Posted January 28th, 2015 | From the Feedbag, Savoring Our Faith

 

The Impact of Grace

It’s always nice to read from our email subscribers. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads these things, and if anyone cares.  Sure, people like recipes, looking at pictures and getting up-to-date info, but what matters most to our Grace Before Meals team is when Grace actually makes a difference in someone’s life.  Well, God certainly answered my question with this email that I’d like to share with you.
The Cathedral of Manila where Pope Francis Celebrated Mass

Dear Father Leo,

My husband and I met you when you visited the our church last year and I wanted to thank you for your inspiring talk on marriage and your genuine interest in all of us that were present.  The food was excellent, too!  I can’t tell you the impact you had on me and my husband.  He is still talking about that night and your teachings.

The owner and family of “Mary Grace Cafe” hosted a special Grace Before Meals event in the Philippines. To book your special event, click the picture.

I just wanted to pass on a story regarding the New Year’s Day prayer you sent out on your email updates.  

My brother’s family has been splintering over this past year that communication completely broke down between the children and parents.  I have been praying for healing and for a prayer that would help protect his family from evil.  When I read the prayer you sent out, my heart leaped!  This was the prayer I was asking for.  My brother left the Catholic Church many years ago for other Christian denominations, so I was a little hesitant to send the prayer to him.  But I did anyway.   My brother loved the prayer and began praying it.  Two days later my nephew called his father and as I have been told, healing has begun for the family.  This truly is a miracle!  There is a long way to go, but with Christ’s help, it will happen.  My brother has sent the prayer to his daughters to pray and other friends and family.

One of the families’ restaurants that will be part of the upcoming episodes of Savoring our Faith, Season 4.

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit guided you to send out this prayer.

Thank you for your vocation.  May God continue to strengthen you and guide you.

May God Be With You,

Christ’s Peace

“S”

So good to know that a little act like passing on an email can bring about a little miracle. It takes courage to share good news.  It takes faith to believe that prayer works.  When I send out these email blasts, I say a little prayer that our little gesture opens your heart, mind and soul to receive God’s generous love!

The Little Sisters of the Poor are taking good care of Cardinal Keeler, retired Archbishop of Baltimore, who ordained me. I had a chance to pray with him at the Sister’s prayerful nursing home.

FYI: Our trip to Spain with Patrick Coffin continues to fill up, so please call as soon as possible to register yourself and be part of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.  We’re going to celebrate the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila’s birth.  It’s a real taste of Spain’s faith, food, wine and culture.  Call 800.842.4842 today!

 

Let us Pray:

Father in heaven, you generously provide us the grace to know love and serve you.  In this desire to do your will, we sometimes do not know if we’re on the right path or not.  Please give us the necessary grace and even your confirmation through the support of the people you love and the people we are called to serve.  Thank you for the encouragement of our Grace Before Meals family and bless them always, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

– How has the Grace Before Meals movement helped you?

– How can we be of better service to you?

Please leave your comment below and be part of the conversation.

 

 

1/29/15

 

1/30/15

 

at ST. LOUISE DE MARILLAC SCHOOL

Upper St. Clair, PA

1/31/15 – 2/4/15

 

       

C.I.A. PARISH MISSION IN FOX VALLEY WISCONSIN

Appleton, WI 

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 Fr. Leo’s Top 10 Experiences in 2014

With the Pope in the Philippines, I was tied up with filming new episodes of my show, filming news segments for EWTN, and also doing some radio interviews for Sirius XM 129 – the Catholic Channel.  However, the Pope’s words reminded me that reflection on our past is very important.  Therefore, it’s a fun and faithful opportunity for me to review how wonderful of a year 2014 was for me and the Grace Before Meals movement.
The Pope speaks to TONS of people in the Philippines (tough to quantify with this image, but you get the picture.)

Here’s my top 10 list of food, faith and family experiences of 2014.

# 10)  Filming across the country with EWTN for Season IV of Savoring our Faith.
Me with the EWTN crew at Liberty Market out in AZ
Each episode will showcase a church, restaurant and a recipe that families can cook at home to remember their faith-filled and fun travels!

# 9   Cooking for children can be tough.
Hanging out with these kids up in Boston area in November this past year. They seem to like the pasta and books!

