Posted January 28th, 2015 | From the Feedbag, Savoring Our Faith


The Impact of Grace

It’s always nice to read from our email subscribers. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads these things, and if anyone cares.  Sure, people like recipes, looking at pictures and getting up-to-date info, but what matters most to our Grace Before Meals team is when Grace actually makes a difference in someone’s life.  Well, God certainly answered my question with this email that I’d like to share with you.
The Cathedral of Manila where Pope Francis Celebrated Mass

Dear Father Leo,

My husband and I met you when you visited the our church last year and I wanted to thank you for your inspiring talk on marriage and your genuine interest in all of us that were present.  The food was excellent, too!  I can’t tell you the impact you had on me and my husband.  He is still talking about that night and your teachings.

The owner and family of “Mary Grace Cafe” hosted a special Grace Before Meals event in the Philippines. To book your special event, click the picture.

I just wanted to pass on a story regarding the New Year’s Day prayer you sent out on your email updates.  

My brother’s family has been splintering over this past year that communication completely broke down between the children and parents.  I have been praying for healing and for a prayer that would help protect his family from evil.  When I read the prayer you sent out, my heart leaped!  This was the prayer I was asking for.  My brother left the Catholic Church many years ago for other Christian denominations, so I was a little hesitant to send the prayer to him.  But I did anyway.   My brother loved the prayer and began praying it.  Two days later my nephew called his father and as I have been told, healing has begun for the family.  This truly is a miracle!  There is a long way to go, but with Christ’s help, it will happen.  My brother has sent the prayer to his daughters to pray and other friends and family.

One of the families’ restaurants that will be part of the upcoming episodes of Savoring our Faith, Season 4.

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit guided you to send out this prayer.

Thank you for your vocation.  May God continue to strengthen you and guide you.

May God Be With You,

Christ’s Peace


So good to know that a little act like passing on an email can bring about a little miracle. It takes courage to share good news.  It takes faith to believe that prayer works.  When I send out these email blasts, I say a little prayer that our little gesture opens your heart, mind and soul to receive God’s generous love!

The Little Sisters of the Poor are taking good care of Cardinal Keeler, retired Archbishop of Baltimore, who ordained me. I had a chance to pray with him at the Sister’s prayerful nursing home.

FYI: Our trip to Spain with Patrick Coffin continues to fill up, so please call as soon as possible to register yourself and be part of this once-in-a-lifetime trip.  We’re going to celebrate the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila’s birth.  It’s a real taste of Spain’s faith, food, wine and culture.  Call 800.842.4842 today!


Let us Pray:

Father in heaven, you generously provide us the grace to know love and serve you.  In this desire to do your will, we sometimes do not know if we’re on the right path or not.  Please give us the necessary grace and even your confirmation through the support of the people you love and the people we are called to serve.  Thank you for the encouragement of our Grace Before Meals family and bless them always, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

– How has the Grace Before Meals movement helped you?

– How can we be of better service to you?

Please leave your comment below and be part of the conversation.








Upper St. Clair, PA

1/31/15 – 2/4/15




Appleton, WI 

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Posted in From the Feedbag, Savoring Our Faith | 2 Comments »

Posted November 6th, 2014 | From the Feedbag




Sweet and Sour



Being a public person, not just as TV & Radio Host and Speaker, but even just having your face on the internet, opens you up to a whole host of comments.  Occasionally, I like to share some of what I receive and even my responses. This week, I hope you enjoy the variety of unique and even awkward messages, along with some inspiring messages.

This one came from my Facebook page, and it’s copied verbatim, so any grammar issues are not mine:

Rev Leo,

when you cook Italian I want to barf I make home made sausages home made wines home ade pasta, pickle veggies of all sorts and for you to represent a priest maybe studied in Rome dosen’t make you chef of the future . With all do respect try teaching the foods from the country you were born in I beleive Philopines!?


FaceBook Follower

Me with Chef Jeff of Flip my Food. Celebrity Chef who conquered struggles in his life, including prison, to become the first African American to serve as Executive Chef at the Bellaggio in Las Vegas.

