Saturday, April 03, 2004
The most important and first thing to do is a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning of the house. Don't just vacuum the carpets, steam-clean them. Clean the windows, inside and out. Clean the glass on picture frames. Get rid of the mildew in the shower. Clean up the stove, including taking off the metal thingies. Polish the silver. Wax the woodwork. Dust the things you haven't touched all winter, including the tops of the books, videos, and CDs on the shelves. Get all the laundry caught up on Holy Saturday.
Of course Easter is also a traditional time for new dress clothes. A haircut during Holy Week, often on Maundy Thursday, sometimes called "Sharp Thursday" for that reason, goes back to before the Reformation on both British Isles.
On Holy Saturday night, after the vigil Mass, those purple veils covering all the sacred art in the house since Ash Wednesday or Passion Sunday (depending on which tradition you have been following) can come off, usually to the great relief of all. The crown of thorns on a silver platter on the coffee table can come off and be discreetly put away.
Call your florist and break out the silk flowers saved from last year. I love silk flowers because, if you store them carefully and don't mush them, they can be used year after year. That is ultimately a great savings. Daffodils, tulips, and lilies, both real and silk, should be readied for every place that can take them. I reserve real flowers for the table. Nice spring colored candles should be ready for the dinner table, along with a spring-like table cloth and napkins. If you have multiple sets of dinnerware, use something like Johnson Bros. Summer Chintz for Easter. It is bright and cheery and pastel.
Lemon oil smells very Easterish. Williams-Sonoma sells a lemon oil that, heated on the stove, fills the house. And it isn't too expensive, considering the source.
But the show-stopper of Easter home decor is the Easter Egg Tree. This is a habit Sister Julia started in my 8th grade religion class in 1978 (yes, religion class, proving that those of us at the start of the "butterfly curriculum" years truly did learn nothing in religion class).
It is traditional to decorate real eggs, buying the white shells not the local brown shelled eggs (you know the jingle--"Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh"). Those first eggs Sister Julia had us make were the real thing. They lasted until sometime in the 1990s, when my mother decided to part with them after I had not set up an Easter tree for a few years after my Dad died. But that was a household were nothing ever got moved around, and there were no children around. They may not last as long elsewhere.
Frankly, I don't want the hassle of blowing the innards out of real eggs. Those plastic ones come in a great variety of colors and shades now. And if you are a thrifty mind, they last forever.
Either one real branch with lots of little branches, or
several of those silk forsythia blooms with plastic branches and a wire cutter
a vase or clean waste-basket
something to anchor the branch in the bucket (since you are changing the cat litter as part of the general cleaning, may I suggest extra litter that you pour into tabby's box later?)
opaque Easter foil or wrapping to go around the base
4 dozen of those plastic eggs, some bright, some pastel, some crystal, etc. Vary the colors.
a glue gun with glue sticks
model paint, not Testors, but Polly's.
little metal rings from the craft store
a spool or two of thread
You can spend Holy Saturday, or Spy Wednesday, painting the eggs. Since the eggs are already colored, you can use that as a base, to which you add designs, stripes, dots, crosses, family crests, Scripture verses, in all manner of colors. When the eggs are painted, use the hot glue gun to put a little bit of glue at the top of each egg. Then immediately insert one of the little metal rings in the hot glue. Hold it the few seconds until it hardens. Then run thread through the ring and tie it off.
What you decide to do with the branch determines what you have to do. Ideally you will want to find a decently bushy branch. I like using the silk forsythia blossoms with the think plastic and wire branch. You can use it year after year if you are the sort who likes to save things. A good real branch will be hard to find. There are so many branches that are sparse with the sub-branchings. But the silk forsythia stems you can bend to your will. But then again, I glory in my artificial Christmas tree, too.
Once you have the branch, pour in the sand or fresh cat litter. Then stick the branch or branches into the sand. Twist the wire branches to your heart's content. Then hang the eggs from the tree. I would hang the eggs Holy Saturday afternoon. The Easter Egg Tree can replace the crown of thorns on the coffee table.
Which brings us to the Easter basket. In my childhood, the Easter basket contained candy, just candy, like the Christmas stocking, just different candy. In fact, growing up, cheap jelly beans, and a hollow milk chocolate bunny with marshmallow peeps, and some marshmallow chocolate eggs would be the contents. But with middle age, I have changed. I want good candy in my basket and a little something else, too.
Dove dark chocolate eggs I am rather fond of. I also picked up the habit of those gooey Cadbury cream eggs, but don't care overmuch for them. Jelly Belly jelly beans have become a necessity. I particularly love the buttered popcorn, Dr. Pepper, Tangerine, and Licorice flavors. Some Kookabura licorice in the basket, either black of strawberry, is super. Then there are Russell Stover Cream eggs. Maple and Raspberry have dark chocolate coatings. Strawberry has milk, but I like it anyway. I don't care for coconut. Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs are OK, and I haven't really gourged myself on Reese's since the Halloween candy ran out. If Godiva Truffles are available and in the budget, of course, especially mandarin orange.
But candy alone no longer does it. I want something to keep me amused, a toy or puzzle. You need a big basket, because I like a book and a CD in or around it, too. "Old boys have their playthings, too. Only the price has increased."
Let me first set out a menu for the feast, and then I'll provide some recipes.
