Announcing Something New


For today’s Solemn Feast of the Annunciation, we recognize that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world.  Because of Mary’s “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel’s invitation to be the mother of God Most High, we now have the feast of feasts – 9 months later – called Christmas!  This “announcement” of something new, inspires our Grace Before Meals team to do some new things as well.

Here are some highlights:

(1)  Next week you’ll see a new format for the email blasts, including a new “splash page” when you log onto Grace Before Meals.  Be sure to check it out next week.  We will continue to host the same dynamic content connecting food, faith, family and fun, but with a slightly new look.

The young man to my left is considering studying for the priesthood.


(2)  We continue to partner with other evangelization groups, such as for their #ShareJesus Project during this Lenten Season.  Be sure to check out the last video I did with them, where I compare a resurrected body versus the body of a zombie!

(3)  CRS Rice Bowls was an important part of our Lenten Journey.  As we come to the close of the Lenten Season, we realize the our compassion doesn’t end, but takes on new meaning. Consider making these meatless dishes throughout the year.  They’re not only delicious, but it will remind of the powerful connection we have with people around the world – especially those who need our help throughout the year. Click HERE for the recipe.

Fried Plantains with Beans from Democratic Republic of Congo | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
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(4)  While we’ve taken trips around Europe and even in the United States, we’re proud to bring you a trip to Spain – a country filled with a dynamic history, a mystical faith tradition, and known for their international cuisine.  Currently, we are offering a $200.00 discount for those who register before May 1, 2015! If you want a life changing experience and travel to Spain with me and Patrick Coffin, call Select International today at 800.842.4842 and speak with Susan.

(5)  Last week, Grace Before Meals took a new step in establishing our non-profit outreach called, “The Table Foundation: Elevating Culture and Family Life, One Meal at a Time.”  We had our first board meeting with people across the country and we are excited to take next steps. To learn more, visit the website and prayerfully consider how you can get involved.

Our celebration today changed world history.  God doesn’t want us to “stay the same” but to be constantly trying to improve ourselves, our relationships, and to improve our ability to love and serve God and each other.  We hope you hear that invitation from God and announce the Good News to all!

The Parish Mission at St. Michael’s Parish in Livonia, MI. How exciting to fill the church with people seeking a renewal of faith!


(1) How did you celebrate this Annunciation Feast Day?

(2) Is there anything “new” that you can do to serve God better?

(3) Did you learn any new recipes from this Lenten Season?

Let us pray:


Father, we thank you for Mary’s yes to the Archangel Gabriel.  May we experience grace from this Feast Day and allow God’s love to touch us and heal us.  May the reality of God becoming man be a sign for us to live more like Jesus, who touched people’s hearts and feeding their hungry souls.  Bless us on our remaining Lenten journey.  Bless our Grace Before Meals team with zeal to do something dynamic and new for your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Upcoming Events:
Jacksonville FL
Check out all of Fr. Leo’s upcoming events by going to
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Posted March 18th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Lent, Video
Menu Inspiration:

Feeding the Hungry with Goodness


Grace Before Meals makes every effort to work with other groups to feed the hungry.  That’s why it was a pleasure to work with Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Program.  Filming the recipes and sharing the message about the countries that benefit reminds me of the power of food and the much needed efforts of our Grace Before Meals Movement.  With the CRS Rice Bowl Program, you can address the hungers of the body and for the soul.  I hope you you’re enjoying these recipes and the videos.  If you’ve not had a chance to cook these up for your family on a Friday, then cook it any day of the week!  They’re delicious any day of the week!

Fattet Laban from Lebanon | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
Fattet Laban from Lebanon – from Fr. Leo & CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen
Recently, Grace Before Meals had another opportunity to take our message internationally.  We collaborated with the US Ambassador to the Holy See, Ambassador and Mrs. Hackett. Along with the Chef Matteo, one of the staff for the Embassy’s diplomatic core, I cooked a meal to support a religious convent that helps victims involved in human trafficking.  We cooked a meal for these young women and their children – a small gesture – but one filled with God’s love.

Click to watch video with US Embassy
As we approach the remaining weeks of Lent, consider how we can feed the hungry in our world. When we feed others, we experience a fulfillment in our soul.  We really experience the satisfaction with God’s love.

Good News about our Trip to Spain with Catholic Answer’s Patrick Coffin.  There will be a $200.00 discount for all of those who register before May 1, 2015.  Call now 800.842.4842


Let us pray:


“Father, give to us the grace to feed the hungry in our world.  Help us to hear the cries of the poor.   Teach us ways to keep the Christian message in our hearts so that we can fill the hungers of others.  Bless the work of CRS Rice Bowl Program and the US Embassy to the Holy See efforts to assist those victims of human trafficking.   May the remaining weeks of Lent be a time of inspiration, mercy and compassion.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

Upcoming Events:
Livonia MI
Jacksonville FL
Check out all of Fr. Leo’s upcoming events by going to
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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.”