Dear Facebook Follower:

Thanks for your note, even if it was insulting.  Your racial prejudice leads to an illogical result.  I enjoy cooking Italian food, like other types of cuisine, because I studied some culinary arts while I lived in Italy for several years.  I would hope your Italian heritage would be “complimented” in that other nationalities also enjoy the cuisine.  Highlighting other cultures and cuisines provides an encouraging opportunity to experience a global cuisine because we are a global family.  You don’t have to be Italian to cook Italian, and being a Filipino American doesn’t mean that I cannot eat, learn and cook other ethnic foods.  I never claim to be a “chef of the future” but a cook to bring families to the dinner table.  Gratefully, I’ve had Italian Chefs taste my cooking and it was humbling to hear their compliments for my cooking.  One day, I’d like to learn from you some of your cooking techniques. In the meantime, I pray you will have the humility, discipline and patience to teach your children and grandchildren these techniques, even if they’re not 100% Italian, so that your memories and meals will last for generations.  Buon Appetito!


Here’s a letter I received from a young man, with whom I had the privilege to cook with during a Mission trip to San Diego.  I edited some of letter to get to the really good points.

David, a young man who is connecting generations through food!


Dear Fr. Leo,

My name is David […] a sophomore at St. Augustine High School.  I would say I’m a typical teenager who likes to play sports. But what makes me unique and a little quirky is my love and passion for food.  At age 5, my mom remembers that instead of asking for the children’s menu at restaurants, I would ask the waitress, “What is the fresh catch of the day?”  I definitely liked fine dining and would say I have developed a pretty good palate….

This past summer, food would take on a different meaning to me. My grandfather suffered a stroke. His movements and abilities definitely slowed down.  My grandfather, who was a chief cook in the US Navy, was having a hard time cooking dinner for himself and my grandmother.  My mom started making dinner for them 1-2 times a week and bringing it over to their house. I started helping her and enjoyed learning how to cook other meals and I also enjoyed talking to her and hearing some of her childhood stories.  Then when we delivered the food to my grandparents I learned so much about them.  I heard stories of how my grandfather met my grandmother, which was pretty funny.  […] Every time he would talk about his Navy days his eyes would swell up with so much gratitude that the Navy gave him the opportunity to raise his family in the United States.  I realized at that moment food was connecting generations […]  I have been so busy with sports, tournaments and studying that I was missing out on learning about my culture and my family.  It’s sad to say that my generation is so focused on being the best in everything that we’re spending less and less time with our grandparents.

What I wanted to do is to start a movement of “Connecting Generations with Food.”  The problem is I don’t know how to begin. How can I promote this in my school and in the community?  My mom told me about your movement, “Grace Before Meals.”  Perhaps I can get involved in your ministry and [perhaps] you can mentor me on how to get my movement going.

Thank you for your guidance,


One of blessings of my work is that I get a chance to speak to large groups made up of different generations. Young, old and everything in between love the Grace Before Meals message!


Dear David:

This letter brought tears to my eyes.  You are embodying my Grace Before Meals message. You see that food has power!   That’s why Jesus became our “food” in the Eucharist.  I’m proud that you’re making the connections with your parents and grandparents.  I’m so excited to hear of your ideas.  To help you get your movement off the ground, here are a few suggestions:

(1)  Say a prayer, and ask God for help! With God, all things are possible.  Even for a cook like me to win a recipe cooking competition against Bobby Flay!

(2)  Talk with your teacher or school principal on possibly getting a club together, one that combines food and different traditions. You could even host a school-wide cooking presentation. AND, I’d love to come and present the message to your fellow students.

(3)  Keep on learning about your grandparents, parents, and one another. Keep learning cooking skills from different cultures and cuisines.  Don’t be afraid to try different foods, but also learn its history.  And, above all, keep learning about your faith that has the power to connect you to more than your grandparents. Faith can help connect you to the Saints in Heaven!


Finally, here’s a question that I’ve been getting since I was given permission by the Archbishop of Baltimore to enter a formation process for consecrated life with Voluntas Dei, a Secular Institute of Pontifical Rite.

