Saturday, October 27, 2007

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday

October is dedicated by Holy Mother the Church to Our Blessed Lady and her Rosary, so the October installments of Our Blessed Lady's Saturday are likewise dedicated.

The Holy Rosary,
by Pope Leo XIII

Accept, mighty Maid, we beseech thee,
This prayer with its fragrance of flowers;
With one soul we seek thus to reach thee
And hail thee, God's Mother and ours.

Thy heart is made glad by our praying;
Thy bounty is generous and wise;
Thy hands are enriched for conveying
What God's tender Mercy supplies.

We kneel at thy shrines in the churches;
Oh, gently look down from above,
And welcome the heart that then searches
For worthy expressions of love.

Let others present precious caskets
Of gems, or heap altars with gold;
Slight prayer-beads shall serve us for baskets
To bring thee the garland they hold.

With violets lowly we fashion
This wreath, and with these are combined
Red roses--our faith in the Passion
With Chastity's lilies entwined.

Our minds, as the mysteries vary,
Are active; our hands play their part;
And always thy name, Holy Mary,
Oft-uttered, rejoices the heart.

Be with us; we trust thee to guide us
Through life, and when laboring breath
At the last seeks thine aid, be beside us
To help at the hour of our death.

Pope Leo XIII
Robert, Cyril, Our Lady's Praise in Poetry,
Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Some Prayers For a Happy and Holy Death

A Subitanea Et Improvisa Morte
A subitanea et improvisa morte libera nos, Domine.
From a sudden and unprovided death, deliver us, O Lord.

Ven. Cardinal Newman's Prayer

O my Lord and Savior, support me in my last hour by the strong arms of Thy sacraments, and the fragrance of Thy consolations. Let Thy absolving words be said over me, and the holy oil sign and seal me; and let your own body be my food, and Thy blood my sprinkling; and let Thy Mother Mary come to me, and my angel whisper peace to me, and Thy glorious saints and my own dear patrons smile on me, that in and through them all I may die as I desire to live, in Thy Church, in Thy faith, and in Thy love. Amen.

My Jesus, mercy.

Pope Pius IX attached an indulgence on Sept. 24, 1846.

Invocation For A Happy Death

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give thee my heart and soul.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, let me breathe forth my spirit in peace with thee.

In Manus Tuas, Domine

Psalm 30, verse 6.

In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.
Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Prayer For A Happy Death
O God, Who hast doomed all men to die, but hast concealed from all the hour of their death, grant that I may pass my days in the practice of holiness and justice, and that I may deserve to quit this world in the peace of a good conscience, and in the embraces of Thy love. Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer To The Blessed Virgin To Obtain A Good Death
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Refuge of sinners, Mother of those who are in their agony, abandon us not in the hour of our death, but obtain for us then a perfect sorrow, sincere contrition, the remission of all of our sins, a worthy reception of the most holy Viaticum, the strengthening of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, so that we may be able to be presented with every assurance of mercy before the throne of the just but merciful Judge, our God and our Redeemer.

Prayer For A Happy Death From The Roman Missal
(Fac Nos, Domine Iesu)

Fac nos, Domine Iesu, sanctae Familiae tuae exempla iugiter imitari, ut in hora mortis nostrae, occurrente gloriosa Virgine Matre tua cum beato Joseph, per te in aeterna tabernacula recipi mereamur: Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.

Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: Who livest and reignest world without end.


Friday At the Foot Of the Cross

God of mercy and compassion,
Look with pity upon me,
Father, let me call Thee Father,
'Tis Thy child returns to Thee.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery,
Hell with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heav'n above.
Where the saints rejoice forever
In a boundless sea of love.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

See our Savior, bleeding, dying,
On the cross of Calvary;
To that cross my sins have nail'd Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.


Superlatives All Around

First of all, the Red Sox, behind sterling pitching performances from Curt Shilling, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon beat the Rockies at Fenway to take a quick 2-0 lead in the World Series. The Series now shifts to Denver, where the thin air, the lack of a DH, and the usual home-field advantage may yet see the Series come back to Boston with the Rockies up 3-2. Game 3 Saturday night!

GO RED SOX!!!!!!!

But as exciting as the victorious pitcher's duel at Fenway was, it was in Virginia where New England gathered its most surprising laurels last night. The No. 2 Boston College Eagles took on Virginia Tech, rated 8th in the nation, and trailed 10-0 in a defensive gem until the final 2 minutes. BC Quarterback Matt Ryan gave people a serious reason to vote for him for the Heisman this this year, as he through 2 touchdowns in the final 2 minutes to give BC a 14-10 victory. BC is now 8-0 on the season, is still at No. 2, and thoughts of a national championship are not out of the question. Wow.

