Posted December 31st, 2014 | Audio, Entertaining Truth, Feast Days, Holiday, New Year


Happy New Year to you & your loved ones

May your celebration of this New Year, and the Holy Feast Day of Mary, Mother of God, be a time of grace and joy!

For the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I once again share my rendition of “Ave Maria” that I sang for the 2015 Entertaining Truth Christmas Radio Show on Sirius XM 129, the Catholic Channel. The Ave Maria is my prayer that each of you discover her motherly love and that we become more like her Child, Jesus our Lord!

Let us Pray:

God, thank you for a new year. May everyone in our family be willing to begin anew with a clean slate. We know that you are always ready to forgive us. Help us to be willing to forgive ourselves and to forgive one another.

As we begin a new year, remind us of our truest values and our deepest desires. Help us to live in the goodness that comes from doing what you want us to do. Help us to put aside anxiety about the future and the past, so that we might live in peace with you now, one day at a time.


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Posted in Audio, Entertaining Truth, Feast Days, Holiday, New Year | 7 Comments »

Safe Travels & Feast Day Foods

As Fr. Leo continues his retreats and travels, our team at GBM wanted to share a prayer for travelers as the summer vacations roll on and the school year approaches. With special intentions, we pray for those who are away from loved ones that they may return safely.

Dear God, we ask you for your blessings and protection on all those who are traveling, whether for business, for vacation, or for other personal reasons. We trust in your will, and hope that our loved ones may return to us safely and in good spirits. For those who have lost loved ones, we pray for their consolation and that they may find their hope and joy in you. Finally, may they be fed in body, mind and spirit on their journeys, so that they may be nourished and able to do good in this world. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Leo during his travels in the Southwest during a retreat. For more pictures, videos, updates, check out Fr. Leo on Facebook, Twitter and on!

Interestingly enough, there is a book on EWTN’s website called “Feast Day Cookbook” by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, published in 1951. Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the recipes they share for today’s feast include Pilaff and a Spiced Grape Jelly. Be sure to check out the link for more recipes and neat information on Feast Days and meals, as feasting is an important part of the Catholic faith, the Grace Before Meals movement and cookbook.

Click to read this classic Catholic cookbook, courtesy of EWTN.

[Excerpt from Feast Day Cookbook]

August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration

The origin of this Christian festival has been attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator who flourished in Lower Armenia during the fourth century. He is said to have substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called “Vartavarh” (the flaming of the rose) and the old name was retained, in that region at least, to designate the Transfiguration, because “Christ opened his glory like a rose on Mount Thabor.”

In Armenian villages the day is still celebrated with unusual ceremonies in the course of which peasants lead to the church a sheep with decorated horns, on each tip of which is placed a lighted candle. Flowers, fruit, and sheaves are also brought and laid before the altar.

Following this ceremony a fair usually takes place; there are races and games, and a crown of roses is the customary prize. During the feasting that follows is likely to appear.

3 cups cracked wheat
6 cups stock
4 cups minced cooked lamb
1/2 cup melted butter

Soak the cracked wheat (cracked barley may be substituted) overnight. Drain the wheat, mix with the meat, and salt to taste. Place in a large kettle, add about half the stock (water and bouillon cubes may be used, allowing one cube for each cup of water), and heat slowly. Cook for about an hour, stirring almost constantly and adding stock as necessary. Serve in hot, deep plates, pour melted butter over each serving, and dust with pepper and cinnamon to taste.

The Feast of the Transfiguration was slower to be observed in the Western Church and is not mentioned until the ninth century. It was made universal by Rome on the day when Hunyady gained his victory over the Turks on August 6, 1456. It is now the titular feast of the Church of St. John Lateran, and on this day the Pope presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice at Mass or uses new wine.

Also in Rome raisins are blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the Greek and Russian Churches too conduct a special ceremony for blessing grapes and other fruits. Since the grape is given so much prominence on this feast, we may give the following recipe:

Spiced Grape Jelly
8 lbs. Concord grapes
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon whole cloves

Wash, remove from stems, and drain the grapes. Put half of them in a preserving kettle, add the vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves and then the rest of the grapes. Cook gently for about fifteen minutes or until soft. Strain through a jelly bag without pressing so that the juice remains clear. Take 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice, boil to the proper consistency for jelly, pour into hot glasses and cover with 1/2 inch of paraffin.

Do you have any recipes or adventures to share?
Are you or a loved one traveling, and if so, where to and for how long?
Any recipes that you like to make on feast days?

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Posted in Epic Food Fight, Faithful Foodie, Feast Days, Prayers, Recipe, Video | No Comments »

St. Joseph: Husband and Father

Originally Published 3/19/07

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! Post something by clicking here.

Every year on March 19th, I gather with several priests to celebrate St. Joseph’s Feast Day – Husband of Mary and Foster Father of Jesus.  Living in Italy as a seminarian gave me a new perspective on this celebration.  Italians consider it a National Holiday – their own “Father’s Day” – with traditions that call for setting up a small shrine for St. Joseph and lots and lots of food. Why?  Especially since the New Testament doesn’t even give Joseph any speaking parts!  How important of a role could St. Joseph play as “Husband” and “Father?”  The answer is in the question!

It’s no secret, but unfortunately fatherhood has unique challenges in today’s culture.  Whether it’s because society is pushing an agenda to see fathers as “not as smart” as mom or kids or whether it’s because dads are not stepping up to the plate, we can all observe a decline in family structures where fatherhood is not properly integrated.  This little email blast won’t solve the problems of deadbeat dads or unappreciated fathers.  But I can offer a gentle reminder about a father’s responsibility: to put food on the table and feed his children in body, mind and soul.  I recently read a powerful article about this and I immediately saw why St. Joseph’s day should be celebrated with Gusto!

