Tag Archives: prayer

A tool of the New Evangelization: An olive branch at dinner

A priest, atheist, anarchist and satanist walk into a restaurant. Sounds like the start of a bad joke? But it was real. I was the priest.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

On a recent food and faith pilgrimage, as I was leading a tour of a basilica, three men from Sweden started following along. At the end of the tour, they politely asked me questions about the Catholic faith. Since time was limited and I’m always interested in evangelization, I simply invited them to dinner. Fortunately, food and drink lubricated our conversation as I learned about their very diverse and controversial backgrounds.

This dinner gave me another opportunity to extend an olive branch — not as a sign of agreement, but as a way to make peace. Jesus ate with sinners and encouraged us to dine with our enemies and those who can’t pay us back.

Effective evangelizers know that mealtime is the perfect opportunity, par excellence. This situation was no different. Dinners communicate desire for communion, and they form us as servants. Dinners demonstrate love. Therefore, I go out of my way to eat with people who wouldn’t be considered good Catholics — or even believers. I let them know that God loves them enough that he wants to eat with them through his sacred ministers. At dinner, we become better “disciples” — a Greek word meaning “student.” Dinners help us to become disciplined listeners.

In this unique dinner, in between bites of porcini pasta, I learned how these men had been fed a healthy dose of confusion and bold-faced lies. I was hopeful that their questions implied they were still seeking the truth. Their self-imposed titles of “atheist,” “anarchist,” or even a “satanist” were definitely subject to interpretation. I chose to see each as a “child of God” with potential for great conversion and sanctity! I don’t claim to be smarter than them, but I realized that all of my prayer and study paid off. I sparred with their flawed logic, posed questions making them rethink their own positions, and even convinced them that Jesus was a man worth following — even if they questioned His Lordship.

It turned out to be a great dinner. No joke! There was no immediate “conversion,” except in me. I realized that I needed more practice to imitate Jesus who won over many by his dinner conversation skills. He did it by extending an olive branch to those who feel far from God’s love. He tells us to bear good fruit, especially in our love for one another. We’re called to evangelize. If you don’t know where to start, consider extending an olive branch and serving really good food!

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, priest member of Voluntas Dei Secular Institute, is a best-selling author, speaker, radio and TV host, awardwinning cook, director of the Grace Before Meals movement, and founding chairman of The Table Foundation.



Porcini Pasta

1 lb tagliatelle (or other noodle pasta), cooked al dente
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup dried mixed (or dried porcini) mushrooms soaked in 2 cups of hot water
1 cup fresh porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2-3 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
2-3 tbs white wine
1 tbs butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to instructions and set aside. Remove hydrated mushrooms from hot water. Reserve mushroom water. Chop mushrooms into small pieces. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add dried mushrooms and fresh sliced mushrooms to hot oil. Add garlic, 1 cup mushroom water and white wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add pasta, remaining mushroom water and butter. Add fresh parsley. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and pasta is fully heated. Serve immediately. Add parmesan cheese, if desired.

Living ‘in between’ and learning to embrace the journey

Have you ever been in a prolonged “in between” situation where you could hardly wait for something to happen? Like being in between jobs or girlfriends or just waiting for God to show you the next step? I’ve been living in between for more than two months. And God has been teaching me something while living “in between.”


Patrick Novecosky

As you likely know, Legatus moved its headquarters back to Michigan last fall. Tom Monaghan founded Legatus in Ann Arbor in 1987. Then in 2005, after construction of Ave Maria University had begun, Legatus’ board of governors, at Monaghan’s request, voted to move the headquarters to Southwest Florida, and eventually to the town center of Ave Maria, Fla., a quarter mile from the university.

I was part of that transition, taking over as editor of this magazine in June 2005. After more than 11 years in Florida, I was asked to move with the company back to Ann Arbor. So, on Jan. 2, my family and I packed up our things and moved north. Not the best time to leave Southwest Florida, but duty called.

Why am I “in between”? We’re renting a house in Michigan. Our home in Ave Maria is still for sale after three months on the market. For months, I’ve been waiting and praying to St. Joseph. I’ve been focusing on the next step. Our house would sell, then we could move on and get busy living again. My life was on hold. It was a big, long pause — like being stuck in traffic for months.

After Mass a few weeks ago, I realized my focus has been off. Life was actually going on, great things were happening, and I was missing them because I was looking down the road a little too far. I realized that I needed to put down my binoculars and let the Lord take care of things that would happen in the months ahead. Once I did that, things got a little easier.

I’m a planner by nature. I’m always thinking two or three steps ahead like a chess player. But sometimes leaving advance moves to the Lord is the better move. He sees all of time and space at one glance. Allowing Him to move me takes a lot of pressure off of us. That doesn’t mean we just sit back. We pray. We wait. We work. And we let God be God.