Lamb Meatballs With Yogurt Sauce
Goose Liver Pate With Crackers
Tomato, Onion, Pepperoni, and Provolone Salad
Irish Spiced Beef
Peas With Mint
Onion Pie With Bacon
Boiled Asparagus With Hollandaise Sauce
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Sally Lunn Bread
Butter Shaped Like the Paschal Lamb
Black Forest Trifle
Mint Jelly With Cream
Beverages (in order served):
Macanudo Baron de Rothschild before dinner
Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1 with the port
1 lb. Breakfast sausage crumbled
4 C. grated cheese
3 C. Bisquick
Mix together until fully mixed. Shape into balls and bake on cookie sheet 10-12 minutes on 350 degrees. Approximately 70 balls. They freeze well, and can be made far in advance, as long as they are concealed from inquiring mouths.
From the Bisquick box.
Lamb Meatballs With Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup Fine ground bulgur wheat
2 cups Boiling water
2 pounds Fine ground lamb stew meat
1/2 cup Finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup Pine nuts
3 tablespoons Olive oil
2 Eggs -- beaten
1 teaspoon Ground coriander
2 teaspoons Ground cumin
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
2 tablespoons Chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon Chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 medium Yellow onion -- peeled and sliced
2 pints Yogurt
4 tablespoons Cornstarch
2 tablespoons Cold water
Salt -- to taste
In a small bowl allow the bulgur to soak in the boiling water 1/2 hour. Drain well. The Meatballs: In a large bowl combine the meatball ingredients, including the drained bulgur, and mix very well. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. (Keep your hands damp with a little water to facilitate forming the meatballs.) Bake 20 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven, or until just cooked through. The Sauce: Heat a frying pan and add the oil and the onion. Saute until tender but do not brown. In a small saucepan heat the yogurt to a gentle simmer, stirring regularly. Mix the cornstarch and water together until lump-free. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the heated yogurt and stir until smooth and thickened. Add the sauteed onion and salt to taste to the yogurt. Set the sauce aside and keep it warm.
Toothpick the meatballs, and serve small plates of the sauce for individual dipping.
Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas.
For the Goose Liver Pate, I recommend a commerical product. Try Trois Petit Couchons, available at Wilson Farms in Lexington and many other fine retailers in your area. Duck Liver Pate is great, too. If you really want to be cutting edge for Easter, try a rabbit pate from Zabar's or the Cheese Shop in Concord (just don't tell the kids you're eating the Easter Bunny!).
1 lb. boneless chicken breast diced & fried in oil until tender and just done (no pink left, but not dried out)
4 cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cans full of whole milk
Fresh black pepper to taste
1 large onion (Vidalia if available) or 1/2 C dried chopped onions
1 T sage
1 T thyme
1/2 T white pepper
5 T chopped chives
1 lb of potatoes peeled and diced
1 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t Colman's powdered mustard
Once the chicken is ready and the spuds are diced, heat the cream of chicken and the milk, adding the onion and spices, chicken and potato. Simmer stirring very frequently for a half hour or until the potato is done. You can vary the seasonings to taste. You have to be careful that the milk/cream of chicken does not scorch on the bottom of the pan. But other than that, there is very little you can do to wreck this concept.
A Fitz original.
Tomato, Onion, Pepperoni, and Provolone Salad
5 large vine ripe tomatoes
2 Vidalia or other sweet onions
1 cup of vinaigrette dressing (below)
salt and pepper to taste
1 stick of pepperoni, diced
1/2 lb medium provolone, diced
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t rosemary
1/4 t Colman's dry mustard
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t fresh black pepper
1 C extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed)
1/3 C white wine vinegar
2 T water
2 t fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic peeled & crushed
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Grind the dry ingredients in the blender or food processor. In the blender, add liquids and whip to emulsion, or until thick. Store in the fridge 2-3 hours before using.
Slice the tomatoes and onions thinly. Layer in a large salad bowl. Cover with the dressing. Toss. Allow the tomatoes and onions and dressing to marinate together covered in the fridge for 2-4 hours before serving. If you use a tupperware container with a good lid, you can shake up the salad periodically while marinating. Fun and probably useful. Just before serving, add the pepperoni and provolone and toss again.
Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.
Irish Spiced Beef (Must be started a week in advance: Palm Sunday or Monday of Holy Week at the latest)
6 lb. middle rib rolled and boned
2 C brown sugar
3 C salt (sea salt or kosher salt is great for this, and yes 3 cups of salt!)
1 oz. saltpeter
6 oz. freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. whole allspice ground
6 oz. whole juniper berries ground
1/2 whole nutmeg ground
4 T cinnamon
2 T ground ginger
Grind all the spices fine in a food processor. Let the flavors meld in a mason jar 2-3 days (40 hours or as long as the Lord was in the tomb will do). Unroll the rib. Rub the spices well over the beef and into every crevice/ Put in an earthenware dish covered with plastic and refrigerate 3 days, turning occasionally and rubbing more spice in as needed. The longer you leave the beef in the spices, the longer it will keep and the better it will taste. Re-roll the rib and re-tie it just before cooking. Cover with cold water, and simmer 2-3 hours or until soft. Cut into thin slices to serve
From Darina Allen's Traditional Irish Cooking.
Follow package directions for a genuine Smithfield Virginia Ham. Or cheat and go to the deli counter Holy Saturday and buy a 6 lb. piece of Virginia Ham deli meat. I did that one Christmas and it was terrific. Dietz and Watson has the best deli Virginia Ham, but Swift is very good, too. Once I bought the whole roll of Virginia Ham, and after cutting it into 2 lb. joints, had it for 4 weeks. That packed on some weight.
