Fr. Leo Patalinghug, also know as “The Cooking Priest” is a Catholic speaker and author who has appeared on several television programs, including The Food Network’s “Throw Down with Bobby Flay.”
He is also the host of the show “Savoring Our Faith” on EWTN and the Sirius XM radio show ,”Entertaining Truth.” Fr. Leo is also founder of the apostolate Grace Before Meals.
The following article is a transcript of a 2017 homily Fr. Leo gave at a youth conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
You’ve all come to this conference not just to be participants, and to hear awesome music, and hear awesome speakers. You’ve come here, so that you can become Theologians.
Theologians, people who know the logos, the word, or the logic of fail, God. Which basically means you better know how to speak a new language. Thank God for Paul George teaching us French last night.
But I’m going to teach you a word that is much more important than, “How you doing baby?”
I’m going to teach you how to say, “Yes and no.” Because it is one of the most important words in our language.
When we were babies, besides saying, “Mama. Dada,” the other most important word was, “Spinach? NO.”
We learn to say no all the time, which is why good Catholics, like Mary, was the first to say, “Yes.” to God.
Because that woman was a Theologian. Every early church father said, “Mary was a Theologian.”
Because she pondered the words of God in her heart.
“The Aunciation” by Fra Angelico, 15th Century
Which is why when the angel Gabriel said to her,
“You will be the mother of the Savior.”
She did not say a phlegmatic snowflakish, “Ah okay.” She said,
“Let it be done according to thy word.”
But in today’s world, we don’t even know how to say yes or no anymore evidenced by so many relationships, even committed ones in the Catholic church that have just ended. Because they were supposed to say, “Yes, I will take you for richer, for poorer, if you’re sick, if you’re healthy, even if you’ve got bad hair today, I will love you.”
But we don’t know how to do that, and therefore yes and no is really about making a decision. It’s about making a commitment.
The word decision is an important one for a Theologian, because every Theologian like Mary has to make a decision for who they’re going to follow, who they’re going to say yes to, who they’re going to say no to.
Saint John Paul II said this,
“Every time we say the words of the creed, Credo, I believe, we literally are killing unbelief.”
And why is this such vicious language he uses? Killing unbelief.
It is because the word decision comes from a Latin word, decidere. And the verb cidere means, to kill. So if you commit a “homo cidere” you commit a homicide. You commit a “sui cidere” you commit a killing of sui, of yourself.
You make a “de cidere,” you literally kill an issue. It’s like no different from in Congress when we say, “Kill a bill.” They’re just saying, “Make a decision.”
So if Alex got married to Stephanie, Alex married Stephanie, that means that Mary Sue and Katie are dead to Alex now. But if Alex goes back on his decision, Stephanie kills Alex. That’s just the reality. Because there’s got to be a part of us that dies, people.
Read Your Bible
What is that part of us that dies?
It has got to be the lack of faith, the lack of commitment. The way that we become Theologians is by saying, “Yes,” to the word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. That is why I am encouraging everyone here to make sure you pick up and read your Bibles. You know what your Bibles are? Your Bible.
And people, I love my Protestant brothers and sisters. They are my brothers and sisters, and I love them, they get on my nerves sometimes, but I love them. But some of my Protestant brothers and sisters are like, “Come on, Father Leo. Y’all Catholics don’t read the Bible.” I’m like, “Read it? We wrote it.”
It’s our book. It’s our book, but Saint Jerome, the guy who translated the Bible from a language that no one understood to a language that people did understand, said this,
“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
So, I love the Bible. When I was at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, I was just kind of walking around in my Roman collar because I look good in black and basically as I was just walking, this group of fundamentalist Bible thumpers came up and they just started calling me names.
People, I’m a black belt. And they just were saying things to me about not reading the Bible.
“All right, guys. You know what? I’m not going to pick a fight with them at the World Meeting of Families for God’s sake. I’m like, “Yeah, I hate you, too.” No. I said, “Okay, guys. Just relax. I know you think we worship Mary. We don’t. We honor her because Jesus was following his father’s fourth commandment, Honor Thy Mother and Father.”