But, I’m always so happy to hear from parents and from children themselves that they like my food, even new foods.  Part of the trick is to involve them in the cooking process, have some fun and listen to what they hunger for.  It’s our job to feed them. If we don’t, someone else or the devil will! Don’t be scared.  But be strengthened to feed your kids!

 

# 8  Cooking a meal with a good cause with Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson of “Flip My Food.”
I had fun meeting Chef Jeff (left) and other chefs at the KISRA event in West Virginia in September.

 

Chef Jeff became an instant friend.  I had heard of him from TV shows like Oprah, when he shared his story about how his time in prison helped him to learn important life lessons, like how to cook, how to serve and how to walk the straight path through faith and family!  He has a great message and I’m happy to have experienced it myself.

# 7   Celebrity Chef, John Besh invited me, almost like a family chaplain, for his family trip to the Holy Land.
The Besh family pray together at a Church in the Holy Land.
Despite all of the negative news about the place, it’s actually more safe to go there than some street corners in the USA. His family embarked on a family vacation, and now I feel like Chef John, his lovely wife Jenifer, their 4 boys and the in-laws are like my own family.  If you’re ever in New Orleans, you have to try a meal at one of Chef John Besh’s restaurants.
As a general rule of thumb, I always make trips into opportunities to retreat, vacation, have fun and be fed.  So keep up on gracebeforemeals.com for news about my upcoming pilgrimages.
 
# 6  My Voluntas Dei Retreat in Quebec, Canada.
 

 

This icon shows part of the miraculous stories associated with the Basilica Shrine, Notre Dame du Cap.

I did a retreat at the Shrine in Trois Rivieres Quebec Canada and to also get more in touch with my new priestly mission with Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite. Nearby the founder, Fr. Louis Marie Parent was buried.  But this picture shows a unique food perspective and a miracle.  When the new priest of this small church community rang the bell for Mass, the only creature to show up was a pig – somehow with a rosary in its mouth.  It was a “sign” for the priest to realize that we are all creatures until we take on the Blessed Mother as our own mother.  So, he dedicated the building up of this church community to the Blessed Mother!

# 5  Families and Food!  
A nice family I met while in Texas.

That’s what we do and that’s who we are! I’m proud to say, that of all of the ministries out there, Grace Before Meals is the ONLY ministry that actively, practically, and dynamically reaches out to families.  We don’t need another “program,” “talk,” “event,” or even a “synod.”  We need to practice common sense – faithfully, theologically, and tastefully.  Please consider helping us spread this message with our movement The Table Foundation.

# 4 Good food is often associated with the young and hip crowd.
Hipsters and food = great combination.
Unfortunately, many faithful Catholics can be somewhat closed minded about the younger, tattooed, pierced, and hipster crowd.  But, these young and creative chefs are some of the hardest working people I know.  Recently I cooked two simple dishes with Chef Jeff Krause of Crepe Bar in Tempe, Arizona.  While he’s not a Catholic, he’s so kind and open to discussing faith.  He takes his food seriously and runs his small but awesome crepe restaurant like a church should operate:  clean, beautiful, great service and substantial food – not too much, but just enough to keep people coming back for more!
# 3  Evangelization is the reason for why I do what I do.
Steubenville crew, pumped to evangelize.

 

It’s so great to work with other evangelists, and many of them are secular lay people who are seeking to live a consecrated life.  That’s the case with groups such as the Augustine Institute, and this speaking team for Franciscan University of Steubenville, which hosts conferences around the country.  The dynamism of groups, such as this one in Halifax Canada, feeds hungry hearts and souls!  I’m so proud to be part of this team!

# 2  My family!

Me with my siblings and parents, together for my mom’s birthday.
Of course this has to be one of the top 10 experiences of food and faith.  My family is FAR from perfect.  We have all of the same problems that the rest of the world goes through.  There are strained relationships, different life choices, and of course, strong personalities.  But in all of this, we are called to be faithful.  While the Scriptures say “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus does not mean we are never to make mistakes. Instead, Jesus is saying, “let your faithfulness be perfect.”  Practically, “when we mess up (and we will), let’s learn how to get up from our falls, ask forgiveness and keep walking to heaven.”  Our Heavenly Father, who is perfect in love will always be faithful in forgiving us.  That’s what it means to be perfect!  Our family is FAR from perfect. But we’re all trying to be faithful!
AND the number one Food, faith and family moment for me in 2015 is:
# 1  Being Fed by the Poor in Kolkata.
 
