Big Fish Story
Originally published August 18, 2010
I know very little about the technicalities of fishing. What I’ve seen on TV about fishing is that it probably requires patience that I do not have. Yet, the call to be “fishers of men” is a responsibility I fully recognize, even if at times I miserably fail at this lofty task.
On a recent vacation, I traveled with some priest friends from my seminary days. If you’ve been part of the Grace Before Meals movement, you know I’ve been traveling with these guys for the past 11 years or so. Every year, we get together in different parts of the world, filling our days with some crazy activities, even if we tend to move a bit slower than in our younger years.
These hallowed days are also filled with reliving memories of our time in seminary and sharing the joys and challenges of the priesthood. We specifically set aside one day and dedicate it to listening to each other’s updates and encouraging each other in our walk – wherever the Lord takes us. These annual gatherings affirm our call to be fishers of men. They also encourages us to keep “fishing” even though it may seem that the fish aren’t biting. And while we are supposed to be experts at bringing in the catch, these days of renewal remind us that the Lord’s also still trying to “catch” the illusive nature in us – His fishermen. While God wants us to be effective in bringing in a large catch, He more importantly wants to bring us safely to the shores of Heaven.
These days are humbling because we share the realities of our struggles in the midst of the stormy waters, which sometimes make our job/vocation to fish a difficult task. While we know our days together are filled with fun, fraternity, and lots of food (we’re all big foodies), we also recognize the necessity to come together and renew our efforts.
We remember the Lord’s words when He counseled His first fishers of men, His Disciples, to cast the nets on the other side. That is basically codeword for, try fishing His way, rather than the old way. When doing anything – like fishing for food or searching for souls – His Way not only leads to a big catch, it also leads to a renewed faith in His plan.
In these winding days of summer vacation, I pray that each of you had some time to renew your faith with some rest and relaxation. You don’t have to go far distances or pay lots of money in a fancy resort to be “recreated.” Sometimes, it simply requires a few moments of quiet prayer in the deep recesses of your own mind, heart, and soul, aided by a visit to a quiet chapel or church on a day other than your already busy Sundays.
Those sacred days of rest, which we call vacation, helped to renew our faith and strengthen our desire to live lives that will catch people’s attention and set examples that they will hopefully follow. And hopefully, these days of rest give all our “Gracers” (i.e., people who are part of the Grace Before Meals movement – yes, I just made that one up) a renewed strength to bring the big catch to the Boat of Peter and to eventually bring that catch to the shores where the Lord awaits with His special feast.
I didn’t catch this fish. It actually “caught me,” or at least caught my attention.
|Me with the big catch.|
A local fisherman noticed us tourists wandering through a city market. It was almost fate how he called out at the time when we were actually craving some fresh seafood. I looked at the clear eyes of this 8-pound red snapper. To determine its freshness, I gave it a good smell all over. There was no “fishy” odor, only the scent of the fresh ocean air, indicating that it was caught just a few hours ago. It was so fresh (and BIG) that I almost felt guilty paying so little for such a great feast!
|Do we totally look like tourists, or what!|
As a way to share the blessing, I’ve provided two recipes in this week’s e-mail. Because of the size, I decided to fillet one side of the fish in order to marinade and panfry it in sections. The other recipe required roasting the fish whole in the oven, finished off with a garlic and chili infused hot oil, which crisped the skin and enhanced the natural roasted flavor.
Prayer for the Fisherman
Let Us Pray: Lord, our God, You called Your first apostles to be fishermen – men who will put themselves out there to bring others to the Boat of Peter and to the eternal shores of Jesus. Help Your Church’s ministers to be loving, patient, and appropriately zealous in bringing souls closer to God and closer to the eternal banquet. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
|One of the Beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.|
|Journeys in Lent, to Italy, and to Heaven|
In the midst of our Lenten journeys, we are currently without a Pope after Pope Benedict XVI retired and prepare for the conclave when our new Holy Father shall be elected. We encourage you to pray for all of the candidates and be a part of this momentous occasion in church and world history. We have shared a prayer in the “Praying Together” section from beholdconference.com which is a great Novena in this time.
