Posted March 11th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Food for Thought

Food For Thought:

Marching As Sinners with St. Patrick

I’m feeling very Irish!  Perhaps it’s because I’m finishing up a parish mission at St. Patrick’s Parish in Colorado Springs, CO.  It’s also because St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner and  Cardinal Dolan’s decision to allow a “gay group” to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade has brought about a lot of criticism and a media firestorm.  But, I wanted to offer a perspective, simply because on that day, we should all be Irish.  In fact, I change my name that day to Fr. Lee O’Patalinghug!


What a great t-shirt from St. Patrick’s
Colorado Springs, CO

Kidding aside, this touchy subject requires some pastoral sensitivity.  Without trying to defend or criticize Cardinal Dolan’s decision, I must say his decision made me reflect on my pilgrimage to heaven – my personal “march” so to speak.  However you feel about the Cardinal’s decision – right or wrong – it should make us all reflect on what it means to walk in a parade named after a saint – a great Saint – like Patrick.  It can’t be limited to Irish descent, but a universal calling to holiness.


I love the fact that my parish missions draw out the young and the old. This little guy reminded me of a little leprechaun. So joyful and full of life!



We have to remember that Church and Catholic things (like a march) isn’t for perfect people who are sinless.  We’re not a “hotel for saints” but a “hospital for sinners.”  Everyone who marches in the St. Patrick’s Day parade is not showing off their holiness or virtue.  Instead, they should walk to show how they want to become saints, despite their sins – no matter how public or private their sins may be.  I realize that is not the intent of the gay group.  But it should be ours, true devotees to St. Patricks.

Walking, eating, teaching and praying with public sinners is what Jesus did.  Maybe this parade can be an opportunity for Catholics to show the world that we’re not afraid to walk with sinners. This could be an opportunity for a real conversation to occur about this topic.  We can use this moment to proclaim that no matter what our sins, the Catholic Church is trying to walk with us to become saints in heaven – as long as we’re walking in the right direction.  Who knows, by walking along side authentically joyful Irish Catholics, some of those “sinners” may find their way to heaven.  But between now and then, an opportunity to walk is really an opportunity for us to talk!


Cardinal Dolan with a group of pilgrims in NYC


Our modern world has so many ways to communicate.  But compassion, charity, forgiveness and mercy means that we have to walk the talk.   I pray this St. Patrick’s Day parade, even if it’s filled with sinful people, can be an opportunity for everyone to be less judgmental, more compassionate, and more loving as Jesus would love us.  That starts by our willingness to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.  That’s how Jesus did it.  That’s what Saints are willing to do.  This St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I pray that our feet do the talking.


Click HERE for an easy Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe!



Food for Thought


(1) How will you try and walk the path of holiness on St. Patrick’s Day?

(2) What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day meal?

(3) How do you show mercy, love and compassion to people who (by their own decisions) feel marginalized from the Church’s loving embrace?

Questions:   Please leave your comments and questions HERE. Your responses help guide us in our future email blasts.  Thanks for joining in the conversation.

Let us pray:

The Prayer of St. Patrick



I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

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Posted March 4th, 2015 | Food for Thought, Lent

  Food For Thought:  Sourcing Ingredients

The culinary phrase, “sourcing ingredients” simply means getting all of the products you need to make a meal.  For me – the priest who connects food and faith – the connection is quite simple:  if you want to have a dish come out well, you need to follow the recipe, but must also source the proper ingredients.  In the language of faith, you won’t ever achieve holiness, unless we actually have certain ingredients and utilize them well.

But what are the ingredients needed to produce a good and holy faith?  Let me just list some of the basics needed in your religious pantry:  prayer, a roper attitude, devotions, a community of believers, a properly formed conscious, discipline, education in what God teaches, the Sacraments, and a daily discipline to joyfully live according to God’s commands as taught by the tradition, scriptures, and magisterium.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these basic ingredients help us produce a good and holy faith.  I realize this list may seem like an overwhelming number of “ingredients.” But this list is common sense and quite accessible.  This Lenten season provides an opportunity to make sure we have the ingredients we need to celebrate our Christian Faith well.  To help, I’ve listed a few resources to help you “source the ingredients.”

(1)  Spiritual Reading.  Get a good spiritual book and read it!  The book “Epic Food Fight: A Bitesized History of Salvation” has been called by George Weigel, “A winsome approach to our Church teachings.”  George also said this about our Grace Before Meals movement:
The “New Evangelization” proclaimed by Pope John Paul II takes the people of the Church into many different venues — including, says Father Leo Patalinghug, the kitchen. And why not? The Master himself did a lot of his teaching over meals, and identified himself and his enduring love for his people with bread and wine. Catechetics-through-cooking might seem new, but it’s as old as the Gospels, and in Father Leo, this ancient craft has an engaging 21st century practitioner.