Is it possible that this year could see the Red Sox win the World Series, the Patriots win the Super Bowl, BC win the national college football championship, and maybe even see the Celtics and Bruins, the poor relations of Boston sports these last 20 years and more, have exciting seasons?


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catholic Ghost Stories

Taken from Hell plus How to Avoid Hell by Fr. FX Schouppe, S.J. and Thomas A. Nelson. (TAN Books & Publishers, Inc., 1989)

A holy priest was exorcizing a demoniac, and he asked the demon what pains he was suffering in Hell. "An eternal fire," he answered, "an eternal malediction, an eternal rage, and a frightful despair at being never able to gaze upon Him who created me." "What would you do to have the happiness of seeing God?" "To see Him but for one moment, I should willingly consent to endure my torments for 10,000 years. But vain desires! I shall suffer forever and never see Him!"


On a like occasion, the exorcist inquired of the demon what was his greatest pain in Hell. He replied with an accent of indescribable despair: "Always, always! Never; never!"


Father Nieremberg, in his work "The Difference between Time and Eternity", speaks of an unfortunate sinner, who, as the result of his evil ways, had lost the Faith. His virtuous wife exhorted him to return to God and reminded him of Hell, but he would answer obstinately: "There is no Hell." One day his wife found him dead, and strange circumstance, he held in his hand a mysterious paper on which in large characters was traced this terrifying avowal: "I now know that there is a Hell!"


Mgr. de Segur relates a second fact, which he regards as alike free from doubt. He had learned it in 1859, of a most honorable priest and superior of an important community. This priest had the particulars of it from a near relation of the lady to whom it had happened. At that time, Christmas Day, 1859, this person was still living and little over forty years.

She chanced to be in London in the winter of 1847-1848. She was a widow, about twenty nine years old, quite rich and worldly. Among the gallants who frequented her salon, there was noticed a young lord, whose attentions compromised her extremely and whose conduct, besides, was anything but edifying!

One evening, or rather one night, for it was close upon midnight, she was reading in her bed some novel, coaxing sleep. One o'clock struck by the clock; she blew out her taper. She was about to fall asleep when, to her great astonishment, she noticed that a strange, wan glimmer of light, which seemed to come from the door of the drawing-room, spread by degrees into her chamber, and increased momentarily. Stupified at first and not knowing what this meant, she began to get alarmed, when she saw the drawing-room door slowly open and the young lord, the partner of her disorders, enter the room. Before she had time to say a single word, he seized her by the left wrist, and with a hissing voice, syllabled to her in English: "There is a Hell!" The pain she felt in her arm was so great that she lost her senses.

When, half an hour after, she came to again, she rang for her chambermaid. The latter, on entering, noticed a keen smell of burning. Approaching her mistress, who could hardly speak, she noticed on her wrist so deep a burn that the bone was laid bare and the flesh almost consumed; this burn was the size of a man's hand. Moreover, she remarked that, from the door of the salon to the bed, and from the bed to that same door, the carpet bore the imprint of a man's steps, which had burned through the stuff. By the directions of her mistress, she opened the drawing-room door; there, more traces were seen on the carpet outside.

The following day, the unhappy lady learned, with a terror easy to be divined, that on the very night, about one o'clock in the morning, her lord had been found dead-drunk under the table, that his servants had carried him to his room, and that there he had died in their arms.


The following is from So High the Price by Father P.T. Kelly STL, Daughters of Saint Paul, 1968. It is an incident from the life of St. Francis Jerome, which took place in Naples in 1707.

One day, the servant of God preached in front of the home of one of those unfortunate women. Rather than repent, however she did everything she could to interrupt him, even letting loose great yells, but nothing she did suceeded to distract the attention of our saint, who continued his sermon until its end.

Some days later, Father Francis passed in front of the same house, and seeing it closed, asked those who were nearby: "What happened to Catherine?" That was the name of the unhappy woman.

She died suddenly yesterday," they answered.

"Dead!" exclaimed the Saint. "Let us go and see her."

He entered the home, and climbed the stairs. There he saw the body laid out according to the custom. Then, in the midst of the profound silence that reigned over the place, in spite of the large number of spectators, he exclaimed: "Tell me, Catherine, what has been done with thy soul?"

He asked this question twice without getting an answer; but, when he repeated it a third time, in a tone of authority, the dead woman opened her eyes, moved her lips in sight of everyone and, with a weak voice that seemed to come out of a great depth, answered: "In hell; I am in hell!"

Everyone left frightened and, upon withdrawing, the Saint repeatedly said: "In hell! In hell! All-powerful God, terrible God! In hell!"

The event and words of the saint caused such an impression that many did not dare return home without first going to confession.