Peas With Mint
1 lb. your favorite frozen peas
1 t sugar
2 T chopped mint
3 T butter, chopped
Boil the peas as per directions on the package. Strain the peas, and quickly add butter and chopped mint. Toss. Serve while hot.
Adapted from Darina Allen's Traditional Irish Cooking.
2 cans (1 lb, 13 oz. each) peach halves
1 C sugar
1/2 C peach brandy
3-4 drops almond extract
Drain peaches and reserve 1 cup of the juice. Mix sugar with the reserved peach juice and boil until reduced to one half the original quantity. Cool. Measure and stir in the brandy (and have a drink yourself) and the almond extract. Pour the brandy syrup over the peaches and serve, or pack peaches in a sterilized 1 qt. mason jar. Add the brandy syrup and seal. Serve the brandied peaches with Virginia ham.
The Colonial Willliamsburg Cookbook.
Onion Pie With Bacon
3 lbs. onions
1 pt. light cream
8 rashers of bacon fried & crumbled
1/4 C grated cheddar
2 crust pastry
salt and pepper
Peel and slice the onions and fry them in butter. Beat eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper and add the onions and butter. Line a deep pie pan with pastry. Pour in the onions, etc. Add the bacon and cheddar. Cover with a top crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown (check at 40 minutes and frequently thereafter).
From The Old Farmer's Almanac Colonial Cookbook.
Everyone has their favorite way to make Garlic Mashed Potatoes. So I won't trouble myself there.
Asparagus With Hollandaise Sauce
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup boiling water
Soften the butter in the microwave, cream it, add the yolks of the eggs, one at a time, and beat well, then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. About five minutes before serving, add the boiling water, a little at a time, stirring well. Place the bowl in a saucepan of boiling water, and stir rapidly with a whisk or a fork until the sauce thickens.
The key to boiling asparagus is to not overboil. Just boil a pan of water. When it is boiling, shut off the heat, put the asparagus in, and cover. Leave it in for 7 minutes. Drain off the water, and the asparagus will be done. Serve the sauce over the asparagus.
Sally Lunn Bread
2 C flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 eggs separated
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C whole milk
3 T melted butter
Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Beat egg yolks and beat the sugar into them. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolks alternately with milk. Stir in the melted butter. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in. Bake in a greased 9 inch pan at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Turn out and cut into 9 3-inch squares.
From The Old Farmer's Almanac Colonial Cookbook.
Butter Shaped Like a Paschal Lamb is available in the dairy section of many supermarkets this week, or you can try your hand at butter sculpting (not for me).
Black Forest Trifle
1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
Creme de Cacoa
2 boxes Royal Instant Dark & Sweet Chocolate pudding
2 cans dark sweet cherry pie filling
2 jars Trappist Preserves Cherry Preserve
1 medium jar maraschino cherries
1 bottle kirsch or cherry brandy
1 pt. whipping cream
1 traditional flat-bottomed trifle bowl
reserve 20 good maraschino cherries, drained, for topping
Follow the directions for baking the cake, but substitute Creme de Cocao for water one a 1-for-1 basis. This gives the cake a good, rich chocolate flavor. Use the tube pan directions. While the cake is baking, make the dark chocolate pudding, as per the directions on the box. Use only whole milk. Let it set. When the cake is done, get it out of the pan and let it cool on a plate. Combine the cherry pie filling, cherry preserve, and maraschino cherries.
When the cake is cool, slice it. make a layer of cake slices on the bottom of the trifle bowl. Pour kirsch or cherry brandy over the cake slices. Let the cake soak in the booze (10-30 minutes) Then add some of the combined cherry things, and layer over the cake. Then add a layer of dark chocolate pudding. Then a new layer of cake. Pour more cherry booze over this layer of cake, and let it sit for another 10-30 minutes imbibing the booze. Then more cherry, and more chocolate pudding. Whip the whipping cream in a bowl placed in a larger bowl with ice cubes. You can add extra sugar to the cream, if you like. When the whipping cream is whipped, put it over the top. Decorate with the reserved maraschino cherries. Refrigerate until needed. A spectacular dessert which has been dubbed "Death by Chocolate Cherry" in the circles that have tasted it.
A Fitz original
Mint Jelly With Cream
2 jars real mint jelly (not apple jelly with mint)
1/2 pint whipping cream
old style champagne glasses (not flutes)
1 t chopped dried mint for garnish
Whip the whipping cream as for the trifle. Spoon the mint jelly into the champagne glasses. Whipped cream goes over the top, and garnish with the chopped mint.
A Fitz Original
your Ice Cream maker
2 C real maple syrup (not the fake stuff, this year's crop if available)
1 C whipping cream
1/2 C water
ice cubes and table salt for the processing
Mix the syrup, water, and cream and chill until quite cold. Put in the ice cream maker and process until thick. It will not set up like ice cream or sherbet. It stays a little runny.
From The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American.
1/2 C apple sauce
1 C sugar
6 T melted butter
4 eggs beaten well
juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1 C whole milk
1/2 of a whole nutmeg, grated
Combine the apple sauce, sugar and melted butter. Stir in the rest of the ingredients including 1/4 of the nutmeg. Pour into a buttered 1 qt. baking dish. Grate the other 1/4 of the nutmeg over the top. Bake at 350 degrees until firm. Named for John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough, and very spring-like.
Adapted from The Old Famer's Almanac Colonial Cookbook.
Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bottle chilled Champagne
1 cup fresh orange juice
Pour a small amount of Grand Marnier in a small bowl.
Place the sugar in a saucer.
Dip the rims of Champagne glasses first in Grand Marnier, then in the sugar.
Fill each Champagne glass with three parts Champagne and 1 part orange juice.
Makes 6 servings. A great start to the Easter feast. Also very sippable while the kids are hunting for eggs.
I don't know how to make Mead, but happily the folks at Bunratty do.
“Continually bearing in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed.” (2 Corinthians 4:10)
This text reminds me daily of the Paschal Mystery celebrated on our altar and in my life daily. As I reflected on the Word of God for this day of Lent, the Holy Spirit showed me this same mystery at work in these readings.
God sent His prophet Ezekiel to be with His people in exile in Babylon, and to bring them out of captivity back to Jerusalem. Ezekiel began his ministry by reminding them that their captivity was caused by their own transgressions against their covenant with God. Hearing this, they repented in sorrow. Then Ezekiel gave them this consoling message from God: “I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God.”
Reflecting on the Gospel, I was shocked and disappointed. The Word of God that brought Lazarus from the tomb resulted in a decision to kill Jesus! It is true that our response to God’s word always depends on the way we use our gift of free will. Sadly, the Pharisees used their free will to plot the death of Jesus. Caiaphas, the High Priest, responds: “What are we to do with this man performing all sorts of signs? Can’t you see it is better for one man to die than for the nation to be destroyed?”
While God brought about the Redemption in spite of the Pharisees’ evil designs, how different it could have been if they had accepted Him! Do I fully realize the power entrusted to me in God’s gift of free will? How am I using this gift today? Jesus used his gift of free will to make the decision that brought eternal life to us all. As Jesus’ disciple, how can I bring life to others as I follow in his footsteps?
Reflection by: Sister Mary Pascal Schaeffer, C.PP.S. (O’Fallon, Missouri)
Friday, April 02, 2004
The excellent and spirited Father Sistare volunteers to be the priest to refuse Kerry Communion.
Are there some things I am not entirely comfortable with? Sure. The quirky Buchananite tendencies, the inability to make a clear break with his father's views on Jews and the Holocaust, the reputed sedevacantism or refusal to accept the legitimacy of Vatican II (though the way he is marketing his movie belies that, I think).
Among all the people in Hollywood, Mel Gibson is probably the only one I would be comfortable enjoying a great single malt and a great cigar with. And I'm delighted that he is doing so well.
I had business in Cambridge late yesterday afternoon and was stupid enough to cross the Salt and Pepper Bridge on foot. I haven't been that wet clothed since we went fountain jumping after our law school prom at the Crane Estate in Ipswich.
And you know, I don't think even that much rain has erased our precipitation deficit, brought on by the lack of snow this winter, for the simple reason that the ground can't absorb that much rain in such a short period. I'm looking as I type at a patch or ground that is sheltered from the rain by an overhang and a concrete noise barrier. It still looks dustbowl-dry.
Readings: Jeremiah 20:1013; John 10:3142
Let us joyfully carry the cross that God gives us: “I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 7:4) Do not think about the past; be at peace, very much at peace and even more so with regard to the present which promises further and more ample blessings. If suffering is a grace, which it truly is, this is a sign of those more mature merits for which God is disposing us. Our lives, more or less, are like winter. In the springtime, one sees the work that the winter has produced in the depths of the earth. Be courageous. These are the fruits that arise from the plant of the cross. Let us apply this image of winter to our souls. Never lose hold of a sweet confidence in God; never lose serenity of mind in God. To pray, for example, for more suffering is not, in my judgment, something called for at the present time. Let us willingly suffer whatever God wishes. Let us repeat often: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are to do the will of God as it is done in heaven. So, make distant those feelings of anguish. I repeat, those fears, those perplexities. “Why art thou sad, O my soul?” (Psalms 41:6) Let us enjoy in the peace which God grants to us and in his divine Heart let us find that feeling of calmness even in all the storms that surround us. St. Gaspar (to Mother Maria Nazzarena De Castris, January 1, 1834, Letter 2648, Strokes of the Pen V, 15.1, pg 38)
We begin to witness the unfolding of events that make up the heart of the Christian life. He does not shrink away. They wanted a Messiah according to their own expectations, and yet he remains who he is. Our vocation is to find holiness in him, and as they are called to believe because of the works he does, so are we. We are also called to undertake the same works. We do what Jesus does, seeking to be found faithful in him. We endure whatever comes, not shrinking away. We follow the example of Jesus and the teaching of St. Gaspar.
As Jeremiah called on the Lord in his distress, so we with St. Gaspar, entrust our cause to the Lord. St. Gaspar teaches us that, though we do not pray for suffering, we endure joyfully whatever comes. As Gaspar was known as one of the “joyful ones” (cf. Gaspar's Prison Experiences, pg. 91) in prison, we, too, take our winters and joyfully trust in spring.
What is the cross I carry now?
How would I describe my trust in spring?
How do I plan to celebrate the Easter mysteries?
Reflection by: Rev. Jeff Keyes, C.PP.S. (Province of the Pacific)
Thursday, April 01, 2004
*Tel Aviv Jewish Mothers' Association Names Arafat Its Man of the Year
For his continuous striving for peace and his unshakable commitment to dialogue.
*US Supreme Court Outlaws Straight Marriage
According to newly appointed Chief Justice Lawrence Tribe, "This is a great moment for equality." When asked about the constitutional justification for the ruling, he said, "Oh, it's in there somewhere among the penumbras emanating from the privacy and equality concerns of the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments. Don't get hung up on the details of some document written 200 years ago."
