Posted October 22nd, 2014 | Dinner Discussion, Recipes



Seafood, Sex, the Synod and the Pearl of Great Price

Connecting food and faith is what I do. And if I were to characterize my faith the past few weeks as a food it would easily be that particular shellfish: the crab! Admittedly, hectic travel, news of spreading Ebola, terrorist threats, political mudslinging commercials, rude people in restaurants and airports can make anyone “crabby.”

Sometimes, it is easy to feel crabby, right?


For me, the greatest frustration came when I read church chatter about the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family. What was supposed to be an honest dialogue about difficult pastoral issues turned into a media circus that distorted Church teachings and made Church leadership look like out-of-touch-mean-spirited-shepherds. According to pop-culture news, sabotage, dissension and mistrust characterized the conversation.  Unfortunately, the labels “conservative” and “liberal” seemingly replaced “faithful” and “compassionate.”


In the midst of these struggles, I thankfully had an event in sunny Florida, giving me a day to walk along the beach and pray. Being close to the ocean reminded me of God’s ocean of mercy.  We all need it! There, I sensed God telling me to help people think of the Church, not as a crab, but as another type of shellfish: the oyster.

Pope Francis called this extraordinary synod to discuss how to pastorally serve the Church’s families, which includes separated, divorced, remarried and homosexual persons. When boiled down, the Church’s leadership was talking about sex and sexual practices that don’t fulfill God’s plan. Sex, as a topic, makes us a little defensive and nervous, like parents explaining “the birds and the bees” to inquisitive children. But it’s about time the Church got practical in its discussion because the spirit of the world talks about sex in ungodly ways! It’s been reported that some synod participants said the Church’s teachings are clear and that “pastoral discussions” are just watering down the Faith, creating even more divide between “progressive” and “traditional” Catholics.  So who’s right?


Enter my previous analogy of the Church as an oyster and how an oyster’s pearl is made. This shellfish, like the Church, always appears tightly closed to protect itself. But in order to survive, the Church’s protective walls are open, like the eye of the needle – big enough for a camel to enter, but difficult for the rich and righteous to enter (Matthew 19:24). A pearl is made when, for whatever reason, foreign substances penetrate even the most tightly-closed hardshell, implanting itself within, like an ‘intruder.’ To protect itself, the shellfish doesn’t discharge the intruder but instead secretes a protective substance, called nacre. Over time, the nacre builds up and it becomes a pearl. What started out as something negative and unwanted within the shellfish, eventually becomes something miraculous and beautiful to behold.

Caught up in the waves.

As I walked the shore, I sensed God telling me that nacre is Grace.  The “intruder” is the sinner who, like a child crying and fussing to be heard, is the future pearl of great price. We all know that some of our greatest saints were the greatest sinners. St. Paul was even a former “enemy” of the Church! How difficult was it for St. Peter and other apostles to accept him in their fold? A sinner’s presence in the protective shell of the Church provides an opportunity for the merciful Lord to do His miraculous cure by covering that sinner with Grace.  In dealing with people, who through sins experience a separation from the Church, it’s tempting to just hunker down, tighten up the shell, or immediately throw out the sinner. Instead, the synod sought to better understand the reality of individual complex situations. It simply tried to surround that future pearl of great price with miraculous Grace. While excommunication remains a viable option for the Church to protect itself, Jesus seemed to reserved that action to only a few instances, such as money changers and the self-righteous at the end of time.


The pearl of great price is not some ideology of puritanical faith, but a result of a miraculous and grace-filled process. We have to trust that God is in charge of that process. God will not allow even confusing or conflicting news about the synod to destroy the Church.  The Fisher of Man is praying for Peter’s Successor, Pope Francis. (Luke 22)

Pope Francis blesses a child.

The challenging synod discussions simply recognized how divorced, remarried people, and any well-intentioned and sincere members of the homosexual community are already within the Church’s protective shell. What do we do with them? Are we trying to “get rid” of them or rather shower them with Grace and patiently wait for the Grace to build up despite our broken nature?