The work I do seeks to feed those who hunger, but I was truly fed by my experience in Kolkata with wonderful people like this boy.
I was in Kolkata, India, the original place where Bl. Teresa of Calcutta began her international apostolate to serve the poorest of the poor.  Originally I was brought over by the sisters to teach a course in Mariology (or study of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of Christ).  However, these nuns, their service and the people they served actually fed me.  I left there so inspired.  Along with the words of our Holy Father Francis, this year I’m going to make an extra effort to seek opportunities to serve the poor!

Let us Pray:

God, you feed in us so many ways. It just takes us the time to reflect, perhaps at the end of each of our days, to consider how your hands were feeding our hungry bodies, hearts and minds.  Help us to hunger for your truth through the experiences and good choices of our lives.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Want to be fed in Spain?  Spaces are filling up.  Call now and reserve your spot for this incredible opportunity!

Please leave your comment HERE and be part of the conversation.

  

1/29/15

 

1/30/15

 

        

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Posted in New Year, Pilgrimages, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith, The Table Foundation | 3 Comments »

Posted January 8th, 2015 | New Year, Pilgrimages, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith

A New Year and New Opportunities

Do something new and join me in Spain!  Official registration has begun and spaces are limited.  It’s the 500th anniversary celebration of the birth of Doctor and Saint, Teresa of Avila and we will be there to experience it.  Call 800.842.4842 today to reserve your spot.

 

 

It’s early in 2015.  New Year’s resolutions may already be broken.  At least in my case, some of mine were already put on the back burner.  But, every day is a new day of grace, opportunity, and blessings. We just have to recall how God has blessed us in the past, and therefore confidently look to the future.
The Nativity Scene at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Springfield IL
That’s what I hope to do in the coming blasts of this month.  I want to do my “best of” experiences in 2014.  While my approach may be considered “behind the times” since most groups do this at the end of December, it was just too busy of a time for me to be sincere in my reflection.
So, next week I’m going to do my favorite “Faithful Foodie Travels” – places where I’ve traveled in this ‘record breaking’ year of itinerant preaching.

 

My most recent trip – a unique “pilgrimage” to NYC with Cardinal Dolan. On my trips, participants experience the unique aspects of the faith, culture and incredible food for body, mind and spirit.
The following week, I’m going to give you my favorite dishes and some recipe highlights from 2014.
Baby Indian Eggplant Parmesan from New Year’s Eve Dinner 2014.
This week however, I want us all to think and plan on how we will grow in our faith this year.  Gratefully my new community of consecrated life, “Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite” helps me with a daily dose of realistic and practical spirituality.  Please look into this community and consider joining (or creating) a local team based on a consecrated spirituality.  Pope Francis has dedicated 2015 to the year of consecrated life. I feel blessed to be part of it all in a more intimate way.
Praying at the tomb of Fr. Louise Marie Parent, founder of Voluntas Dei Institute.
Besides daily prayer – like daily bread – we ought to consider stepping outside of our comfort zones and go on a pilgrimage. This year, I am scheduled to lead a fantastic opportunity to Spain to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.  I’ll be joined by Patrick Coffin of Catholic Answers Live.  Together we will lead the group to some of the most renown spiritual and cultural sites which will certainly help you grow in your faith.  I even have non-Catholics go on these trips and experience renewal and conversion.  Plus, with me on board, you’ll experience the best of Spain’s cuisine – the majestic and meaningful food culture!

St. Teresa of Avila

Spaces are limited and you’re getting the opportunity to sign up before we start actively promoting this trip in the coming month.  So, give a call to Susan Prendergast at 800.842.4842 and see the itinerary HERE.
While 2014 has come and gone, we will remember it’s blessings and learn from our past.  And with 2015 already underway, the Grace Before Meals family is excited with all of the new opportunities to connect, food, faith, family and fun!

