This week, I want to talk about a challenge for people who love food and God. I call them faithful foodies. How do you make truth taste good?
(Recent taping on the set at FOX 45 Baltimore, promoting the Baltimore Health Expo 2012. Healthy food doesn’t always taste as good as the not-so-good-for-you foods. This TV spot gave us a chance to build up flavor and our movement. )
In the culinary world, food should be pure, clean, and fresh tasting. Salad ought to taste like lettuce and vegetables and not be overwhelmed by heavy salad dressing. If we are eating fish, it shouldn’t taste like chicken nuggets, like most breaded seafood. Masking the authentic flavors is a big no-no in the modern food world. Manipulating ingredients – salt, pepper, oil, vinegar – to highlight natural flavors separates novices from top chefs.
(House salad at ABC Kitchen in NYC. Rising star executive chef Dan Kluger is known for bringing out great flavor from simple ingredients. For example, the carrots took on a whole new meaning when perfectly caramelized. Dressing for the salad was so light, you could taste freshness. )
Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we had that same attitude and skill towards proclaiming the truth? But in a world when political correctness is like another form of religion with its own set of dogmas (we have to be inclusive; we can’t say this; we always have to say that, etc.), we tend to manipulate the truth in such a way that we distort and, in some cases, destroy it.. This is especially the case with language about protecting the dignity of human life! But in these challenging times, we also have to recognize that our objective is not to cover up the beauty of truth but to understand and manipulate the other factors, like ingredients, to highlight the beauty of it and make the bitter truth more palatable.
(With the Sungenis Family after Easter Sunday Mass at St. Louis Church in Clarksville, Maryland. Listen to part of my homily. The grand finish unfortunately got cut off on YouTube. )
Don’t feel guilty about doing that. When proclaiming the truth, we have to be as smart as parents who top broccoli with little buttered breadcrumbs or incorporate cream and cheese with some spinach to help kids to eat it.
(With my new goddaughter, Lillian Hickey, to be baptized on Mother’s Day. I have to make sure she is spiritually fed. That’s what godparents do. )
You get the point. Jesus certainly understood the art of making eternal truths bite-sized and appetizing. People came in droves just to savor some of the crumbs that would fall from the Master’s table.
(The Last Supper)
Each May 2, the Universal Church celebrates St. Athanasius who struggled to learn how to present the truth. It wasn’t easy for him. He was a fiery speaker with a temper. Other religious leaders even sought his death. To his credit, he volunteered his own exile, but continued to teach through writings and debates and taught creative and engaging classes to a growing number of students. Eventually he won over hearts and minds of his enemies, similar to the way parents eventually get children to eat their vegetables.
(With a crew of really “tough guys” at the Youth Spectacular held at the Fairgrounds for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. )
Today, St. Athanasius provides a unique example for faithful foodies – people interested in proclaiming truth unmasked but creatively prepared and beautifully presented. There will always be detractors and hostility towards the Faith. However, our good example will at least get them to appreciate what we hold dearly as uncompromising truths, even if they don’t agree with or fully understand us. Using a cooking example, I still don’t enjoy eating liver, but I realize that different forms of preparation make it a bit more palatable.
Depending on how it’s prepared, I can accept liver in bite-sized portions. With a maturing palate, I can also appreciate those who have a penchant for it.
(One of the dishes that will be featured in the upcoming book, “Spicing Up Married Life.” )
By our good example, our evident joy in celebrating the sanctity of life, and by developing the skill to present the truth of our faith more joyfully, we can win over hearts and minds of people. Maybe they won’t eat up everything we’re serving, but, at the very least, they can learn to nibble on bite-sized truth.
Let Us Pray: Father in Heaven, make us instruments of Your peace and grace. When we get frustrated about how people reject the beauty of truth, may our patient example inspire us to present it more creatively to win them over. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Jack Belby, from St. Mary’s Church in Hudson, Ohio, a master at milkshakes.)
Do you have a technique that helps your children eat something they don’t like? What is the food that you just can’t stand eating? Was there a food that you eventually began to appreciate when you matured or at least learned better ways to prepare it? Your comments encourage our movement and tell us that you are being fed by these Blasts. Please post your comments and questions below.
This week’s episode:Soup-er Foods
With all its warmth and flavor, soup can be a one-pot wonder. Fr. Leo shows how just as water can transform some simple ingredients into a tasty dish, it also transforms our lives in washing away sin at our baptism.
Be sure to watch this week’s episode of “Savoring the Faith” on EWTN this Sunday at 8:30pm EST.
May 7-8, 2012
The National Conference For Catechetical Leadership
Town & Country Resort
500 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, California 92108
Contact: Lee Nagel
Wednesday, May 9-10
Fr. Leo to speak to the Military Catholic Council of Women and Youth at Fort Belvoir, VA
Contact: CH. Kristi Pappas
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