From the same source, quoting St. Antoninus:

A young man from a good family, who had unfortunately hidden a mortal sin in confession at the age of sixteen, continued going to Communion, always putting off, week by week, month by month, the confession seemingly so impossible. Tormented constantly and gulping down the remorse that ate his soul, he thought to make up by doing great acts of penance. Still, his conscience would not let him rest.

"I'll join a monastery," he reasoned. "There at last I will reveal all and will do penance for my sins."

But unfortunately he was welcomed as a youth of holy life and therefore the voice of conscience was overcome by shame. Once again, he put off making that 'sincere' confession. One, two, and three years passed by. Still his nerve failed, and finally upon falling sick, the poor man said to himself, "Now is my chance to reveal everything and make a general confession before dying." But even this time instead of manifesting his sins, he knowingly hid them, so engrained was he in pride. "Tomorrow I will ask for the priest and make a good confession," he told himself. But a high fever brought on delirium and he died in that wretched state without gaining consciousness.

His confreres, never guessing his unhappy end, were filled with veneration for the seemingly virtuous religious. With great reverence, they brought his coffin into the chapel.

Just minutes before the funeral, one of his confreres, about to ring the community bell summoning all to the funeral--stopped in alarm and fell on his knees at a terrible sight. In front of him stood a religious, clothed in red-hot chains. "I am in hell, the reprobate cried, "do not pray for me." It was the deceased monk. Then he related the story of his cursed shame and the litany of sacrileges. The vision faded away. Only the terrible stench remained which filtered throughout the whole monastery.


Soul Bread, Soul Cakes, and Donuts

Trick-or-treating, though it only made its emergence in the US in the late 19th century, has a long history in Europe, and while it has pre-Christian roots, was transformed into a Christian custom by the Church.

In Celtic times in the British Isles, villagers would dress in the clothes of those who had died during the year, and go from house to house begging for food for the winter. After the Christianization of the islands, instead of a negative curse on those who refused to give, the beggars offered their prayers for the souls of the dead of the family they were begging from.

The custom became known as "Going A'Souling" and, as any long-time reader of this blog knows, is closely related to a host of end-of-the-year customs including the Wren Boys in Ireland, John Canoe on pre-Civil War Southern plantations, Wassailing, Carolling, Begging A Penny For the Guy, or the American 19th century begging for "something for Thanksgiving."

The food that was offered to these beggars was a seasonal specialty, much like Hot Cross Buns during Lent. Soul Cakes or Soul Bread was what most gave to the visitors.

Here is a recipe for Soul Bread, and some souling songs:

Soul Bread
2 TBSP. Yeast (Instant)
1c. milk
5c. flour
1c. sugar
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 c. butter

You start with the yeast, and have to knead this thing three times after it rises to double its size (which is why I prefer to use a bread machine). When you think you have kneaded it enough, bake it at 350 degrees for an hour.

And if you don't want to go through the kneading process, buy some good plain or cider donuts. The round shape is supposed to put us in mind of God's infinity. In some cultures, the Bread of the Dead is fried, so fried dough will do, also.

Here are recipes for Soul Cakes (very like cookies, and remember, the terms "cakes," and "cookies/biscuits" were interchangable in England).

Souling Songs
Just like the Wren Boys on St. Stephen's Day, and our trick-or-treaters on Hallowmas Eve's cry of "trick-or-treat", there was a set formula for what the souling luck visitors were supposed to chant as they came to the door. It varied however, from place to place.

Here are two:

Soul! Soul! For a souling-cake!
I pray you, good missus, a souling-cake.

In another part of England, the children sang:

Soul! Soul!
For an apple or two!
If you have no apples,
Pears will do,
If you have no pears,
Money will do.
If you have no money,
God bless you!

(and yes, the lyrics are very similar to Christmas Is Comin', the Goose Is Gettin' Fat, thank you for noticing the similarity of these two luck visit rites).


"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band Of Brothers"

The Battle of Agincourt was fought upon this day, an anniversary those of us whose childhoods were formed around anniversaries of deeds of heroics are inclined to remember.

O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.


Saints Crispin and Crispinian

Crispin and Crispinian, patron saints of cobblers, tanners, and leather workers. Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, winding up in Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, the governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and beheaded c. 286. In the 6th century, a church was built in their honour at Soissons. Crispian and Crispinian are also associated with the town of Faversham in Kent. In early 2007 the parish church of St Mary of Charity dedicated an altar to Crispin and Crispinian in the South aisle of the church.

The supposed tombs of the saints are in Rome in the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna.


Forty Martyrs Of England and Wales

Forty representative martyrs of the English protestant rebellion were canonized in the 1970s, and although most have their own feast days which are at least noted liturgically, they are celebrated collectively on this date. This feast post-dates the 1962 Calendar.

