Announcing Something New

 

For today’s Solemn Feast of the Annunciation, we recognize that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world.  Because of Mary’s “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel’s invitation to be the mother of God Most High, we now have the feast of feasts – 9 months later – called Christmas!  This “announcement” of something new, inspires our Grace Before Meals team to do some new things as well.

Here are some highlights:

(1)  Next week you’ll see a new format for the email blasts, including a new “splash page” when you log onto Grace Before Meals.  Be sure to check it out next week.  We will continue to host the same dynamic content connecting food, faith, family and fun, but with a slightly new look.

The young man to my left is considering studying for the priesthood.

 

(2)  We continue to partner with other evangelization groups, such as RedeemedOnline.com for their #ShareJesus Project during this Lenten Season.  Be sure to check out the last video I did with them, where I compare a resurrected body versus the body of a zombie!

(3)  CRS Rice Bowls was an important part of our Lenten Journey.  As we come to the close of the Lenten Season, we realize the our compassion doesn’t end, but takes on new meaning. Consider making these meatless dishes throughout the year.  They’re not only delicious, but it will remind of the powerful connection we have with people around the world – especially those who need our help throughout the year. Click HERE for the recipe.

Fried Plantains with Beans from Democratic Republic of Congo | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
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(4)  While we’ve taken trips around Europe and even in the United States, we’re proud to bring you a trip to Spain – a country filled with a dynamic history, a mystical faith tradition, and known for their international cuisine.  Currently, we are offering a $200.00 discount for those who register before May 1, 2015! If you want a life changing experience and travel to Spain with me and Patrick Coffin, call Select International today at 800.842.4842 and speak with Susan.

(5)  Last week, Grace Before Meals took a new step in establishing our non-profit outreach called, “The Table Foundation: Elevating Culture and Family Life, One Meal at a Time.”  We had our first board meeting with people across the country and we are excited to take next steps. To learn more, visit the website www.thetablefoundation.org and prayerfully consider how you can get involved.

Our celebration today changed world history.  God doesn’t want us to “stay the same” but to be constantly trying to improve ourselves, our relationships, and to improve our ability to love and serve God and each other.  We hope you hear that invitation from God and announce the Good News to all!

The Parish Mission at St. Michael’s Parish in Livonia, MI. How exciting to fill the church with people seeking a renewal of faith!

Question:

(1) How did you celebrate this Annunciation Feast Day?

(2) Is there anything “new” that you can do to serve God better?

(3) Did you learn any new recipes from this Lenten Season?

Let us pray:

 

Father, we thank you for Mary’s yes to the Archangel Gabriel.  May we experience grace from this Feast Day and allow God’s love to touch us and heal us.  May the reality of God becoming man be a sign for us to live more like Jesus, who touched people’s hearts and feeding their hungry souls.  Bless us on our remaining Lenten journey.  Bless our Grace Before Meals team with zeal to do something dynamic and new for your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Upcoming Events:
 
3/28/15-3/31/15
Jacksonville FL
4/8/15
Check out all of Fr. Leo’s upcoming events by going to http://gracebeforemeals.com/events/
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Posted January 14th, 2015 | New Year, Pilgrimages, Video, What's On the Table

 What’s On the Table for the New Year

 

First, allow me to do some bragging as a proud uncle!  As some of you may know, my nieces and nephews have have a pop singing group. They’ve grown up, and so has their talents and sound.  They have been recently picked up by a popular music agent from London, and their collaboration seems to be very promising for a successful music career.  I’d like to share with you a video from their group:  JAGMAC (the Letters of their first names in order from youngest to oldest).  I think you may enjoy this upbeat song, and perhaps even share it with the teenagers in your life.  Our world needs more musicians like my nieces and nephews who seek to put out a popular sound with a positive message.  So, allow me to brag and allow yourself to enjoy the music.  And please, share this link with the young music lovers in your life!
Watch the awesome video by my nieces and nephews, JAGMAC.
As you know the Holy Father is making his way to the Philippines, my home country!  Yes, I was born there and moved to America with my family when I was 2 years old. But, keeping the traditions of the Philippines has given me a healthy sense of what it means to be an American Filipino.  You can watch all about the visit, hear me on the radio, and watch me on TV as I’ll be doing some interviews with Sirius XM 129 and some feature pieces and interviews for EWTN.
(Yes, that’s my picture with the EWTN Banner)