*Janet Jackson: "Britney Spears Is A Cheap 'Ho."
Jackson's comments, made on Late Night With Conan O'Brian, appear to have been prompted by some revealing photos of the former teen idol that appeared in Playboy last month.
*John Forbes Heinz Kerry Visits McSorley's Pub
In an effort to reverse the image that he is a stuck-up rich bastard, John Kerry visited the legendary McSorley's Pub yesterday. He spent a few minutes pressing the flesh, then turned to the bartender, "A &%$!!@*&%$#U&&^&%&% round of beers for the house, barkeep, and (sotto voce) a *(&()**%@%**&^& Courvoisier for me."
*Urdu Now US' Most Spoken Language, Passing Spanish
No longer are the immortal words of Charo true: "Hey, this is the USA. Get with the program. Speak Spanish!" Indeed, Urdu is now the language spoken by more Americans than any other. Spanish is now second, edged by about 24,000 speakers nationwide. English is in thrid place, 239,000 behind Spanish.
*Jesse Ventura Weds Andrew Sullivan
In a surprise announcement, former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura announced today that he and former NYT journalist Andrew Sullivan were married in San Francisco last month. Sullivan: "The source of my entire life's work is very happy now, and that is all that matters on earth." Sullivan is expecting the couple's first offspring in December.
*John Kenneth Galbraith Dies
Kennedy Administration policy-maker and liberal icon John Kenneth Galbraith died today at the age of about 267. Ann Coulter: "Really? How Can They Tell? I mean, the man has been clueless and braindead, absolutely immune to reason logic and objective truth for 50 years or so. Aside from Bill Buckley, does anyone on earth care?"
*Islamic Republic of France Proclaimed
With the population of France becoming more and more Moslem, it was perhaps inevitable. However, France is the first European nation to declare itself an Islamic Republic. All art museums were demolished yesterday on news of the declaration. And jubilant crowds tortured and killed the last 14 surviving Jews in Paris, along with the 4 Catholic bishops of the country who did not submit to Islam. In a poll commissioned by Reuters, 85% of Frenchmen responded with a noncommital shrug.
*Alec Baldwin Volunteers To Live On Moon Station
Saying he is fed up with the tyrannical rule of George Bush, and seeing no realistic prospect of it or Republican control of Congress ending, actor Alec Baldwin says he will live on a newly proposed station on the moon. He is donating $5 million dollars of his own money, and passing the hat among friends, to help speed the construction. Barbra Striesand, Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others are said to be considering joining Baldwin on the moon.
*Rosie O'Donnell Carrying Martha Stewart's Baby
In a stunning announcement, Rosie O'Donnell let the world know that she is carrying the child of prison-bound home decor diva Martha Stewart. O'Donnell: "We were just as surprised as anyone to find that Martha had it in her."
*Republicans, Democrats Cut Deal: No 2004 Election Contest
In a deal described as pragmatic, the Republican and Democrat National Committees announced today that they will not contest the 2004 election. The White House will not change hands. No seats in Congress will change hands either. For Republicans, the lack of a national election campaign is viewed as pragmatic, allowing them to save money for 2008. Democrats, faced with polls showing them losing not just the White House, but more seats in both houses of Congress found the deal appealing. When questioned about the party bosses' deal, former Democrat nominee-apparent Senator John Kerry said, "^$)!!$#*)*(^%(+(**&&^^$#@@%&(.! It was my f-ck-ng turn! $)!@()$)#*^)@(%)%^_#@(#_#)$_$!!"
*Michael Jackson Charged With Sex With Elephant
Entertainer Michael Jackson has been charged by California authorities with having sex with at least one elephant the singer kept in a menagerie on his Never-Neverland Ranch. Asked about the charges, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I'm generally in favor of personal choice in matters of reproductive freedom. But Dumbo? That is going a little too far."
To achieve His work of salvation within the frame of our history, God chose a special people through whom His promises came to all nations. All Sacred History refers to this chosen people. And so we can say that the call of Abraham was the first step of that Sacred History, but God's call was more than a call. It included a double promise. God would give to Abraham descendants and a land. But more important than the promise was the covenant which he established between himself and Abram–now newly named Abraham. Abram means venerated father and Abraham means father of a multitude.
At this point we enter Sacred History as children of God and members of that multitude. As children of God our truth consists in living in accordance with our vocation as children of God the Father possessing the same faith as Abraham for it was his great faith that made him a beloved friend of God.
Is my faith deep enough to assure me of God's friendship and of a place in His beloved Son Jesus' kingdom of truth?
Reflection by: Sister Vera Heile, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
But how do you change up the daily grind of meals and stay within the meatless regimen many of us set for ourselves for Lent? Imagination is the key. Reaching out to other cultures helps a little, too. I'm not mutli-culti-friendly most of the time. But I recognize that people from other cultures eat food, too, and that many of them thrive on that food. And some of what they eat fits well enough into the meatless requirements of a strict Lenten observance.
Let's start in the Middle East:
Haroset is used by Jewish people in their Passover Seder meal. It is delicious.
I like this version:
1/2 pound walnuts
1/4 pound dried apricots
1/4 pound dried prunes, without pits
3 peeled apples, cored and quartered
1 large navel oranges, with skin, quartered
1/2 cup ruby port
2 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon matzo meal (or as needed)
With your food processor, chop very fine, but not to a paste, the walnuts, apricots, prunes, dates, apples and orange. Add the port, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and lime juice. If needed, add enough matzo meal to make a mortar-like consistency.