Here is a list of the Forty Martyrs:

* Carthusians
o Augustine Webster
o John Houghton
o Robert Lawrence
* Brigittine
o Richard Reynolds
* Augustinian friar
o John Stone
* Jesuits
o Alexander Briant
o Edmund Arrowsmith
o Edmund Campion
o David Lewis
o Henry Morse
o Henry Walpole
o Nicholas Owen
o Philip Evans
o Robert Southwell
o Thomas Garnet
* Benedictines
o Alban Roe
o Ambrose Barlow
o John Roberts
* Friars Obervant
o John Jones
* Franciscans
o John Wall
* Secular Clergy
o Cuthbert Mayne
o Edmund Gennings
o Eustace White
o John Almond
o John Boste
o John Kemble
o John Lloyd
o John Pain
o John Plesington
o John Southworth
o Luke Kirby
o Polydore Plasden
o Ralph Sherwin
* Laymen
o John Rigby
o Philip Howard
o Richard Gwyn
o Swithun Wells, schoolmaser
* Laywomen
o Anne Line
o Margaret Clitherow
o Margaret Ward
Almighty God, Who hast given to Thy servants grace and power to stand firm for conscience' sake even unto death: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.



The first game of the World Series ended very well indeed, with the Red Sox giving the Rockies a 13-1 thrashing at Friendly Fenway. Josh Beckett pitched a great game, striking out 9, to advance his own post-season record to 4-0. If his post-season record is like is April/May record, when he started the season something like 8-0, that will be great.

The Rockies are still a very dangerous team, and we can't count on winning even a single game in the thin atmosphere of Denver. So tonight, let's make it 2-0!

GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And Just As Baseball Reaches Its Zenith,

So does our New England foliage.

Mark had some nice pics he took over last weekend in Ashland at Irish Elk.


Tonight It Begins

The World Series, in Boston. It doesn't get any better than this.

GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ossi di Morti

So far, on our trans-national Hallowmas cuisine journey, we have stopped in Ireland and Spain's former colonies. Today, we make a stop in Italy.

Traditions for Hallowmas in Italy vary greatly, from region to region, and even from town to town within a given region. And the recipes for Ossi di Morti, or Bones of the Dead cookies also vary. Some are very chewy, and others are like meringue. But the essential idea is that they be white and somewhat hard, and in the shape of a bone. They are traditional for All Souls Days.

These cookies are brittle and dry like old bones. They are made all over Italy around November 1 and 2 to celebrate All Souls' Day, in remembrance of deceased relatives. Don't let their name turn you off. They are unusual to look at, delicious to eat, and a real conversation piece.


2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine semolina flour
2/3 cup coarsely chopped semisweet or milk chocolate
3/4 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds


2/3 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Generously grease and flour your cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

In a glass or copper bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form. Slowly add half the sugar a little at a time, beating until well incorporated and the whites are stiff and shiny. With a spatula, sprinkle the remaining sugar, semolina flour, chocolate, and almonds over the egg whites and fold in with a rubber spatula.

Using 2 teaspoons, use a small portion of batter to form bone-shaped cookies about 3 inches long and 1½ inches wide. (I use a cardboard template of a bone and trace it with a pencil onto the underside of the parchment paper, then fill in the space with the batter.) Space the cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cookies are fairly dry but still pale looking. Cool on sheets, then transfer carefully to a cooling rack.

Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate and butter to the top of the double boiler, cover, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chocolate and butter are melted.

Stir the frosting well. Dip the underside of each cookie into the frosting and, while still wet, make wavy lines through the chocolate with a fork or a frosting comb. Let the cookies dry completely.

Now Maria's Pastry Shop, on Cross Street at the edge of the North End, also makes Ossi di Morti, but they use a Sicilian recipe, and their cookies are very chewy, so much so that you might need to soften them by dunking in coffee or vanilla chai. Now, their Ossi di Morti are not so much to my taste, not really liking things that are excessively chewy. But they make a lobster tail pastry that is absolutely to die for!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One of the All-Time Coolest Evil Trad Images

Saint Pope Pius V adoring Our Lord as represented on a Crucifix, while in the background, a heretic, probably a protestant, is being broken on the wheel.

Doffing the silver-laced cocked hat to fellow Catholic Restorationist Chris Gillibrand.


Foods For the Days of the Dead

In Hispanic cultures, November 1st and 2nd are the Days of the Dead. They are that in the Catholic calendar, of course, All Saints' Day, and All Souls Day. All Hispanic cultures observe these days as celebrations of the dead, to some extent, though in Mexico and the Philippines, the celebrations are the most important, rising to the level of public holidays.

Wikipedia has a good article on The Days of the Dead, which gives more details than I can.

Last year, I did a photo-essay on Days of the Dead altars. But you will be disappointed in it, since all the images were shuffled around in my Photobucket account during one of the recent reorganizations.