Me praying at the tomb of the founder of the Voluntas Dei Ponfitical Secular Institute, Fr. Louise Marie Parent, in Trois Riviers, Quebec, Canada.

Dear Fr. Leo,

Are you still a priest? I’m confused because you said you’re now in a “secular” community?  Does that mean you’re no longer able to say Mass and hear confessions?  





Dear Confused:

Yes, I’m a very happy Roman Catholic Priest and will, God willing, die a priest – faithful to the Lord, His Church and to my priestly promises.  Since January 2014, I received permission to enter a communion of consecrated life, called Voluntas Dei (the Will of God), a group known as a “secular institute.” That means that my job is now to help be a leaven in the “secular world,” following the example of the Lord who sent his disciples ‘into the world’ to spread the good news! (Matthew 28).  So, I’m a priest. I still say Mass everyday. I hear A LOT of confessions because now I speak at large venues and evangelization conferences. I still celebrate the sacraments. I’m connected to my community through monthly gatherings.  In fact, we’re starting a local “Voluntas Dei Team” in the Maryland area. What has changed is my living situation and priestly duties.  Now, I live in a small private place, where I can experience solitude in the midst of my busy schedule.  As part of our charism, we do not live separate from the world, but in the midst of the world – again, just like Jesus.  My work is not focused only on the local parish, but now the universal church. That means, with the permission and support of my community and superiors, I travel as missionary, a preacher, retreat director, conference and keynote speaker, and TV and Radio host spreading the news beyond the walls or geographical church boundaries.  For many years I felt a call to heed Jesus’s Great Commission: Go out to all the world and spread the Good News!  Now, as a priest member of Voluntas Dei, I finally sense that I’m doing His specific call for me.  Pray for me!

At a great parish mission for Sts. Anne and Joachim Parish in Fargo, ND

Let us pray:

Father, help us to recognize how your voice is communicating a powerful message to us through the Scriptures, the prayers, the wisdom of the saints, and even through the emails and voicemails we may receive.  May we always listen for your voice and have the strength the follow your will.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Post your comments, questions or concerns HERE.  It helps us to stay focused on our mission! Help spread the word by passing this email on to family, friends, pastors and parishioners!  And, if you want to experience Fr. Leo’s message live and in person, contact the project manager HERE.

(1)  How do you handle critical emails and social media posts, like the one I received from my Facebook page?

(2)  What suggestions do you have for David to get his “Connecting Generations with Food” movement off the ground?

(3)   Besides parish administration and sacramental ministries, how do you think a priest can help build up the body of Christ in this modern world?

Me with Fr. Schmid in Phoenix Arizona, he was the cover picture for a new book to help priests learn how to cook!


11/9/14 – 11/14/14



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Posted in From the Feedbag | 6 Comments »


Originally Posted 8/31/11

NOTE: Every so often, we offer “Blasts from the Past”, which are older posts that still provide a great message and often times, food. With the Napa Valley trip coming up November 9-14 (click the link above to register), check out this letter from one of the Vineyard owners who felt blessed following Fr. Leo’s last “Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands” pilgrimage in 2011. 

Yes, this is SPAM, but in French it’s called “KAM!” Why not just call it Spamé?

This week, I offer two unique e-mails.  One came from a vineyard I visited during the “Fruit of the Vine Retreat” I offered in Napa Valley last June [2011].

Some of the pilgrims from the tower of Castello di Amorosa Vineyard in Napa Valley.

This trip was a highlight of the summer.  The pilgrims who came along experienced incredible faith opportunities, complemented with food and wine, exquisite views, and fantastic people.  I can’t say enough about it!  I’ll just have to leave up to you take advantage and truly understand for yourself when we offer this trip again next year.  So many people are already calling/e-mailing me about when we’ll go to next year.  Let’s just say the plans are in the works.  So stay tuned! [Note: You can still register for the November 2014 trip by clicking HERE.]

A top of the mountain view of Napa Valley from Hall Winery.