Spread on matzo or on Syrian bread.
Also from the Middle East, there is Hummus. I will not presume to tell you how it is made, because Tribe of Two Shieks and Joseph's both produce a great variety of flavored hummuses for very low cost. I like red pepper, garlic, or lemon varieties myself. Dip Syrian bread in them.
Still in the Mediterranean region, we move over to Italy for some Straw and Hay. This pasta dish gets it's name from the green and white liguini.
8 oz. plain lignuini
8 oz. spinach linguini
4 T butter
4 T extra-virgin olive oil (first cold pressed prefered)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced fairly small
A significant amount of grated Parmesan cheese
basil to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Boil the linguini until it is al dente. While the water is boiling, heat a frying pan. Add the butter and olive oil. When it it hot, add the garlic, and fry until it is a golden brown. When the linguini in boiled and drained, add the contents of the frying pan to the linguini. Add as much basil, black pepper, and grated parmesan as you like (I like a fair amount of each). Toss until the linguini is well coated. You can add more parmesan over the top if you like (and I do).
Still in Italy, there is Risotto Milanese, further indulging my love for parmesan cheese.
7 cups simmering chicken broth
2 generous pinches saffron threads
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 1/2 cups rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing, if desired
In a small, heatproof bowl, pour 1/2 cup of stock over saffron threads and let it stand while you begin the risotto. In a heavy 3 or 4 quart casserole or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onion until soft and golden, about 6 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring continuously, until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Begin adding hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring continuously, adding stock only when previous addition is complete. Add saffron-infused stock about 10 minutes after adding the wine. The risotto is done when al dente but creamy. You may or may not need all of the stock. When the rice has reached the desired stage of doneness, turn off the heat and quickly stir in the butter, cream and Parmesan. Check seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with additional cheese if desired.
Still in the Med, the next recipe is, I think, Greek in origin. Yes, Stouffer's makes these, but making them yourself is better.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 Tbs. butter, melted
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 pkg. (box) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 green onion, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.In a separate bowl, whip eggs, then whip in milk and melted butter. Stir in cheese, spinach, and onion.Pour over flour mixture; stir just until combined. Pour into greased 11x7" baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Let cool for 10 minutes; slice into squares and serve.
Before we leave Europe, here is one of French inspiration (stop hissing!). For a Croque Monsieur a la Fitzpatrick, take two slices of bread, and 4 slices of swiss cheese (two on each slice. Spread some Dijon mustard liberally on one of the pieces of bread, and combine them. Melt some butter in a frying pan. Once the butter is melted, fry the sandwich (adding more butter when you are ready to turn over the sandwich). When both sides are a nice golden color, it is done. I often fry these up two at a time. It is a nice variation on the Lenten staple cheddar sandwich.
On to the New World. Salsa and chips is old hat for Lent. You've probably had it, or the variation, chips with grated cheddar melted over them, but no salsa, at least once this Lent if you are going meatless. Try this variation: Lime-flavored Tortilla chips with Peach Salsa. The lime-flavored chips are availablein the supermarket from the big chip maker. Here is a quick-and-easy peach salsa:
6 large fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and chopped
2/3 cup sweet orange marmalade (not bitter English)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 ounce crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons white sugar
In a medium bowl, mix together peaches, orange marmalade, green onions, cider vinegar, crystallized ginger and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
While we are still in the New World, let us consider the corn fritter. Corn (the American word, not the English meaning) is native to the Americas. Deep-frying corn in batter is somehow quintessentially American.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 can whole kernel corn, well-drained
Prepare whatever oil you use in your deep-fat fryer.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine eggs, milk and butter. Fold in dry ingredients [add more or less flour - enough to bind batter]; add corn last. Drop by tablespoons into hot vegetable oil and deep fry about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with syrup. Serve warm.
While we have the deep-fat fryers out, and are talking about foods native to the Americas, how about some sweet potato french fries?
Peel and slice 4-6 sweet potatoes. Heat your oil to the appropriate temperature. Fry until done. Put on a plate with paper towels over it, and salt (maybe use garlic salt). Dip in Cain's Mayonnaise (a little more tart than Hellman's).
And you need something to drink, especially if yo have given up caffienated beverages for the duration. Allow me to suggest one of my favorites, Cinnamon-Clove Water:
4 cups of cold water
1 cup sugar
4 sticks of cinnamon
20 whole cloves
Begin to boil the water. Add the sugar and spices and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let the water come to a good roiling boil for about 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to the minimum, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate. Drink either straight, or diluted with more water, according to your taste.
Well I hope this helps you get through the last days of Lent without mayhem and with minimal stress. It is almost over. This weekend, God willing, I'll put up some ideas for Easter Dinner and decorating. At holiday time, you can call this feature "Straight Eye For the Happy Life."
Thanks to Amy Welborn's Open Book for the link.
In no way will the City of Boston or the state benefit from the convention or any residual effect it may have on tourism, etc. enough to justify the expenses that are even now being undertaken to prettify the city, or the inconvenience to commuters.