Admittedly, the Scriptures say very little about this man.  My dad jokes, “I’m like St. Joseph in my family.  I don’t say anything!”  I know he’s joking because I’ve personally heard PLENTY from my dad.  But my dad (thank God) shares similarities to St. Joseph, who is described as being “Upright” (Mt 1:19).  Let’s admit, we would all want our dads to be “nice,” but have we ever appreciated that our dads are called to be “upright?”  It clearly doesn’t mean that dadIS always right.  But it indicates that dads should know the difference between right and wrong.  Together with mom, dad has the responsibility to teach and feed these very lessons to his children.  To teach children how to be upright, and to do it nicelymeans that our dads, like St. Joseph, are no “Ordinary Joes.”



If you want to discuss something at our Grace Before Meals table, please let us know!  Also, please be sure to check out the Blog Site and let us know what you’re thinking.  Our Grace Before Meals Family is growing, and it would be nice to meet each other at our cyber table.  So go ahead and introduce yourself to our growing family!

I was really young when dad came home from the office with his first paycheck, after struggling to get his own private medical practice up and running.  He took us all to a steakhouse chain restaurant called “Rustlers.”  Remember that place?  It was a cafeteria-style steak house where you ordered your steak, slid a tray along a counter, picked up your sides, paid the cashier and sat down for a family meal.  It was an extraordinary moment for me to see these huge grills cook my steak to order!

The Grace Before Meals Team tries to help families see the blessing of the food on the table and the blessings of the people around the table.  I’m sure St. Joseph felt that way.  Can you imagine how St. Joseph felt having breakfast with Mary, the Mother of God, and Jesus, the Incarnate Word – the Only Son of God?  I wonder what they talked about. More importantly, how did they pray before meals?  We’ll consider adding a special prayer for each person in the family along with the grace before meals.

Today, you may want to say a special prayer for dad. Tomorrow, mom, and the day after, one prayer a day for each child!  The prayer can definitely help us be more “upright” like St. Joseph’s family.

“Father, you entrusted our Savior to the care of St. Joseph.  By the help of his prayers, may your Church continue to love and to serve the Lord, by loving and serving one another.  Amen!”

This Week’s Lenten Recipe from CRS Rice Bowl:
Visit for more on Fr. Leo and 
CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life
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Posted in Blast from the Past, CRS Rice Bowl, Feast Days, Lent, Recipe-Fish, Recipes, Video | 1 Comment »

Posted May 1st, 2013 | Dinner Discussion, Feast Days


Feast Day for Parents

 May 1st is the Solemn Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker.  It’s a big feast day in Rome, similar to America’s Labor Day.  The whole city shuts down and they feast all day long!

St. Joseph comforting this crying child, Jesus Christ, the Lord.

May is also a month dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  Your church might have a May Crowning and maybe you’ll hear even more sermons about Mary, especially on the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend celebrated in America.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom Statue in the atrium of St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD.

And while May is truly a month to celebrate the parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,  I propose we use it as a time to celebrate our own parents as well.

My mom and dad 50 years ago!

Even though there is no official “Parent’s Day,” this month’s Feast Days give us time to reflect on what it means to be a good Mom and Dad, to improve parenting skills in general, and to make sure that we let our own parents know how much we appreciate them with a delicious meal.  And I have two books to help with that!


For those new to our movement, my first book, Grace Before Meals: Recipes and Inspiration for Family Meals and Family Life, has a chapter with bite-sized theological essays about Moms and Dads.  It also includes recipes you can make to say a special “thank you” to your own parents.  There are even questions to facilitate a conversation about the important role of parenting.  Not to mention my famous winning recipe from the Food Network Show, Throw Down! with Bobby Flay.


My second book, Spicing Up Married Life, compliments the important role of parents in the family. I believe the family’s love for each other begins with the strength of the parent’s love for each other.  With that, I encourage “month-aversaries,” a monthly dinner date instead of the traditional once a year celebration. Perhaps children can make a special meal for their parents based on the recipes of this book and encourage their parents to take some time to read the essays and ask each other the questions in the book.  I’ve had many couples write to me and tell me how this book has really helped strengthen their relationship as spouses and also as parents.  Please feel free and share your own comments about this book here.

Spicing Up Married Life Video
Spicing Up Married Life Video

May also happens to be a popular month couples to also get married.  These books are no doubt a great gift for the newlyweds!


May also brings very fresh ingredients to make the great recipes in this book even better!

Use this month well! The Feast Days of this month coupled with the resources from our movement, bring powerful reminders to honor moms and dads, like Mary and Joseph. They deserve the recognition from children and society.  Parents who work hard to provide the “daily bread” for their family deserve a special meal to celebrate their necessary role in building up God’s family!  Let’s start a movement to celebrate “Parent’s Day!”

My parents 50 years later!

Let us pray:  

In honor of the Feast of St. Joseph and in the month dedicated to Mary, we pray for our parents.  May God raise up and inspire moms and dads to seek only the best of things for their children, feeding them only the best food for body, mind and soul.   Bless and protect the sacrament of marriage Lord, and help loving moms and dads to be the effective sign of charity, commitment and holiness in the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



  • How do you celebrate a “Parent’s Day?”  Is it on the anniversary?
  • Do you think we need to try and petition a celebration called “Parent’s Day” on our calendars? 
  • What’s the hardest thing about being a parent in today’s world  How do you cope with that?
  • If you pray to be a good and loving parent, what qualities do you pray for? 


Your responses help encourage our work and our movement. Please let us know your questions, thoughts and comments below. 

My parents at the same beach 5 years after their marriage… they like the beach!


MAY 05
Gaithersburg, MD


MAY 11
Ennis, TX


MAY 21
Lincoln, NE
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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Feast Days | 6 Comments »