Walking along the beach, praying for more Grace to make sense of all of life’s difficulties reminded me to be faithful, patient and “less crabby” in the process. We’re called to never give up but be faithful and trust that God can use these difficult situations to strengthen our faith, even if we can’t easily see God’s plan. After all, despite the tumultuous history, the Church continues to produce great saints, pearls of great value, making this world a better place.


As I walked along the beach, I prayed for my heart to be a pearl-producing oyster.  Honestly, I still felt a little crabby knowing I had to get on another airplane, deal with security lines and read the news headlines.  But God’s Grace can transform even a tough-shelled crab into something delicious, satisfying and worth celebrating.  It just requires a recipe to boil the “hell” out of the crab, season it with the salt of the earth and earth’s bitter herbs like a blend of chicory, coriander and chives.


There’s good news! The Church IS a pearl-producing oyster. We’re not all crabby!  But, there’s even hope for crabby folks!  Melted butter for dipping and a cold beer.


Click for the recipe for Seafood Stew with crab and a coconut curry cream sauce


Let us pray:

Father, turn us into the pearl of great price by surrounding us with Grace. We know our sins should be an automatic “eject” button for us, but you allow us to remain inside the Church’s family. Transform us into pearls of great price. Help us to be patient and more trusting of the process, especially as the synod deliberates the difficult topics of the day. May faithful people desire to act union with the Pope. May honest disagreement be spoken in charity. Lord, silence our arrogance. Holy Spirit, continue to convert the heart of each synod participant to become like the Good Shepherd – not just in intellectual orthodoxy but also in the practical compassion that welcomed the prodigal son to the feast. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.  


  • Who’s your favorite saint, who just happened to be a former sinner?  Mine is St. Paul.
  • Have you ever found pearls in your shellfish?  What did you do with it?
  • What’s your favorite shellfish?
  • Do you have any good oyster recipes to share with our Grace Before Meals family?


Help us to spread the message by sending this email to your family, friends, parishioners and even your pastor, and post your comments below.


Mesa, AZ


10/25/14 – 10/28/14




Fargo, ND




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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Recipes | 7 Comments »

Posted April 10th, 2014 | CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes

Brussels Sprouts and Culinary Conversions

We apologize for the blast being a day later than usual; we have been in mourning since the passing of Project Manager Joe Hansbrough’s father, James D. Hansbrough Jr, husband to Maria Hansbrough for over 38 years, father of nine children, and grandfather to seven grandchildren and counting. He died of a heart attack on Monday unexpectedly. According to Joe, he was instrumental in making sure that Grace was said before every meal and that the Faith was instilled in his children. We ask you to please keep him and his family in your prayers in this time of grief. You can view his obituary HERE. Thank you.




Last week I had the chance to cook Brussels sprouts for Gus Lloyd, the host for the popular morning show, “Seize the Day” on Sirius XM Catholic Channel 129.  He was known for sharing on air his anti-love for Brussels sprouts or as he would call them, “those little horrible critters.”   (Gus is so nice, he would never use the word “hate,” so in my mind, Gus felt “anti-love”).


Since I was in the Tampa area, where Gus hosts his show, I accepted his invitation to join him live in studio. At the same time, I gave give him a chance for a culinary “conversion” by cooking him Brussels sprouts. I vowed that he would LOVE the way I prepare these little “gifts of God.”


Gus Lloyd live on radio, staring at his former food enemy, Brussels sprouts, presented two ways and served with pan-seared chicken.

He sampled the Brussels sprouts LIVE on his show.  And, as expected, loved them!  A miracle and conversion occurred before his listening audience!  Because so many people asked for recipes I’ve copied them below for you to enjoy.

CLICK for recipe: Brussels sprouts and Granny Smith apple slaw.
CLICK for the Recipe: Pan-seared chicken served with two preparations of Brussels sprouts, including a bed of braised Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic vinegar reduction.