   – George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Wants and Needs: Gratitude Journal / Diary
Wants and Needs: Gratitude Journal / Diary
(2)  Measure your daily spiritual exercise.  There are many apps and technological gadgets to help you exercise your body, simply by reminding you to work out or updating your status with how many calories you burn.  It’s helpful to keep a record on whether your getting stronger or weaker, healthier or sicker?  But what about your spiritual exercises?  This new app can help!  Consider it.  Click HERE to learn more.

(3) Be generous!  The CRS Rice Bowl offers recipes, stories about our Catholic Church’s efforts to help people in developing nations, but also a practical way to be generous.  Let the world know you care and that you’re using these Lenten Recipes to help form your consciences and your culinary culture.  A healthy faith requires a healthy amount of generosity.

(4) Go on a pilgrimage.  A healthy faith requires stepping outside of ourselves and experiencing the “universal” aspect of the church.  So go out there an see the world and how wonderfully affective the Catholic Faith has been for it!  There are still some spaces left for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate the great Mystic and Doctor of the Church, St. Theresa of Avila’s 500th Anniversary of her birth.  The entire country of Spain is celebrating this year with feasts for body, mind and soul.  Join us for this incredible trip with me and Patrick Coffin of Catholic Answers Live.  Call Select International at 800.842.4842 to reserve your spot.
(5)  Use Technology for God:  The Redeemed Online organization has provided anyone who signs up, a free daily meditation for everyday during Lent.  I was honored to be asked to speak first, which you can watch HERE.  It’s a great way to grow in your faith, so that the final product at Easter is a better version of you!  To sign up for the rest of the Lenten meditations, click HERE and make sure to #ShareJesus with all others
(1) What do you think is the most important ingredient for a good life in faith?
(2) What is a unique ingredient to help in your faith life?


Let Us Pray:

 “Father, help us to remember that following the recipe of faith also requires us to make sure we have the ingredients of faith.  Remind us if we may be missing an important part of our faith – including an attitude of joy!  Help us to trust that you call us to produce faith because you generously provide the ingredients.  May we learn everyday how to be your follower as Christ taught us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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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 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 ( 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]

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

Posted November 21st, 2013 | Food for Thought, Menu Inspiration, Recipe, Recipe-Turkey



 Talking Turkey Truth

It’s obviously that time of the year, so let’s just talk turkey truth. 

I don’t like turkey!

I get the honors of cutting this big bird!

There, I said it!  Mea culpa!

The process of thawing, the care to prevent microbes from turning into sickness, and cooking a non-fatty and flavorless bird, which is so easy to overcook because people are worried about undercooking this popular food – well, it just baffles me!  Why couldn’t the pilgrims and Native American Indians decide on steak instead!


Steak with Advieh seasoning.

Although I have clearly lodged my turkey protests, that doesn’t mean I won’t eat it.  In some cases, I enjoy it, especially if the bird is highly flavored from a long time brining or deep-fried in peanut oil.  But pound for pound, I prefer an easier way of cooking turkey.

Oven-roasted chicken sitting on beer cans.

My recommendation is: get a smaller turkey or a large chicken to cook as the center piece de resistance!  But to feed the hungry crowds, prepare turkey breasts instead!  I use this catering technique of cooking and carving turkey especially for my large family gatherings.  We retain the tradition of a cooked turkey, beautifully presented – and delicious enough.  


See turkey, beautifully presented.

But we’ve noticed that people go for the turkey breasts, because they’re easier to eat, they taste better (it has  bacon for goodness sake), and then we get to keep the pretty poultry on display for family pictures.  And my Filipino American family LOVES taking family food pictures!

Keeping your turkey and trimmings easy will keep your Thanksgiving stress free.  It will help you stay focused on what’s most important on that day.  Giving Thanks!  

And if I do say so myself, this recipe will honestly make you say, THANK YOU, GOD! 

A young man, visiting the Immaculate Conception Church in New Orleans, for a midday moment of prayer.

 Food for Thought:


  • What’s your favorite way to cook turkey?
  • What’s your favorite side dish?
  • Do you have a simple Thanksgiving recipe to share with our members?  


Your comments and questions assist us in our mission. Please post your comments HERE. 

