Food is the subject of this latest post. Why? Because I know we all love food.
Glory be to our God who feeds our souls, our minds, and our tummies.
Earlier this week, I was on YouTube and was linked to an amazing food webisode series by a Catholic priest. What made this amazing was that it was a humorous Catholic priest teaching the viewers how to cook some simple meals. Father Leo started this food mission called “Grace Before Meals.” According to Father Leo, a research study done by the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse found that the common factor to help decrease suicide rates among youth, decrease alcohol rates, and improve SAT scores was a regular family meal. Interesting, huh?
Father Leo has a recipe book on sale with the same title, “Grace Before Meals.” His mission with the book and web videos is to help inspire family meals. I watched tons of videos from Father Leo after I discovered him and his YouTube videos. He is not against , but he did say in one of the videos that we have been suckered into the fast food mentality. He said says that feeing someone is a sign of love. The fast food mentality that we have bought into says that “I’m too busy for the people who I care about.” Yes, cooking takes time, energy, and faith. But meals shared by with a family has its benefits. I’m sure those of you who have regular meals with your family can agree with this.
If you’re interested in learning more about “Grace Before Meals,” check out their website: www.gracebeforemeals.com
If you want to learn some simple recipies, check out their website and the YouTube videos.
Here is the first YouTube video that I found and that got me hooked. It was a simple way of adding some flavor to bread – and they simply used .
Here’s another video of an interview with Father Leo:
I pray that this post finds everyone in good health and spirits. Many times in our lives we hear and see the letters “A.S.A.P.” This, as we all know it, is an urgent saying – As Soon As Possible. We hear this from our teachers; we hear this from people who need something from us; we hear this when we are responsible for something. We may have also heard this in a church setting. Maybe a priest will say that the church needs volunteers ASAP for an event or for Mass. Maybe we hear someone teaching religion say that we need to read the Bible and pray ASAP. This all makes sense, right? We always need volunteers in our church. That’s how our Church was started and continues to be strong – through people who give up their lives for the Church (think about the saints). We always need to read the Bible. Our Catholic faith has its roots in the Bible. If we don’t know, understand, and have our roots, then we fall easier. And we always need to pray. We’ve heard this from everyone – from our priests, from our Pope, from the Bible, from our Youth Minister, from my emails.
Here’s a new way of approaching the letters “A.S.A.P.” Instead of “As Soon As Possible,” think “Always Say A Prayer.” We should be praying everyday. Prayer is what keeps us united and rooted with God. Prayer is what keeps us from doing the bad things that we do. Prayer helps remove us from our busy lives and unites us with Jesus so that we can reflect and see where we are and where we should be. Always remember to pray for each other and especially for those who forget to pray themselves. This is what we should do, but many of us (including myself) don’t always Pray as we should. We make excuses – we’re busy, we get distracted, we forget.
But, the next time you see or hear “ASAP,” think about praying.
Always Say A Prayer.
A few more days of Lent before we celebrate the focal point of our Lord’s life – His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
I hope everyone was able to go to Mass on Sunday – Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday Mass was a bit crazy. Everyone’s excited to get their Palms and the Gospel is a very long one. While I was listening and reading along during the Gospel, I realized that though this Gospel is a long one, it is full of rich teaching and reflection points. Today, I wished Mass was longer so that Father can touch on all the great points of the Gospel. But as Catholics, it’s our responsibility to read and reflect on the readings of the Bible before, during, and after Mass.
Palm Sunday’s Gospel was from the Gospel according to St. Luke, chapter 22 verse 14 through chapter 23 verse 56.
Here’s a link to the Gospel, if you’d like to read all of it:
If you don’t want to read all of it, here are some passages that I encourage you to read and reflect on:
Luke 22: 14-16
Luke 22: 19-20
Luke 22: 32
Luke 22: 33
Luke 22: 34
Luke 22: 40
Luke 22: 42
Luke 22: 46
Luke 22: 61
Luke 23: 26
Luke 23: 34
Luke 23: 39-41
Luke 23: 42-43
Luke 23: 47
Luke 23: 50-53
Here’s a link to an online Catholic Bible to help you find the passages from Luke:
I know, it looks like I pretty much gave you all the passages of the Gospel. I did skip over some passages though. We should all read this Gospel as a whole, but if anything we should read at least some of it. I hope you find some divine inspiration as you read this Gospel or pieces of it.
