Saturday, November 29, 2008
Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Poor Souls
At Fatima Our Lady revealed that devotion to her Immaculate Heart is a particular means that God wishes to use to save souls from Hell. This is the second of the three Secrets of Fatima; therefore, it must be a very powerful devotion.
At Fatima Our Lady showed the three children a terrifying vision of Hell, then told them, "You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace."
Thus the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was revealed expressly to save souls, so how can Our Lady refuse to save souls if we appeal to her Immaculate Heart?
We can entrust to her the sinner we are praying for- especially if it is a relative or godchild of ours or someone to whom we have special ties-----using the following or similar words, and even repeating this act many-----times throughout the day:
A Little Act of Entrusting a Soul to Mary
IMMACULATE Heart of Mary, I entrust to thee the salvation of [Name], having great confidence that thou wilt save him [or her]!
Then we can feel that this problem is Our Lady's problem too, and she has untold resources with which to convert this soul. And as well as the problem, likewise the glory of his conversion will belong to her, if and when it comes. Our Lady's task is to think up a way to convert him, send him the grace, and perhaps show us how we are to cooperate with this plan. Our task is to keep on praying-----and with great confidence, plus to make sacrifices. If this person's conversion seems very unlikely, let us not think about that, nor try to figure out a clever way to win over his heart, but simply have confidence in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A very powerful way to pray for the Poor Souls is to enlist the help of our Blessed Mother, asking her to pour the Precious Blood upon them. As mentioned earlier, it seems that God has put the Precious Blood and its saving power at Our Lady's disposal, to dispense as she sees fit.
Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Poor Souls
Immaculate Heart of Mary, do thou pour some drops of the Precious Blood upon the soul of [Name], and deliver him [or her] from Purgatory.
Labels: Our Blessed Lady
Friday, November 28, 2008
Most loving Jesus, I humbly beseech Thee, that Thou Thyself wouldst offer to Thine eternal Father in behalf of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, the Most Precious Blood which poured forth from the sacred Wounds of Thine adorable Body, together with Thine agony and death. And do thou likewise, O sorrowful Virgin Mary, present unto Him, together with the dolorous Passion of thy dear Son, thine own sighs and tears, and all the sorrows thou didst suffer in His suffering, in order that, through the merits of the same, refreshment may be granted to the Souls now suffering in the fiery torments of Purgatory, so that, being delivered from that painful prison, they may be clothed with glory in Heaven, there to sing the mercies of God for ever and ever. Amen.
Absolve, O Lord, the Souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin, that with Thy gracious assistance they may deserve to escape the judgment of vengeance and enjoy the blessedness of everlasting light.
Labels: Friday At the Foot Of the Cross
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I will be scarce until next Monday. Life comes before blogging.
May all enjoy their Thanksgiving. Eat way too much turkey and pumpkin pie, drink too much cider, and save some white meat for me!
"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degree). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their friends in England, which were not fained, but true reports.
"William Bradford. "Bradford's History Of Plimoth Plantation." Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., State Printers... 1898. p. 127
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
E.W., Plymouth, in New England, this 11th of December, 1621. in A RELATION OR Journal of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in NEW ENGLAND, by certaine English Aduenturers both Merchants and others. LONDON,Printed for John Bellamie,..1622. pp. 60-61.
Over the river and through the woods
To Grandfather's house we go.
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the wood --
Oh, how the wind does blow!It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the woods
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring,Ting-a-ling-ling!
Hurrah forThanksgiving Day!
Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the groundLike a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river and through the woods,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow --
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river and through the wood --
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for fun!Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And so the Lord be thanket.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us.
That we may know Thy way upon earth: Thy salvation in all nations.
Let people confess to Thee, O God: let all people give praise to Thee.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for Thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.
Let the people, O God, confess to Thee: let all the people give praise to Thee:
The earth hath yielded her fruit. May God, our God bless us,
May God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear Him.
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
May God, in His mercy, through the graces imparted by Our Blessed Lady, grant us reconciliation, peace, harmony, and renewed joy. May He bind up old wounds, help us grow and mature, and always live in the light of the Gospel and in His grace.