Also, we would like to request your prayers for the repose of the soul of Janina “Jeni” Sturdivant, sister of GBM Project Manager Joe Hansbrough, who passed away this morning with her family by her side after an 11 year battle with leukemia. She was 36 and leaves behind her husband Chris Sturdivant and their two sons Alex and William. St. Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, please pray for us, that the Lord may be pleased.
We would like to continue to encourage you in your journeys, whether you gave something up or have added a daily offering to your schedule. Remember that this is meant to be a time to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection, so know that you have much to look forward to! If you are struggling with meatless recipes, you can check out our Recipes page for a number of different dishes, including Salmon Fillets with Capers (Fr. Leo’s mom’s recipe).
Another great way to share meals during this Lenten season is with the CRS Rice Bowl program. As you may remember in a recent eBlast, Fr. Leo teamed up with Catholic Relief Services in a video to help spread the word on how we can help make a difference in the lives of the hungry and malnourished. As Fr. Leo wrote,
The video highlights the important work done by CRS through the CRS Rice Bowls. I’m sure you’ve seen these little boxes before, a Lenten tradition, in which people put in money as part of the Lenten practices. Instead of purchasing something that we really don’t need, like a cup of coffee, dessert, candy, or what have you, you simply put that money into the box. You’ll be amazed at how much we spend on things we don’t need. The money from the boxes builds up and collectively, it can make a difference in the lives of so many people around the world – people who are hungry, in need, or learning how to be self-sustaining!
Watch the video below and start making an impact today!
Another journey that Grace Before Meals, Ave Maria Radio and Corporate Travel Service would like to announce is a special marriage retreat in Italy. Fr. Leo will be joining Teresa Tomeo and her husband, Dcn. Dominick Pastore to lead retreat-goers to a special trip where they can see some of the most magnificent sites in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica, and grow closer to one another and God, from May 18-27, 2014. The retreat is a perfect event for fans of Spicing Up Married Life and Grace Before Meals. Click here to download the registration form.
A new season of Savoring Our Faith has arrived and now airs Sundays at 5pm EDT. We are excited for this season and hope that you can watch it each week on EWTN. Check out their schedule HERE.
Also, if you subscribe to Sirius XM Radio, you should tune into The Catholic Channel every Thursday at 1pm to catch Fr. Leo’s weekly radio show, “Entertaining Truth” with Tom Leopold, former writer for “Seinfeld” and “Cheers”. And if you don’t subscribe, then you may want to consider it, because these guys are funny!
This prayer was originally posted on www.beholdconference.com, written in 2005 when Pope Benedict XVI was elected, and is a perfect prayer for the conclave, as we look for the next Holy Father to lead the Catholic Church to victory over evil.
We, the people of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history.
We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse.
With Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son.
1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, 1 Glory Be
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!
It is already March and Fr. Leo is already all over the place, having wrapped up a Lenten Parish Mission in Mesa, AZ yesterday, a high school and Catholic Foundation event in Sacramento this evening, and heading to the Holy Trinity Apostolate in Sterling Heights MI before finishing up another parish mission in Raleigh NC from March 10-12. Crazy times! Be sure to keep up with upcoming events by checking out the “Upcoming Events” section in the weekly eBlast and our website at www.gracebeforemeals.com/events.
The “Besh”t Chef’s Gumboo
Who is your favorite chef? There are many to choose from. But, recently, I met a chef who’s one of my all-time favorites-not just because he can cook so darn well-but because he’s on a mission of bringing people back around the family table.
|Chef Besh signing his newest book, with his wife Jennifer and one of the “Besh Boys” aka one of his sons.|
Meet world-renowned Chef John Besh!