Check this out too. The following is an excerpt from a church a bulletin I got on Sunday:
“Christ’s passion is vivid, stark, blood-soaked, and deadly. Christians have long meditated on the cross, the place where Jesus died. We don’t celebrate pain, but we’re forced to grapple with it.
First in Gospel descriptions, then through centuries of artists’ grueling imagery, during prayers before the Stations of the Cross, in movies, through sermons, while praying the rosary, in the lives of the saints, in every Eucharist – Christians have grappled with the anguish of Christ.
We don’t want pain, but we’re forced to face it. We connect our pain to Christ’s. Martyrs in every century have united themselves with the Crucified One. Their deaths say this makes no sense unless you understand Christ. Physical pain, psychological torment, spiritual desolation – all have found meaning when connected with Jesus.
We know fear. Fear haunts those involved with – Jesus’ last hours. Pilate pushes his problem on someone else. The crowd wants Jesus gone. A criminal taunts Jesus as he hangs near death a few feet away. And yet, even at its worst, the end of Jesus’ life promises more than the agony that was obvious and immediate.
The Roman centurion at the scene had witnessed enough torture and death to know – this execution was different. This man is innocent. Through tears, a crucified criminal turns to Jesus in hope. Jesus’ followers, the women who stayed with him from the first days in Galilee, were shocked to see him die outside the walls of Jerusalem. Yet this death changed everything.
We know the power of death. All too well, we know fear. But in Christ we know God’s last word is neither fear nor death. Hope was embedded even in the worst hours of the end – hope greater than death.”
- Dan Finucane (Ligouri Press)
As we approach Easter, we begin to recall over and over the pains and sufferings that Jesus underwent for us and for the whole world.
Beginning this Thursday, we celebrate what’s known in our Catholic Church as the Easter Triduum – The Great Three Days – from Holy Saturday to Easter morning. Here is another excerpt from the same Sunday bulletin:
“The Heart of the entire Liturgical Year. The Triduum, these great three days, are to the entire Liturgical Year, the riches and the center of our experience. It starts actually at sunset of Holy Thursday and ends on sunset of Easter Sunday. These 3 days are punctuated by rituals, but they are connected together by fasting and feasting. The official books of the Church, the general instruction of the Roman Missal for instance, suggests that these 3 days are first united by the fasting of the community, the Paschal Fasting, which is different from the Lenten Fast. The Lenten fast for 40 days, where we fast, pray, and give alms, is a fasting of repentance. A fasting that allows us a certain openness so that God can do within us what God wants to do, which is the whole purpose of Lent – to renew us into the image of Christ. The Paschal Fast begins actually on Thursday night till after the Easter vigil. The Paschal fast is a fast that allows us to create an open space, a receptive space, so that we are not spending our time in anything else but being receptive to the great gift that is being given to us in these 3 days. This is the fast that unites the 3 days until the feasting begins after the Easter vigil and continues for fifty days. The Paschal fast from Thursday night till after Easter vigil are punctuated by 3 rituals that all proclaim the death, resurrection, and promise of Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday is punctuated by the very unique ritual of the Washing of feet. The celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday is punctuated by the Veneration of the Cross, the Cross that is unveiled and lifted high in exultation of Christ’s victory. Finally on Holy Saturday, the Eucharistic celebration is punctuated by the Initiatory rituals of Baptism, Confirmation, and the great Easter communion. It is a celebration also of the renewal of the baptismal promise of the entire community. In the real sense, these 3 rituals, actually give us an understanding of what it means for us as believers to be a communion of Saints, what it means to be in communion with Christ.”
- Father Niko Leota, Associate Pastor, St. Philomena Catholic Church, Carson, Ca.
WOW !!!!! Our Roman Catholic Christian Faith is so so Rich in Love and Communion. Yes, Lent and Easter are about remembering that Jesus died on the Cross to take our sins away and give us salvation. But we must not over look everything that accompanied it – the Last Supper, the washing of the feet, the agony in the garden, the scourging, the betrayals, the carrying of the cross, Simon helping Jesus with the cross, the faith of the criminal, the changed centurion, Mary witnessing her son undergo pains and suffering… the list can go on and on.