In this time of Lent, we are asked to experience a deeper conversion.  That can only begin when we are willing to have an honest and sincere conversation. We need to truthfully admit our feelings, while also being brave enough to try a different approach (or in Gus’s case, a different recipe). Jesus did that quite a bit, leading many sinners to conversion. He ate with them.  He showed them the Father’s love using different language, telling stories and ultimately sacrificing himself.  He didn’t approach faith like the “experts,” which for him was the scribes and the Pharisees who imposed burdens, not blessings.  He definitely presented the message of God’s love in a different way.  Now, we must be brave enough, like Gus Lloyd, in eating the Super Food that Jesus gives to us: His Body & Blood and his sacred teachings.  


Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at the Jacksonville Eucharistic Congress.

Gus Lloyd had a “conversion” because he was willing to have a conversation. He admitted some of his past prejudices from bad Brussels sprouts experiences.  But he was also courageous enough to give this former food enemy another try in a different way.  Hopefully, in this season of Lent, we can do the same with people in our lives.  With honest conversation and courage, we can get over our prejudices, our past bad experiences, and reverse our “anti-love” for one another.  Conversion begins with an honest conversation with God, called prayer.


Shrine dedicated to praying for those who suffer with cancer, at the Assumption Church in Chicago, IL.


Let us Pray:

Father, may we experience an ongoing conversation with You in prayer, which will lead to a conversion of Heart.  Teach us how to get over negative experiences of our past. Give us courage to be open enough to trying those things which we know are good for us – such as healthy food, exercise, forgiveness, patience, serving the poor, learning more about faith, and praying more faithfully. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Seminarians for the Diocese of St. Augustine Florida. These men all know the need for ongoing conversion in their life as future priests.


  • How do you prepare Brussels sprouts?
  • Is there a food that you need a ‘culinary conversion’ for – i.e., a new way to try something you don’t like to eat?
  • Is there a “spiritual food” that you may have a prejudice against (ie., fasting, church’s moral teaching, praying the rosary, meditation) that you need to have presented to you in a different way so that you may better appreciate the spiritual foods of the Church?


Your comments and questions are an important part of sharing our message and our meals.  Please leave your comments below.


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
Fombell, PA
4/12/14 – 4/15/14
Brunswick, OH
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Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, In Memory, Menu Inspiration, Recipes | 5 Comments »

 Superstar Sisters

Last week we discussed the vocation of St. Joseph as a spiritual father to Jesus and as a Protector of the Church’s spiritually adopted children.  In my previous Blasts I devoted much attention to the priestly vocation, especially since at one point I used to work at a seminary.  But recently, perhaps by God’s providence, I have received such wonderful inspiration from the vocations of women, aka, nuns, sisters, and spiritual mothers.

Missionaries of Charity who raised this orphan girl to womanhood. She’s now married and pregnant with their first child, in Kolkata India.

The unfortunate cliché about angry nuns teaching in Catholic Schools with hand-slapping rulers just doesn’t work for me.  I never had that experience.  While I recognize that a nun can have had a bad day or that some may have been strong disciplinarians, that should never obfuscate the tremendous good and gentle presence nuns have given in the Church’s (and the world’s) history.  Nuns, as spiritual mothers, have to be strong, because mothers and women have to be strong.  That is what a nun is: a spiritual mother, a real woman, a gift from God.

Religious Sisters at 2013 Steubenville Conference in Rhode Island

The strong-loving-and-not-easily-fooled presence of a spiritual mother is sorely needed in our world.  Unfortunately, the idea of a “false feminism,” as needing to challenge (not compliment) masculinity, has confused and even diminished the role of religious sisters.  And evidence of this can be seen in the declining numbers of women wanting to become nuns in the world today.  But, in God’s providence, what may be missing in numbers is certainly made up for in quality.  And in some cases some religious groups for women continue to grow, bringing a positive influence on the world – a world that needs a mother’s guiding hand!

The tomb of Mother Teresa, The Blessed Saint of Kolkata.