This year, my emphasis is on the foods of the Days of the Dead. In fact, this week I am trying to do recipes for various Hallowmas-related celebrations.

Ubiquitous in the celebrations is the Bread of the Dead, Pan de Muerto, which is placed on home altars set up for the dead, and eaten at picnics by the graves of deceased loved ones.

1 yeast cake
1/4 cup lukewarm water
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1/3 cup orange blossom water
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup anisette

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let it stand in a warm place.Sift the flour with the salt. Taking about half the flour, add the yeast, mix well, and allow to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Cream the butter with the sugar; add the egg yolks and the orange blossom water. Then add the remaining flour, the milk and anisette. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Then add the egg whites, one at a time, kneading after each addition. Finally add the fermented dough and beat and knead until thoroughly mixed. Allow it to rise in a greased bowl in a warm place until double in bulk. Knead once more and divide into two portions. Remove a bit of the dough from each portion, enough to form two "bones." Shape the dough into round loaves and moisten the tops with water. Place the "bones" in the shape of a cross on each loaf and bake at 375� F. for about fifty minutes or until done. The loaves are usually covered with a light sugar glaze when baked.

The Days of the Dead, as we saw last year, have a certain carnival-like atmosphere to them. The theme is death, and there are skeltons and skulls everywhere. One of the more universal snacks is the sugar skull.

Recipes for the sugar skull are often quite involved, but here is a simple one that even I can follow.

Sugar Skulls
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 TBSP. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup cornstarch
colored icing
1 fine paintbrush

Sift powdered sugar. Mix the egg white, corn syrup, and vanilla in a very clean bowl, then add the powdered sugar with a wooden spoon. When almost incorporated, start kneading with the tip of your fingers until you can form a small ball. Dust with cornstarch on board. Keep on kneading until smooth, then form into skull shapes. Let dry completely, then paint with colored icing, including the names of the people you are giving them to.

Tamales are also highly favored. They are fairly hearty, and can be left on altars, or eaten out at the graveyard, much as we would eat sandwiches at our picnics.

Here are the basic steps for making a tamale.

Tamales are to fast food what saddle horses are to mass transit. Slow. Slow. Slow.

If you complete the process by scratch, it begins with dried corn and ends with a masa-stuffed corn husk. Soaking, spreading, simmering and steaming are parts of the labor-intensive process of tamalemaking. Follow these steps by chef Gabriel Pompa of La Perla Cafe in Glendale and treat yourself to several dozen of your favorite tamales:

• Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the corn husks so they are completely submerged. Let the husks soak for one to two hours. Use a plate to weight the husks down if they float to the surface of the pot. The husks should be very pliable.


• Soak dried corn kernels in the caustic lime sold at Mexican food markets. Use 1 ounce of lime for every 10 pounds of corn. After several hours, and after the kernels are plump, drain the water and wash the corn extremely well. The lime will leave a bitter taste on the corn if not washed thoroughly. Allow the soaked corn to drip-dry, then grind it into small pieces in a meat grinder or food processor.

• See recipe for masa from scratch on Page G4 and use 3 pounds of this corn mixture as an ingredient to create the finished masa dough.


• To cut out several steps, buy fresh, dry masa flour at Mexican markets. You also can find it in the Hispanic food aisle of most grocery stores. Follow the package instructions to create masa dough, then follow the remaining steps. For even more convenience, you can buy fresh, tamale-ready masa dough at specialty stores.


• Once masa and filling of choice have been prepared (some filling recipes are on Page G4), drain the corn husks and select the largest ones. Use the masa as glue to combine two of the smaller husks. A husk at least 12 inches wide is needed for a 6-inch-tall tamale.

• Place the husks, smooth side up, on a flat surface. Use a tablespoon tilted at a 45-degree angle to spread the masa almost all the way to the sides of the husk and near the top. Leave most of the lower half of the husk uncovered.

• Spoon a tablespoon or two of the cooled meat or vegetable mixture in a narrow band across the masa. Leave at least a 11/2-inch border on the pointy end of the husk, and a three-fourths-inch border along the other sides.

• Begin by tucking one edge of the husk and rolling. Tuck and roll. Repeat tucking and rolling until there are no husks remaining. Fold the empty bottom half of the husk up against the rest of the roll.

• Tie tamales with a string of corn husk, or use the masa to glue the tamale to prevent it from unraveling.


• Place the tamale, flap side down, in the steamer basket of a pasta, vegetable or tamale cooker. Fill the bottom of the steamer; the water level should be below the rack. Then stack tamales on top of one another. If the tamales extend over the top of the pot, cover with a wet corn husk and damp rag.

• Steam the tamales for 1 to 11/4 hours or until the masa seems fairly firm inside the husk. Replenish boiling water if necessary.