Let us pray:


Father in Heaven, thank You for this time of preparation for the upcoming holy days.  May we do so peacefully, not frantically.  May our efforts bring about the Grace that comes from a faithful family gathering, one that recognizes that You are the giver of all good things, and that we are called to share these blessings with others – especially those in need.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 This Week’s Recipe: 


Bacon- Wrapped Turkey Breast


November 26

Harrisburg, PA
November 30- December 3
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Posted in Food for Thought, Menu Inspiration, Recipe, Recipe-Turkey | 2 Comments »


Hallowed Eve and Holy Days


Good versus Evil at the Taste of Chicago 2012


Occasionally our team likes to send updates and reminders about upcoming events, opportunities, and news about the movement.  And there are so much exciting things happening!


In this E-mail Blast, we also want to wish that families have safe and enjoyable kid’s fun with dressing up for Halloween this year.  This day can be one that celebrates sweet candy fun.  Dressing up in different costumes can be a positive thing.  It doesn’t have to be scary or evil looking either.  Haunted houses can be fun to scare the “hell” out of your kids.  But parents can be there to help them understand evil is real, not to be “played” with, and that in moments of fear, we must seek heavenly consolation to “scare” the heaven back into them.


Holy Water and Faith in the Sacramentals is sure protection against evil.

Be sure you have a healthy and balanced conversation about the traditions, pastimes, and prayers that also accompany this religious holiday.  At the end of the Blast, you can even say the prayer before you go trick-or-treating.




We continue to spread the Grace Before Meals message through our website, social media, and of course the conferences to which we are invited.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to know where we’ll be next.  And encourage your family, friends, and fellow parishioners to sign up for the free weekly E-Mail Blasts.  (I mean, if you are reading this, you obviously enjoy them, so why not let your friends enjoy them too!) 

Twitter friends in Sioux City, Iowa, helped me find a great fried chicken place, and they were fun company for dinner as well!


Be sure to check our website for the next time Fr. Leo may be in your area – giving a talk, leading prayers, or even cooking for a group.  Consider talking with your pastor about bringing Fr. Leo to do a mission or a mini-mission for your parish!  To learn more, click here.

Speaking to Catholic University of America students.

In November, Fr. Leo will record the audio version of our newest book, coming in 2014:  Epic Food Fight: A Bite Sized History of Salvation, published by Servant Press.  Stay tuned to our Blast to find out how you can get an early pre-release copy!


One of the many book signing opportunities we offer at every Grace Before Meals event.


Finally, remember, in this upcoming month, there are some important Holy Days and celebrations.  All Saints on November 1. the Feast of All Souls on November 2, and of course how can you forget St. Leo the Great on November 10?


And it’s not too soon to plan for your Thanksgiving dinner.  There are even great modified Thanksgiving recipes in a particular book I’ve become quite fond of, Grace Before Meals!  In fact, you can order yours today! 


Let us pray: Dear Father, You give us civil celebrations, like Halloween, to have some fun, dress up, and be like a kid in a candy shop.  May we approach the upcoming festivities with the proper attitude – recognizing the balance of the important religious significance, while maintaining a respect for the fun we all used to have as kids on this day of dressing up.  As children travel from house to house, may they always be protected from evil.  May our fun be truly innocent, sincere, and heartfelt, so that we can have more treats from the Loving Father, rather than experience the trickery of the Evil One.  Finally, as we remember the souls of the faithful departed, may they experience God’s Mercy, Rest, and Eternal Peace.  Amen.  


Feast of All Souls prayers at the cemetery.

Food for Thought:


  • What is your favorite Halloween costume?  
  • How do you tell your children about the spiritual significance of these upcoming celebrations?  
  • Are there any particular names you’d like for us to remember in prayer in these Holy Days of remembering our faithful departed?

 Your comments and questions assist us in our mission. Please post your comments below. 

This Week’s Recipe is Perfect for Halloween!



Check out October’s Culinary Confession for 
The Catholic Review

November 2-5



Chandler, AZ
November 9
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Posted in Food for Thought, Halloween, Holiday, Prayers, Recipe- Dessert, Video, What's On the Table | 1 Comment »

Bread of Angels


Consoling families who have lost a loved one presents many challenges.  To give a hopeful perspective, some will say the beloved dead are now winged angels in Heaven.  Without trying to sound cynical, this description of the deceased person can actually cause spiritual confusion, rather than consolation.

Angel at the base of the Stations of the Cross, Lourdes, France. I would actually find it difficult – even a little funny to see my deceased relatives with wings.

The term “angel” comes from the Greek word angelos, which means “bearer of news.”  There are angels that bring good news and some that bring bad.  Angels, as celestial non-corporeal beings created by God, do not have a body.  Popular pictures show them as winged cherubs, which makes it a bit difficult to consider for some people who have died.  As angels, beings without a body, they have limitations.  One of the greatest “limits” of an angel is that an angel cannot receive the Eucharist.  They can’t actually participate in the Eternal banquet, simply because they can’t eat the Eucharist.  Remember, they don’t have a corporeal body.