God bless you all.
We thank Thee for the gifts of life, free will, and good health of both body and mind.
We thank Thee for the bountiful food we eat, the warm clothes we wear, the shelter of our homes, the love and comfort of our families.
We thank Thee for gainful and challenging employment.
We thank thee for a free country, made prosperous by Thy grace and the effective exercise of our free will.
We thank Thee for the rights to earn our bread, speak our minds, elect our leaders, choose our friends, protect our families, and worship Thee.
We thank Thee for those who make our freedom possible: EMTs, doctors and nurses, firemen, policemen, soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, Coast Guardsmen, agents, analysts, and national leaders.
We thank Thee for the sacrifice of so many brave young men who have given the last full measure of devotion, and for all who have served, so that we may live free in this land Thou hast provided for us.
We thank Thee for the gift of Faith which helps us to understand that we shall transcend all difficulties through Thy grace.
We thank thee for Thy Church here on earth, divided as it is, troubled by sin, beset by Satan, yet ultimately triumphant.
Most of all, Lord, we thank Thee for Thy Sacrifice on Calvary, which opened the gates of Heaven to us, giving us the promise of eternal life.
We adore and thank Christ, Oh Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy holy cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Horkey by Robert Bloomfield
The first Thanksgiving was really just an English Harvest Home celebration, and probably occurred in either late September, or October, when the harvest is all in here in Massachusetts.
"For my part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character....For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird withal, a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey is peculiar to ours...he is besides (though a little vain and silly, it is true), a bird of courage who would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guard who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."
Others, including John Adams, objected that the turkey was notoriously stupid as well.
But the country has settled into a happy compromise.
"May one give us peace in all our states,
The other a piece for all our plates."
The breaking waves dash'd high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the woods against a stormy sky
Their giant branches toss'd;
And the heavy night hung dark,
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moor'd their bark
On the wild New-England shore.
Not as the conqueror comes,
They, the true-hearted came;
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
And the trumpet that sings of fame:
Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;–
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
With their hymns of lofty cheer.
Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea!
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
To the anthem of the free.
The ocean-eagle soar'd
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
And the rocking pines of the forest roar'd–
This was their welcome home!
There were men with hoary hair,
Amidst that pilgrim band;–
Why had they come to wither there,
Away from their childhood's land?
There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
There was manhood's brow serenely high,
And the fiery heart of youth.
What sought they thus afar?
Bright jewels of the mine?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?–
They sought a faith's pure shrine!
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod!
They have left unstain'd what there they found–
Freedom to worship God.
Monday, November 24, 2008
An excellent illustration of this is the Thanksgiving dinner described in her diary by Juliana Smith, the daughter of Massachusetts minister Reverend Smith in 1779. It is published nearly in full in We Gather Together, by Ralph and Adelin Linton, and published by Henry Schuman of New York in 1949 at pages 73-77.
This little-studied diary entry shows that the pattern for the American Thanksgiving celebration that people in the early 21st century continue to observe was in place even at the time of the nation's founding.
The dinner took place in the third year of the Revolutionary War, but reflects little wartime privation. Indeed for a country engaged in a great conflict to establish its independence, one is struck by the normality of the celebration. There is a prayer for absent friends, but one doubts that this prosperous family has supplied much in the way of cannon fodder for Washington's army. One son of military age is instead at college.
The Smith clan was a fairly prosperous one, but not great merchants. One of Juliana's uncles was a doctor, another an apparently prosperous farmer. Her father was the local Congregationalist minister.
Given the family's level of prosperity, it would be reasonable to question the typicality of their Thanksgiving feast. One must ask how representative their celebration is of their region and time. The participants in the Thanksgiving ritual we will closely observe all seem to be familiar with their expected roles, even when they do not come from the same household or class. So we can at least say that this mode of celebration was familiar to these people. But larger characterizations regarding typicality would require evidence outside the diary.
Such evidence does exist. It corroborates the contention that the Thanksgiving gathering described by Juliana Smith was indeed typical in its broad outlines, though perhaps more elaborate than most.