One of our stops took us to the beautiful home of the Taylor Family, with a vineyard of the same name.  While we never discussed the specifics of faith in detail, the family definitely had plenty of it as they embarked on this new venture to produce high quality wine with a personalized, family touch.  While I was there, I blessed the vineyard (at their request).  So after getting drenched I prayed for God’s protection on this land, with the hopes that the land, like our souls, will be fruitful, productive, and yield a harvest to be shared with a hungering and thirsting world.

Getting a hands-on lesson about growing grapes.

Here’s a pleasant and surprising e-mail from the owner.  You’ll read how blessings DO work!  You better believe that the next time I lead a group there, we will go back and visit this family and celebrate God’s blessings around our table and in the Lord’s vineyard!

Fr. Leo,

It was such a pleasure hosting and meeting you and your entire group during your recent Napa visit.  Thank you for taking the time to visit us and for the vineyard/estate blessing.  Several weeks ago while our fruit was in bloom we had a very strong storm come through Napa that caused a lot of damage in the vineyards.  I am convinced that your blessing protected our vineyard from damage as miraculously we escaped major “shatter” from the 1 1/2″ downpour. Many of our neighbors had considerable loss in their vineyards. Thank you so very much.


I hope that you decide to return to Napa.  I would love the opportunity to cook alongside you in our new wood fired oven.


Warm regards,


Sandra Taylor Carlson

Taylor Family Vineyards



Our Lady’s Fruit, Jesus, blessing the vineyard of Meritage Winery and Resort – our hotel with a chapel!

And now for a completely unrelated question/topic about the martial arts, and its connection to my faith and my spirituality that also promotes peace.  It’s a question I receive regularly. Most recently I reflected on it as I participated in my sister’s 4th Degree Black Belt test.  There, I had a reunion with my former instructor and my students.  I even had a chance to “spar” against a few of the testers.  Yes, it brought back memories and reminded me of how God worked even in the midst of my martial arts training.

Hello Fr. Leo,

I had a quick question about the Catholic faith and learning martial arts.  If man is ordained a Catholic priest, could he still learn/practice a martial art?  If not, why can lay Catholics engage in the martial arts but not Catholic priests?

Thank you,


Dear Nick,

A Catholic Priest IS permitted to practice martial arts.  I still do, to some degree.  As a former instructor, I taught my students – no matter what religion they professed – the need to practice natural virtue while engaging in martial arts training.  To be a good and effective practitioner of martial arts, you have to be humble, obedient, and disciplined.  That doesn’t sound bad, does it?

Me and my former instructor, Mr. Fred Ocampo.

The popularized/Hollywood impression of martial artists is that they’re all tough guys who go around bullying people.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Most of the traditional practitioners were monks, who were willing to defend their country and culture if necessary.

For most modern practitioners, martial arts is a sport.  It gives training to the body and mind.  Some people make it a “religion,” which, at my school, we heartily rejected.  While we could be considered “masters” of the art, we all preferred to just be called “teachers,” as humble martial artists recognize there is only one trust Master:  God of the Universe!

As a sport, you can approach it with humility or pride.  I’ve seen more violent basketball, baseball, and football players than martial artists.

“Great in the Lord Conference” – The “Bread Breaker” now “Board Breaking.”

My suggestion:  take martial art training for all the right reasons.  Do it for exercise, for toning, strengthening muscles, and gaining flexibility.  Study and respect the antiquity of the Asian culture, which has produced incredible inventions and unique techniques that still work today!  Practice this skill with the intent to be humble.

If you have the opportunity to use it to defend yourself or your family, then thank God you know how to.  The fact is, God gives us strength, wisdom, and a right mind to avoid situations where we will have to use it.  In other words, martial artists don’t frequent rough and tough places.  Our skills teach us to avoid problems and to only use the skills as a last resort.

To help you formulate a better understanding of the art, I offer you the “creed” students said before every class:

The Martial Arts is:  A peaceful life secret, only to be used in defense.  It is a commitment to develop and succeed for the good of society.  It’s a way of life, following our positive natural virtues, of courtesy, perseverance, and self-control and indomitable spirit.

Using martial arts techniques for a popular youth conference talk called “Spiritual Combat,” for about 5,000 teenagers at the Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, 2010.


