Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Blessed Lady's Saturday In Lent

Most holy Mother of Sorrows, by that soul-piercing martyrdom thou didst undergo at the foot of the Cross during the three hours' agony of Jesus, deign to assist me also, who am the child of thy Sorrows, in my agony, so that by thine intercession I may be found worthy to pass from my deathbed to thy blessed society in Paradise.

V. From a sudden and unprovided death,
R. Deliver me, O Lord.
V. From the snares of the devil,
R. Deliver me, O Lord.
V. From everlasting death,
R. Deliver me, O Lord.

Let us pray.
O God, Who for the salvation of mankind hast made for us in the most bitter death of Thy Son both an example and a refuge; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be found worthy to obtain the fruit of His great love in our final peril at the hour of death, and to be made partakers of our Redeemer's glory. Through the same Christ our Lord.

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Feast Of Saint Joseph

Litany of Saint Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary,
Pray for us.
Holy Joseph,
Pray for us.

Noble Son of the House of David,
Pray for us.
Light of the Patriarchs,
Pray for us.
Husband of the Mother of God,
Pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin,
Pray for us.
Foster-father of the Son of God,
Pray for us.
Sedulous Defender of Christ,
Pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family,
Pray for us.
Joseph most just,
Pray for us.
Joseph most chaste,
Pray for us.
Joseph most prudent,
Pray for us.
Joseph most valiant,
Pray for us.
Joseph most obedient,
Pray for us.
Joseph most faithful,
Pray for us.
Mirror of patience,
Pray for us.
Lover of poverty,
Pray for us.
Model of all who labor,
Pray for us.
Glory of family life,
Pray for us.
Protector of Virgins,
Pray for us.
Pillar of families,
Pray for us.
Consolation of the afflicted,
Pray for us.
Hope of the sick,
Pray for us.
Patron of the dying,
Pray for us.
Terror of the demons,
Pray for us.
Protector of the holy Church,
Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

V. He made him master of his house,
R. And ruler of all his possesions.

Let us pray:
O God, Thou wert pleased to choose Saint Joseph as the husband of Mary and the guardian of Thy Son. Grant that, as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

The Extensive Patronage of Saint Joseph

Zeppole di San Guiseppe
Or you can stop in at Maria's Pastry Shop, on Cross Street in Boston's North End for some, if you don't feel like making the pastry yourself.

Or you could just have some Sloppy Joes, I suppose.

The Sicilian Custom of St. Joseph's Day Altars

And do not forget St. Joseph's vital role as patron of a happy death. Many saints are associated with the deathbed. St. Peter with his binding and loosing powers is popularly said to be the gatekeeper of Heaven. St. Michael has been said to be the escort of the newly departed soul, and the one who protects it from the demons waiting by the deathbed to snatch the soul and drag it to Hell. Our Blessed Lady is, of course, vital here, too (don't forget your daily Three Aves for a Happy and Holy Death). But St. Joseph is a principal patron of the deathbed. Why? Just think: he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Who has ever had a happier death than he?


Saturday In the Lenten Embertide

Station Church:
St. Peter in the Vatican

From The Passion and Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

O my dearest Jesus, my love, my life, my all, if I behold from without Thy sacred Body, I see nothing else but Wounds. But if I enter into Thy desolate Heart, I find nothing but bitterness and sorrows, which made Thee suffer the agonies of death. O my Lord, and Who but Thee , Who art infinite Goodness, would ever suffer so much, and die for one of Thy creatures? But because Thou art God, Thou dost love as God alone can love, with a love that cannot be equalled by any other love.

Devotions for a Lenten Saturday Holy Hour:

Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sorrowful Mysteries

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday At the Foot Of the Cross

Remember not, Lord, our offenses, nor the offenses of our fathers, nor take Thou vengeance upon them.