Miss Smith begins her description with some facets of the celebration that will be familiar to the modern householder. "This year, it was Uncle Simeon's turn to have the dinner at his house". So this family group, which by modern standards is rather large, is in the habit of rotating the responsibility for hosting the annual feast. This is a reasonable arrangement given the size and composition of the family group.
The titular heads of the family are the two grandmothers. Their children and their spouses, and their childrens' children form the core of the family group. In addition to them are neighbors, orphans, and stranded students, old people with no place else to celebrate the day, and servants.
Given such a large group, and the prosperity of at least two branches of the family, it would be entirely reasonable to share the responsibility for hosting this ritual gathering, not putting too much of the burden on any one branch year after year.
This custom speaks to the absence of any controlling pater familias, a Squire Bracebridge, if you like, who would not hear of Thanksgiving being celebrated anywhere but in the ancestral seat which he occupies. One wonders if this would be the case if one of Juliana Smith's grandfathers were still alive.
"All the baking of pies and cakes was done at our house & we had the big oven heated & filled twice each day for three days before it was all done". Yes, this is very familiar to moderns hosting a family gathering for Thanksgiving.
Food preparation is time-consuming. Then, without food processors, canned pumpkin, standardized measurements, a hundred utensils and conveniences, or pretty much unfailingly accurate and reliable ovens, it was more so. Three days seems reasonable for making all the pies for such a large gathering. Even today, with all the conveniences in the kitchen, a large meal like this needs to be started days in advance. The difference is in cold storage. There was no refrigeration per se, but the New England weather in late November was often chilly enough to make the cold storage of a farmhouse adequate to the task.
Also note that the guests are doing some of the cooking, sharing the labor of preparing the holiday meal. People still do this today. When several households combine to celebrate the day, it is often a communal event with shared cooking responsibilities.
This clan's Thanksgiving is a great family gathering. At least one of the participants in the ritual, a college student, has had to travel a considerable distance on horseback to be there for the feast.
And it is not just the grandmothers, their children, and their childrens' children who gather together. A family of six living next door joins them. Five orphans cared for by Reverend Smith participate, as do two of the students from his school whose families live too far away for them to journey back for their own feast. Four elderly and unattached women "who have no longer homes or children of their own & so came to us," are also partaking of the feast.
This is another aspect of Thanksgiving that should be familiar to the modern reader. In every media market the news on Thanksgiving Day is sure to feature footage of the city's poor and homeless being treated to Thanksgiving dinner. Charity in 1779 began at home. One invited those known poor to sit at one's own table and share one's own feast.
Still, though people today provide dinner to the poor at arm's length through the offices of the modern bureaucratic state and large charitable foundations, the concept of feeding the poor at Thanksgiving remains a strong Thanksgiving custom.
Miss Smith gives a detailed account of what could not be served at the feast because of the war and the British Blockade. They had to do without and compromise in some respects. But there is no genuine deprivation in this family.
Raisins, which would normally be imported from Europe or the wine islands, could not be bought by "neither love nor money." They substituted dried pitted red cherries in the mince pie and the pudding.
"Uncle Simeon still had some spices in store." But they all had to be used in the pies. There was nothing, apparently, in the way of cinnamon and nutmeg left for the pudding. The result was that the pudding, normally a plum pudding with suet, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg, was a haphazard affair with the cherries and "a jar of West India preserved ginger which chanced to be left of the last shipment which Uncle Simeon had from there." So this was a using up of the dregs of the pre-war stocks. Nevertheless, Miss Smith describes the result as "extraordinary good."
Roast beef apparently was the family's meat of choice on Thanksgiving. It is absent. "None of us have tasted beef these three years back as it all must go to the army, & too little they get, poor fellows." Another wartime privation.
One wonders why, if so many dedicated families like this one had not eaten beef for three years, the army was constantly so close to starvation.