Upcoming Events:
Colorado Springs CO
Anaheim CA
Check out all of Fr. Leo’s upcoming events by going to

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Posted February 26th, 2015 | CRS Rice Bowl, Lent, Prayers

CRS Rice Bowl Week 2 Recipe:

Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua

How has Lent been going for you so far? Did you have success making last week’s CRS Rice Bowl recipe, UGALI WITH BEAN SOUP? Even after just one week, many of us likely have experienced some adjustments, but stay the course, as your Lenten journey is just beginning and we have many more days (and recipes) to go through.
This week, watch the latest CRS Rice Bowl Global Kitchen episode where I cook up GALLO PINTO, a special rice and bean dish from Nicaragua. You can also click HERE FOR THE RECIPE. Let us know how easy (or hard) this recipe is to make, and share your experience of cooking it, whether it is for you, your family, or those in need.  God bless!
Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua | CRS Rice Bowl's Global Kitchen
Click to watch how to make Gallo Pinto from Nicaragua, courtesy of CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen and Fr. Leo.

Calling all chefs and faithful foodies! 

EWTN will be filming episodes of Savoring Our Faith with Fr. Leo in Dallas (May 4-6); Baltimore (June 15-18); Chicago (October 4-6); and the Cleveland OH area (November 7-11).

Fr. Leo recently connected with groups in the Philippines after his last call out to find places, thanks to you. Can you help him stateside?

Each show will feature a religious site, a local restaurant with a great story to share, and a cooking segment.  We need your help!  We’re looking for suggestions on religious sites, restaurants and names of possible culinary assistants. Please comment below and email with your suggestions, and we will look to be in touch with you soon.

Let Us Pray:

(Prayer for 21 Coptic Martyrs)
“Eternal Father, as Your Son spoke to us ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ grant unto your Coptic Martyrs repose for their souls, and Your gift of eternal salvation. May their witness stir our hearts this Lent to live in true charity even in the face of persecution by our enemies, and to boldly witness to our faith in our day-to-day actions.  May the enemies of our Christian faith encounter Your Truth, be converted as was St. Paul, and cease to persecute Your Body, the Church. May we remember in faith You ‘make all things work for the good’ and for Your glory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Inspired Cookies for a 

Christian Kitchen

As we approach the most Holy Three Days, called the Triduum, I want to reoffer recipes from the CRS Rice Bowls – perfect for Good Friday. Actually, they’re perfect for any day of the year.  

Click to watch Fr. Leo’s Appearance on NBC 4 in NYC.

Along with this recipe, I want to share a faithful foodie cookie idea families can share with children. It came from one someone who attended one of my parish missions. 

St. Timothy Parish Mission – So blessed that our parish missions fill up the churches, making the pastors very happy.

Because I don’t have an exact resource, I want to clearly explain that I didn’t create this recipe. I’m just sharing this recipe with you with great inspiration. In my opinion, inspiration is one of the most important ingredients in cooking. 

I’m always happy when the camera crew lines up to eat the food I cook for different food news segments.

As you and your family participate in the holiness of the liturgies that lead to Easter celebrations, I pray you will always remember how much God loves you. His love will feed you – body, mind, and soul. This food ought to inspire us to live our lives following Jesus to Heaven.  

Icon of the Last Supper.


This Week’s Recipe: 
Photo from

The Catholic Review:

Let us Pray:

God of love, give us the Grace to see how the liturgies of Holy Week inspire us to anticipate with great joy the Easter mysteries.  May we be patient with those who may come to church out of obligation or may not fully understand the spiritual depth of these celebrations.  May our joyful presence, non-judgmental faith, and sincere prayers be an inspiration for all Christians and people of good will to live as a peaceful human family.

The Garden of Gesthemane, Jerusalem.



  • What will you cook during these upcoming holidays?
  • Do you have a special Easter recipe with a story that you can share?
  • Did you use any of the CRS Rice Bowl recipes?  If so, which did you enjoy the most?

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

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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, Culinary Confessions, Easter, Lent, Menu Inspiration, Prayers, Recipe, Restaurants, Restauraunt Reviews, Video | No 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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Posted in CRS Rice Bowl, Dinner Discussion, Epic Food Fight, Lent, Prayers, Recipes, Vegetables, Video | 8 Comments »