Posted December 24th, 2013 | Merry Christmas

Fr. Leo’s Advent Prayer & Christmas Blessing 2013

By: Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug, December 2013

This season of hope, wrapped with God’s grace, a time to renew our friendship and love,

Reveals the Christ Child, a glimpse of God’s face, a sign that our prayers are heard from above.


The gift of ourselves is that which He seeks, wrapped in acts of humble charity,

Which is why His gifts are shown through the meek, those who hear Good News with clarity.


For we are only dust, and to dust we will return, our possessions cannot be paid by silver or gold,

Our value is our faith, which the Lord never spurns, and our greatest home is with the Lord in our Soul.


May this prayer, rhyme, and verse be reminders, how this season celebrates meaning beyond imagining.

These Holy Days are gifts to remove our blinders, to teach us, in Christ, how best to be living.


Blessings to you, your family and friends, to those forgotten and hurting may grace be yours too.


May the Lord’s gifts to you be without end, and may this Holiest of Days be celebrated by God in you.


Blessings to you in this Season of Holiness,

Celebrating the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!


Dear family, and friends of our GraceBeforeMeals.Com apostolate,

So much has happened in this past year, and we continue to discern how best we can fulfill God’s plan for us. We sense that 2014 will bring us closer to our goals, which will never be achieved fully in this lifetime. But, each year, we set for ourselves resolutions, based on prayer, to keep feeding hungry souls with God’s truth and love. While we have made great efforts in our field of evangelization, we know there is still so much work to do. Please know of our prayers of gratitude and petition for you. We humbly ask for your support through prayers, and simply by you feeding others with Good News and sharing our Grace Before Meals message with everyone you meet.

With Mary’s Prayers and Christ’s Blessings,
Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug & the Grace Before Meals Team

Posted in Merry Christmas | 9 Comments »

Posted December 18th, 2013 | Holiday, Menu Inspiration


Adveih Seasoning for Advent 

Everyone has their own holiday recipes, especially when it comes to baking sugar cookies, cinnamon spiced drinks, and semi-savory gingerbread men.  How about using some of those dessert-styled seasonings for beef?


New York strip steaks with advieh seasoning

Recently, I recorded two cooking segments with Servant Books, who will be publishing my next book, called “Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation.”  Unlike my previous books, this won’t have any recipes but culinary inspirations for the faith. This book will develop what I’m calling a “Theology of Food.”  It traces how food has been part of ‘salvation history,’ beginning with the forbidden fruit and ending with the salvation that comes from the ‘Blessed Fruit’ of Mary’s womb – the Lamb of God.


My mother’s AMAZING fruit salad.


There will definitely be more exciting news about this book early next year.  But, in doing some of the research for the book, I found myself delving into other cooking techniques.  In the book, I encourage families to consider cooking outside of their comfort zone, even looking to other faith traditions for foods to try. These types of faith inspired dinners, give you a chance to talk about ecumenism, or how the Catholic Faith relates to the rest of the world’s religions. You can also discover how food is a common factor that binds us all together.  And then use some of the ingredients for your own creative and tasty inventions. 


Another creative invention using milk and honey with tropical fruits. Delicious!

That’s what I did with one recipe that we filmed for Servant Books. I gave steaks a whole new flavor profile by using advieh seasoning, which combines cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cloves and ginger – ingredients often associated to sweet baking, but also uniquely used in savory style cuisine. 


Advieh spiced steaks with herbal couscous.

In this advent season, when we await the coming of God in the Flesh (i.e., the Incarnation), we realize that He wants to bring spice to our lives!  Consider this easy but unique recipe for your next meal, and share the blessings of the Holy Season.  Food is a great gift celebrated by everyone, no matter the religious background.  It’s what will connect us as a human family, as we are all called to be God’s children!

Food for Thought:

  • What religion do you understand the least and how can you learn more about it without challenging your own understanding of your Catholic Christian Faith?
  • Do you think it’s a “sin” to try eating different foods from other religions?
  • Why is it that Catholics have no diet restrictions, but impose restrictions on who is appropriately able to receive Holy Communion?

Please post your comments HERE to let us know what your thinking. Your posts can shed some wisdom and insight with all of our readers!

Let Us Pray:


Let us pray that God will fill us with joy at the coming of Christ. Lord God, may we, Your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 


(Taken from the Roman Sacramentary Third Sunday of Advent)

Nativity of newly born Jesus at Grotto of Lourdes, Emmitsburg MD.


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Messenger Meals and Messenger Eagles


Tomorrow is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It celebrates how God sends messengers to us, and reminds us that God answers our prayers. The history of Our Lady of Guadalupe also speaks of a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary that (to this day) defies science and awakens our understanding of the Virgin Mary’s role in salvation history.
The Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Guadalupe Shrine

In this especially festive time of the year, we will see Christmas cards and nativity scenes showing Mary’s essential role in our faith.  She has been sent by God to remind us how that our Father hears all of our prayers – for ourselves and for others!

A new movie called “The Blood and the Rose,” a type of docudrama produced by award-winning documentarian and producer, Tim Watkins – who just happens to be the executive producer of Grace Before Meals – shows how God continues to send messengers, including St. Juan Diego. In this fantastic movie, we see St. Juan Diego as a normal man with an “ordinary faith” whose obedience helps him to become a “messenger eagle,” sent to the world to share good news. 

Juan Diego

For those in Baltimore, MD, there is a perfect opportunity to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Catholic Business Network of Baltimore is hosting a Film Screening and evening of Spiritual reflection tomorrow at 6pm at The Erinn McCarthy Humanities Hall at Maryvale (11300 Falls Rd.  Brooklandville, MD 21022). The tickets range from $25 – $50 and food & drinks will be served. Enjoy this film that gives an amazing account of the miracle and the call to be Messenger Eagles, and also get an opportunity to network with other local Catholics. Click the link below for the details.