"Of course we had no wine. Uncle Simeon has still a cask or two, but it all must be saved for the sick & indeed for those who are well, good cider is a sufficient substitute." Miss Smith means fermented or hard cider, a New England staple since the first orchards were producing enough apples. With the trade with Madeira and the Canary Islands cut off, even this prosperous family, used to imported wines, falls back on the locally produced cider.
There are so many guests at this dinner that the dining room is quite packed. "Even that big room had no space to spare when we were all seated." This will be familiar, too, to the modern reader who has tried to squeeze twelve people into a dining space designed for eight.
Servants do the work of serving the family and guests. This is an interesting contrast to the Christmas custom in England at the time, when the family's faithful servants would sit at the table themselves. But one presumes that the servants got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner afterwards. Even modest families at this time employed servants, so we should not read too much into this. These are locally prosperous people, but not grandees.
With regard to the menu for the day, it is very clear that the family tries very hard to stick to traditions handed down from generation to generation. "Everything was GOOD, though we did have to do without some things that ought to be used,"(my emphasis). We see in that sentence that a strong custom was in place, one that the Smith family, at least, strived to maintain year-after-year.
Because these are farm people, and fairly self-sufficient, they are fairly well able to keep to their customs, except for a few ingredients unavailable due to the war and the blockade. We can discern in Miss Smith's description something of what the menu should have been, as well as what it was.
The meal should have featured roast beef as the main entree at each of the two tables. Instead, there was a haunch of venison (itself known to have been served at the first Thanksgiving dinner in 1621) on each table. The secondary meat was a turkey on one table, and a goose on the other. Notice that turkey is distinctly in a supporting role, not the star. Then there was a pigeon pie on each table. This evolved into chicken pie in later years.
There was an "abundance of good vegetables," but only one is specified. This one is making its first appearance on the Thanksgiving table of this family: "sellery." It was eaten raw and Miss Smith recorded that it was thought to be "very good served with meats."
The seed her Uncle Simeon obtained just before the war shut off trade with England (perhaps violating various non-importation covenants called for by the Continental and Provincial Congresses, as well as local Committees of Safety). The result was ready for the table in three years. Uncle Simeon hoped to have enough celery in 1780 to give family members his surplus.
One can assume a few other vegetable dishes from what we know of Massachusetts' agriculture of the time. We can assume that pumpkin, diced, boiled, and served as a vegetable with vinegar or butter (or both), and spices would have been on the table. Onions, perhaps creamed, perhaps baked in a pie with cheese and bacon would have been present. Peas might well have been there, though they might have been dried. Cranberries, sweetened with sugar and boiled into a sauce, were also likely. Applesauce would have been very likely. A bread sauce or dressing for the poultwhether also likely.
What we cannot tell is whether these vegetables were served as they were, or as what the period called "made dishes." Was corn present? If so, was it served on the cob or in the form of a corn custard? Were the onions creamed, or baked into a pie? Were the peas dried and served as pease pudding, or fresh? Miss Smith fails us in this regard.
There was undoubtedly bread also. The bread would very likely have been based on a mixture of rye flour grown along the Taunton River and corn meal. The more expensive wheat bread would be unlikely, as trade with Pennsylvania, its largest source, would be difficult and limited.
Wine, probably Madeira or Canary would normally have been on the table. But the Blockade and the need to conserve what wine they had for medicinal purposes rendered that impossible. So apple cider was substituted, to Miss Smith's approbation, recorded earlier. The fact that imported wine was normally served at the Thanksgiving table of this family is an indication of its prosperity. Less well-to-do citizens of Massachusetts would not have thought cider on the table a privation.
The meal seems, from the absence of conflicting evidence, to have been served as a single remove or course, instead of the English custom of two removes followed by dessert. And the sweets seem to have been reserved for the dessert table, as they are mentioned last. In England, the custom was to mix in sweets with the savory foods served in the first two removes, and then have a light dessert of fruit, nuts, wine, and maybe a little cake.
Dessert of course was based on the pie. If Miss Smith is providing a complete catalog, there were three types served. Undoubtably, given the numbers around the tables, there several of each type. Mince pie, with dried cherries instead of raisins, we already knew about. Pumpkin pie was of course present. And there was an apple tart, presumably an apple pie lacking the top crust.