 

Originally, I was going to send you a blast with my Top 10 favorite travels and food experiences of 2014.  I’m still going to do that. I promise!  But, this week’s busyness, travels, jet-lag, multiple news segments and filming for my own TV show has kept me from writing that special commemorative 2014 Blast.  But, it’s coming soon.
(Me with some of my guests for the Savoring our Faith TV show from the Philippines. Chef Matthew and Chef “Dimples” and I cooked all of that deliciousness for just one episode!)
But, for now I’d like to just offer the reminder of a few things that are happening with Grace Before Meals:
(1)  The trip to Spain has opened its registration. Spaces are limited so call 800.842.4842 and ask for Susan to reserve your spot.



(2)  Savoring our Faith is filming season 4, and we’re traveling across the country and around the world highlighting how faith, food and culture make for a great show. Please keep us in prayer.
The Culinary Assistants from my filming in Arizona.
(3)  Here’s a list of places where I’ll soon be traveling. Hope to see you there.
January 29- Pittsburgh, PA (Legatus presentation)
January 30 – Pittsburgh, PA (Catholic Schools week presentation & Spicing Up Married Life)
January 31-February 4 – Appleton, WI (Parish Mission and Super Bowl cookout)
February 6-16- Trip to Rome to visit North American College & Vatican Embassy
February 19- Naples, FL (Faith and Ale & Faith and Wine Presentation)
February 20- Tyler, TX (Why the Cross? Conference)
February 21-24 – Cary, NC (Parish Mission and school presentation)

Let us Pray:

 

Father, as the Pope makes his way to the Philippines, grant to him good health and safe travels. May he be an ambassador of peace and justice to the world, as he reaches out particularly to the poor and needy.  Keep our family of faith together through communion, and help us to bring others to Your Table.  Amen.
(1)  What do you think of my nieces and nephews’ music group? Please share the music video with the young music lover in your life.
(2)  What exciting news do you have coming up in your life?
(3)  What was the best thing you ate in 2014 that you still remember even today?
(Of course, I’d have to do a “falsie” – fake selfie! But praying to have a chance to see him up close. Stay tuned!)

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

 

 

1/9/15 – 1/19/15

 

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Posted October 29th, 2014 | All Souls Day, Holiday, In Memory, What's On the Table

 Keeping the Dead Alive 

Occasionally I try to send updates with our growing Grace Before Meals Family.  As you know, I have been traveling here, there, and everywhere spreading the importance of family meals and a “Theology of Food!”  If you want to be part of our events schedule next year, CLICK HERE TO BOOK EVENT. These are life-changing events, sure to bring so many people together for faithful foodie fun!
Fr. Leo’s missions pack the churches with families!
During some downtime, I try and stay in touch with the rest of the world by searching for interesting Grace Before Meals connections on the internet.  I came across this unique cookbook that combines food and faith, but with a particular spin, as it involves the Popes!  This book was written by one of the Swiss Guards who shares some favorite Pontifical Recipes. This book, along with my own cookbooks, may be great Christmas gifts for faithful foodies!

You’ll notice the title of this blog seems somewhat morbid, right in line with the Halloween season as it has come to be known. But as October comes to an end, we enter into several sacred celebrations:  All Hallows’ Eve, All Souls Day and All Saints Day! These Feast Days give us opportunities to reflect on family and friends who have gone before us and we pray have experienced God’s mercy in heaven. While it’s easy to put on a Halloween costume, these feast days remind us to ‘put on the virtues’ that make our deceased family and friends so missed.  That means, keeping the faith of our loved ones alive in our hearts, mind and actions!
Click to watch Joe’s tribute video for his Dad, and share your comments about your own loved ones.

