Posted February 5th, 2015 | Holiday, Spicing Up Married Life

Valentine’s Day & 50 Shades of Grace

By definition, “passion” comes from the Latin verb, “Pati.”  It doesn’t mean passion exclusively in a sexual sense.  It actually means “to suffer.”  True passion means love worth suffering for.  It’s the kind of love that made Valentine, the martyr for Christ, the inspiration for St. Valentine’s Day. It’s no coincidence that Cupid’s arrow painfully piercing the heart is a popular symbol of love.  Love and passion don’t always feel good.

St. Valentine. Not quite as cutesy as a little angel with a heart-shaped arrow (Picture courtesy of

In light of the controversial highly female-erotic movie based on the popular book to be released on St. Valentine’s Day, I wanted to offer a reflection that can hopefully respect the many different opinions about this film and the topic of love. Since everyone else is talking about 50 Shades of Grey, I instead want to talk about “50 Shades of Grace”!
The classical philosophers note that love has many dimensions, generally characterized as  “shades” or ways of understanding love. Philosopher and Theologian, CS Lewis describes the Greek understanding of storge (affection), philia (friendship), agape (a Godly love of charity), and eros (erotic or romantic love) in his book “The Four Loves.”  While the commercially popularized fiction novel-turned-movie 50 Shades of Grey may not be the best context for discussion, all the talk about this movie shows a real need to discuss the topic of eros for the modern world.
People of faith cannot be afraid of the topic of human sexuality.  There just needs to be a better place to discuss the inner secrets, longings and our human need for physical love in a world that is so broken and inhabited by people equally broken.  While the commercialization of this topic is shameful, we have to overcome the shame that people have when discussing this topic.

Young Couples from the Manila Philippines, some of whom are connected to the movement, “Couples for Christ.”

Where is the best place to discuss this topic?  Our faith teaches us that we ought to talk about these topics in a few different places – and the movie theatre is not the best place!  Instead of talking about this topic so publicly, it is best to start a conversation with God in prayer.  Yes, God won’t blush if you’re honest with Him in prayer.
Another place to discuss this topic, especially if we let the brokenness get the best of us, is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession isn’t a “counseling” session per se.  The priest – especially an experienced confessor who has heard a lot of confessions – can tell you that private sins, if brought to the light of grace in the Sacrament can be a real opportunity for true and humble love. Confession really provides education about this sensitive topic – which is much more than a novel or movie can offer.
Finally, another place to discuss this very private topic is with your spouse.  What should be obvious is not. Admittedly, many couples do not know how or have the courage to share their concerns about physical intimacy or sexual needs with their spouses. Despite the age of information, many couples are uninformed or misunderstand the church’s very positive outlook on human sexuality. Certainly, the Church’s teachings approach the topic of sexuality with sensitivity but not out of embarrassment. It is always out of respect for the power eros possesses.  Eros has power to do great-saint-making-good, but also great destruction.  It requires a sensitive, honest, and faithful discussion!

One of the many couples who attended the Marriage Enrichment Night near Pittsburgh.

A priest can’t stop a person from watching the movie or reading this book or other books and movies like it. It is interesting that even many secular observers have deemed this movie raunchy, seedy, or inappropriate for public consumption.  That should be prevention enough! Perhaps in prayer you may realize that God offers you a better experience of love – all shades of it – if we  allow Him into the inner, most intimate recesses of our hearts.  While the content of the book and film will raise eyebrows, and in some regards, bolster the efforts of a misguided sexual revolution, it remains a legitimate topic that ought to be discussed.  My questions and challenges for you are where, how and with whom ought this discussion take place?
The title of this email blast “50 Shades of Grace” came from my meditation on the 50 beads of the Holy Rosary.  Yes, Mary was a passionate woman.  She can really help women understand the deeper meaning of love.  On St. Valentines Day, do something romantic and passionate with your spouse:  pray the rosary together.  It’s truly more than 50 shades of Grace!

Mother Mary.

As you prepare for St. Valentine’s Day, use this opportunity to learn more about what the Church teaches about marriage, sexuality, intimacy and couple’s conversation through my book, Spicing Up Married Life. This book has been used by marriage preparation programs, couple enrichment nights, and couples across America. Counselors use the book to help heal and strengthen those relationships that need God’s grace.   Couples who have used this book develop an understanding of the theological language of marriage.  They begin to appreciate, not fear, the Catholic Church’s very positive teaching on human intimacy, sexuality, and the need for all types of love – including romance!  Consider this book a gift for you and your spouse, fiancé, or a couple preparing for marriage.