Let us Pray:

In preparation for the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, let’s recall how God’s grace through the Sacrament of Baptism requires food:  Water!  May the waters of the Baptism Font and the Holy Water fonts of our church, renew our desire to be God’s children, to be loving brothers and sisters, and to be saints – citizens in the heavenly kingdom.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(1)  How did you spend your New Year’s Celebration?
(2)  What’s your favorite New Year’s Resolution for 2015?
(3)  What’s your favorite food from Spain?
(4)  Do you have any ideas or suggestions for our Grace Before Meals Family for 2015?
Please leave your comment below and be part of the conversation.

 

1/9/15 – 1/19/15

 

 

 

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Posted in New Year, Pilgrimages, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith | 6 Comments »

Back to School
The rush to get families back to school and all the other activities brings about the blessing of a regular schedule, but also the struggle to get back into a routine after a (hopefully) relaxing summer. Our Grace Before Meals Team feels that same pressure.  For that reason, we want to keep this week’s Blast nice and simple:  we want to pray for the blessing of the school year and also to provide highlights and links to events and news in which you can participate.
Fr. Leo with some of the University of Steubenville student youth conference workers in July 2014.
We have so much to share with you that we hope you stay in touch through our social network on Facebook,Twitter and more regular blogging on the gracebeforemeals.com website.  Stay tuned. We don’t want you to miss out on any of our “soul-stirring-specials” which will definitely feed you body, mind and spirit.
From the top of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Basilica of St. Peters.
Things to keep in mind:

Napa Valley Trip November 9-14, 2014: 

Vineyards in Napa Valley , CA.

 

Registrations will close by the end of next week so sign up and reserve your spot for this gourmet food and wine spiritual retreat. Click here for the brochure or call Diane at 313-565-8888 x 122. 

 

Holy Land Food and Faith Tour February 1-12, 2015:  

The Mount of Temptation – where Jesus conquered the temptations of the devil.
Jerusalem is truly a city of peace.  Despite some of the tensions shown on the news, Christian pilgrims go to the Holy Land each day and share in the blessings of the land.  We have once again opened up our registrations for this incredible opportunity to grow in our faith, help spread the efforts of peace, and show our solidarity for the Christians living in the Holy Land.  Our tour operator can provide all the information to let you know all of the safety measures that are taken to ensure a beautiful and enjoyable tour of the Holy Land.  Click here for the brochure or call 800-842-4842.
 


Savoring our Faith Season 4:

The new season of EWTN’s popular show, “Savoring our Faith” will commence filming this September with a traveling show.  Fr. Leo will visit different parts of the country, share some of the spiritual blessings, bring you to Catholic owned restaurants to share their culinary perspective, and then take us all into the kitchen to learn how to make these foods that will remind you of the the blessings from your own travels.  You can watch Fr. Leo’s weekly show on EWTN by checking your local listings.  

Check out the “Seafood Diet” episode Thursday at 5:00pm and Saturday at 4:00am (EDT)

Let us pray:

God our Father, help us to be good disciples (students) in the call to live lives of loving service to You and each other.  Please Lord, give to our schools teachers blessed with patience, wisdom and a dynamic ability to communicate truth.  Provide for our students a heart that seeks wisdom, a humble disposition, joy and gratitude for the opportunity to learn. Offer the gentle reminder to families that the primary educators of all children are their parents who teach a way of life and encourage faith which begins at home.  May our saints, especially those gifted with intelligence and learning, pray for us so that we can learn the greatest lessons in life; lessons that teach us how Jesus came to this earth to teach us by His words and example.  Amen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  

  • Do you have any questions that you’d like for Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals Team to help answer for you?

     

  • Would you like Fr. Leo to come to your parish, organization or (arch)Diocese? Simply reach out to my project manager Joe Hansbrough at 410-667-1400 or at jhansbrough@gracebeforemeals.com.

Your communication encourages our efforts. Please post your comments and questions HERE.

 

This Week’s Recipe

 

9/8/14

9/10/14

   

 

SECOND HOUR CATECHESIS 

Defiance, OH 

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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Epic Food Fight, Pilgrimages, Savoring Our Faith | 2 Comments »

Pilgrimages & Positive Press

Fr. Leo just got back from Rome after being present for the Canonizations of Sts. John Paul II nd John XXIII. It’s another rare fifth week during a month, so that gives us an opportunity to show you “what’s on the table” in the upcoming months, and hopefully, get you excited to join us in the many ways you can: events, pilgrimages, Epic Food Fight, parish missions, social media and more.