• The tamales are done when the husk peels away easily.

That is the basic recipe. The filling makes the tamale, though.

Try this Creamed Corn and Cheese Tamale Filling:

1 cup corn kernels (from 1 large or 2 small ears of corn)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and finely chopped
11/2 cups grated semisoft cheese, such as Monterey Jack, farmer's cheese or queso asadero
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Place all ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to mix. Use right away or store in refrigerator no longer than overnight. Makes enough filling for about 12 tamales.

This Sweetened Bean Tamale Filling also looks good:

1 can (16 ounces) refried pinto beans
1/3 cup raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

In a medium-size bowl, stir together the beans, raisins and brown sugar. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice and mix well.

Makes enough filling for about 30 tamales.

Want to try something different with the tamales? How about a Mole Verde Sauce with simple chicken tamales

1 cup chopped white onion
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
4 pounds tomatillos, peeled
6 leaves epazote (an herb available in Mexican markets)
12 sprigs cilantro
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (see note)
6 cups chicken stock
4 whole jalapeños, stems removed

In a medium stockpot, saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft but not browned. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tomatillos are softened, about 5 minutes.

Place sauce in food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. You should not feel the seeds when you taste it. Serve with chicken, pork or seafood.

These Blue Corn Enchiladas are tempting:

12 blue corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups red chile sauce
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 medium onion, minced
4 eggs, fried
Shredded lettuce, for garnish

Soften each tortilla in oil in a skillet for 3 seconds; drain.

Spoon a thin layer of red chile sauce on each of 4 oven-proof plates. Layer remaining chile sauce, cheeses and onion proportionately on 3 tortillas on each prepared plate. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.

Top each with 1 egg; garnish with shredded lettuce. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Beverages are very important for the home altars for the visiting dead. One sees bottles of Coke, bottles of beer, and many specially-made drinks. Here are two that I found intriguing.

Agua de Tamarindo (Tamarind Water)
6 tamarind pods (available at Latino food markets)
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups water

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Stir to break up the tamarind a little and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and refrigerate. Makes about 8 servings.

Agua de Jamaica
1 cup jamaica (dried hibiscus flowers, available in Latino food markets)
8 cups water
3/4 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Let mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain and refrigerate.

So, if you want to try something different for your Days of the Dead dining, you can very authentically go Mexican.


Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Happy About How My Sorts Teams Are Doing, But Otherwise Miserable

I am suffering with the first real cold of the Fall/Winter/Spring. I have a sinus headache that seems to need its own zip code, incessantly running nose, cough, post-nasal drip. The amazing thing is that I have been in such good health since April or so.

If my posts are a little lacking this week, keep this miserable cold in mind.


Recipes For An Irish Halloween

I realize that in past years, I have left the giving of Halloween and Hallowmas-related recipes until too late for folks to make use of them, if desired. People need time to look at recipes, think about a shopping list, and make the actual dishes. So this year, I will give you my food-related posts this week, 9 days before Halloween.

The Irish, of course, quite apart from saving Western Civilization by safeguarding its learning and the classical tradition during the early Middle Ages, gave us what we now call Halloween.

In Celtic lands, the foremost of which is Ireland, the night of October 31st was the new year, celebrated with fire rites, and feasts laid out for those who had died during the year. The fire rites, sometimes innocent bonfires, at other times sacrificial in nature, were to warm the sun for its coming battle with winter's cold. Villages would spread out foods, especially cider and bread, on tables, and villagers, dressed in the clothes of those who had recently died, would be the guests. They might go door-to-door begging in this sympathetic disguise. We see here the earliest form of trick-or-treating. When the "spirits" had eaten their fill, they were escorted to the edge of town, and the village would be symbolically rid of the spirits of the dead.

In Christian times, the story of Jack Of the Lantern and his hollowed-out turnip lantern and dealings with the devil was added. And the custom of the poor going from door-to-door took on a new twist. The beggars would offer their prayers for the deceased of the household in exchange for soul bread, or soul cakes.

The Church super-imposed the feast of All Hallows or All Saints Day on the day after Halloween, but many of the Celtic customs (vegetable lanterns, house-to-house visiting, bonfires, bobbing for apples--which the Celts picked up from the Romans) continued. And the time of year was even more closely associated with the dead when All Souls' Day was added on November 2nd, and the entire month of November dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

Halloween took on its modern form here in the United States after Irish immigrants came in large numbers.

So it is entirely fitting and proper to celebrate Halloween as a great Irish feast, with distinctively Irish foods.

Let's start with Barmbrack, the fruitcake traditionally served for Halloween night. You need a pudding (English and Irish slang for dessert) for Halloween, and barmbrack is the traditional choice. Since the night of October 31st is a traditional time for fortune-telling nonsense, a ring is included in the barmbrack. Whoever finds it will allegedly be married in the next year. This is similar to the hiding of charms that allegedly foretell the future in English Twelfth Cakes.