During the liturgies of the last three weeks of Lent, John shows us Jesus changing the feasts he had observed from childhood, from Sabbath to Passover. (John chapters 5-10) In today's passage, (8:31-42) Jesus is presenting himself as the Light of the World, replacing the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. In an ensuing argument, his enemies base their objection on the authority of their father Abraham. Jesus counters, “I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” (8:38) The debate closes with one of the most awe inspiring claims of identity and power in the Bible, “ ‘Before Abraham came to be, I AM.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him.” (8:58-59)
At the end of the first century, some of the followers of the beloved disciple had no trouble confessing the divinity of Jesus, but did have trouble confessing his full humanity.
Many of us grew up with “Precious Blood Prayers.” They were given to us; we did not earn them. They were packaged; too often we did not open them to enjoy their perfume or put them to work. In the Eucharist we were given the body of Jesus; we did not deal with his blood in our lives except to offer it as a thing. Our spirituality was healthy only when we lived it. Today our spirituality is being reborn. How do we keep from having twins, Esau and Jacob, the younger replacing the elder, or the two quarrelling with one another? Reconciliation does not come from where we start. If we begin with the divine blood, we fall down in adoration. If we begin with human blood as earthly life and suffering, we exhaust ourselves in the service of our neighbor. The two pieties come together to the extent that they meet, touch, love the person, Jesus in himself and with his friends. In the liturgy today Jesus identifies himself in the fullness of his mystery. “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
Reflection by: George Lubeley, Amici & Companion (Cincinnati Province)
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Yesterday Peter Ustinov, today Alistair Cook, one of the most prescient and likeable observers of the American scene. He did a terrific job introducing TV series for Masterpiece Theater. He died only a few weeks after ending his weekly Letter From America at the age of 95. Requiescat in pace.
There is a beautiful reproduction hanging over the altar of St. Francis Chapel at Boston's Prudential Center (which was once run by Franciscans).
Please remember to pray for all of those who leave prayer requests there.
Developing a regular relationship with a confessor is a big step toward spiritual health. And you can't do that if the priest sees you only once every six months, or every six years. Confession and confessors are here to help us. Making use of that help is a great thing.
The Sox still have 4-5 more pre-season games before the games start to count.
As Moses lifted up the bronze serpent on a pole in the desert, in the same way, the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that anyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. John 3:14-16
Desiring to be healed of their terrible wounds, the Israelites in the Hebrew Scriptures did as Moses directed and looked upon the serpent-symbol that had dominated and debased the lives of the Chosen People. In that symbol, they could recognize the root of their wickedness – infidelity to Yahweh, their failure to live countercultural lives in polytheistic Canaan. They had to rise above the level of the pagan cults common to their region and reform their lives. They cried out to Yahweh: Hide not your face from (us) in the day of (our) distress. Moses interceded for them and God heard his prayer and saved them. During Lent, the Church calls all believers to gaze upon Christ Crucified to see and acknowledge our sin–personal and communal–and to witness the horrific consequences of our selfishness. With the grace of God, we can raise our consciousness to a realization of our sins, feel deep sorrow for them, and sincerely repent for them. And, we can do so with hope and rejoicing because Saint John the Evangelist indicates that the Passion is part one of a drama of triumph in which can already be discerned the fruits of victory made secure forever through Jesus’ resurrection and glorification. Christ was raised up to die, to redeem in resurrection, and to ascend to His Father. Jesus said: When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself, (John 12:32) Saint Maria De Mattias understood this scriptural passage in John; she urged each of us: Lift your heart to God with expressions of love, and often place yourself within the adorable wounds of our Redeemer. (L #390, Vol III)
What keeps me from imitating and living out the love of Christ in my life?
What prevents me from helping others discover that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
What is the most excellent way for me to experience the joy of reconciliation with God?
Reflection by: Sister Mary Kathleen Washington, A.S.C. (USA Province)
Monday, March 29, 2004
Kerry is rich in is own right. He married some other heiress, a Julia Thorne. They had children and divorced. Kerry then married wife number 2, once ketchup heir John Heinz was asa cold as, well, ketchup (the $500 million in Heinz money that she had, obviously, had nothing to do with that decision). No annulment of marriage number one before marriage number two.
I'm no canon lawyer. But as far as I know, the annulment is not in place yet (it has been applied for), which makes his second marriage adulterous (I know, we won't even go into the scandalously easy and liberal process for granting annulments in the Church in the US, Canada, Europe--completely contrary to the repeated expressed wishes of the Vatican, not to mention the Gospels). Of course, that will be retroactively cured when the annulment is handed down, and it will be (they almost always are).
But still, someone openly part of an adulterous "marriage" ought not to be receiving the Sacrament.
How many, other than Bishops Burke and Bruskewitz, and maybe Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal George, will take action?
Sexual sins form the basis of both the readings today. In the book of Daniel, we hear the famous story of Susannah and the elders, and in the gospel of John the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. The messages or lessons of each reading are different. In the first case, it has to do with justice, with discovering the truth of the allegation made by two elders against Susannah. Susannah says she is innocent. Daniel finds out the elders were lying and were, in fact, the guilty parties in this lustful case. The truth wins out and the guilty parties punished. The lesson for us, I think, is that our hidden self, and perhaps our sinful self, is always known by God. We may not be brought to justice immediately and held accountable now for our sins, but the time will come.