But pies were not the only dessert served. There may have been cakes, as Miss Smith mentions baking pies and cakes at her home. But "cakes" could have several meanings in the 18th century. The word could mean bread, or what the 21st century would call cookies ("Shrewsbury Cakes," were in fact, cookies), or cakes as we know them. In any case, Miss Smith does not specify.
But about puddings she is specific. We know that there were at least two served. The first was the New England favorite, Indian Pudding: molasses, cornmeal, flour, sugar, and spices. Its presence indicates that, despite the blockade, there was enough imported molasses on hand. New Englanders used so much of that commodity that not only would they have had much stockpiled, but illicit trade through Canada for it might have continued despite the war. There is evidence of such an illicit trade that the British military was virtually unable to stop.
The second pudding should have been plum pudding, but for the wartime conditions that force the family to substitute the suet pudding with ginger and cherries. The presence of plum pudding on a Thanksgiving table in Massachusetts is a cause for discussion. Plum pudding of course is a staple of the English Christmas celebration. But as Thanksgiving grew in importance in New England, and as Puritan religious fervor lessened in the early 18th century, plum pudding and mince pie made the trek from Christmas, which New Englanders would remain chary of until the 1810s at the earliest, to the holiday they celebrated in either late November or December, Thanksgiving.
It was the absence of Christmas celebration that led to the adoption of some of its cherished food customs for Thanksgiving. The reasons for the slow acceptance of Christmas in new England society are admirably set out in Stephen Nissenbaum's book, The Battle For Christmas.
On a similar note, we see on the guest list that six members of the neighboring Livingston family were present. "They had never seen a Thanksgiving dinner before, having been used to keep Christmas Day instead, as is the wont in New York and Province."
That single sentence speaks volumes about the interplay between the two holidays at that time. Miss Smith provides confirmation, if any were needed, that in 1779, Thanksgiving was still a New England custom. Christmas was celebrated in New York, but not Thanksgiving. In New England, Thanksgiving was celebrated, but not Christmas, except at the margins of society.
But within 50 years of Miss Smith's diary entry, New York would be celebrating Thanksgiving, and New England, Christmas. So that in the Northeast, there would be two-family oriented holidays, each with some pre-Christian customs still attached to them, that would be celebrated within a month of each other.
How this family and its connections marked Thanksgiving in 1779 resembles our own celebrations in other ways as well. One of the most obvious is the formal giving of thanks to God.
Reverend Smith that morning presided over a Thanksgiving service at the meetinghouse. We are told by Miss Smith that the day was bitterly cold, and that Reverend Smith did not tarry over the service. It probably consisted of little more than a reading of the governor's proclamation of the day of thanksgiving, the singing of a few Psalms appropriate to the message of giving thanks, and a short sermon on point.
Miss Smith does not say so, but undoubtably there was grace said before the dinner as well. After dinner, Reverend Smith "led us in prayer, remembering all absent friends before the throne of grace."
Today, this aspect of the holiday has declined somewhat. There are still Thanksgiving prayer services said in almost every city and town. But they are not necessarily on Thanksgiving morning (a time in New England for high school football games and watching the Macy's Parade in New York on television). And they are very likely to be ecumenical in nature today, since no one denomination can fill its church with the number of people willing to come out for this service.
Most families, even those in which grace is said on no other day of the year, at least go through the form of saying grace before Thanksgiving Dinner. Catholic families have the crutch of a short standardized grace that does not let the food get cold while gratitude to God is being expressed.
We note that the Smith's dinner must have started in early-mid afternoon. "We did not rise from the table until it was quite dark." That means the long dinner ended around 4-5 pm. So, with a late-morning prayer service at the meetinghouse, and a time for recovery afterwards, dinner probably started around 1-2 pm, which would have been the customary time for starting dinner in a moderately upscale Massachusetts household in 1779 anyway.
What the family did after dinner would also be familiar to moderns with a living memory of the time before television. "We all got round the fire as close as we could, & cracked nuts, & sang songs, & told stories. At least some told and others listened."