2 1/2 cup Mixed dry fruit--currants, dates & raisins
1 cup Boiling black tea
1 Egg, slighty beaten
1 Mixed spice
4 tsp Orange Marmalade
1 1/3 cup superfine/castor sugar
2 1/2 cups Self-raising flour
1 ring wrapped in wax paper (optional)

Place dried fruit in a bowl, cover with the hot tea and let soak overnight.
The next day, add the remaining ingredients. and mix well. Add ring wrapped in greaseproof paper(optional).
Preheat oven to 375 F. Pour batter into greased 7" square pan and bake in the center of oven for 1 1/2 hrs.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and serve buttered with tea.

But for your main meal, you need something filling, and Champ certainly is that.

Want something to serve Halloween night that is not loaded with sugar? Before the kids gourge on trick-or-treat candy and caramel apples, get something with a little substance into them. If it is cold in your part of the country this Halloween night, they'll need something that will stick to their ribs. Try Champ.

Champ is essentially rich-man's mashed spuds. It is traditionally served in Ireland as an alternative to Colcannon on Halloween night. Colcannon often has cabbage, which I dislike. Champ lacks the offending greenery.

You need:
8 large russets (I like Yukon Gold)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pound butter
fresh or dried chives to taste
fried or dried onions to taste
salt to taste
freshly grated pepper to taste
1/4 pound butter
1 pound Irish back bacon

Cut a strip 1/2 inch wide along the circumference of each of the spuds. This gives them better flavor, and allows for easier peeling once they have been boiled. Then boil them in their jackets.

Fry up the Irish back bacon. Irish back bacon is more like cured pork than our smoked breakfast bacon. Once the back bacon is done, dry it off with paper towels, and cut off and remove the fat and dice up the choice pieces.

Peel the spuds, and place them in a large bowl and mash them with the cream, the 1/2 pound of butter (or more, if you like) chives, onions, salt and pepper. Mix them up and bring the spuds to a consistency you like. I prefer firm, smooth, and very creamy.

Add in the back bacon and stir.

To serve, mound up the champ on each plate, and hollow out a crater at the top. Here, put in the additional butter sliced up so so that it melts. As you eat forkfuls of champ, dip them in the crater of butter. Sinfully rich and delicious!

I also like this on Saint Patrick's Day.

Now suppose you want to bring out the deep-fat fryer and fry up those russets, instead. Well, french fries are best dipped in something mayonnaisey, right. Here is an Irish dip:

Mustard Mead Dip
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Lakeshore Wholegrain Mustard with Bunratty Meade
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and dill and stir to smooth. Dip your home-made fries to your heart's content. Very hearty and tasty.

While we are talking about sinfully rich Irish foods:

Dubliner Cheese Tart
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon Kerrygold Irish butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 slices Irish back bacon, cut into strips
8 button mushrooms, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 ounces Dubliner cheese, grated
1 cup milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, then with a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the water and form into a ball.
Roll out the pastry until large enough to line a 9-inch quiche pan. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the pastry to cover the base and sides and fill with ceramic pie weights.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove foil and bake 5 minutes more.
Remove from oven and cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 375° F.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook the onions until soft, but not browned, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic, bacon, and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
Spoon the mixture into the pastry base, add the tomato halves, and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

In a small bowl combine the milk, eggs, herbs, mustard, salt and pepper, and pour over the base. Bake until the filling is set and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

They are not particularly Irish, but pumpkin seeds, roasted and slightly salted make a nice snack, and I think you can find some easily after you carve your jack-o-lantern. Try different spices on your pumpkin seeds. A little cayenne never hurt anyone.

But an Irish name for Halloween night is Nut Crack Night, so be sure to have a basket of uncracked filberts or walnuts by your side, too.

Mulled apple cider is a great "atmosphere" drink, especially if you serve it in a pewter tankard like this one. Nothing goes better with old ghost stories read by candlelight than mulled apple cider in such a tankard.

Hint. If you are going to make your own apple cider, don't use the apples that the kids have been bobbing for.

Coming Very Soon:

Recipes For Soul Bread, Soul Cakes, Donuts, Ossi di Morti, and foods associated with the Hispanic Days of the Dead.

Tea At Trianon has more about the Irishness of Halloween.


And How About Those Patriots, Huh?

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots continued their glorious march through the NFL, handily defeating the hapless Miami dolphins 49-28. They are now 7-0 and look like they might go undefeated, if they can avoid serious injuries to key personnel.

And Boston College had a bye week (they play Virginia Tech Thursday night on the road), but moved up to No. 2 in the nation as a team ranked a head of them stumbled this past weekend.