Click to order the book online in time for Valentine’s Day!

In our world where love and sex can become mutually exclusive or confused, it’s always helpful to know that there is someone you can talk to about your deepest desires of love and intimacy –  the true doctor, the Divine Physician.  Let God pull you out of the grey areas of this topic and bring you into the light of true love.  The Doctor will see you now!
Let us Pray: Lord, teach us how to love. It’s so easy to get caught up in the confusion of emotions that we get lost on our way as we seek the Love that fulfills.  We pray for those who are hurting because of unbridled and abusive power of the eros.  We pray for those caught up in the industry that confuses sex for love.  We pray that none of us become destructively critical, but humbly aware that these sins – no matter how embarrassing they may be – are ultimately forgivable by God’s loving mercy.  Help us to love dear God as Jesus taught us by his Passion! Amen.

Food For Thought:
(1) Do you have a book title to help you understand the church’s teaching of human, physical love and intimacy?
(2) What special meal do you have planned to celebrate St. Valentines Day?
(3) How can you make God a more intimate part of your relationship with your spouse?


Do something romantic for Valentine’s Day and consider giving a trip of a life time!  Join me and Patrick Coffin to Spain, and learn about the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila” and the mystic Spanish Doctors who help us to know God as the Beloved!



Posted in Holiday, Spicing Up Married Life | No Comments »

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


Happy New Year to you & your loved ones

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

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

Let us Pray:

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

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


Spaces are running out! Click the link to register for an incredible trip to Spain: 

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

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

Posted December 24th, 2014 | Holiday, Merry Christmas, Pilgrimages, Prayers

A Christmas Prayer at the Nativity Scene


On this most Holy Night, may God’s blessings be upon you and your family. May God look kindly on all of humanity, especially on those who are far from God’s grace, those who do not yet acknowledge Jesus the Christ as our Savior, those who are lacking in the basic necessities of life, those who are hurting in body, mind or spirit.

I invite you to unite all of your prayers, focused on the Child, born for us!

Enjoy my rendition of “Ave Maria” that I offer as a Christmas Gift to you. It’s a clip from the recent “Entertaining Truth” Christmas Special, which you can listen to in its entirety over the next few days on the Catholic Channel, Sirius XM 129. Click Here to listen.

Also, you can CLICK HERE for last year’s rendition of “O Holy Night”, as played with Paul Shaffer on “Entertaining Truth” on Sirius XM.

A Nativity scene for Christmas 2007 in front of the main altar at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Rome, Italy. (Photo © Scott P. Richert)

Catholics traditionally leave the Child out of their Nativity scenes until after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This prayer, in which we humble ourselves before the Savior of the World, born as a Child in a stable, is the perfect prayer to accompany the placement of the Child in the manger.

The entire family can recite the prayer together in front of the Nativity scene. It’s also a good idea to print a copy to keep near the manger until you take it down, so that you can pray it frequently throughout the Christmas season.

Let Us Pray (A Prayer Before the Manger Scene):

“O Divine Redeemer Jesus Christ, prostrate before Thy crib, I believe Thou art the God of infinite Majesty, even though I do see Thee here as a helpless babe. I humbly adore and thank Thee for having so humbled Thyself for my salvation as to will to be born in a stable. I thank Thee for all Thou didst wish to suffer for me in Bethlehem, for Thy poverty and humility, for Thy nakedness, tears, cold and sufferings.

Would that I could show Thee that tenderness which Thy Virgin Mother had toward Thee, and love Thee as she did. Would that I could praise Thee with the joy of the angels, that I could kneel before Thee with the faith of St. Joseph, the simplicity of the shepherds. Uniting myself with these first adorers at the crib, I offer Thee the homage of my heart, and I beg that Thou wouldst be born spiritually in my soul. Make me reflect in some degree the virtues of Thy admirable nativity. Fill me with that spirit of renunciation, of poverty, of humility, which prompted Thee to assume the weakness of our nature, and to be born amid destitution and suffering. Grant that from this day forward, I may in all things seek Thy greater glory, and may enjoy that peace promised to men of good will.”  (Source:


Spaces are running out! Click the link to register for an incredible trip to Spain: 

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

Posted in Holiday, Merry Christmas, Pilgrimages, Prayers | 5 Comments »

Posted December 17th, 2014 | Holiday, Merry Christmas, Prayers


Advent Prayer & Christmas Blessings 2014

Written by: Rev. Leo E. Patalinghug

From the Woman clothed with the sun,

A Child is born for us.

