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: 

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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!

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Posted December 24th, 2013 | Merry Christmas

Fr. Leo’s Advent Prayer & Christmas Blessing 2013

By: Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug, December 2013

This season of hope, wrapped with God’s grace, a time to renew our friendship and love,

Reveals the Christ Child, a glimpse of God’s face, a sign that our prayers are heard from above.


The gift of ourselves is that which He seeks, wrapped in acts of humble charity,

Which is why His gifts are shown through the meek, those who hear Good News with clarity.


For we are only dust, and to dust we will return, our possessions cannot be paid by silver or gold,

Our value is our faith, which the Lord never spurns, and our greatest home is with the Lord in our Soul.


May this prayer, rhyme, and verse be reminders, how this season celebrates meaning beyond imagining.

These Holy Days are gifts to remove our blinders, to teach us, in Christ, how best to be living.


Blessings to you, your family and friends, to those forgotten and hurting may grace be yours too.


May the Lord’s gifts to you be without end, and may this Holiest of Days be celebrated by God in you.


Blessings to you in this Season of Holiness,

Celebrating the Birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!


Dear family, and friends of our GraceBeforeMeals.Com apostolate,

So much has happened in this past year, and we continue to discern how best we can fulfill God’s plan for us. We sense that 2014 will bring us closer to our goals, which will never be achieved fully in this lifetime. But, each year, we set for ourselves resolutions, based on prayer, to keep feeding hungry souls with God’s truth and love. While we have made great efforts in our field of evangelization, we know there is still so much work to do. Please know of our prayers of gratitude and petition for you. We humbly ask for your support through prayers, and simply by you feeding others with Good News and sharing our Grace Before Meals message with everyone you meet.

With Mary’s Prayers and Christ’s Blessings,
Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug & the Grace Before Meals Team

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Posted December 26th, 2012 | Dinner Discussion, Holiday, Merry Christmas

Holy (Not Perfect) Family

As the year comes to a quick close, I often times reflect on all the ways God has blessed me. One of the greatest blessings is, no doubt, my family.  That’s one of the primary reasons why our Grace Before Meals team works so hard – to help strengthen family life through the family dinner.

My “sous chefs” Randall and Jacob – two trained chefs who helped me on the new series of Savoring Our Faith beginning in January on EWTN.


Everywhere I go, I meet different families with the same “problem” – they aren’t “perfect.” But after each Grace Before Meals presentation I offer around the country (and the world), families learn how to celebrate togetherness, love, and each other, despite their common problem of being imperfect.


Check out this 1972 Christmas family picture! Definitely not perfect, but we were happy!

Thanks be to God the Sunday after Christmas our Catholic Faith celebrates the Feast of the Holy (not perfect) family.  While St. Joseph was a chaste and upright man, and Mary was conceived Immaculately, and Jesus Himself was the perfectly pure Son of God – their lives were wrought with difficulty and far from perfect. They had less than ideal living conditions, situations, jobs, and income.  In other words, while they were perfectly faithful the Holy Family was not exempt from struggle, toil, and challenge.  In fact, they had quite a lot of struggles in life.

Image of the Holy Family leaving Bethlehem, from the parish of the Holy Family in New York City.

Recently, I had the opportunity to mediate further on family and perfection when I stayed at the Rectory of the Holy Family Catholic Church in New York City, almost immediately across the street from the United Nations. There I had a great opportunity to meditate on family life – my own family, the parish family, the Church family, and the human family.  In every account, I was able to find great imperfections – in each family and in myself.  From the smell of the homeless man sitting in the pew behind me to the big UN protest brewing across the street, I was finding imperfection was all around me!

United Nations in New York City.

It was only by divine Grace that I was able to manage a small meditation, which I will share with you now in hopes you share it with others. Sitting there, in a very imperfect prayer experience, I realized that our perfection will only be attained in Heaven.  However, between now and then, we get glimpses of perfection when we allow ourselves to imitate the virtues that made the Holy Family perfectly faithful in an imperfect world.  We can also have small victories towards perfection by inviting Jesus more deeply into our imperfections and asking Him to help us and heal us.

Some other ways to heal include praying a sincere grace before each meal, making time for mealtime conversations, practicing Christian virtue, and frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation, aka the sacrament of saying, “I’m Sorry!”  After all, none of us are perfect.

I made a BIG mistake in 2010, setting off the fire alarm during a cooking demonstration by having a flambé right underneath fire and smoke detector!

Despite the imperfections of our loved ones, institutions, and the nations of the world (our human family), we have to show a faith that seeks perfection through patience, charity, and serious prayer.  The upcoming feast and new year, offer our Grace Before Meals family an opportunity to do better.  And while we are certain to make mistakes, our faithful – though imperfect – family, will seek to make each day of 2013 a blessing!


From my imperfect family to yours. Happy New Year! Taken in January 2012.


Let us pray:

“O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of Your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (From the opening prayer of the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family.)

The imperfect but faithful family picture from 1976.


Fr. Leo appeared on NPR on Christmas Eve. Listen to it!

Fr. Leo appeared on National Public Radio’s show “Tell Me More” ans shared with the nation information on his book and the Grace Before Meals apostolate. While he stresses the importance of a romantic meal as instructed in his book, he tells host Celeste Headlee, “If the food stinks at the end of it all, call carry-out. You can still celebrate each other.” Read about it here!