Unfortunately, St. John's Prep had another bad game, losing again, in what looks like a rebuilding year for the Prep.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, We Now Proudly Present Your 2007 American League Champion Boston Red Sox!!!

Last night's exciting 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians sends the Red Sox to the World Series for the second time in 4 years. The game was much closer than the final score indicates, as the Sox only began to bust it open in the 8th inning. The Indians and the Sox had identical win/loss records going into the playoffs. The Indians knocked off the Yankees, while the Red Sox dispatched the Angels int he first round. And finally, the two teams took it all the way to the late innings of game 7 before a victor emerged. The Indians are a great team and had a great season.

Now, beginning on Wednesday, we shall see how the Sox fare against the Rockies, who have been well-nigh unstoppable against their National League collegues in the last month. I think both teams have momentum, but the Sox' is fresher, as Colorado has had a long lay-off.

This will be the fifth World Series for the Sox in my lifetime, with losses in 1967, 1975, 1986, and a win in 2004 already witnessed. All of Boston is afire for the Sox now, and they are managing to eclipse the equally sterling Patriots, about whom more in due course.

GO RED SOX!!!!!!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gregorian Trental Of Masses For One Deceased Person


By the "Gregorian Masses" is meant a series of Masses offered,
uninterruptedly, on thirty successive days, for the repose of the soul of a
deceased person. The series is called a Trental.

This practice arose as far back as, at least, the eighth century, and
is ascribed to an incident related by St. Gregory the Great (540-604) in his
Dialogues (Lib. IV, Cap. 55) -- how he ordered such a series of Masses to be
said for the soul of one of his monks who had died penitent, after the
commission of a fault against monastic poverty, and how, at the end of the
series, the monk announced his delivery from Purgatory.

Hence arose the belief that, in addition to the intrinsic value of
the celebration of thirty Masses for the soul of a dead person, an extrinsic
efficacy was added through the prayers and merits of St. Gregory, inclining
God to apply more fully the infinite merits of the Mass to the deceased
person, so that at the end of the thirty days he would be freed from

VALUE OF THIS VERY OLD BELIEF, the Sacred Congregation of Indulgences did
declare (Acta Sanctae Sedis, XVI, 509), on March 15, 1884, that "the
confidence of the faithful, convinced that the offering of thirty Masses
called "Gregorian" Masses possesses a special efficacy for the deliverance of
souls in Purgatory, is pious and reasonable, and the custom of celebrating
these Masses is approved by the Church."

Conditions of the Trental
1) The thirty Masses must be offered without a break (S. Cong. Indulg., Jan
14, 1889; Holy Office, Dec. 12, 1912 [II]), for thirty consecutive days, not
necessarily by the same priest (Holy Office [III]) -- hence the priest who
undertook the celebration may have one or more Masses supplied by another
priest--, nor in the same church. Should the last three days of Holy Week
occur, and the celebrant does not say Mass on Maundy Thursday, or Holy
Saturday (if he does, he must make those Masses part of the Trental), the
series is not broken (Benedict XIV, Institutiones Eccl. 34 [n. 22], and he
may continue, on Easter Sunday, as if there had been no interval.

2) The Masses must be spread over thirty days -- one being celebrated each
day. Hence, the celebrant must not get one more more of the Masses
celebrated by others on the one day, so that the thirty are completed in a
shorter period than thirty days; nor must he apply more than one of his
Masses on Christmas Day as a part of the Trental (S. Cong. Indulg., Jan. 14,
1889; Holy Office, Dec. 12, 1919 [II and IV]).

3) The Masses must all be offered for ONE deceased person only, not for
several; nor for the living (S. Cong. Indulg., Aug. 24, 1888).

4) The Masses need not be Requiem Masses, even on days when these are
permitted, but "it is praiseworthy to say them, out of regard for the dead,
on days on which this is lawful and becoming" (Holy Office, Dec, 12, 1912

5) The Masses need not be said at a privileged altar, nor need they be
offered in honor of St. Gregory, nor with a commemoration of him (S. Cong.
Indulg., Jan 14, 1889).

6) It is not certain that there is any plenary indulgence attached to the
Trental (S. Cong. Indulg., Aug. 24, 1888). the special efficacy is due
rather to the divine good pleasure and mercy, and to the acceptance on God's
part of the Masses (S. Cong. Indulg., Aug. 24,, 1888, and Mar. 15, 1884).

7) The Masses of the Trental have no liturgical privileges. (J.B. O'Connell,
The Celebration of Mass)

For a trental of Tridentine Masses, the cost is $300.00, and can be obtained by contacting the following:

Rev. Father Matthew Shapiro, OSB,
Annunciation Monastery at Clear Creek,
5804 W. Monastery Road,


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