INDIANAPOLIS — Known as “the cooking priest,” Father Leo Patalinghug has a reputation for creating meals that have been described as heavenly.

During a Nov. 22 session at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, the Filipino American priest provided listeners with a different kind of recipe: “Five Steps to Become a Teenage Saint.”

Patalinghug, who travels across the country leading parish workshops and speaking about the need for families to celebrate not just Catholic feast days but everyday meals together, said the recipe is meant to help young people get to heaven.

Before he offered specific steps during one of the many workshop sessions at the conference, Patalinghug stressed three points.

The first he shared was, “Being a saint is our calling in life.”

His second point began with a question for the young people: “Do you want to get to heaven? Then you’d better be a saint.”

He then stressed that everyone can become a saint if they follow five steps:

— Reach out to God. “The first step in becoming a saint is realizing that you are not a saint and you need help. How are you going to be a saint if you’re not trying to reach out to God? Try!”

“Maybe you can try by reaching out to a sinner or someone who is poor. Or how about this? Reach out and call up your priest and say, ‘You know what, I’m struggling. Help me.’ Reach out.”

— Call out for God: “You got to say, ‘God save me.’ God is going to give you the greatest gift you can ever imagine — the gift of himself. At Christmas, God comes out of heaven and into this ugly, messy world” for everyone.

— Be sanctified: “Let God come into your life and cut sin away. You do not have that power, but God does.”

“We have a sacrament to help us to become saints. You want to find saints? Look for them in the confessional. For it is there that they tell the truth, and the truth sets them free.”

— Be bound to God: “God can interpret the groans of our hearts. God understands us. God can give life to us all.”

— Be a bridge to God for others: Become “a bridge, not a barrier” for other people in their relationships with God.

Summarizing, Patalinghug said, “That’s what you can do. It’s that easy, but also that difficult. Let’s be honest. It’s not as easy as saying, ‘God save me,’ and it comes so quickly.”

“It requires us to be willing to practice our faith and to be faithful in practicing our faith. It requires us to be consistent, and to make sure you surround yourself with all of the right people. It’s a total stretching.”

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Shaughnessy is assistant editor of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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