My house is still for sale, and when the time is right, the Lord will send a buyer. Jesus, I trust in You … and St. Joseph is on the case.


PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

On a mission to build the Kingdom

If you’ve ever stopped to ponder Legatus’ mission statement, you’ll likely agree that it’s pure genius. In other words … divinely inspired. Members are committed to “study, live and spread the Catholic faith in [their] business, professional and personal lives.” It perfectly sums up what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. And it’s not for wimps.


Patrick Novecosky

Legatus is the Latin word for “ambassador.” Taken from 2 Cor 5:20 where St. Paul writes “we are ambassadors for Christ,” the name was suggested by the recently deceased Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR, former president of Franciscan University of Steubenville. As a side note, the story of how he came up with the name — and many others — are recounted in the newly published Legatus@30 book, which members will receive within the next few weeks.

If we are ambassadors for Christ in the marketplace, we must learn what He taught. ŽThat means knowing well what the Church He founded teaches. We need to absorb the faith and make it part of our daily lives, and there’s no better tool for that than the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But we must go further.

Read the Bible, listen to Catholic radio and talks, go to retreats and Catholic conferences, and pray. Above all, pray. We can have all the knowledge, be able to quote the Bible and Catechism chapter and verse, but if we don’t know Him, we’re doomed. After all, our faith is not about a book. It’s about a person. A divine person. Jesus Christ.

Father Scanlan often said that if you’re a new Christian, you should spend 30 minutes a day in prayer. If you’re a seasoned Christian, one hour. If you’re in ministry, two hours. And if you’re a priest, three or four hours a day. If you can’t do that, he said, you’re too busy. Tough words from a likely future saint. But tough words can make saints.

With a new President in the White House who is unafraid to talk about prayer, and a Congress already passing legislation to protect the unborn, we may start to get complacent about the direction our country is going. We can’t afford complacency. We must be all about sainthood right now, and it starts when we hit the floor and surrender each day to the Lord of Lords!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

The theology of food: Something to chew on

Let’s discuss mastication.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

Now that got your attention! But now you realize that I wasn’t talking about lust-related sins. Instead, I’m referring to something more profound: the act of “chewing” deliberately and slowly. Mastication processes food’s essentially healthy properties making it easier for the body to digest. It’s what good dieticians say we must do: Chew your food well!

Unfortunately, the fast-food mentality inspires the tongue-in-cheek pre-meal blessing: “Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Whoever is fastest gets the most. Amen. Let’s eat!” Similarly, we no longer take time to digest well the essentials of our faith. It becomes like “fast food.” If you don’t believe me, watch the number of people who leave Mass immediately after Communion. Ask yourself: “How often do I rush personal prayer?”

To help us digest our faith, Legatus magazine now offers this food-centric column. As the “Cooking Priest,” I’m happy to be part of it. My work has developed a “theology of food,” connecting faith to the culinary world, family life and modern culture. These articles are not about recipes in the kitchen, but a recipe for faithful living.

At Legatus chapter meetings — and even secular and corporate events around the world — my keynotes include a cooking demonstration filled with lessons for life. Participants are enticed with the aroma of sautéed onions and garlic because the sense of smell is more powerful than hearing words. I show how sacred scripture — sharper than a “double edge sword” (Heb 4:12) — requires daily practice lest we turn it into a spear, rather than a plowshare (Isa 2:4). We discuss how feast day foods have power to make us all a little more religious, even on non-religious holidays like Thanksgiving. Faithful foodies better understand why God — who could become anything to demonstrate his power, authority and love — chose to become food: a sip of wine and a piece of bread.

We know it’s substantially much more than “bread and wine,” but do we digest (comprehend and incarnate) why God chose to manifest his authority, power and love through humble bite-sized elements? Perhaps one way God demonstrates love is by satisfying what we hunger for the most: We hunger for God.

In his Confessions, St. Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” A culinary perspective would add: “Our grumbling stomachs, hearts, minds and souls will never be satisfied unless God nourishes us with himself!” In humility, the eternally uncontainable God became something small and digestible because it’s the only way he can fit into our small minds, shrinking hearts, and our diminished spirit. God knows we have all taken a bite of the forbidden fruit, and so he sends the one-bite remedy of The Blessed Fruit! He becomes food to save us.

There’s so much more we can say about food and faith — and this column will. But it requires us first to be hungry. Taste and see His goodness (Ps 34)! Chew slowly.

FR. LEO E. PATALINGHUG, priest member of Voluntas Dei Secular Institute, is a best-selling author, speaker, radio and TV host, awardwinning cook, director of the Grace Before Meals movement, and founding chairman of The Table Foundation.