 

Here’s a special video that speaks of “putting on virtue.”  It comes from Joe Hansbrough, the Grace Before Meals project manager. He has a busy schedule too as a young husband and father of 2.  Since I’ve known him, he and his family have shared many personal challenges, including family health problems, the death of a two siblings, and recently the death of his father.  Yet, Joe and his faithful family continue to move on with life because of their Faith in God.
Faith is the stuff that makes family life such a blessing.  Despite the struggles of life, a family has each other to console, encourage and strengthen one another.  I’m so grateful to Joe and his family for the sacrifices made for our Grace Before Meals mission.  I wanted to share with you this beautiful tribute that Joe made to honor is dad.
I hope this video inspires you to see how each member of your family is a gift from God. We’re all called to be this “super hero” to one another.  When we do that, we put on more than a costume for Halloween.  We become who we are supposed to be.
Joe’s son Joshua at 6 weeks old, named for his late uncle. He’s got some family to look over him from above!

Let us pray:

Father in heaven, as our church celebrates All Hallows’ Eve, All Souls Day and All Saints Day, we pray that see the spiritual significance of our prayers by remembering the souls of the faithful departed and by living lives of sanctity so that we will one day share in the eternal victory celebration in heaven.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

 

Please post your comments and answers below as a way to say in touch and to help keep our message focused on faith, family and food!
 (1)  What’s your favorite Halloween Costume?
(2)  How will you remember your faithful departed on this upcoming feast day?
(3)  What saint inspires you the most?

 


 10/30/14

  

 ANNUAL CLERGY & RELIGIOUS APPRECIATION BANQUET

Corpus Christi, TX 

 

11/1/14

Royal Oak, MI

 

 

11/3/14

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  Fall into Grace

Fall is my favorite season.  The chillier “sweater-weather” brings some seriously savory foods.  October also brings with it some fantastic opportunities to grow in our knowledge of food and faith.  Since we can get so busy with all of events and travels, I wanted to highlight some upcoming events and news notes for our faithful foodies – that means you!
Fall is a great time to use some extra spice, thanks to the good folks at Tabasco for a great gift of spicy sauces.
Traveling with Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals Family:  It’s our objective to make connections between food, faith and culture. The best way to do that is through our culinary and Catholic-infused pilgrimages. These trips have become real opportunities for conversion because it opens people up to new ideas and sensory experiences of the universal faith.
Please be sure to reserve for any of the coming trips and bring a friend:
1) November 9-14, 2014 – Napa Valley Pilgrimage(SOLD OUT)
2) December 1-5,  2014 – NYC with Fr. Leo and Tom Leopold (EXCLUSIVELY for Sirius XM members)
3) June 18-28, 2015 – Shroud of Turin and World Food Fair in Italy with Fr. Leo and Gus Lloyd (SOLD OUT)
4) August 23-September 3, 2015 – Taste of Spain’s Mystical Meals (call now to pre-reserve your spot @ 800.848.4842).
5) October 25-November 6, 2015 – Faith and Food Tours of the Holy Land (Rescheduled from February. Call now to reserve your spot @ 800.848.4842)
Exclusively for Sirius XM Subscribers.
Booking Fr. Leo for Events:
We will soon be opening up our dates for new events in the fall of 2015 and beyond. Consider hosting a Grace Before Meals event at your parish.  If you have a team of people who want to spread this fantastic message, be in touch with our project manager Joe Hansbrough (jhansbrough@gracebeforemeals.com) who can help you develop one of the most dynamic events your parish, diocese or organization has ever seen!  It’s true!  These events change lives, while having food-tastic fun at the same time.  To book an event, click here.

 

Entire families come out for Fr. Leo’s events. A great way to bring the family together!
What’s on the Table?  The Table Foundation:
We will soon announce the official Table Foundation Initiative to all of our subscribed members.  So many of our Grace Before Meals members have wanted to contribute and share some of their blessings with our organization in order to help spread the love and to make room at the table for even more members.  Now, you can be part of our non-profit charitable outreach which will do some rather incredible things.  Stay tuned for more information very soon!
We’re excited to launch The Table Foundation and do more good for those most in need.