Sharing a meal with someone gives them a message of hope.  We ought to consider this and share our blessings of food with others. But, at the same time, we ought to consider how we can give a direct message of good news to feed hungry souls.  We ought to become a messenger and give a gift of hope, a message of peace, and inspiration to hearts, minds (and bellies).

Couples at a recent marriage presentation in Michigan.

With Christmas around the corner, our movement offers great gift ideas to help you become a messenger eagle through meaningful meals! We also have the movie about Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as our Grace Before Meals products. Get free shipping on orders over $30*. Click the link below for more information. 


Today be a messenger of hope, like St. Juan Diego – a true messenger eagle – and serve meals with a message that will feed body, mind and soul.


Food for Thought:

  • What “spiritual” or “religious” type of gifts do you give to family and friends?
  • Have you ever given a Grace Before Meals book to someone, and did they like it?
  • How do you try to be a messenger of hope in your life and in this season of advent?

Please let us know your thoughts, comments and responses to these questions. It’s your way of communicating with us what’s most important to you so that we can be good “messenger eagles” for you! LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Culinary college students took some of the leftover meals from their culinary classes to the poor in San Francisco.

Let us pray:


Saint Juan Diego, you are our first American indigenous saint. Please pray that God the Father would protect all migrants through His Son, Jesus Christ. Ask the Father to pour out the love of the Holy Spirit upon all who are isolated, alone and separated by choice or necessity from their native lands. May those torn away from their families and forced to leave their country to find work elsewhere be reunited: husbands with wives and parents with children. We ask especially for migrant women and children who are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of human trafficking. Give them Your protection and shield them from evil. May we as a Church receive the Grace to welcome with love migrants who enter into our country, seeking a home in our parishes and communities. We ask for Your prayers and intercession for all immigrants who are desperate, alone and in need of God’s loving support. And we ask Our Lady, who appeared to you as your Mother and Mother of all in our land, to wrap her mantle of protection around all migrant people. We beg for her love, compassion, help and protection on all immigrants who today experience great sufferings, sorrows, necessities and misfortunes.



(Prayer from

for the feast day of St. Juan Diego)

Blessed Mother of the Nations



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Posted December 4th, 2013 | Dinner Discussion, Prayers



 Presentation and Presents


My mom, being Mrs. Clause for her youngest grandson 2010.

St. Nicholas is the man who children are expecting on Christmas Eve, but his feast day is actually this Friday, December 6th.  You know what that means?  PRESENTS! That’s right, be sure and give your children and loved ones a gift on Friday in honor of the Feast of St. Nicholas. They may be surprised, but definitely happy.  Honestly, who doesn’t like receiving gifts?  This can also give you an opportunity to explain how Nicholas would use his own personal funds to anonymously help the poor, making it easy to see how the Saint became Santa.

Great gift ideas for your priests, family, friends and church members. Click here.

Presents are no doubt an important part of this holiday season.  But it’s important not to let commercialism and out-of-control consumerism take over this Holy Season of Advent.

Remember, we just began the 1st week of Advent in preparation for Christmas.  It’s not Christmas yet, no matter what commercials and stores have been telling us since Halloween.  Also, we must not forget that receiving Christ in our hearts is the greatest gift we receive. Even in all our busyness, we can’t forget to prepare a gift for Jesus! During Advent, we are preparing for HIS birthday.  We can’t forget that!  I’m sure St. Nicholas would agree.

Me with an almost ‘life-sized’ St. Nicholas. I say almost because I was definitely taller!

One gift that Christ seeks is our presence, that is, simply being present to Him. In fact, the word “presence” is what describes the gift of the Eucharist.  God is present to us through that sacred food, which we receive at Mass.

Priests praying before the Tabernacle, which contains the Blessed Sacrament – The Presence of God.

In honor of St. Nicholas, consider how we can give a gift to Jesus by being present to him.  That means paying attention to Him and allowing our humanity to reflect our faith in God and our care for each other.  It means, paying attention to how our facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and even our dress because they show how God’s presence dwells in our hearts and souls.  Giving a gift to Jesus could also mean being more present to God in prayer, by being ready and on time for Church, taking time throughout the day to pray, and perhaps even visiting the Blessed Sacrament to be in God’s Eucharistic presence. And of course, we need to pay attention while saying a prayer before we eat – to recognize that God is present at our meal when we invite him with every Grace Before Meals.

In the chef and food world, presence and presentation are great indicators to success and deliciousness.  Food presented well and chefs who are present to the hungry are definite gifts in the culinary culture. It’s true for believers as well.

New friends from a presentation that I gave to the HHS Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Presentation June 2013.

St. Nicholas’ feast day reminds us of how this season is all about giving presents just by being present to God and to each other.  We just need to remember to work on our presentation of faith to others and to be more even more present to Jesus in prayer, i.e., not bored!

Happy and hungry campers at one of my Catholic Culinary Presentations.



Special Holiday Deal at

home of Fr. Leo’s GBM products:


Food for Thought:

  • What is the gift that you will present to Jesus on his Birthday?
  • What’s your favorite gift that you received from Santa Clause?
  • How will you be an image of God’s presence in our world?

Please post your comments and response to these questions below.  Your posts, feedback and questions are so helpful to our movement. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us!

Happy St. Nicholas feast day! Celebrate with presents in God’s presence!

Let us pray:


Father in Heaven, in this first season of Advent, give us the Grace to remember what great gift You give to us:  being present to us!  You, the Great “I Am” are always with us. Help us to remember that, to celebrate that, and to reflect Your presence in our lives by our words, example and our very life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Prayers | 2 Comments »