LEARN MORE: gracebeforemeals.com


Pan Seared Filet Mignon

2 filet mignon (4-6 oz)food-2
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp fresh chives

Use a paper towel to pat dry the room-temperature steaks. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe sauté pan over medium high heat. Season both sides of the steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Carefully add steaks to the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side for a rare steak. For medium steaks, put the pan in a 350-degree oven for another 6-8 minutes, or 10-15 minutes for well-done. When cooked to desired temperature, place steaks on a warm plate to rest 5 minutes before serving.


Angelic Rice (Serves 2)food-1

2 cups pre-cooked rice

1 tsp butter
1/8 -1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Fra Angelico liqueur (hazelnut infused liqueur)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2-3 tsp fresh chives (or parsley) finely minced

In the same pan as the steak, melt butter over medium heat. Add the Fra Angelico and flambé or simmer for about 2 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Add the pre-cooked rice and cream and stir together. Salt and pepper to taste. To serve, add some rice to a plate, top off with the filet mignon, and garnish with fresh chives.

The Resurrection: Hope for a fallen world

The battle of good-versus-evil has been going on ever since Eve ate the fruit in Eden. In our day, the culture war is reaching a fever pitch as we battle over the next Supreme Court Justice and president of the United States.


Patrick Novecosky

If you comb the headlines like I do, you’ve probably been scratching your head for years (if not decades) wondering, “What in the world are people thinking!?” Canada is legalizing assisted suicide, possibly even for teenagers (click for related story). The federal government is picking on an order of nuns (click for related story). And some of those seeking the highest office in the land are acting like juveniles.

How did it come to this? Has our culture devolved or is it just that the 24-hour news cycle allows us to be informed of every un-newsworthy incident? It’s both. But it’s deeper than that. Here’s my theory: When a person, a community, a culture or a nation separates itself from God, then logic, reason and truth become irrelevant.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Catholic teaching is clear that the fullness of truth resides in the Church because Jesus is Truth itself. So when our culture tells God that He is irrelevant or “dead” (click for related story), then we are quite literally on our own. We become the arbiter of truth. That’s a mighty big load, and none of us can carry it because we are not God. As a result, a whole host of errors — plainly obvious to faithful Christians — become part of the culture.

Saint Paul warned about this when he wrote to Timothy: “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4).

Sadly, the time he warned about is here. We need to remember that bringing logic, reason and truth to the table is only part of our duty as faithful Catholics. Prayer is essential. Actually, prayer must come first. Sin causes confusion in the hearts of sinners (all of us). Prayer helps sweep away the spiritual cobwebs. We need to have that constant lifeline to Jesus.

If we have any hope of turning the culture to Christ, we must embrace prayer and fasting — after the feasting of Easter is through, of course. We must take the lessons we learned during Lent and turn them into resolutions to be saints in an era that begs for saints.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Do we need a personal relationship with Jesus?

If you pray and go to Mass regularly, why do you do it? Your answer likely fits into one of three generic answers. Your answer will determine whether you move into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Fr. John Bartunkek, LC

Fr. John Bartunkek, LC

First, we can pray and worship out of routine. It’s like punching a spiritual time clock. We’ve always prayed, always gone to Mass, and we feel a kind of comfortable inertia in continuing to do so. We have a vague sense that we ought to do such things, and we have a vague sense that if we fail to do them, we will feel guilty for some reason. So we keep going through the motions of being Catholic.

When I was in eighth grade, I remember sleeping over at a friend’s house. As we went down to the basement, his parents were sitting on the couch watching television, the wife cuddling against the husband, who had his arm around her. Two months later they were divorced. My friend told me that they just kept up appearances for the kids’ sake, but there was no love in it. That’s falling into routine.

Second, we can pray and worship out of fear. This can be akin to superstition. We have the idea in our heads that if we stop going to Mass or praying the rosary, God will punish us and maybe even send us to hell. In this case, our spiritual commitments (prayer and worship) are like paying taxes to a tyrant or being extorted by a strongman: If we pay our dues, the Boss won’t bother us.

In ancient pagan religions, proper worship depended on following formulas exactly. A priest had to offer an elaborate ceremony with perfect execution or the god would not be pleased. During the ceremony, if the priest sneezed, for example, he would have to start over again. In this religious vision, people are not children of a loving Father but slaves of angry, fickle and aloof deities.

Third, we can pray and worship out of conviction. The word conviction comes from the same word that gives us convinced. Religious conviction is an internal state of assurance with regard to religious truth. The primary reason convinced Christians pray and worship is because they sincerely believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; they believe that he deserves their praise, and they need his grace.