Let us pray:

Father in Heaven, as we arrive to October, help us to be mindful of the many needs we have in our family and in our communities.  Keep us open to being generous in serving you by serving one another.  Remind us to take time to pray, and teach us how to be ever aware of your abiding presence.  Grant us the courage to be like your saints!  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:   

(1) Have you ever heard or experienced one of Fr. Leo’s presentations?  If so, what did you think of it?
(2) Do you have any recommendations for chilly weather foods?
(3) What would you like the newly coming “Table Foundation” to do, and how do you think you can get involved?
Your comments, questions and responses are helpful to our organization. Please let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

 

 

10/2/14

Troy, MI

 

10/4/14

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 Seeking “The Good News” in the News

 

Watching the news

 

If you turn on a TV, check your Facebook or Twitter feeds, or read a newspaper, it is hard to get good news. For every nice story, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge social media sensation that has brought much awareness and raised much money to help in the fight against ALS, we are overwhelmed with a million and one stories about celebrities who are cheating on their spouses or in rehab for the umpteenth time or even worse, the fashion faux-pas they made with what they wore to a public outing. Meanwhile, thousands of Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East everyday, and there is less of an outrage over that than there is when someone’s favorite TV Show gets cancelled or athlete gets traded to another team.

And on one hand, it is understandable. As humans, we don’t desire conflict and we’d rather feel safe and sound than face the evils outside our door in the world around us. If you can avoid persecution, than why not avoid it? Life is stressful for most everybody, whether it comes to having to deal with finances, worry about job security, face issues within your family life, staying on top of endless tasks and duties, and much more. So it makes sense why we would avoid the news that adds to that stress given its seeming hopelessness, and instead, settle for non-journalistic approaches to the news that point out the issues that others face, often amplified due to the spotlight.

Robin Williams, famous for many movies and TV shows, took his life at age 63.

One such case is Robin Williams, a certified comic legend who has been in show business for over 36 years. He was truly hilarious and off-the-wall, and always found ways to make people laugh. Yet, despite his big personality and his huge smile, he was a man that battled many demons throughout his life, from drug addiction to alcoholism to divorces and depression. In the news of his apparent suicide, millions of people have poured out their love for a man they did not even know but who made them smile, laugh and feel better about themselves, like in this case. It has also been an opportunity to look back and see the signs that were there all along with him. We pray for him and his family in these tough times.

Chris Farley in the classic martial arts epic, “Beverly Hills Ninja”

You see, it is unfortunate to say, but it is not untypical for someone known for being so fun and outgoing to be so hurt and lonely. One of my favorite Saturday Night Live actors, Chris Farley, is another example of a popular comedian who went down a bad path of drugs and vices, dying young and alone. But many don’t know that he went to Church often and apparently, he died with a rosary in his hand. I mention this not to make a point about his being Catholic or to speculate where he was in his faith life, but rather to make the point that he was no different from you or me in his desire to be loved. Clearly, he was seeking hope in a (seemingly) hopeless situation.

Whether we are talking about the celebrities all over the tabloids that we can’t seem to get away from, or the quiet kid from elementary school that didn’t have many friends, we are talking about people who not only desire to be loved, but deserve to be. God made us to love, and it is in loving that we come to see Him more clearly. It is in seeking to serve the other, not yourself, that we can come to know what Christ intended for us when he gave his life for us in the most selfless act in history. For unlike us, he didn’t do anything to deserve harm and yet he took it all on just so that we had the hope for eternal salvation.

The Crucifixion, the greatest act of love in History.

Christ loves us more than we can ever comprehend, and yet, many become blind to it, only seeing how others see them or never finding that truest form of love they were looking for. In a society that feeds off of bad news or the faults of others, let us be among those that stands up for the “Good News”. May we have courage to seek justice and fight for those in need.