  • Did you ever have something blessed and then afterwards truly feel that the blessing worked, like the Taylor Vineyard blessing?
  • Do you practice a martial art, and how would you reconcile your spiritual commitments with this potentially deadly skill?  
  • Do you have any questions for which Fr. Leo can offer a perspective – a “food for thought?” 

Your communication encourages our efforts.  Please post your comments and questions below.



Let us pray:

Father in Heaven, teach us humility so that we, like vineyard workers will depend on You; and, as soldiers, we will hear the command and be willing to fight – not with weapons but with faith – against forces that want to harm our souls.  Give us Grace, Lord, to put all things in Your hands – our food, our sports, our hobbies, so as to transform these into gifts, rather than weapons!  Amen.



READ: Fr. Leo Interviewed on


Click to read the interview on

READ: Fr. Leo’s Eggplant Caponata Recipe featured on

Click to check out



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Posted in Blast from the Past, From the Feedbag, Pilgrimages, Prayers | No Comments »

Posted July 23rd, 2014 | Blast from the Past, From the Feedbag

The Art of Constructive Critique for the Family

Originally Published February 23, 2011

Most of my e-mails are very, very encouraging.  However, like most people, I’m not without my critics.  A movement for the force of good will always have challenges.  Perhaps the most common complaint or critique I receive is from people who just don’t understand the purpose of the Grace Before Meals movement.  To some, the idea of a “cooking priest” reduces the priesthood to a gimmick.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Yet the fact that I receive these challenging words shows just how much we appreciate your support, comments, and prayers.   So for this first “From the Feedbag,” I thought I’d share my response to a rather critical e-mail I received around the New Year.

While no one wants to be criticized in that special time of the year, you will hopefully see how my response gave me the opportunity to better reflect on our mission and explain why I do what I do with this movement.  As you will read, I never shy away from responding to criticism, simply because that’s what a family is supposed to do:  listen to each other and respond.  Conversation can bring out conversion.  And while I am willing to hear anyone’s comments and critiques, I recommend we learn the art of critiquing each other “well.”

Critique – especially around the family dinner table, is supposed to be constructive, not destructive.  This somewhat dramatic and sensitive topic gives us all a chance to consider how we are supposed to help build each other up rather than bring each other down.  And where is the best place for this loving, but at times challenging, exchange to occur?  You guessed it.  The dinner table!  Hopefully in sharing this exchange, you will be strengthened in your resolve to share our movement far and wide.

A few years ago, I set off the fire alarms during a presentation – for a group of senior citizens. The fire chief gave me a constructive critique: Don’t flambé directly underneath a smoke detector! The only reason I didn’t get a fine was because the fire chief said, “That’s darn good pasta!”
Fr. Leo:
I’m sorry but I find the tone of your grace before meals website nothing short of blasphemous.  Since when do we equate human nourishment with the sacrifice of the Mass? This is going too far and the appearances on TV seem to be even more sacrilegious and foolish. Get back to your parish or seminary and learn something more correct about the Catholic Faith!

“J”   (Obviously I’m going to keep these letters anonymous.)  

Dear “J,”

Thanks for your note.  I’m truly sorry you don’t like the Grace Before Meals message.  By calling it blasphemous; however, you are saying that I’m trying to disrespect God and make profane the things that are sacred. That is not my intention, nor do my actions reflect that accusation. Before I can accept your suggestion to stop the movement of Grace Before Meals, I’d rather learn more about what you find blasphemous.

Theologically, Jesus tells us His Flesh and Blood are true food and true drink.  Jesus’ greatest lessons were taught around the meal.  He even became our sacred meal! Does that go, as you suggest, too far?  Granted, our language about food and faith is only analogous, but the Sacred Scriptures make the same references.  As a “Pastor” it is my job to “feed” the sheep.  As Christ changed water into wine and multiplied loaves and fish as a prelude to His teaching, he showed how something as seemingly insignificant as food could teach us something far more meaningful.  He revealed Himself when he broke bread! Our objective with Grace Before Meals has encouraged people to remember how God is part of their family dinner table – the “altar” of the “Domestic Church.”  We are best in communion with God through food, i.e., the Bread of Life and Cup of Eternal Salvation.