Ironically, despite our sinful humanity, we can eat something that only the angels can adore: “The Bread of Angels.”

In order to clarify what happens to people who die, and who we hope are in Heaven, the better word to describe them is a “saint” in Heaven.  They aren’t angels.  They get a halo, not wings.  To become a saint, isn’t simply wishful thinking though.  Becoming a saint requires us to live saintly lives.  And, not to confuse the distinction I’m trying to make, to become a saint we must still act like angels.  That is, we must also bring God’s Good News.

The Angel Gabriel announces Good News to Mary – She will become the Mother of Jesus, who is Lord and God.

Recently, I listened to the homily of Fr. Wells, a former student at the seminary where I use to teach.  He led a packed church in prayers for his mother Judy’s funeral Mass.  During these sacred rights, Fr. Wells preached a magnificent homily about God’s merciful love.  His brother Kevin, who delivered the family’s prayerful eulogy, provided an equally inspiring perspective on their mother.

Fr. Wells preaching at Sacred Heart Church in Bowie, Maryland

According to the Wells’ family, Judy insisted that no one try to “canonize” her, i.e., say she was a “saint.”  Spiritual compliments, she declared, were “dangerous,” because we can start to believe that we’re actually better than we really are.  We aren’t saints until we get to Heaven!  Judy knew that.  In her humility, she wanted to be known as a “sinner” who simply tried to rely on God.  Her priest son, with a smile on his face, publicly preached that his mother was a “sinner!”


The funeral procession.

The irony caused the crowd to roar with laughter.  Her insistence on being known as a sinner is not due to her lack of virtue, but is in fact due to her humility. Through God’s mercy, Judy, with very little doubt, is participating in the heavenly banquet, because her life on Earth was very angelic.  She preached and lived God’s Good News.

She, along with her husband for 49 years, gave God’s Good News to her family, her neighbors, her friends, and her fellow parishioners.  Her life reminded me that if I want to be a Saint in Heaven, I need to start being more “angelic” on Earth!

Trying to be an “angel” as I preached a Eucharistic Holy Hour at Sts. Philip and James Catholic Church’s outreach to a young adult gathering.

I couldn’t help but recognize the Grace Before Meals message during the funeral homily and eulogies.  Fr. Wells mentioned that over her lifetime she packed more than 20,000 lunches, which would rival Jesus’ record of feeding more than 5,000!  Again, more laughs.

Unfortunately, in her last few months, her sickness and the medical treatments made food tasteless – and worse – made all food taste like rusty metal.  How humbling to remember that earthly food, even prepared by Iron Chefs, cannot satisfy a hurting soul.  The only food she craved was the Eucharist – the Bread of Angels!

Jesus, in the Breaking of the Bread.

A solemn and joyful funeral celebration of a lovely and faithful person like Judy Wells reminds me to call upon the assistance and protection of the angels.  One day, when we will be called to the loving judgment of Our Father in Heaven, we may hopefully have the Grace to participate in the banquet that angels can only adore.  Remember, they can’t eat it, simply because they don’t have bodies.  But we can.  And in God’s mercy, for the repentant “sinners,” people like Judy Wells (and all the holy souls who we know lived good and holy lives), are now fully feasting – not as angels – but as saints!

During an “altar call” for men considering priesthood, at the Steubenville Conference in Denver, Colorado. Fr. Chrisman and Archbishop Aquilla giving them a blessing.



Let us pray:  Father, when people we love die, we seek heavenly blessings to help console us.  Yet, in the time of our grief, please clarify our words so that the emotional pain we feel doesn’t confuse our Faith.  Give us strength to express our sorrows well, but also to express thanks for the lives You have given to us through our beloved dead.  Keep us in Your care, protected by our Guardian Angels, and prepare in us a hunger for the Eternal Feast of the Lord of Hosts – the Bread of Angels – the banquet of Heaven.  Amen.


Pray with the angels and like an angel.



More Food for Thought

  • How do you try and console someone who just lost a loved one? 
  • Is there a Scripture passage or prayer that helps you get through some of your mourning for someone you love?
  • Do you have any good angel stories you’d like to share?
Your comments and responses tell us that our Grace Before Movement is helping make a positive difference in the world.  Please leave your comments here and encourage the conversation of faith around the dinner table.  

 This Week’s Recipe:



October 4

Fargo, ND
October 12
Peachtree City, GA
October 13
Pennsburg, PA 
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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Food for Thought, Prayers, Recipe, Savoring Our Faith, Vegetables | 1 Comment »