by Bob Reddy
Father Leo Patalinghug spoke to students from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers on Friday, March 9â€”on both occasions he received a standing ovation.
During general assemblies at both schools, Father Patalinghug, who is best known for his television and online cooking show Grace Before Meals, challenged students to walk the talk of the Christian faith by becoming saints and thus answering the universal call to holiness of the Catholic Church. He was in the Diocese of Venice to be the emcee and a speaker at the Fourth Annual Diocese of Venice Womenâ€™s Conference on March 10 in Fort Myers.
â€śOften people think that saints are wimpy but they are not,â€ť Father Patalinghug said. â€śThey have to be strong enough to tear apart the things in their lives that are not of God.â€ť
He began by asking the students how many of them wanted to go to heaven. All hands went up, but when he followed up with asking them if they wanted to be saints, only a few hands were raised.
To that point, Father Patalinghug explained how holiness is a fight for their eternal life because â€śthe only people who get to heaven are saints.â€ť
In an engaging presentation that packed in a lot of laughter, he gave them the â€śHow To’sâ€ť of sainthood Ââ€“ a way to implement the Churchâ€™s teachings so that they can â€śbecome saints in their lives right here, right now.â€ť
That includes frequent visits to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where they can â€śpull sin away from you,â€ť Father Patalinghug said. â€śItâ€™s hard to do. It takes a bigger person to admit when theyâ€™ve done something wrong.â€ť
It also includes what he described as being â€śbound up into Godâ€™s lifeâ€ť, which he explained â€śmeans tearing ourselves away form the wrong things in life, but continuing to reach out to others and bringing them alongâ€¦ It starts off with just wanting to bring a little goodness to the world.â€ť
The same passion and energy he used to address the students, was also on display when he spoke to families that evening on the Season of Lent at the Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Fort Myers.
There he shared the story of how Grace Before Meals got started and the concept behind his apostolate, which aims to bring families around the table to be physically and spiritually fed.
Like with his talk to the teens, Father Patalinghug wanted to convey the importance of living an authentic Christian life and he illustrated it by telling the attendees that Holy Mother Church wants to feed them PB&J, or patience, balance and joy, as a way to put their faith into practice.
â€śYou are what you eat,â€ť he said, is an age-old adage, but it pertains not only to our physical well-being, but also our spiritual health. â€śThe devil wants to try to feed you something that is not going to keep you satisfied, it will always keep you wanting.â€ť The Church, on the other hand, feeds us something quite different. Something that does satisfy our deepest desires Ââ€“ Christ.
Father Patalinghug also highlighted the graces obtained through fasting. â€śThe idea of fasting is a form of culinary delight. Fasting is an important part, not just physically, but spiritually and psychologically. Itâ€™s interesting that even doctors and psychologists think that fasting is good for you overall. And we Catholics do it out of love for God.â€ť