You see J, food and faith go hand in hand as ordained by God Himself.  What I do on TV, in our book, or on our website is not my idea – it’s God’s.As a Catholic Priest, I’m always willing to hear how I can be a better priest.  I’d be happy to hear your suggestion.  However, the approach you seem to have taken in your e-mail sounds more disrespectful to my pastoral experience and my priestly office.  And your tone makes it difficult to accept your advice as sound or helpful.

In case you had any doubts, I became a priest because I love God and His Catholic Church. Your comment about “blasphemy” not only offends me, it makes me take pity on your inability to judge wisely the things of the earth.  I’m not saying that you blaspheme the priesthood, but the tone of your e-mail sounds more rude than helpful.  I can only trust that you wrote me in order to help me be a better priest in this art and discipline of evangelization.  Do you have evangelization experience to share ways for me to improve? “J”, while you may not believe me, or agree with our statistics, I can say that Grace Before Meals has helped many people make a connection to the Eucharist as the true source of Food.  God has actually used this movement to help people with eating disorders.  We now dialogue with the secular world about seeing food as a “blessing” rather than a “right.”

We’ve supported families that struggle to spend some quality time together.  We’ve helped families return to the practice of praying grace before meals.  We’ve provided a way for people to discuss faith around the dinner table again.  We’ve showed people how the purpose of food brings us together, as the Eucharist does each Sunday.  And we’ve helped people convert to the Catholic Faith.  Should I take your advice and let this all stop?  We can judge by the fruits.  Are these good “fruits” to you? Again, as a priest my job is to feed people.  Not all can/should receive the Eucharist.  But I must still feed people in body, mind, and spirit.  Blessed Theresa of Calcutta showed that simple acts done, with lots of love, help people to become saints.

Can feeding someone human food with Godly love be a way to sanctity?  The Gospels say ‘”Yes!'” I hope this dialogue helps. I hope you don’t think I’m “angry” about your e-mail. As I mentioned before, you may want to work on your communication skills, especially since people deserve a bit more respect than you communicated in your very sharp sounding e-mail. Hopefully you’re a bit more patient if you have disagreements with family and friends around your dinner table. If I did something to offend you, please let me know what that is and I’ll be quick to apologize. After all, as God’s human family we will need to exercise that virtue of patience and forgiveness.

The fact is, you may not like my style, my heritage, my way of speaking, or even my cooking abilities.  Should that be the case, I suggest that you simply turn off the TV when they air my episodes,  and take a moment and to say a prayer – for the both of us.  But again, if you have concrete ways on how I can improve the Grace Before Meals message, please share that them with me in a more prayerful and respectful way as I hopefully have tried to do for you. In the meantime, I hope that your encounter of with my website on the day that marked our New Year was not a moment of frustration, but truly a moment of Grace. Sometimes, they are not mutually exclusive.  Perhaps, before you eat a meal today, you can say grace before your meal and say a prayer for me, the dedicated people who serve with me, and the people who can be helped by our message.

With Mary’s Prayers and Christ’s Blessings,

Fr. Leo

There you have it.  How do you think I did with my response to this critic?  Do you have advice on how to better handle criticism and critique, especially in your own family?.   Let me know your thoughts and questions.  Send me questions at .  Click HERE to post your comments.


READ: The Mandan News Reviews Epic Food Fight 

Read the review from The Mandan News. Do you agree?

This Week’s Recipe:


Sweet Chipotle Grilled Shrimp 

Click for the recipe!



 7/26/14 – 8/4/14

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Posted in Blast from the Past, From the Feedbag | 21 Comments »

Posted July 9th, 2014 | From the Feedbag, Recipe, Recipe- Dessert

Cookies fit for a Pope

This week, I wanted to share a recipe and an article sent to me by some GBM fans (or as I refer to them, ‘fams’ since it just seems fitting that you are part of the family). I always appreciate hearing from each of you, as the movement is truly for all to partake in. So if you have a delicious family recipe you want published, advice for family life, a great experience at a restaurant or an adventure you want to share, send them to me at

The recipe I’d like to share is from Gloria Piantek, who had these cookies madde and presented to now Saint Pope John Paul II. Click on the following link for the recipe or watch the video she made by clicking the image below.