Today most families don't have working fireplaces, but central heating instead. Today they gather around the television and watch some family-oriented programming that is still offered by some of the networks on that day.
But in 1779, before electricity, central heating, and television, the members of the family provided their own entertainment. Such is the case with the few modern families that eschew television, even for special occasions.
It is the elders of the Smith clan who lead the storytelling. "You know nobody can exceed the two Grandmothers at telling tales of all the things they have seen themselves, & repeating those of the early years of New England & even some of Old England, which they had heard in their youth from their elders." This is very much what one would expect.
This passing on of oral tradition is sagely recommended by Reverend Smith. "My Father says it is a goodly custom to hand down all worthy deeds & traditions from Father to Son, as the Israelites were commanded to do about the Passover & as the Indians have always done, because the Word that is spoken is remembered longer than the one that is written."
Thus we see in the Thanksgiving Dinner described by Juliana Smith a great deal of similarity to our own modern day feast. A modern person transported back in time to that table would implicitly grasp what was going on, and probably be more familiar with it than the members of the refugee Livingston Family were. Some items on the menu have varied. And with television and movies, the mode of entertaining the family has changed.
But the customs are still similar enough to be quite familiar. There was, and is, a gathering together of family, thanks to God, generosity to the poor, a great harvest feast including turkey and pumpkin pie, and intimate and jovial family time.
One other thing has not changed from that Thanksgiving Day to this. "The pumpkin pies, apple tarts, & big Indian Pudding lacked for nothing save appetite by the time we had got round to them."
An early 18th century rhyme answers that question.
For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon,
If it was not for pumpkin, we should be undone.
Pumpkin keeps well, and was often dried for use throughout the winter and into the spring. It was not an uncommon thing for Yankee farm families to be subsisting on dried pumpkin, salt pork, fermented cider, and baked beans well into May.
One incident from the Battle of Lexington demonstrates this. The night before the battle, a patrol of British officers and their servants rode down what is now Massachusetts Avenue in East Lexington (with a mission of stationing themselves at likely spots on the road to stop messengers from getting to Concord). They stopped at a house and helped themselves to supper, which was, of course, dried pumpkin, baked beans and brown bread, it being early spring, the meat supply pretty much exhausted, the shad run not having started yet, and the spring crops not available yet. The family was outraged, and reported the incident as a British atrocity of the day.
Plus, pumpkins were hollowed out and used as tureens, as storage vats, and parts were often cut and used as ladles.
"But the Huswives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and to fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire the whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions [pumpkins], not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stewed enough, it will look like bak'd Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c) which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh. It provokes Urin extreamly and is very windy."
From The Old Farmer's Almanac Colonial Cookbook, 1976
In Massachusetts, sad to say
From Gloucester down to Cape Cod Bay
They feed you 'til you want to die
On mincemeat and pumpkin pie.
Until at last it makes you cry,
"What else is there that I can try?'
They look at you in some surprise
And feed you apple and custard pies.
And this little ditty was written at least a century before Boston Cream Pie came into prominence.
Mmmmmmm. Mince pie. Yummy!
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,--our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own pumpkin pie!
Mr. Whiting was minister of the Puritan church in Lynn during part of the 1600s.
"Mr. Whiting had a score of apple trees from which he made cyder. And it hath been said yt an Indian once coming to hys house and Mrs. Whiting giving him a drink of ye cyder he did sett down ye pot and smacking his lips say yt Adam and Eve were rightlie damned for eating ye appills in ye garden of Eden, they should have made them into cyder."
Here is some good information for making cider at home safely.