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Posted in Dinner Discussion, Holiday, Merry Christmas | 2 Comments »

Posted December 19th, 2012 | Audio, Holiday, Merry Christmas, Prayers, Recipe, Recipe- Dessert, Video

Advent Prayer & Christmas Blessing

by: Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug, December 2012

Let your Spirit come down upon us like the dewfall.

Behold, the incarnation of God’s saving Grace.

For the babe born at the stable feeding stall,

Revealed God’s love, witnessed face-to-face.

In a time when darkness covers the mind and heart of man,

A Savior, truly God, makes real the hope from above.

His cry, anointed and blessed, expels fear from the land,

And He shows us mercy, faith, hope and God’s just love.

Our restless hearts remain restless until You, Jesus, enter in.

A banquet You bring to starving, empty souls;

Thirst is quenched by the covenant chalice to those who drink,

And for us prodigal ones, His mantle of mercy enfolds.

May this rhyme, prayer, blessing and verse,

Remind us of the divine gift wrapped in Christ’s humanity.

For Mary’s yes brought the gift of God’s birth,

And Christmas brings to souls God’s holy and complete serenity.



In these final days of Advent preparation, the celebration of Christmas joy, and hopeful expectations of a prosperous New Year, I pray you and your family experience the intercessory love of Holy Mary, St. Joseph, and your saintly patrons, so that you may be filled with God’s abundant love. 


I look forward to keeping in touch with you over the coming year, through visits, letters, emails and various appearances. Be sure to stay connected by subscribing to our website, following us on Facebook and Twitter, and telling your friends, families and parishioners to do the same. Also, remember to watch the new season of Savoring our Faith on EWTN and please pray for us as we continue our apostolate of family, food, and faith in 2013.  Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Fr. Leo recently had the opportunity to sing a popular (and prayerful) Christmas Song, “O Holy Night,” accompanied by Mr. Paul Shaffer, the world famous musician who plays for
The Late Shownbsp;with David Letterman.  A link to the performance is below for your “listening pleasure.”


Click here to listen to “O Holy Night” by Fr. Leo and Paul Shaffer (The Late Show with David Letterman)


Fr. Leo also hosted, “A Very Entertaining Christmas” special for the Catholic Channel, with Tom Leopold. The show will air Christmas Day on SiriusXM 129.  


And, because it’s a season of Christmas sweets and Joyful giving, I’d like to share two more special sweet treats!
First, a Christmas cookie recipe that my younger cousin Riza Empeno made for the family.  I asked her where she came up with the idea, and she “admitted” it came straight from Giada DeLaurentis from the Food Network.  And, since I’m not much of a baker, I share this Food Network recipe with all of you – definitely approved by my family.
Click Here for the recipe.
Nephew Emmanuel and Cousin Riza sharing a little sweet treat for a Christmas Party

 Finally, to put us all in the mood, here’s a sweet rendition of a Christmas song.  It’s sung by the great nephew of a priest friend.  Little Benjamin (2 years old) tries his best to sing it for his mother (and for all of you).  But, when he forgets the words, he just makes it up.  Thanks to mom who helps him find the cutest and sweetest ending!

Benjamin's Jingle Bells 2012
Benjamin’s Jingle Bells 2012
AND, be sure to listen to a special NPR interview with Fr. Leo on the show Tell Me More, slated to air on Christmas Eve* at 2pm in the Washington DC area. For broadcast times in your area and to listen to the recording after it airs, you can check out their website here.
*Subject to change.
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An Advent Prayer and Christmas Blessing

by Fr. Leo Patalinghug, 2011

From my family to yours.

(From my family to yours.)

The Lord’s coming among us

Increases joy in the hearts of God’s family.

A chance to increase our trust –

An opportunity to share the life of the Trinity.

The Birth of this Holy Child

A gift beyond all telling –

In a stable, He lays meek and mild,

In our hearts, He seeks love and indwelling.

The songs of the angels sing,

“Hosanna and Gloria in the darkest of nights!”

For the light of God this Child shall bring,

Comfort, strength and divine insight.

He shall show the ways of God,

With loving encouragement along the way –

In faith and hope we step towards love

And seek the glory of endless days.

May hearts burn for love of Him,

As we celebrate this season of giving.

May His peace, your soul shall sense within,

Be the grace that fills your days with blessed and joyful living.

(Nativity Scene, St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, New York.)

(Nativity Scene, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, New York.)

Blessed Advent, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Trust in my prayers and best wishes for all of you! Please stay in touch and remember to share your blessings with those who hunger for food, family, friendship and above all, a living faith in God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Our Lady of the Nations.)

(Our Lady of the Nations.)

With Mary’s Prayers and Christ’s Blessings,

Fr. Leo E. Patalinghug

Tell us what you gave to Jesus for his birthday, and tell us what gift you asked for from the Father in Heaven this Christmas Season.  And, how have the prayers of St. Nicholas blessed your family this Advent and Christmas Season?  Posting your comments, questions and prayers is a great gift to our Grace Before Meals movement!


Have a Blessed Mary's Christmas!

Have a Blessed Mary’s Christmas!

Watch Grace Before Meals episodes on Youtube! Follow Fr. Leo on Twitter!become a Fan of Fr. Leo and Grace before Meals on Facebook!

Mount St. Mary's University: Proud Sponsor of Grace Before Meals

Posted in Grace Before Meals, Menu Inspiration, Merry Christmas, Recipe- Dessert, Recipes | 14 Comments »