 

Steubenville Conferences 2014

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s crazy martial arts/singing/dancing/cooking competition at Steubenville East from October 23, 2013.

Fr. Leo is going to be returning to the Steubenville Conferences, and as always, it is going to be crazy fun & faith-filled. If you or your children are interested in going, they have plenty of places to go (click HERE to check out where conferences will be) but Fr. Leo will be at the following:

Steubenville on the Bayou on June 27-29, 2014
346 Civic Center Blvd 
Houma,LA 70360
 
Steubenville Atlantic on July 4-6, 2014
Dalhousie Arts Centre,  Dalhousie University 
6101 University Ave
Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 1W8
Steubenville Main Campus # 5 on July 18-20, 2014
1235 University Blvd  
Steubenville,OH,43952

 

These conferences are fantastic events for all generations, truly invigorating and fostering the faith of thousands of young people across the world, so if you have never been, you should definitely take your kid and go. Check out www.steubenville.org for more info.

Pilgrimages for 2014 and 2015

Fr. Leo’s trip to Italy with Teresa Tomeo and Dcn. Dom Pastore is coming up May 18-27, 2014, where they will be leading couples to Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii on a special Couples’ Retreat, and where is more romantic than Rome itself? For more info, check out Corporate Travels website by clicking HERE.

Click to find out more about the Napa Valley pilgrimage this November.

Also, you may have noticed at the top of the page, Fr. Leo is leading another pilgrimage to Napa Valley on November 9-14, 2014, called Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands: A Gourmet Food & Wine Retreat for the Body, Mind, & Soul. Fr. Leo headed up the same trip in 2011 and it was a tremendous success and amazing experience. We hope you will consider joining in this time around. Keep your eye out for a trailer from the last adventure soon.

In addition to the the upcoming trip to Italy and the Napa Valley Pilgrimage, Fr. Leo has the following dates and destinations set, with more information to come:

Holy Land with Chefs for Peace 2015

February 1 – February 13, 2015

Italy’s World Fair with a Food Focus and the Exposition of the Shroud of Turin

– June 18 – June 28, 2015  

 

The Mysticism and Meals Tour of Spain
– August 23 – September 3, 2015

We hope you can make it on one of these life-changing experiences. They will each be remembered for years to come, and should truly nourish your faith even more than the ethnic food you will get to eat while on the pilgrimage.

Savoring Our Faith Season 4: Fr. Leo hits the road!

 

Fr. Leo filming Savoring Our Faith in Rome in 2012. More travels to come!

For those asking about the next season of Savoring Our Faith on EWTN, we have been in talks with EWTN to film some of Fr. Leo’s upcoming adventures across the USA, which means that he is taking his show on the road! While there, he may visit parishes, restaurants, and with people to truly bring the conversation to people’s home – literally. More details to come, but we hope you can tune in and enjoy the show. You can also catch the show at the following times:

Sun     1:30 AM ET
Thu     5:30 PM ET
Sat     4:00 AM ET

Epic Food Fight: A Good Read Indeed

Fr. Leo’s latest book, Epic Food Fight: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation, published by Franciscan Media, is a departure from Fr. Leo’s previous cookbooks, namely in that it is not a “cookbook”, but rather an in-depth look at the theology of food, identifying how God wants to feed us good food (e.g. the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus), while the devil wants to feed us “fast food” (e.g. the forbidden fruit), which is not good for us, yet we keep coming back for it. Epic Food Fight offers great insight on how we are called the “feed the flock” and is a great book for study groups to read and discuss (study materials are in the works). If you have a Kindle or want an Audio book, you should check out Amazon as well, and please be sure to leave a review after you read it so the world can know what you think. It only helps spread the word, so thank you in advance. We truly hope it makes a difference. Some of the positive press:

In Epic Food Fight, we are treated to a new perspective on food in our spiritual lives. … I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in leaning more about salvation history. The discussion questions make it a good book club choice.