Click to watch Gloria’s video to show you step by step how to make the cookies.

I also wanted to share an excerpt from an article written back in 2002 by Sean Wright called “Intimate Dining with Family – And Jesus”. It was published by the Archdiocesan paper The Tidings in Los Angeles. He shares about his ‘Roman feasts’ with his son DeForeest and just how beneficial that time was for them, both in learning and in appreciating time with one another.

Intimate Dining with Your Family – and with Jesus

By Sean M. Wright

…My former wife, Kelly, had come up with having Roman feasts when DeForeest was yet a toddler.  He was so taken with ancient Rome after watching episodes of I, Claudius, that Kelly made this kind of meal as a fun and educational follow-up.  It worked.  DeForeest was reading the histories of Tacitus and Suetonius by the age of eight.  Our son now knows more about the first five Roman emperors than most Americans know about the first five US presidents.


DeForeest placed four pillows on either side of the bed, with the board in between, to suggest a triclinium, the couch on which Romans reclined for their meals.  Leaning on our left arms facing each other, we said grace, talked about his schoolwork, my writing, the latest news, and – well – the stuff that gives a shared meal a happy intimacy.   


Reclining at table is civilized, inducing diners to savor, not gobble, their food.  Reclining at table is a touchstone with our forebears, it being the usual way in which Romans, Jews, Greeks, North Africans and just about everybody of consequence ate meals 2000 years ago.  Reclining at table is relaxing.  Servants stood to eat at a high-standing table in the pantry so as to be ready at their masters’ beck and call.  Reclining at table is therefore a distinguishing mark of freedom. For this reason alone people all along the Mediterranean borrowed the custom from the otherwise detested Roman conquerors.


Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”

DaVinci’s famed fresco to the contrary, Jesus and his apostles celebrated their last Passover Seder while reclining, so close that St John describes himself as leaning against Jesus.  There, Jesus explained Scripture to His apostles, sang and prayed with them.  It was in this manner that Jesus first gave Himself to His friends [the editor added the word “before” here] imparting Himself in bread and wine become His true body and blood.

For their followers in the Faith, the apostles continued the intimacy they had known at table with Jesus through their proclamation of whatever Scriptures they had at hand. They eventually offered a prayer of thanksgiving in remembrance of what had occurred at that last supper with Jesus.  In the breaking of the bread and in the sharing of the cup, the same Lamb of God came into their midst – body, blood, soul and divinity… 

We thank Gloria and Sean for sharing with us food and faith, and we hope to hear from more of you as we try and bring more families back to the dinner table. God bless!



  • Do you have any recipes that you make for large gatherings or occasions?
  • What is dinner time like for you and your family?
  • Have you ever seen the Pope in person? When and where?

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

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Posted June 11th, 2014 | Events, From the Feedbag, GIFT, Media, Video

Giving the GIFT of Holy Communion with Gluten Consciences

Since the introduction of the newest liturgical vessel, The GIFT: Gluten Intolerant Faithful Thanksgiving, we have had an overwhelming positive response.  There were also a few questions, which I hope to answer in this “From the Feed Bag.”

Click to watch the official video for The GIFT and learn more.

Can people diagnosed with Celiac Disease receive the special low-gluten host approved by the Catholic Church?


There is a difference between people who have a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy, and celiac disease.  The special hosts approved by the Catholic Church have the lowest possible amount of wheat in order to be valid for sacramental consecration.  As the video shows, even people with celiac disease may be able to receive the host without any noticeable physical reactions.  With the GIFT and approved special low gluten hosts, the Church has addressed the special considerations of those with celiac disease in the most pastorally and seriously approved way possible. 


Tabernacle of St. Patrick’s Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

If the priest uses both hands for the “fraction rite” is there still a chance of “cross contamination” even if he uses his other hand to distribute the special approved hosts from the GIFT vessel?



