|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.
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|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.
The Perfect Timing For Something New
|For a chef, mastering timing for cooking is essential to making a great meal. That knowledge of timing is also important for life. We have to know when to slow down, move forward, jump into something, or back off. It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but one that’s worth considering in this week’s blast, especially since it’s now time for us to announce some exciting news.
First: my new book Spicing Up Married Life is finally set to hit the market in September. This book took several years for me to write. Many times I asked in prayer, “Lord, why is this taking so long to write?” But when the production team determined September 2012 as the launch date, I realized God’s perfect timing allows me to dedicate this book to my parents who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on September 22. Perfect timing, God!
By the way, subscribed members will receive a 10% discount for this book when purchased directly from our site. Details coming soon.
Second: I am also pleased to announce that I’ve received a new assignment. While I enjoyed my five years serving on faculty at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, I missed parish life terribly, and I knew in my heart it would be time to transition soon. My new assignment doing part-time work as a parish priest at Our Lady of the Fields in Millersville, MD, will also provide me opportunities to continue my work with Grace Before Meals. It’s a perfect fit and comes at a perfect time.
By the way, an all-new season of ”Savoring our Faith” on EWTN is set to air in January, with special episodes appearing this holidy season. Catch the show every Sunday at 8:30pm EDT.
I’m very excited returning to parish work while continuing the apostolate of Grace Before Meals-a basic extension of my work as a priest. If you’re ever in the area, and I’m saying Mass, stop by and visit!
Third: I finally got a new car after my previous one was deemed a total wreck after hitting a deer. While I obsessed about the type of car to purchase for about 3 months, I came across an unplanned “Pre-Labor Day Sale” that offered me a great deal. The salesman was a great guy who really helped me discern when and what type of car to purchase. His name, Anthony Miller (who I highly recommend at Fox Chevrolet in Laurel, MD) reminded me of the name St. Anthony-the patron Saint who helps you find things (like the right car)-and Miller of my new parish in Millersville, It gave me some assurance to my decision for a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. I know that seems like a complete stretch, and perhaps a bit superstitious, but the timing of the purchase couldn’t have been better. Again, another perfect timing moment for God!
And finally, I wanted to share with you a video that captures the need for perfect timing. It features my nieces and nephews in a fiercely friendly cooking competition. Last year’s competition was won by the Girls’ Team, based on the technicality that the Boys’ Team went over the allotted time. This year, the boys worked very hard on timing, and their creativity and taste brought them to victory.
Watch the fun, and perhaps you may be inspired to host a similar event in your own home. There’s no better time than the present to make more efforts to bring your family together and celebrate some fun with food-especially in this busy time of the new school year.
Learning time management-in cooking and in life-is a lifelong lesson to be learned. May I suggest that learning this timing requires making sufficient time for prayer, especially since God certainly knows how to provide the right things at the perfect time!
Let us pray:Father in Heaven, all times and seasons obey Your law. Help us to be better managers of our time by making sure we spend sufficient time in prayer with You. May our days in this new season of Grace be blessed, and may we always trust and be patient, knowing that You provide us with perfect timing. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In this featured section, I offer talking points for you to share with family or with the GBM family. Your responses, questions, or even random ramblings encourage us to continue the work of our movement. Please post your comment or question below.
Send a test version of your email to yourself, and to others including a personal message. Up to 5 addresses may be entered separated by a comma “,”.
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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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