The message of the Gospel is different. It has to do with forgiveness and mercy. A woman caught in the very act of adultery (one wonders how she was ‘caught’) is brought before Jesus for punishment. Jesus, however, turns the tables and says those not guilty of sin can stone her. During this dialogue Jesus is bent down, writing on the ground. This is the only mention that Jesus can write. Slowly the scribes and Pharisees drift away, one by one as the scene says. Even visualizing this today is very powerful. No words are spoken, just the slow shuffling of sandaled feet in the hard desert sand. Jesus finds the perfect balance between the woman as a person and what she has done. For he tells her to ‘avoid this sin’ while not condemning her for it. There is much to learn here, about sin, about forgiveness, about ourselves and about the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. The cross of Jesus is standing nearby, overshadowing this scene and leading each of us to a Precious Blood Spirituality.
Reflection by: Rev. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, at Holy Trinity there will be Stations of the Cross and Veneration at 7:00 on Good Friday (April 9th). What parishioners there will be venerating is a Relic of the True Cross (I know, I know, there are enough Relics of the True Cross around to rebuild both towers of the World Trade Center). But still it is pretty cool.
There are also Stations and Veneration at Saint Leonard of Port Maurice in the North End, and at the Saint Francis Chapel at the Prudential Center.
Tough call where to worship. Like a kid in a candy store.
Even if Protestants buy them for use as churches (and where is that going to come from? Does anyone think the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Unitarians are in such better shape that they are boldy opening new parishes?), it goes massively against the grain to see Catholic churches taken over by, well, let's not soft pedal this, as Belloc and Chesterton would say, heretics and schismatics.
I have a feeling that what will move into old Catholic churches will not be the garden variety heretics and schismatics, what we have come to sometimes call "our separated Christian bretheren," but what we, for lack of a better term, will call heathens or (as medieval sources said) paynims: pagans, wiccans, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus, cults of all varieties that have grown in response to the self-caused shrinking of Christianity.
Even with the Blessed Sacrament no longer installed, seeing these houses of God turned over to heathens for their rites really, really depresses.
In any case, I add links almost every day. If you have a lot of free time, you could have a lot of fun in my links.
On the positive side, daffs and tulips are shooting up out of the ground, willows are starting to burst out of their buds, and I saw my first robin of spring two weeks ago. If those things have happened, can the forsythia be far behind?
The Latin for that Gospel is fairly easy, especially if you know the story. I attended a Latin Requiem for the first time about a month ago (and prepared for it by listening to a Naxos CD of a requiem Mass: Ego Sum Resurrectio). This Gospel (John 11:21-27) I found quite moving.
Dixit ergo Martha ad Iesum "Domine, si fuisses hic frater meus non fuisset mortuus, sed et nunc scio quia quaecumque poposceris a Deo dabit tibi Deus. Dicit illi Iesus, "Resurget frater tuus." Dicit ei Martha, "Scio quia resurget in resurrectione in novissima die." Dixit ei Iesus, "Ego sum resurrectio et vita qui credit in me et si mortuus fuerit vivet, et omnis qui vivit et credit in me non morietur in aeternum. Credis hoc ?" Ait illi utique, "Domine ego credidi quia tu es Christus Filius Dei qui in mundum venisti."
Passion Sunday's Gospel started earlier, with the Lord's decision to postpone His trip to Bethany, and ends with the raising of Lazarus and the effect that had on those who saw it. But after Martha's expression of faith, the raising of Lazarus itself is almost anticlimax.
Even though the Gospel for today is not the raising of Lazarus any longer we still should take away the fact that Lent is drawing to a close, and that we need to begin to become even more aware of the coming of Good Friday, that day of sadness and sacrifice, as well as the ultimate hope of Easter Sunday and its joy.
In some places, sacred images in church and home are veiled in purple from Passion Sunday until the Easter Vigil. They were today at Holy Trinity for the Indult Mass. In other areas, they are so veiled from Ash Wednesday, which is the custom I adopted.
The dramatic scene of this Sunday’s gospel is the familiar one in which the Scribes and Pharisees led before Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of ery. The situation has given an expression to our language: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” We might well conclude, then, that the message of the gospel is that we should not be quick to judge others. And that is indeed a valid application, as well as often a necessary one.
Isaiah today invites Israel not to dwell on a past filled with pain and suffering, but to keep her gaze fixed on the future with hope for a new life more wondrous than her earlier liberation from Egypt.
In today’s gospel, Jesus cleverly turns the tables on the Scribes and Pharisees and so foils their attempt to trap him in a compromising situation. He exposes their double standard: they want the Law applied only to others, not to themselves. Jesus, as usual, refuses to answer their question. Instead, he first dismissed their position as completely inane, as insignificant as the lines he drew on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in their questioning, he uttered his challenge: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Of course, they all walked away. Jesus, who could have met his own challenge, preferred to offer the opportunity for conversion. What are our double standards? Waging “just wars,” stamping out by , the defenseless? Mansions and banquets for the few, miserable shelters and food banks for the rest? Do we, the Church and civil society, encourage discrimination? How would Jesus turn the tables on us and on the hypocrisy of our system?
Jesus did not throw a stone at the woman and he does not throw stones at us. God does not will the of the sinner but only that they be converted and live. Jesus reveals to us the compassionate heart of our loving God. While not dismissing the gravity of sin, Jesus challenges the smugness of the self-righteous. He invites us to start a new day, gaze turned toward a brighter future: one filled with joy and gratitude instead of darkness and despair.
On the first Sunday of Lent, we saw the devil tempting Jesus to turn stones into bread. Stones do not interest Jesus, but bread does. At every Eucharist, bread is transformed into his body and wine into his . Stones Jesus does not offer us, but he does offer his body and . The Eucharist is the sign for us that Christ casts no stones.
Reflection by: Rev. Mario Cafarelli, C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)