-Reviewed by JoAnne Griebel, Catholic Library World

[The book’s] playful wit enlivens “Epic Food Fight,” which takes the reader on a tour of various aspects of salvation in seven different chapters…each chapter could inspire its own retreat or meditation; the discussion questions provided could easily serve as catalysts for thoughtful reflection.

– Reviewed by Nancy L. Roberts, Catholic News Service. 

This book is a good resource for clergy, those involved in parish ministry, and faith-sharing groups. Any chapter could be the basis for a retreat or day of prayer.

– Reviewed by Carol King on Amazon.com

 

This book is really inspiring, and it’s perfect for Catholics and even non-believers. It gives us all something to ponder – something we all have in common. We eat! But this book helps to realize that what we eat can actually save us! It’s a really great read!
– Reviewed by Joseph on Amazon.com

Connect with Fr. Leo

As always, one of the best ways to keep up with Fr. Leo on his many adventures is on his Facebook page and his Twitter feed. If you have a question or want to see pictures from whatever food he’s cooking or parish he’s preaching at, your best bet would be on social media, so please share with families and friends.

Like Fr. Leo on Facebook and see the many people he meets, like this group out in Rome.

A new place that you can follow Fr. Leo and get great recommendations for places to eat across the world is http://www.thebesty.com/gracebeforemeals, which features Fr. Leo’s ranked restaurants around the world, and will be a great place for him to add more eateries and recommendations to, so let us know where you think he should eat!

Of course, Fr. Leo is on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel on his show Entertaining Truth where he co-hosts with comedy writer Tom Leopold, and as mentioned before, you can watch Savoring Our Faith on EWTN Thursdays at 5:30pm EDT. Keep an eye on http://GraceBeforeMeals.com for more news and appearances.

Events all year long

Fr. Leo has been traveling non-stop from place to place for parish missions and events, conferences, pilgrimages, and more, all to spread the Faith and grow the Grace Before Meals movement. Check out his upcoming events at gracebeforemeals.com/events and start reaching out now to book him for Fall 2015 and Lent 2016 before it is too late. God bless!

The Vatican has issued official prayers to the new Saints, Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII. Check them out below (originally posted on Catholic News Service’s blog)

Prayer to St. John Paul II

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus.

Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.

May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.

Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice.

You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.

Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

Prayer to St. John XXIII

Dear Pope John,

Your simplicity and meekness carried the scent of God and sparked in people’s hearts the desire for goodness. You spoke often of the beauty of the family gathered around the table to share bread and faith: pray for us that once again true families would live in our homes.

With outstretched hands you sowed hope, and you taught us to listen for God’s footsteps as he prepares a new humanity: help us have a healthy optimism of defeating evil with good.

You loved the world with its light and darkness, and you believed that peace is possible: help us be instruments of peace at home and in our communities.

With paternal gentleness you gave all children a caress: you moved the world and reminded us that hands have been given to us not for striking, but for embracing and drying tears.

Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to cursing the darkness but that we bring the light, bringing Jesus everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

 

5/3/14
5/4/14
Fountain Valley, CA 
 

5/6

Sylvania, OH

 

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Posted in Entertaining Truth, Epic Food Fight, Prayers, Savoring Our Faith, Video, What's On the Table | 1 Comment »

Bread of Angels

 

Consoling families who have lost a loved one presents many challenges.  To give a hopeful perspective, some will say the beloved dead are now winged angels in Heaven.  Without trying to sound cynical, this description of the deceased person can actually cause spiritual confusion, rather than consolation.

Angel at the base of the Stations of the Cross, Lourdes, France. I would actually find it difficult – even a little funny to see my deceased relatives with wings.

The term “angel” comes from the Greek word angelos, which means “bearer of news.”  There are angels that bring good news and some that bring bad.  Angels, as celestial non-corporeal beings created by God, do not have a body.  Popular pictures show them as winged cherubs, which makes it a bit difficult to consider for some people who have died.  As angels, beings without a body, they have limitations.  One of the greatest “limits” of an angel is that an angel cannot receive the Eucharist.  They can’t actually participate in the Eternal banquet, simply because they can’t eat the Eucharist.  Remember, they don’t have a corporeal body.

Ironically, despite our sinful humanity, we can eat something that only the angels can adore: “The Bread of Angels.”