Recently I taught a theology course to a group of Missionaries of Charity, the branch of religious sisters started by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (now spelled Kolkata).  The class was on Mariology – the role of Mary in the Bible and Salvation History.  It was a fitting course, as nuns aspire to imitate the virtues and loving influence Mary had on Jesus and the Catholic Church’s tradition.

One of the Missionaries of Charity making a pastoral visit to a resident in a community of people affected with leprosy.

Much like the Blessed Mother, these women are incredible witnesses – powerful, strong, disciplined, loving, and nurturing.  They showed me the incredible value of a feminine vocation well-lived.  While they are truly graceful, beautiful, and dignified, they are also very determined and powerful witnesses of the strength of the “feminine genius” – a term used by Blessed Pope John Paul II in a document dedicated to the role of women in the life of the Church.

These women, nicknamed “MC Sisters” (Missionaries of Charity Sisters), work in the poorest of the poor parts of the world.  They are leaders in the education, healthcare, and social reform of those parts of the world that desperately need a loving maternal presence.  And they do it with the simple basics: they feed God’s Children! 

These children were abandoned by their parents because of physical conditions. The Missionaries of Charity have taken them in their loving care and will continue to do so until they can be adopted into a loving home. If not, they will remain as well-loved children in the Missionaries of Charity family.

When I returned to the United States – and back to our world of technology – I received a twitter feed about a nun who shocked the Italian entertainment industry with a powerful musical performance on the Italian version of the hit show, The Voice.  As I watched this young woman, a very real nun (as she described herself), sing her heart out and stun both judges and the audience into a standing ovation, I had to laugh (with joyful tears in my eyes).  

Why would people be surprised about a nun that can sing and mesmerize God’s family with talents?  Has the world become so blind that they forget talent is not just reserved for the entertainment industry?  Is it because nuns wear religious habits that makes people think they can’t have fun and be inspiring through their God-given talents?

This nun has become a great heroine for me, especially because she espouses much of the Grace Before Meals and evangelization philosophy: God gave us talents so we could use them, not just “in the church” but for the evangelization of the world!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this video clip, just to see some of the biggest Italian stars weep in joy and actually ask for “God’s Grace” from this spiritual SUPER SISTER! 

Be sure to click on the English translation of the conversation after her jaw-dropping performance.)

For me, these recent experiences coincide with a spiritual exercise I’ve taken up during the Lenten Season.  I’ve been meditating on the 14 Stations of the Cross each day.  In the 4th, 6th, 8th, 13th, and 14th Stations of the Cross we reflect on the very powerful images of women who intimately participated in Jesus’ most powerful saving act of suffering for the sins of the world.  These meditations – along with the experiences of serving the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata and the  recent clip of a mega-talented-singing-sister – have reinforced what I have already known but sometimes take for granted: Women, whether they are biological or adoptive, moms or sisters, in blood or in spirit, reveal God’s love in singularly powerful way.  Without them, we wouldn’t have life! 

This couple from Switzerland adopted this beautiful child, “Hiya,” from the missionaries of charity. To learn more about adopting a child from the Missionaries of Charity Orphanage, click here – and call the Missionaries of Charity Group.

Food for Thought

  • Who is your favorite nun (religious sister) and why?
  • What was your experience of nuns growing up?
  • Have you ever considered joining a convent or encouraged a young girl to consider it?  How would you help them discern a possible religious vocation?

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




Let Us Pray:  


Father in Heaven, You chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of Your Son, Jesus our Lord.  In imitation of her, You raise up women to be “Brides of Christ,” professing their lives to You in service to God’s children, desperately in need of a loving mother’s presence.  May You bless these women in all things.  Keep them ever in Your care. Protect them from destructive tendencies of a false feminism.  May they have the blessings of children, spiritually, adoptive, or by biological, who will always value their presence, respect their dignity, and be ever grateful for their lives.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Statue of Mother Teresa of Calcutta taking in an abandoned child under her motherly care.
Click to watch Fr. Leo’s appearance on FOX45 for CRS Rice Bowl.
Tonight, tune into WMAR Channel 2 News in Baltimore for Fr. Leo’s appearance on “The List” at 7pm EDT.