Brie With Table Water Crackers
Goose Liver Pate With Club Crackers
Pepperoni & Cheddar Cheese on Rye Rounds
Cranberry Rum Raisin Relish
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Tomato Aspic With Horseradish Sauce
Large Roast Turkey or Hotel-Style Turkey Breast
Turkey Gravy (made from the giblets and spicy)
Butternut Squash with Maple Sugar & Cinnamon
Mushrooms In Cream
Nottingham Yam Pudding
Beaten Biscuits With Sage
Buttermilk Biscuits With Cheese
Sally Lunn Bread (great toasted later)
A Basket of Walnuts & Hazelnuts
Date and Nut Bars
Pumpkin Pie With Cointreau Cream
Apple Pie With Cheddar
Mince Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1 cigars
Cream Sherry to start
May Wine with the early courses
Beaujolais Noveau with the entree
Dairy Eggnog, both for the non-drinkers
Starbuck's Pumpkin spice Coffe with dessert
Vintage Tawney Port (Offley Baron de Forester?) with the cigars
Ranitidine, Alka Seltzer, & Tums
Hint: Many of the recipes for the dishes I could not find links to can be found at Recta Ratio: The Yahoo Group
Recta Ratio 2 Yahoo Group is also somewhat eclectic, with images of sacred relics, church interiors and exteriors, Celtic Crosses, monstrances, crucifixes, and other topics of interest to me.
Recta Ratio 3 Yahoo Group is entirely devoted to Our Blessed Lady. You will find numerous images of her there. There are 16 albums, arranged by topic or artist.
Recta Ratio 4 Yahoo Group is devoted to the Saints, the Church Triumphant.
Recta Ratio 5 Yahoo Group is made up of images from various illuminated manuscripts, though Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry and the Hours of Henry VIII predominate. There is also a nice collection of images from the Office of the Dead from various Books of Hours.
Recta Ratio 6 Yahoo Group, will have memento mori and vanitas images. It is kind of empty in there now, but that will change with time.
But Yahoo has a less restrictive limit on the storage of text items in its groups. And the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group has the links and text items. The other Recta Ratio Groups do not have the text dimension that the original group has.
Those text items include a growing treaury of traditional Catholic prayers, including the complete text of the traditional Office of the Dead, a good selection of Advent Prayers, lyrics to dozens of traditional Catholic hymns, Christmas carols and Irish songs, selections of seasonal prose and poetry, lectures of the late Dr. Russell Kirk, quotations from various persons, and selections from Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year. Recently, I added what I hope is the complete text of Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson's book on Medieval English Devotions, A Book Of the Love Of Jesus.
But the most popular text items stored in the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group, I have to admit, is the Recipes and Menus section. I have been dabbling in the kitchen now for over 20 years, since my early college days, and I have a lot of enthusiasm for food, particularly at this time of the year. The recipes section has grown along with my waistline. No, thank heavens, I can say it has grown a lot faster than I have. Not that I'm not too far behind, mind you. The recipes section now has over 500 recipes. So if you are still struggling to come up with a menu for your Thanksgiving feast, or want to plan ahead for Christmas Dinner and Christmas baking, you might want to take a stroll through the Files of the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group.
That means you have to join. But the good news is that membership is always 100% free. Afraid that by joining you will be spammed? That isn't a big concern, because I am a very active group owner, and monitor new member applications very closely. Just this morning, I had a request to join from someone, and turned it down, as it looked fishy to me. In fact, I was quite justified, because elsewhere in my email, there was something this same person had posted at another Catholic Yahoo group, and it was spam, promoting some Catholic dating service. But if a clever spammer does get through, the instant I see the spam, they get banished forever to the hinterlands outside the membership of Recta Ratio, where there is only wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So join up and take a stroll around the text files of the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group. Or join any of the groups and meander through their photo albums. My Yahoo Groups are always a work-in-progress, since as I see more things that interest me, I post them.
But I don't think it is too much self-promotion if I say that joining the original Recta Ratio Yahoo Group is like getting a free cookbook, one fairly well-organized, and one which contains about 500 recipes. And especially at this time of year, if you are looking to try something different, or want to establish a new food tradition for your family, you might find something there that fits the bill.
Oh, I forgot to mention, there is one thing I ask. Just remember me in your prayers if anything in my files, links, or photo albums interests or appeals.
Labels: Recta Ratio Housekeeping
Today is the feast of the great Carmelite reformer and mystic, author of The Dark Night Of the Soul and The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Saint John of the Cross.
Labels: Our Saintly Brethern