By Providence, my dear friend Msgr. Nalty knew a friend of a friend who knew Chef Besh. You know my friend as the do-rag wearing priest that assisted me during the episode of “Throw Down with Bobby Flay.” (By the way, this show is also re-airing on Thursday, October 25 at 9:30am ET/PT.) I heard of the Chef’s new book, My Family Table, which makes a plea for people to return to the family dinner table-a message near and dear to my own heart.
|Msgr. Nalty with his super fancy chef coat, Chef Besh, and me-the little cook in the kitchen.|
Since the good Monsignor knew that I would be in New Orleans, he sent an email to the chef’s assistant asking if we could meet up with him at one of his restaurants. It was a “Hail Mary” pass. Never would we imagine his response: a personal invitation to share a meal with his family at his own family dinner table.
It was of great comfort to meet him, his lovely wife, his impressive children, and his own mom and dad-who recognized me from my show (which airs every Sunday at 8:30pm EDT on EWTN).
|Chef Besh with his parents, wife, and children, although one was missing because he was part of his Catholic High School Retreat Team.|
It was like one big happy family talking about faith, family, and food, of course.
One of his sons was showing just how tall he was growing-compared to me, of course.
OK, now here’s the part where you all get a little jealous. The meal was so delicious! While very familiar-the appetizer was crab salad with a variety of fresh greens, roasted beats and a light but creamy dressing, and the entrée was a healthy portion of gumbo and white rice -the cooking technique, subtle flavors, and perfectly textured ingredients were easily detected. A seasonably delicious meal served with reason and meaning.
No ordinary salad, but a combination of unique greens, lump crabmeat, and a deliciously light cream dressing.
Honestly, it took great restraint for me not to ask for a to-go container to bring on the plane the next day.
When we look up to great chefs or anyone famous, for that matter, do we try to see past the stardom in order to recognize the humanity (both good and bad) in the person-and, more importantly, try to love them for who they are as God’s child? While I only met Chef Besh for just a few hours, I saw him in his own element. It was easy to see his human goodness, especially through his loving family. While his food was quite impressive-OK super delicious-the way in which he lives his life of faith filled me with great inspiration. I pray that someday I can return the favor and serve him the food that comes through my hands but ultimately comes from God’s Eternal Banquet.
|Gumbo and rice-perfectly and deliciously cooked.|
While my gumbo never compare with Chef Besh’s , I recommend his new book and his version of gumbo.
Click here for the recipe: www.chefjohnbesh.com/recipe/seafood-gumbo
|Look at all that perfectly cooked goodness in Chef Besh’s gumbo!|
In this featured section, I offer talking points for you to share with family or with the GBM family. Your responses, questions, or even random ramblings encourage us to continue the work of our movement. Please post your comment or question below.
Who is your favorite chef and why?
Have you ever met anyone famous and changed your impression-either for good or for ill?
What do you think makes a person great?
And to promote upcoming Grace Before Meals events, we will feature this new section to let you know of opportunities to hear Fr. Leo’s talks, taste his food, and grow together in your love for God and family!
Event: Palmer Catholic Academy Fundraiser
Date: September 14, 2012
|Fr. Leo will be cooking his famous Fushion Fajitas and will speak on the importance of family meals and prayer together. Proceeds will benefit the Palmer Academy’s new gymnasium!|
|Location : Our Lady Star of The Sea Cultural Center 545 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Bch, FL 32082
Contact : Karen Shields 904-273-0475
NEXT WEEK: Fr. Leo ramps up the anticipation for the release of Spicing Up Married Life by appearing at St. John’s Regional School at 8pm on Wednesday, September 19 to cook an exclusive recipe from the new book.
And on September 22 at 11am, the day of the book’s release, he will be appearing with many other Catholics at the “40 Days For Life” Kickoff Rally, so come support a great cause and be among the first people to get your copy of Spicing Up Married Life!
“Pinoy” is a nickname for Filipinos. However, it describes more than a people. It also describes the culture, including the food culture.