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
South Bend, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Lutz, FL
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Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, Dinner Discussion, Epic Food Fight, Lent, Prayers, Recipes, Vegetables, Video | 8 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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Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in Blast from the Past, CRS Rice Bowl, Feast Days, Lent, Recipe-Fish, Recipes, Video | 1 Comment »

Posted March 12th, 2014 | CRS Rice Bowl, From the Feedbag, Lent, Recipes, Video


Kitchen Confessions

NOTE: Last week, I started off talking about Lent….by referring to it as Advent. Sorry about that! Many readers caught it right away and it has since been corrected. Glad to know that Lent means that much to many of you, so God bless you during this Holy Season of Lent and beyond.

As we like to generate conversation, here is some FOOD FOR THOUGHT: 


  • How do you explain Confession to non-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics?
  • How many times do you think is a healthy number of times to go to Confession?
  • What’s the hardest part about getting to confession?  And how do you deal with it?

Post your questions and comments below.




The soon-to-be SAINT John Paul II giving a much younger looking Fr. Leo and my chalice a special blessing.

Whenever I meet with chefs, I oftentimes get them to make a “confession” about how after a busy dinner shift, instead of cooking something healthy or fancy, they’ll often settle for fast, diner, or comfort foods. Confessions are just a part of life. In this “From the Feed Bag” we go deeper into the purpose of Confessions.

Dear Fr. Leo, 

Why do Catholics HAVE to go to confession? Why can’t they just get forgiveness from God directly? 

Thanks, KT 

Dear KT and everyone who asks themselves this same question,

Christ gave the apostles very clear commands, which I’ll summarize:

“Go into the world and preach the Good News! Baptize nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit! Forgive Sins – a sign that we are doing what He wants. And above all, LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

It’s funny how people forget Jesus created the Church in order to forgive sins. It’s more than a place to go when people need of a social service, a good background for wedding photos, or somewhere to socialize. Most importantly, Church is where we come to know God, and that we are NOT God. It’s a place to know God’s love by receiving His forgiveness.

The Wailing Wall, where Believers understand the wall as a physical manifestation of God’s Presence.

The Confessional is the place where the Alexander Pope cliché confronts our very reality: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” As we are called to become more like God, Divine Providence has given us the Church to be that place where forgiveness is understood as a sacrament and not just a good idea.

A healthier understanding of sin gives us a healthier understanding of humanity and the Church. God knew humanity so well, he gave us a place where we can be forgiven. In this question, so typical of a fast food mentality of forgiveness, we try to avoid or skip a real, accountable, and practical process of forgiveness.

For example, if we hurt a loved one, do we just say in our own minds, “Please forgive me”, and think,”That’s good enough.”?

Rather, we know a process is required, which includes an examination of what we did wrong, getting enough courage to go to that person, and humbly telling them we know we did something wrong – i.e., actual verbalization of our sins and sorrow. The process continues with hearing those words, I forgive you. Finally, the process of forgiveness requires some action to demonstrate true contrition and a willingness to do better.  

Traditional “Confessional Box” located in the sacristy of the St. John the Baptist Church in Israel.

These are the steps of forgiveness we take with others. It’s the same process we ought to take with God. This is exactly what happens in Church, which is “The Body of Christ” – the very person we hurt whenever we sin. We have to remember that Church is not a hotel for saints but a hospital for sinners.

In this Lenten Season we can keep questioning the process of forgiveness, or we can trust that the Church is God’s answers to our prayers. Remember, studying the history of confession shows that we’ve been doing this since Christ started His Church. A more knowledgeable, humbler, and trusting approach to this particular Sacrament can only help us in our relationship with God, simply by better recognizing the Church as “The Body of Christ.”

Young folks from St. Patrick Church in Oak Grove, Minnesota, who know the importance of Confession.