As Lent draws to an end and Easter quickly approaches, let us reflect on the life of Christ and everything that lead him to his death. May we find hope, divine guidance, and love in the reflection of His sufferings and death.
Let us all pray for ourselves and each other that we may not undergo the test. But if we are to, may we be strengthened and prepared by God.
I pray that each of you is having a good week. I start off this blog with a few quotes on prayer:
“For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
- St. Therese of Lisieux
“Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.”
- St. Ephraem
“We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone.”
- St. Frances Cabrini
Throughout our lives, we hear about prayer. St. Paul in the Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing. The description and words from the above saints recall prayer to be a look towards Heaven, an embrace of our trials and difficulties, prevention of ill emotions and behaviors, bringing us closer to God, keeping Jesus first in our lives.
Prayer is our conversation with God. Too many times do we pray a one-way prayer. Think about our conversations with our friends. What if our friend is doing all the talking and not allowing us to share. We might have something profound and beneficial to say and share, but we don’t get the chance because the other person is taking up so much time in the conversation. Many times, this is God’s side of the prayer. We talk and talk too much in prayer that we don’t give God a chance to respond, and we don’t give ourselves a chance to listen. God created the universe; God created us; God knows us; God knows all. So, God must have the answers too. But how will we ever get the answers if we don’t listen?
St. Therese, St. Ephraem, and St. Frances Cabrini led holy lives, but they were not perfect. They were humans, and I’m sure they failed in their prayer lives too. But despite all that, they have such profound descriptions of what prayer is, the benefits of prayer, and the importance of prayer. St. Edith Stein said it best, “my longing for truth was a single prayer.”
There is no doubt that God is mysterious. But God does hear our prayers. And He answers our prayers just as He is – Mysterious. The Power of Prayer is Mysterious and Powerful. Why don’t we try it???
Last Sunday, we celebrated Valentine’s Day. To the non-Catholic world it is a day of “love” and “romance.” But to our Catholic world, there have been many Catholic martyrs who were named Valentine. Three of which have been attributed to Feb. 14th. However, their martyrdom has nothing to do with the “love” and “romance” that we celebrated on Feb. 14th. The Love that their lives exuberated was the love of God. The Love that was so strong that they risked their lives for their faith and their love for our God.
As Catholics, we look to the saints of the past as heroes, as people to help model our lives to. How much do we love God? How much does God love us? He loves us so much that He gave up His only son (John 3:16). How much do we reciprocate our love back to God?
1 John 3:18 says “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
This Valentine’s Day and everyday of our lives let us show our love not only in word but most importantly in “deed and truth.” Remember, what we do to those in need, we do to Christ himself (Matthew 25:40).
While we are on the notion of Love, as many of you many know this coming Wednesday begins the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Lent is the season when we set aside 40 days to remember, reflect, and pray about the Love that Jesus outpoured for us through His suffering and death.
“Suffering conquered through Love.” This is one thing we should pray about during Lent. Jesus redefined “suffering” by conquering it through and with Love.
Yes, Lent is a sorrowful time in our Church calendar when we remember what our Lord went through for us and for our sins. But it is also a time of commitment; when we commit ourselves to change for the better; when we commit ourselves to Love in a new and better way; when we commit to our calling to be more Christ-like.
It’s that time again for us to start thinking of what we will “give up” (aka Sacrifice) during Lent. Here are some challenge questions for us all:
- What would Jesus want me to sacrifice/give up during Lent to help me Love better?
- In my times of suffering and hurt, do I pray and offer them to Jesus who conquered suffering through Love?
- How loving am I to my family, to my friends, to myself, to my God?
These may be tough questions, but they are questions that will help us grow to be better followers, to be better Christians. Let us reflect on these questions, on our lives, and on the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord during this Lenten season.
May we all continue to stay open to the Love, Power, Grace, and Blessings that God continuously pours down on us everyday.
In 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 verses 16-18, St. Paul tells us:
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
I cannot believe that we are already almost done with the second month of the year, and God is constantly telling us that we need to do what St. Paul has told us in 1 Thes 5:16-18. We need to rejoice, to pray without stopping, and to give thanks.