His call and mission is to make us one

By loving God, in Him we trust.

In the darkness, this Child is the light

hope for all, freedom from fear.

His presence is God, we now have sight

“Emmanuel” His Name, for God is here!

His Presence remains through Bread and Wine,

Consecrated by words, blessed by faith.

Through simple gifts, God’s presence divine

Hasten to Him, in the Tabernacle He waits.

In the fullness of time may Him we receive,

May faith change us to live holiness as true,

For heaven is real for those who love what Mary conceived,

And faith has power to cleanse and make us new.

This time of the year is one filled with Grace,

Let not the passing be our focus or goal,

But seeking God’s presence in this Holy Child’s Face,

And be like Shepherds who sang to the First Noel.

May this rhyme, prayer and reminder be for you

A song in our hearts that angels sing.

May Advent & Christmas be lived sincerely and true,

And each day of the New Year, God’s Grace may He bring.

May you and your family experience the great joy of this Holy Season.  Thank you for being a part of my spiritual family, part of the Grace Before Meals family, and part of God’s human family who seeks to bring as many people to the Lord’s Table here on earth and eternally in heaven.

Abundant blessings in this Advent Season, abundant grace at Christmas, and abundant joy in the New Year!

With only 1 week away, consider giving Grace Before Meals Gift or email us about making a donation in the name of someone to our new non-profit organization, The Table Foundation (more info to come next week).  You may also want to consider reserving your spot for the 2015 Trip of a Life Time – celebrating St. Teresa of Avila’s birthday in Spain.

What a great gift to give to a loved one – a trip to help them grow in faith! You can even print up the brochure as a gift item to wrap!

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

Posted in Holiday, Merry Christmas, Prayers | 4 Comments »

Posted December 4th, 2014 | Holiday

  Giving Gifts This Season

As “Cyber Week of Shopping” forces us to buy “stuff,” give the gift of “faith, food, family and fun” with Grace Before Meals books and meaningful memorabilia.

Click the picture to get these great Grace Before Meals gifts, perfect to share with the family. If you are interested in a personal dedication, send your inquiries to


With a special expedited delivery option, your personalized and dedicated materials will be shipped out by December 16th and you’ll receive these packages in plenty of time to wrap for family and friends!

Also, consider the gift of faith with a Faithful Foodie Travel Experience.  Next year, Fr. Leo is hosting a tasty trip to Spain to celebrate the 500th Anniversary Birthday of the Great Mystical Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila.  Fr. Leo joins Patrick Coffin, Host of Catholic Answers Live Radio Show, for a special tour of perfectly balanced faith and flavors of this incredible country!

Call Select International at 1-800-842-4842. Spaces for Fr. Leo’s last trip filled up in less than one week! So, sign up immediately!

Gift giving doesn’t have to cause stress!  if you’re willing to “pray your way” through the gift giving season, you’ll see that it is truly better to give from your heart than to receive a gift from the wallet.  With Grace Before Meals, the gift of faith, food and family fun just keep on giving!

A family from a GBM presentation this past weekend in Rutland MA. They are excited to get Fr. Leo’s books and celebrate family life.

Let us Pray:

Father in Heaven, we thank you for this season that calls us to be generous.  As we provide a gift for loved ones, help us to remember those who feel so unloved and abandoned, the poor, broken and lonely.  Help us to reach out to them with a special concern. And if we are not financially able to be generous with our money, help us to be courageous and be generous with our service, time and prayers.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(1)  What type of gift are you planning on giving to Jesus this Christmas?
(2)  What was the best gift you received from your parents?
(3)  What’s the best and most practical spiritual gifts you can give to your family?

Please comment and share below. We appreciate you being a part of the conversation and hope you spread the word.


12/6/14 – 12/10/14


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

Posted in Holiday | No Comments »

Posted November 26th, 2014 | Holiday, Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Lord’s Altar table to our own dinner table, I pray for you and your family, I also pray for those who go without, and those unsung heroes who work to provide the Lord’s bounty for your table and for your souls! To all of the faithful FEEDERS. Cheers!

Let us Pray:
(From the Book of Blessings for the Roman Catholic Church)

“All Powerful God, we appeal to your tender care that even as you temper the winds and rains to nurture the fruits of the earth, you will also send upon them the gentle shower of your blessing.  Fill the hearts of your people with gratitude, that from the earth’s fertility the hungry may be filled with good things and the poor and needy proclaim the glory of your name. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Traditional Grace:

Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  And, may the Souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Posted in Holiday, Thanksgiving | 3 Comments »