Let us pray:  


Lord, give us Grace to use this Holy Season of Lent to seek a humble forgiveness of our sins, so that by receiving Your mercy, we can in turn forgive one another.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.



Check out starting this week for Fr. Leo’s weekly recipe from different countries around the world. And be sure to fill your CRS Rice Bowl with change to help those in need this Lent and beyond.


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
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube
Any submissions may be used in future Grace Before Meals publications.

Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, From the Feedbag, Lent, Recipes, Video | 5 Comments »

Posted January 29th, 2014 | Recipes, What's On the Table



More Good News


As you’ve probably heard, I’m making the transition to a community of consecrated life called Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.  In previous E-Blasts, I explained that my work as a priest will now be focused on evangelization – that is, trying to reach people “outside” the church walls.

Pilgrims in the Holy Land


So that means I’ll have the opportunity to do even more to help spread the Good News through our Grace Before Meals movement; our Radio Show on Sirius XM 129; our TV show Savoring our Faith on EWTN; and our presentations, pilgrimages, and books.  Here are a few upcoming items to help show you how we’ll use this new responsibility to hopefully address the spiritual “hungers” of God’s people.

The view from the Church of Dominus Flevit – “The Lord Wept” – Holy Land, Jerusalem.

(1)  Our NEW Grace Before Meals BOOK is set to be released February 11, 2014!  It’s called, EPIC FOOD FIGHT: A Bite-Sized History of Salvation.  It outlines a “theology of food” and will help everyone better understand the Eucharist as the Food that leads to Eternal Life.

Click to pre-order your copy!

 (2)  We’re already planning more trips for the fall of 2014, including food and faith trips to New York and Napa Valley.  And we’ll offer even bigger trips to international destinations in 2015.  This most recent foodie pilgrimage to the Holy Land was such a success, so we need to start now to plan another trip (possibly two to the Holy Land) for next year!

Founder and some of the members of chefs for peace, as well as two local restaurant chefs for our final banquet.


(3)   Presentations, Missions, and Cooking Demonstrations.  With this new role and responsibility, we’re now filling up the calendar with requests for presentations, parish missions, and other live appearances to share the Good News of Grace Before Meals.  So this is your time to consider speaking with your priest or organization about bringing our Grace Before Meals message to an area or an event near you.

Click here to request Fr. Leo for your event!

Our letters of recommendations and support from so many different groups show our message is for everyone and that it will change your life for the better!

(4)  We have NEW VIDEOS coming out in Lent with Catholic Relief Services Global Kitchen, to highlight five recipes for the CRS Rice Bowls.  In these webisodes, Grace Before Meals teams up with Catholic Relief services to share messages of hope, faith, and love – all through food!  So stay tuned for these fantastic, simple, and delicious meals to come!

A shot from this year’s production for CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen: For Lent, For Life. Tune in this Lent!


(5)  We also have a special announcement coming out in a few months for people who are gluten intolerant.  However, we can’t give out the specifics just yet.  Let’s just say, this announcement will be very “Good News” for people who struggle with this condition.  It will definitely inspire your faith to hear that when it comes to receiving The Lord in the Eucharist, Grace Before Meals is leading the way so people won’t have to worry about this allergy and disease.  But again, more information will be coming soon!

The Eucharist

Even though we’re only one month into the new year, we hope our efforts will give you much to look forward to in 2014!



  • What big plans do you have for this upcoming year?
  • How can Grace Before Meals be of a positive resource for you?
  • To what country or destination would you like to see Grace Before Meals lead a pilgrimage?
Please post your comments and questions. These mean so much to our Grace Before Meals team and our community of faithful foodies. 

Let us pray:

Father in Heaven, You treat us with love and compassion.  While we can plan all we want in these days and months ahead, we also recognize that You are ultimately in charge.  Our job, therefore, is to plan and work as if everything depends on us, but to pray as if everything depends on You, our Good God.  Help us to be determined, but at the same time flexible.  Conscious of our schedules, but also open to Your Divine Will.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



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Posted in Recipes, What's On the Table | 9 Comments »