The rains we had in Southern California a few weeks ago remind us that we need to rejoice that we have shelter and warmth, that we are blessed by God with what we have and with what we don’t have. These rains and the disaster in Haiti remind us to keep on praying because we have brothers and sisters in Christ that are hurting, that are scared, that are lonely, and that have little hope. Through our prayers may we give thanks to what we have and offer what we have to help those in need for we are blessed and blessed by God’s continued graces.
Some time last year, I saw a church with a sign posted in the front of their church property that read, “How do you share the Gospel?”
For many of us, when we hear the word “gospel” we think about the four gospel books in the Bible about the life of Jesus Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also says that “the Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners” (CCC#1846). Who are sinners? All of us. There has only been one sinless person on earth – Jesus. So, the Gospel is about the life of Jesus and is the revelation of God’s mercy to us.
How do we share the Gospel?
How do we share the life of Jesus and the revelation of God’s mercy to others?
Answer: In many ways. BUT we must first listen to the words of Saint Paul:
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
When we rejoice, pray without stopping, and give thanks, we begin to share the Gospel (the life of Christ and God’s mercy).
Currently, I work as the interim scholarship coordinator at Cal State Long Beach. Last semester, I received a phone call from one of our scholarship donors. This person was so moved by a student’s life story that she wanted to provide this student some extra funding to help her finish her college program. The donor sent me an envelope for the student. A week later when the student came to the office to pick up her envelope, she shared with me a story that is so evident of God’s love and answers to prayers.
When the student came to the office, she told me that a few days prior she was having such a difficult day. She got home and was crying. She was struggling with school and was struggling trying to pay for rent, school, and books. She came from a communist country where the notion of religion was thought down upon and that people who believed in religion were considered “stupid.” But while she was crying, she called out to God and asked for help. When she went to pick up her son from daycare that day, she received the phone call from the scholarship donor. That was the answer to her prayers. She called for help, and God moved the donor to be the help.
God works in a different sense of time and is all knowing, even before we ask for His help. God moved the scholarship donor to help this student even before the student called for His help. All the more, our God is a loving God who provides us with what we need and when we need. Yes, we don’t get what we want from God, when we want; but we must trust that God is looking out for us and will provide when we’re ready.
Remember the Bible stories? After years of slavery in Egypt, God saved His people. In the desert with no food, God gave His people manna and honey. The blind man regained his sight through his faith in Christ. The sinful tax collector, Matthew, was given a new chance in life through his faith and following of Christ. The once anti-Christian, Paul, saw the blinding light that revealed to him the truth and necessity of God.
God knows what we need and when we need. He answers our prayers.
There is a power in prayer. It transforms us. It frees us from the holds of sin. It brings us closer to God.
Remember, St. Paul calls us to pray unceasingly (1 Thes.5:17).
Pray, Pray, Pray ….
Today (Sunday, November 1), we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. We are lucky to be part of such a HUGE Family. Our family here on earth and our family up in heaven. Today, we celebrate our family members in heaven. They have served as beautiful examples of Christ when they were here on earth and are now keeping us in their prayers as they pray to Christ directly in heaven.
Earlier this week, I went to a funeral. As in all the funerals that I’ve been to, there is one common theme – remembering the person that past away. So, likewise on this All Saints Day, let us remember those saints who have gone before us. Let us remember what they have taught us, what they have left us, and how we can grow into better Catholics by following their Christ-like example.
Now, tomorrow (Monday, Nov 2.) is the Feast of All Souls. Just as we remember our family members who are in heaven today, tomorrow we will pray and remember our family members who have faithfully past away and are waiting to be prepared to enter the Kingdom of God. There are many souls in purgatory that need our prayers as they prepare to be purified and ready to enter into our Lord’s Kingdom.
Here is an excerpt on Purgatory from Scott Hahn’s book “Rome Sweet Home” (pg. 125)
“…the Bible shows how many times God revealed himself in fire to his people in order to renew his covenant with them: as a ‘fire pot and flaming torch’ with Abraham in Genesis 15; in the burning bush with Moses in Exodus 3; in the pillar of fire with Israel in Numbers 9; in the heavenly fire which consumed the altar sacrifices with Solomon and Elijah in I Kings 8 and 18; in the ‘tongues of fire’ with the apostles at Pentecost in Acts 2 …
…When Hebrews 12:29 describes God as ‘a consuming fire’, it isn’t necessarily referring to his anger. There’s the fire of hell, but there’s infinitely hotter fire in heaven; it’s God himself. So fire refers to God’s infinite love even more than his eternal wrath. God’s nature is like a raging inferno of fiery love. In other words, heaven must be hotter than hell.