(Open market – Boracay, Philippines.)
In this week’s Blast I want to share with you some cuisine, Pinoy style. After all, people ask me, “what is Filipino food?” My quick answer is: DELICOUS!
In a more technical sense, I would describe Pinoy food as a unique fusion of Asian and Spanish flavors. It has truly become a place of world flavors. Colonized by Spain, situated in the middle of Asia, and heavily visited by Europeans, Australians, and Americans for military purposes and exotic getaways, Filipinos have adapted their traditional plates to create unique flavor profiles.
(Fresh Lapu-lapu, a type of grouper – a delicacy because this fish is particularly difficult to catch.)
(Click to watch a video: Lunch at a seafood restaurant on Mactan Island, Philippines. Check out some of my observations and descriptions about the food.)
Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, No Reservations, showed the struggle to discern what is truly Filipino Food. The fact that the Philippines’ nation is comprised of more than 7,000 islands means each island has its way of doing things. Yes, the “island mentality” means the inhabitants of each island think their food is the best! But Chef Bourdain agreed, Philippines is the “Land of lechón!”
(Lechon – filipino style.)
Let’s start with the common foods. Filipinos eat pork, seafood, and chicken, in familiar sautéed, grilled, stewed, and fried preparations. Philippine beef is not as succulent as well-fed Midwestern cattle or Japanese Wagyu. Instead, the red meat more often used is goat. Slaughtering the fattened calf comes only during big celebrations.
Filipino fruits and Asian vegetables help maintain healthiness in a diet that can be saturated by fatty fried, but oh so tasty, foods. The use of rice wine vinegar to help break down richly flavored foods brings a vibrancy and variety to the flavor profile of dishes such as the lechón, Filipino manok (friend chicken with infusion of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce), and adobo (vinegar-braised pork or chicken that would be drained and refried).
(Seaweed and tomato salad with rice wine vinegar.)
Pancit, the famous clear rice noodle that combines poultry, pork, and seafood can be prepared in several ways. So too, the Filipino egg roll, called lumpia, which uses rice paper to wrap all types of fillings (primarily beef and vegetables) before its deep fried to a perfectly crisp golden brown.
(My mom’s egg rolls – a taste that makes you say “Thank you, GOD!”)
There are some very strange foods, like blood pudding (dinuguan); the famous Fear Factor speciality, Balut (a gestated and fermented duck egg); and a few others too unique for this family friendly E-mail Blast!
Despite the unique (or odd) foods, travelers to the Philippines never go hungry.
(Filipino fish monger at an open Philippine market.)
In fact, visitors often rave about the seemingly endless variety of flavors you can choose from, as long as you’re willing to be at least a little adventurous. For the American and European palate, Filipino food is best described as well marinated and exploding with flavor. If someone has to add salt or pepper to a Filipino dish, then that person must have muted taste buds!
(Mrs. Dorothy’s Philippine Herbal Cookies – completely healthy (gluten free, and cholesterol free, i.e., really good for you) and really tasty!)
I (half) joke with people and explain the reason why I had friends as a kid was because my mother cooked so well.
(A Grace Before Meals presentation at a private pro-life function at the home of Steve Peroutka. Good food makes good friends.)
Maybe you can try my version of Filipino Food. Click here for the recipe.
Let Us Pray:
God bless our families with faithfulness, celebrations around their dining room table, and the perseverance to celebrate together around God’s sacred Table – His Altar of Sacrifice. In a special way, God bless those families that struggle with putting food on the table and bringing their families around it. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Nephews keeping vigil at a Marian Shrine at a beach resort. Expressions of faith at world class beaches!)
What was your favorite traditionally ethnic family meal? Have you ever had Filipino food? If so, what is your favorite? Your comments help encourage our community to share ideas and to spread the word. Be sure to encourage family, friends, and fellow parishioners to sign up for these free E-mail Blasts.
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