In order to clarify what happens to people who die, and who we hope are in Heaven, the better word to describe them is a “saint” in Heaven.  They aren’t angels.  They get a halo, not wings.  To become a saint, isn’t simply wishful thinking though.  Becoming a saint requires us to live saintly lives.  And, not to confuse the distinction I’m trying to make, to become a saint we must still act like angels.  That is, we must also bring God’s Good News.

The Angel Gabriel announces Good News to Mary – She will become the Mother of Jesus, who is Lord and God.

Recently, I listened to the homily of Fr. Wells, a former student at the seminary where I use to teach.  He led a packed church in prayers for his mother Judy’s funeral Mass.  During these sacred rights, Fr. Wells preached a magnificent homily about God’s merciful love.  His brother Kevin, who delivered the family’s prayerful eulogy, provided an equally inspiring perspective on their mother.

Fr. Wells preaching at Sacred Heart Church in Bowie, Maryland

According to the Wells’ family, Judy insisted that no one try to “canonize” her, i.e., say she was a “saint.”  Spiritual compliments, she declared, were “dangerous,” because we can start to believe that we’re actually better than we really are.  We aren’t saints until we get to Heaven!  Judy knew that.  In her humility, she wanted to be known as a “sinner” who simply tried to rely on God.  Her priest son, with a smile on his face, publicly preached that his mother was a “sinner!”

  

The funeral procession.

The irony caused the crowd to roar with laughter.  Her insistence on being known as a sinner is not due to her lack of virtue, but is in fact due to her humility. Through God’s mercy, Judy, with very little doubt, is participating in the heavenly banquet, because her life on Earth was very angelic.  She preached and lived God’s Good News.

She, along with her husband for 49 years, gave God’s Good News to her family, her neighbors, her friends, and her fellow parishioners.  Her life reminded me that if I want to be a Saint in Heaven, I need to start being more “angelic” on Earth!

Trying to be an “angel” as I preached a Eucharistic Holy Hour at Sts. Philip and James Catholic Church’s outreach to a young adult gathering.

I couldn’t help but recognize the Grace Before Meals message during the funeral homily and eulogies.  Fr. Wells mentioned that over her lifetime she packed more than 20,000 lunches, which would rival Jesus’ record of feeding more than 5,000!  Again, more laughs.

Unfortunately, in her last few months, her sickness and the medical treatments made food tasteless – and worse – made all food taste like rusty metal.  How humbling to remember that earthly food, even prepared by Iron Chefs, cannot satisfy a hurting soul.  The only food she craved was the Eucharist – the Bread of Angels!

Jesus, in the Breaking of the Bread.

A solemn and joyful funeral celebration of a lovely and faithful person like Judy Wells reminds me to call upon the assistance and protection of the angels.  One day, when we will be called to the loving judgment of Our Father in Heaven, we may hopefully have the Grace to participate in the banquet that angels can only adore.  Remember, they can’t eat it, simply because they don’t have bodies.  But we can.  And in God’s mercy, for the repentant “sinners,” people like Judy Wells (and all the holy souls who we know lived good and holy lives), are now fully feasting – not as angels – but as saints!

During an “altar call” for men considering priesthood, at the Steubenville Conference in Denver, Colorado. Fr. Chrisman and Archbishop Aquilla giving them a blessing.

 

 

Let us pray:  Father, when people we love die, we seek heavenly blessings to help console us.  Yet, in the time of our grief, please clarify our words so that the emotional pain we feel doesn’t confuse our Faith.  Give us strength to express our sorrows well, but also to express thanks for the lives You have given to us through our beloved dead.  Keep us in Your care, protected by our Guardian Angels, and prepare in us a hunger for the Eternal Feast of the Lord of Hosts – the Bread of Angels – the banquet of Heaven.  Amen.

 

Pray with the angels and like an angel.

 

 

More Food for Thought

  • How do you try and console someone who just lost a loved one? 
  • Is there a Scripture passage or prayer that helps you get through some of your mourning for someone you love?
  • Do you have any good angel stories you’d like to share?
Your comments and responses tell us that our Grace Before Movement is helping make a positive difference in the world.  Please leave your comments here and encourage the conversation of faith around the dinner table.  

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