From The Feedbag

Wow! What a Response!

Greetings fellow GBMers. Now that you have had time to share a grand meal with your families (we hope), we thought we would take the opportunity to share with you some news on here at Grace Before Meals.

First, we have received such an incredible and overwhelming response to last week’s request for taste testers for Fr. Leo’s new book, Spicing Up Married Life. Due to the number of people who want to try some of Fr. Leo’s cooking, we have to officially close the submission deadline a day early, as we must now sift through them all and decide who will get the chance to help us make sure Fr. Leo’s recipes are as good as can be. We have even decided to double the number of testers from 12 to 24! Once we make our decisions, our “chosen ones” shall receive an email notification by the beginning of next year, possibly sooner. There are just so many to choose from, so keep your eyes open and your stomach ready for some good cooking.

(Couples from Westminster, Maryland who won a dinner date night prepared by me.) 

(A similar expression of Fr. Leo’s joy at the number of people who want to try his recipes.)

For those who will be selected, you will receive an email with the recipe and chapter questions, which we ask you to look through and give feedback before cooking. And then when you cook, we will simply ask for you to let us know how everything went and your input. And if necessary, Fr. Leo can reimburse up to $25 for groceries per chosen couple. Remember, these recipes are intended for couples, whether dating, engaged or married, so this is one best saved for a romantic evening without the kids.

(Couples from Westminster, Maryland who won a dinner date night prepared by me.) 

(One of Fr. Leo’s Thanksgiving dishes. And just think of how lucky his family is, as they always gets to taste test his meals!)

But WAIT! We have been so impressed with the enthusiasm many of you have shown that even if you do not get chosen, all people who have submitted requests to be taste testers will receive a discount on Fr. Leo’s new book, Spicing Up Married Life. Once the release date is set and we open up pre-order sales, we will contact you with more information, so stay excited! Your chance to taste the new recipes will come soon enough!

Speaking of new items, in addition to the new book, we will be launching a number of new features on the website in the coming year, including a new shopping cart feature which will have an exclusive variety of new merchandise, so you’ll finally have more ways of sharing Grace Before Meals with your friends and family outside of wearing that slimming black apron. If there are certain types of apparel or kitchenware you would like to see, post your comment below and let us know what you want to see.

(Couples from Westminster, Maryland who won a dinner date night prepared by me.) 

(Well, that is a shopping cart, but not quite what we have in mind.)

Also in the works is an awesome, top-secret new YouTube project that goes outside of the kitchen and into the dorm room, so stay tuned! And with the new website features, we hope to start implementing some website changes, so don’t be alarmed if something seems different. These and more are planned heading into the new year, which is only a month away!

For us avid churchgoers, we have entered Advent, and for the Catholic Church, that has meant the New Mass! While it may be weird saying different prayers than we’re used to, it is such a great way to bring us closer to our roots and the how these prayers were intended to be prayed. Life Teen has a number of great videos to check out in case you would like a further explanation on the new Roman Missal and why the changes were made. Just go to http://ismasschanging.org/ and choose your video preference.

(Couples from Westminster, Maryland who won a dinner date night prepared by me.) 

(They have videos for parish leaders, parents, high school teens and even middle school teens. Click the picture to check them out!)

And one more video to check out is the new “Catholics Come Home” campaign. With the beginning of Advent, national ads were launched across network and prime time TV, with the chance to reach over 250 million viewers! This is the first time in history the Catholic faith has reached out on such a large media scale. So be sure to check out www.catholicscomehome.org/advent and support our faith as we seek to reach those in need.

(Couples from Westminster, Maryland who won a dinner date night prepared by me.) 

(What an appropriate scene for the Advent season. Click the picture to see the video for “Catholics Come Home”.)

As we head into our final month of 2011, we have a few more events coming up, including:

1) St. James Parish in Boonsboro, MD this Friday, December 2.

2) St. John Neumann’s Catholic Church in Reston VA on Sunday, December 4.

3) Back to back presentations on December 10 and 11, the first at St. John Neumann Church in Columbia, SC and the second at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill, SC.

4) A trip to Malmstrom Airforce base for training exercises out in Great Falls, MT. (!)

Come out if you can and support us with your presence and prayers. And be sure to check out gracebeforemeals.com/events on a regular basis to see if Fr. Leo is coming out your way.

And with these bits of news, we thank God for the opportunities we have to share food, love and faith with one another. May we keep His love freely and share it with one another, especially as we look to celebrate the Advent season. If you have any questions or feedback, such as what types of items you would like to be made available to support the movement or ways to improve our website and newsletters, please leave a comment below and let us know ways to help grow our movement and strengthen families with food and faith.

Let us pray:

Dear God, we thank you for this holiday season and the chance to celebrate our Lord with family, friends, and food! Please bless our movement as we seek to strengthen families by bringing them together and to glorify you with the love that is shared. Please bless our upcoming year and the projects we take on, all for your glory. Guide us to you, O Lord, that you may be pleased. Amen.

Watch Grace Before Meals episodes on Youtube! Follow Fr. Leo on Twitter!become a Fan of Fr. Leo and Grace before Meals on Facebook!

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in Grace Before Meals, Mass, Prayers, Taste Tester, Video, What's On the Table | 1 Comment »

Dinner Discussion

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.)

(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!”)

(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.)

(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.)

(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.)

(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!)

(Instead of turning pumpkins into scary faces, turn that jack-o’-lantern into something beautiful – or even a pie!)

Watch Grace Before Meals episodes on Youtube! Follow Fr. Leo on Twitter!become a Fan of Fr. Leo and Grace before Meals on Facebook!

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in All Souls Day, Dinner Discussion, Halloween, Holiday, In Memory, Mass, Past Emails, Prayers, Seminarians | 8 Comments »