All right, so that’s one thing. Then they’re like, “Well you guys like turned the Pope into a God.” No, no, no, no. You know, if you read the Bible it talks very specifically about what Saint Peter’s role and his continuing legacy would be because Jesus will never abandon us without a father. So they were not happy with my ability to at least talk with them in a language that they understood, the Bible.
So, I basically said, “Guys, let’s not argue about faith, because when you argue about faith, you obviously are ignorant and you don’t know the logos theo.” The word. So you’re not a Theologian.
“Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas over Averroes” by Benozzo Gozzoli, 15th Century
Being a Theologian
If you’re going to argue about God, you’re not a good Theologian.
A good Theologian is a peace maker, even if it has to challenge some people at times. Because frankly, God is going to sometimes say, “Yes,” to us and “No,” to us because he’s very clear with who he is to us, which is why Saint Paul in that first reading is saying,
“You and I have got to be ambassadors for Christ,”
which basically means when an ambassador speaks for the United States, he’s speaking for everyone.
“What are you hungry for?”
Every time you speak for the Catholic church, you represent everyone, including the Pope. Don’t mess up.
Which is why we need to learn how to be more like God. Not just in word but in action. So I asked the guy, “Hey, we don’t want to argue. Why don’t we just simply say, the ‘Our Father’ together?” And he goes, “I can’t.” I said, “Wait, you don’t know that prayer?” He goes, “No, I can’t pray it with you because you don’t pray the right one.”
Mary Was the First Christian
I remember as a young priest…and by the way, don’t you love our priests by the way?
Aren’t they amazing? Because they said “Yes” to God’s will. They were willing to die to their disbelief that God could actually call, a sinner? Yes, he can. But there is one in particular that I’m kind of fascinated by because he reminds me a little bit of me, but he’s just much taller, and younger, and better looking.
He was basically ordained two weeks ago. Father, stand up. Where are you? I remember, Father, when I was ordained, about two or three weeks, or something like that, and I was sent to this conference to learn more about being a hospital Chaplain, which is a great honor and privilege to work with people who are sick and a blessing to be with them as they’re making their way to God.
This was an ecumenical gathering. That meant a whole bunch of different religions were there, and we need to be peacemakers among them. The only seat that was available was next to a female minister. She was a beautiful African American woman who was a minister with the Church of AME, American Methodist Episcopalian. It was the only seat available, and I was honored to sit next to her, but it was kind of awkward because we were wearing the same outfit. It was kind of awkward.
So we were sitting there and she looks and she goes, “Brother Leo,” because you can’t call me Father for whatever reason.
I said, “Yes? Nice to meet you.” She says, “What is it that you do?” I said, “Well, I am actually returning to Rome. I’m studying Mariology, the life of Mary and the life of Christ.” She goes, “Now why would you do that?” She was all up into my grill. I said,
“Because Mary was the first Christian.”
She goes, “Mm-hmm (affirmative).” I said, “Yes, she was the first to say yes to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.”
“She allowed Jesus to lead her, even followed him wherever he went to change his poopy diapers. She followed him to the cross, and you better believe, she who gave Jesus life on earth, will be given eternal life by her son in Heaven.”
She looked at me and she said, “Amen, Brother Preacher Leo. Preach it. Preach it.” So you know what we gotta do? We gotta preach it.
We gotta preach who Mary is. She’s the one who said yes to Jesus.
She, like any good mother, will teach you how to say yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things. As soon as that woman said to “Preach it,” I felt so good I just wanted to give her a big ole high five. You know what I’m saying?
Be an Ambassador for Christ
Because, as a Theologian, you are an ambassador for Christ.
As a Theologian, like Mary, we are ambassadors for Christ which basically means we’ve got to learn from mother, church, and God the Father what to say yes to and what to say no to.
Our world doesn’t know how to make decisions, and then when they do, it sometimes does kill. Does it not? And what we need to do is make sure we enter so deeply into this weekend, because this isn’t just about you going, “Woohoo.”
This about you saying, “How you doing, Children of God?” Well, this is how you’re doing. You’re doing awesome. By being here, you have made a powerful decision and said yes to God.
Follow Fr. Leo Online!
To watch Fr. Leo in action, check out the first season of his cooking show, Savoring Our Faith.