If our spiritual life flows from conviction, then the actual activity we engage in during our times of prayer is conscious: We pay attention to the meaning of the words, we lift our hearts to God in thanksgiving and adoration, and we strive to conform how we live to God’s will. In this case, our faith actually connects our mind and heart to God during our prayer. We are not just going through motions, not just paying our dues; we are actually encountering the God who speaks to his beloved children through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

FR. JOHN BARTUNEK, LC, is a former professional actor who became a Catholic priest in 2003. This column is printed with permission from his book Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions (Servant Books, 2014).

Catechism 101

In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is “the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity … with the whole human spirit.” Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him. This communion of life is always possible because, through Baptism, we have already been united with Christ. Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2565

The rewards of being ‘useless’

JOHN HUNT writes that time spent with the Lord in prayer is most productive . . . .

John Hunt

John Hunt

Welcome to awards season! Our culture loves to honor artistic, athletic and political success. In a game for the ages, the Ohio State Buckeyes were just crowned with their first college football national championship since 2002.

The National Football League just awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Later this month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hands out the Oscars during the 87th Academy Awards. The list goes on and on: Nobel Peace Prizes, Country Music Awards and, well, you get the idea.

On a more personal level, awards are a pat on the back from the boss for a job well done. Now don’t misread what I’m saying, because the recipients of such honors are reaping the glory that comes from much pain and hard work to become the best in their chosen fields.

Of course, honors are an integral part of growing up. You and your teammates on your Little League Baseball team or Pop Warner Football team received those statuettes indicative of success … well, at least indicative of participation.

Then there are those aspects of life which our fast-paced culture deems to be useless. For example … silence … prayer. For some, if not many, prayer — silent prayer — is seen to be a waste of otherwise productive time. How sad because those periods of peaceful silence while one communicates with God can, and most likely are, the most productive periods in one’s day. Treasured silence can be a vehicle to help us understand that God loves me and wants what is best for me. In the silence we can more clearly hear Our Lord speaking to us, encouraging us, comforting us. Listen. Listen! He is at your side.

The beauty of silence is that it’s available to anyone who seeks to communicate with God.

There will be no honors bestowed on those who invest some time daily in silently communicating with God. In fact, the world will never know of this secret time, which can be the path to the greatest honor — that of eternal life.

One’s state in life — old, infirm or in the prime of an otherwise productive life — need not inhibit a person from dialoguing with God, offering the contradictions of the day and the weight of life’s more burdensome challenges to Him. Shhh! Listen. He is asking you to be useless!

JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.

Taking on the Culture of Death

PATRICK NOVECOSKY writes that we need to be rooted in prayer and live out our faith . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

I’ve been thinking about what it was like before I came to know Christ in a personal way, or rather what I was like before my “reversion.” Not much bothered me back then. The very good didn’t move me and the very bad didn’t faze me.

But all that changed when I encountered Christ in my late 20s. The excellent things of this world — like my three-month-old son’s smile — now make me ecstatic. And the evil of this world — like the horrific slaughter of thousands of Christians in the Middle East — fills me with great sorrow.

This change of heart might be the answer to a prayer I’ve prayed many times: “Lord, let me love what you love and loath what you loath.” I know for certain that Jesus loathes sin and suffering. He became man to put an end to evil, and I long for the day when his Kingdom comes.

But until then, we are called to be a light in our imperfect world every day. And Legatus members have that call in a unique way. Legates are called to learn, live and spread the Catholic faith in a world hungry for the truth, but a world which, at the same time, cringes every time Christ is mentioned.

With the Islamic State on the rise, an Ebola crisis looming (already killing people in our own country), and the Church in turmoil over the Synod on the Family in Rome, it might seem like the darkness is closing in. That may be, but this is our day! This is our time to shine. In the midst of the gloom, we’re still called to be that light in the darkness. A little light can be very bright (think Easter Vigil) and make a big difference for people trying to move forward in cultural darkness.

Nor can we ever forget that we’re in a spiritual battle. Saint Paul wrote to Timothy that “the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth” (2 Tim 4: 3-4).

Paul urges Timothy to persist in spreading the Gospel despite setbacks and hardships. Our call is no different. Rooted in prayer — our lifeline to the Living God — we are each called to serve where we’re planted. And if we are all faithful to our calling, the Culture of Death doesn’t stand a chance.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

In the Company of Prayer

Leslie Bianco’s latest book is perfect for the busy executive in your life . . .

In the Company of Prayer
Company of Prayer, 2010. 167 pages, $12.95 paperback

The world is full of inspirational books for business leaders, but few are able to pull together the insights of today’s brightest and best.

Bianco does that by drawing from the e-mail-based prayer service she founded. Her 13-week program (a business quarter) of daily reflections and quotes takes you through chapters on integrity, commitment, risk, core values, family matters, and more.

Each chapter (week) has five reflections for your work week. This is a book you’ll pick up again and again.

Order: Amazon