No wonder Scripture refers to the angels who are closest to God as the Seraphim, which literally means ‘the burning ones’ in Hebrew. That’s also why Saint Paul can describe in I Corinthians 3:13 how all the saints must pass through a fiery judgment in which ‘each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire …
Clearly, he’s not talking about the fire of hell, since they’re saints who are being judged. He’s talking about a fire that prepares them for eternal life with God in heaven; so the purpose of the fire is manifest: to reveal whether their works are pure (‘gold and silver’) or impure (‘wood, hay, and straw’).
Verse 15 makes it clear that some saints who are destined for heaven will pass through fire and suffer: ‘If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.’ The fire is there for the purpose of purging saints. That means it is a purgatorial fire; one that purifies and prepares the saints to be enveloped in the consuming fire of God’s loving presence forever.”
Sorry this is kind of a late entry. But still interesting info:
Halloween first originated in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany (old providence of France). The original reasons for Halloween was to mark the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter for the Celtic Tribes. The night before the “new year,” the Celtic Tribes celebrated a pagan festival of Samhain, who was the lord of the dead. During this festival, the Celts believed that the souls of the dead returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires during this celebration.
The origins of “trick-or-treating” was another custom from the Ireland pagan festival. Groups of farmers would go door to door collecting food and materials for a village feast and bonfire. Those who gave were promised prosperity. Those who did not give, received threats of bad luck.
Before 835, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of martyrs in May. In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved this feast to November 1. This feast would later evolve into the Feast of All Saints. The night before what we now celebrate as All Saints Day became known as All Hallow’s Even or “holy evening.” Eventually, this name was shortened to what we now know as “Halloween.”
More interesting facts about the origins and old traditions of Halloween can be found at this site:
Attached is an update sent to me by the coordinator of the prayer vigil that we attended this past weekend.
We received news from David Bereit -our National Campaign Director that in the last few hours, 40 Days for Life reached amajor milestone, OVER 2,000 BABIES whose lives have been saved from the tragedy of abortion since the beginning of the first-ever 40 Days for Life in 2004! PRAISE THE LORD! (If you are not receiving David Bereit’s National news sign up at www.40daysforlife.com/orangecounty at the top right)
Here in Orange County at the Planned Parenthood facility we received a report from Deacon Anthony Carrasco from St Columban Church:
On Oct 21st ”I was pleased to see fewer cars enter for their procedures. Where there were 8 or 9 on Monday there were 6 or 7 on Wednesday. God only knows if our prayers are having an effect; but lets hope so. Monday of this week activity seemed to be down even further! . Only about 5 persons remained for their procedures in the early morning of his vigil…. two couples in separate cars entered and about a half hour later both couples drove away. (this makes 3 possible saves in OC in this Fall’s campaign, plus the baby that was officially saved!)…
Tuesday at the Newport Beach Facility we noticed that staff from the facility passed by staring at us. We do hope that our prayers help them decide to use their skills to save lives. Also Dorli Buto from St Vincent De Paul Church reported: “We had interesting encounters including some very loving people who affirmed us in our efforts and prayed for us: a Mormon man who wanted to know all about this campaign and made a donation to defray costs, a very friendly Muslim girl who wants to visit our church, and a Jehovah Witness lady who said her church was very much against abortion, too. What lovely ecumenical encounters!!”
Although the Newport Beach facility closed for 3 Saturdays in a row, they are still taking appointments.
Please fast and pray and join the prayer vigil especially this Saturday at either location.
Remember the closing event is this Sunday at the Planned Parenthood facility in Tustin (3:00pm). (Dont forget to move your clocks back one hour as time changes this Sunday)
As Deacon Anthony Carrasco said:
Prayer can do so much, and prayer with our presence can do even more to help couples to choose life.
Praise God that 2,000 babies have been saved since the campaign began in 2004. However significant this number is, there’s still a lot of work to do in order to save the estimated 1.2 million babies killed through abortion each year.