jesus more healthy (and not just make our body more health) we know these disciplines will truly benefit our souls. Let’s admit, our souls need a little exercise as well!
(A Seafood Stew: a great Lenten meal for the family. One bowl of food to be shared by one family!)
Let us pray:
Jesus, help us to overcome our weaknesses through the discipline of Lent. May our sacrifices this holy season bring us to a healthiness in body, mind, and spirit. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Poached shrimp and creamy caper pasta. It’s Lent friendly, but use smaller portions to be penitential.)
Do you have a favorite Lenten meal you prepare for your family? If you forget to fast on a Friday, what do you do personally to keep to the spirit of the law – even if it’s hard to follow the letter of the law? Is there a way that you tell your children or a non-Catholic that helps them understand why we fast and abstain? Your posts, comments, and questions motivate us. They remind us people are reading and listening to our message and help us understand how we can better serve you! Post your comments here.
(Lourdes, France. The 2nd Station of the Cross: Jesus willingly embraces the Cross. We adore You Christ and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world!)
For more Lenten inspired recipes click here.
(Pilgrims in prayer.)
Finally, do something good for yourself at the end of Lent and join me and other faithful foodies on the Napa Valley Pilgrimage and Tour. It’s a Virtuous Vacation that will teach, inform, and inspire faith – while celebrating great food, choice wines, and God’s goodness in this beautiful part of the world!
(Join me for a tour of a real medieval-style castle in Napa Valley, and taste exquisite foods with perfectly paired wines.)
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A NEW VIDEO THIS FRIDAY:
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- All Souls Day
- Blast from the Past
- Culinary Confessions
- Dinner Discussion
- 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
- What's On the Table