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,
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.
Fr. Leo’s Top 10 Experiences in 2014
|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.
|Me with the EWTN crew at Liberty Market out in AZ|
|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!
|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.
|The Besh family pray together at a Church in the Holy Land.|
|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!
|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.
|Hipsters and food = great combination.|
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.|
|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.|
Let us Pray:
Please leave your comment HERE and be part of the conversation.
A New Year and New Opportunities
|The Nativity Scene at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Springfield IL|
|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.|
|Baby Indian Eggplant Parmesan from New Year’s Eve Dinner 2014.|
|Praying at the tomb of Fr. Louise Marie Parent, founder of Voluntas Dei Institute.|
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.
1/9/15 – 1/19/15
|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.
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
Things to keep in mind:
Napa Valley Trip November 9-14, 2014:
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Your communication encourages our efforts. Please post your comments and questions HERE.
This Week’s Recipe
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?
This Week’s Recipe:
- All Souls Day
- Blast from the Past
- CRS Rice Bowl
- Culinary Confessions
- Dinner Discussion
- Entertaining Truth
- Epic Food Fight
- 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
- The Table Foundation
- What's On the Table