The Church has the responsibility to be attentive to people with gluten conditions (allergies, intolerances, or diseases) while avoiding the temptation to be scrupulous and obtuse in regards to handling the sacred hosts.  While the fraction rite (i.e., when the priest breaks the host) means that the priest uses both hands, the moisture from his hands alone provides enough “cleansing” to safely distribute the special low gluten host in a pastorally attentive way.  Using the other hand (after wiping on the corporal) also helps to avoid fears of cross contamination. 


Missionaries of Charity Novices praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

Why can’t people with gluten conditions just use the chalice and receive the Precious Blood?


Drinking the Precious Blood from the chalice provides the communicant the full sign of Communion.  However, many churches do not offer Communion under both Forms.  Some also prefer not to receive the Sacred Blood for personal hygienic concerns, which is why some churches do not offer the Precious Blood during flu season.  Some also have personal or other medical reasons for not receiving the consecrated wine, the Blood of Christ. This GIFT simply provides an easy way to give Communion without drawing more attention to the person with the special gluten concerns.


Is this a real concern for the church? Are we somehow making these “diets” a bigger deal?



Gluten conditions are medical conditions, which the Church takes very seriously.  Creating the GIFT is a pastoral response to a biological problem that is unfortunately growing in numbers.  It’s not the Church’s position to disregard or dismiss, but to be attentive to people who have special conditions.  The GIFT provides a pastoral and sacred way to easily distribute Communion without calling too much attention to those persons, and without creating hassle for the priest or liturgists during this most sacred time at Mass.



Why is the GIFT more expensive than those pyxes that many people have?



When creating the GIFT, I made a prayerful and conscious decision to work with Alviti Creations, a reputable Catholic Family owned vessel-making company with experience for the past 40 years.  They told me they do not make sacred vessels with cheap materials.  It’s our shared philosophy that the GIFT ought to be a worthy vessel, keeping with the liturgical laws and sacred traditions of the Roman Catholic Faith.  The Church believes that the consecrated hosts, even if they are low gluten, are the Body of Christ deserving more than cheap materials or an inferior plastic lined pyx. This is a sacred vessel because it holds the Most Sacred Gift. Working with Alviti Creations has been a blessed decision, and I’m proud to be their partner in this special project.



Praying before the Blessed Sacrament at the Eucharist Chapel of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.


Where can I get the GIFT?



You can order your GIFT by contacting Alviti Creations, or by contacting your local liturgical distributor. It’s important to speak with your pastor and the pastoral / liturgical team about this good news for special Communion needs.  This also provides a real opportunity for the entire parish to have a catechetical “refresher” on the spiritual and practical aspects of receiving Holy Communion, i.e., going to confession, showing the proper piety and posture for Communion, and also pastorally letting people know that special gluten concerns ought not prevent you from receiving Holy Communion.





  • What do you think of this vessel?
  • Do you have other questions about this vessel?
  • Will you please take action, and help spread this message to your parishes and families?

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



Let us pray:


Father, thank You for the Gift of the Eucharist, and for sending Your spirit upon the Church with the idea for this new vessel.  We pray for all who receive Communion, may they do so with hearts that are humble, joyful and most importantly hungry for Your saving Grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 



WATCH: Fr. Leo on ‘The World Over with Raymond Arroyo’ on EWTN


Click to watch Fr. Leo on The World OVer with Raymond Arroyo.

Fr. Leo was a special guest on ‘The World Over with Raymond Arroyo’ on June 5, 2014. Fr. Leo speaks on Grace Before Meals and The GIFT Vessel in greater details.

Click to watch Fr. Leo on FOX45


Fr. Leo returns to FOX45 to share his new invention for those with a gluten intolerance who want to receive communion during Mass: The GIFT (Gluten Intolerant Faithful Thanksgiving). Watch him explain it further and share the news!

Click to hear Fr. Leo’s interview on The Good Catholic Life

Fr. Leo talks with Michael Lavigne and Dom Bettinelli about the necessity of grace before meals, of feasting and fasting, and of understanding how God wants to satisfy our hungers even as He hungers for us.


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Posted in Events, From the Feedbag, GIFT, Media, Video | 2 Comments »