Let us be the light that shines for those in the darkness. Let us be present for our kids in their times of turmoil and in their times of joy; let us show the ones we love a reason to smile; let us serve the hungry some good food (just check out my recipes on www.gracebeforemeals.com/recipes. J/K); let us tell people about the love of God for it is everything we yearn for and so much more.

Please say a prayer for all of those who are hurting right now, for all of those who are so deeply wounded, for all of those who are lost and say they don’t want to found, for all those being persecuted and who are suffering. Say a prayer for those in the darkness, that they may see the shining light of God’s face. And may we show people that there is hope in the hopeless, that there is courage to face the evils out there, and that there is love to be shared.

If you are among those in need of help, please be in touch with your local priest, doctor or check out this page (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/) to find the help that you need.

REMINDER: My pilgrimages to Napa Valley and to the Holy Land still have some available spots, so register today and join in on the amazing spiritual and culinary journeys that lay ahead. [UPDATE: No longer available, but see other pilgrimages that are by visiting http://gracebeforemeals.com/news/browse/category/pilgrimages]

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Posted in Food for the Soul, Food for Thought, In Memory, What's On the Table | 6 Comments »

Posted July 2nd, 2014 | Pilgrimages, Video, What's On the Table

Family Summer Fun and Faith

 I’m heading out to my second Steubenville Conference, this time in Nova Scotia (!), but I wanted to share some videos and suggestions for improving family life and opportunities for growing in your faith together as a family. There are so many ways to strengthen the family, which is what Grace Before Meals is all about. Regular family meals are only the beginning to spending more time with your kids, spouse or loved ones. Praying together more often, being involved with your church or community, taking time out of your busy schedule to let others know that you here for them are all vital to bringing home the faith, and making your family the “domestic church”.

My friends Greg and Jennifer Willits, of The Catholics Next Door fame, have a video they just created for The Archdiocese of Denver to provide tips and resources (which you can get at http://archden.org/family/) to strengthen your family, and you got it, family meals are very important. Watch the video below and start using some of these tips to let those you love know just how much they mean to you. And that includes God.

Greg and Jennifer clearly had fun making their kids help them make this video. Click to watch.

Another great way to grow in your faith with friends and family is to host a special Spiritual Event to share the film The Blood & The Rose with your community. The film is a powerful documentary that really shows the incredible history and undeniable miracle of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Life.  The 225 is a celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the nation’s first Catholic Diocese, which is Baltimore. To celebrate, Leo McWatkin’s Films has created a special package which includes the film, video reflections from me and Fr. Steven Roth, 20% of merchandise sales, and promotional materials to help communities and organizations raise money for their cause while evangelizing, all for $525. This is half as much as it normally costs, which means you will be able to raise even more money for your cause, parish or group.

It is as simple as purchasing the license agreement by going HERE and setting up an event at your parish or school. The goal is to feature it in over 225 locales this year, so please promote this spiritual event to your parish priests and committees, as it truly serves as a way of growing in your faith.

Finally, family vacations are a great way to take time out of work and to spend it with your kids and spouse. It may seem like a lot of stress (and it is) but it is truly a great way to be present for your kids. Not everyone can afford the luxury of a vacation, but as long as you break away from your computer or TV long enough to communicate with your family, it goes a long way in helping them to grow in love and faith.
For those who may not have the kids at home anymore or are just looking for a great adventure to go on, please consider coming with me to Napa Valley (November 9-14, 2014) or The Holy Land (February 1-12, 2015). Registration ends soon for Napa Valley, so sign up today! And the Holy Land will be here before you know it, so check it out and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment HERE or emailing me at askfrleo@gracebeforemeals.com.

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  

  • What do you like to do over the summer with your family?
  • Have you seen The Blood & The Rose
  • Do you have a cause, event, group or parish that could benefit from a spiritual event?
  • What are other ways to make your family the ‘domestic church’?

Please post your comments HERE, as these help our movement learn and grow.  

7/4/14-7/6/14

 

 

 STEUBENVILLE ATLANTIC

Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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