Psalm 31/32
1 BLESSED is he whose iniquities are forgiven, * and whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, * and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3 Because I was silent my bones wasted away, * as I cried out all day.
4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: * I am twisted in my affliction whilst the thorn is fastened upon me.
5 I have acknowledged my sin to Thee, * and my guilt I have not concealed. I said "I will confess my injustice against myself to the Lord:" * and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.
6 For this shall every one that is holy pray to Thee * in due time. Though in a flood of many waters, * they shall not reach him.
7 Thou art my refuge, from the tribulation which surrounds me: * my joy, deliver me from those surrounding me.
8 I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in the way in which thou shalt walk: * I will fix my eyes upon thee.
9 Do not become like the horse and the mule, * who have no understanding. With bit and bridle bind them fast, * else they will not come near to thee.
10 Many are the sorrows of the sinner, * but mercy shall surround him that hopeth in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, * and glory, all ye of righteous heart.

GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Prayer Against Covetousness
What is mine in heaven and so what should I want on earth from Thee, O God of my heart and my portion in eternity? The eye is not satisfied, nor is the ear filled, but I shall be satisfied when Thy glory will have appeared. Oh how I have served Mammon with such zeal so far! And what will it profit me if I have gained the whole world if indeed I shall suffer the loss of my soul? All the rich have gone to their sleep and found their hands empty. I will confess to Thee, my Lord, my unjust deeds, and Thou shalt, I pray, remit the impiety of my sins. In the future I will have mercy on the poor, I shall give until it hurts and I will expend myself fervently in Thy service. Help me, O Lord, Thou who filleth my desires with good things. (Ps 102:5)

Remember not, Lord, my offenses, nor the offenses of my fathers, nor take Thou vengeance upon them.

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Blessed Fra Angelico

Today is the commemoration of Blessed Fra Angelico, one of the most inspiring of artists in the great Catholic tradition, and a saintly man in religious life.

Crucifixion With Saint Dominic, by Fra Angelico


Friday In the Lenten Embertide

Station Church:
Ss. XII Apostoli al Foro Traiano

From The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

O my most loving Redeemer, what have I hitherto done or suffered for Thee? If I could for a thousand years endure for Thy sake all the torments that all the martyrs have suffered, they would yet be nothing compared with that one first moment in which Thou didst offer Thyself and begin to suffer for me.

Devotions for a Lenten Friday Holy Hour:
Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine
Devotions To the Holy Cross
Stations of the Cross

Again, it occurs to me that my simple notation, "Devotions To the Holy Cross" might be drawing a blank with Catholics my age and younger. These are the prayers I mean:

Ave Crux Sancta
HAIL, O holy Cross, our strength.
Hail, O adorable Cross, our praise and glory.
Hail, O Cross, our help and refuge.
Hail, O Cross, consolation of all the mournful.
Hail, O Cross, our victory and hope.
Hail, O Cross, our defense and our life.
Hail, O Cross, our liberation and redemption.
Hail, O Cross, our sign of salvation and bulwark against the enemy.
May the Cross be for me always hope of my faith.
May the Cross be for me resurrection in my death.
May the Cross be for me triumph against demons.
May the Cross be for me mother of my consolation.
May the Cross be for me rest in my tribulations.
May the Cross be for me support in my old age.
May the Cross be for me healing in my illness.
May the Cross be for me protection in my nudity.
May the Cross be for me consolation in my life.
May the Cross be for me solace in all my difficulties.
May the Cross be for me balm in my tribulations.
May the Cross be for me medicine to my infirmities and protection against all my enemies.

Save Me, O Holy Cross
Save me, o holy Cross, who art consecrated with the body of Christ and ornamented as if by pearls from this union with his limbs; thou hast been made worthy to carry the price of our salvation and hast held up eternal life to us. O good Jesus, grant to me that through the reparation and mark of Thy holy Cross, Thou willst free me from the incursions of all my enemies, preserve me in Thy goodness, dismiss my sins, and grant me forgiveness: Thou who livest and reignest, God forever and ever.

The Hours Of the Holy Cross
V. By the sign of the cross from our enemies.
R. Our God deliver us.
V. Thou O Lord wilt open my lips.
R. And my mouth shall declare Thy praise.
V. Incline unto my aid O God.
R. O Lord make haste to help me.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be in the world of worlds.
The wisdom of the Father, and truth divine beside,
God and man surprised was even at the morning tide:
His known disciples left Him for to follow more:
Sold and betrayed to the Jews they did afflict Him sore.
Ant: O venerable Cross, which hast brought salvation to wretches, by what praise shall I extol thee: for thou hast prepared unto us the heavenly life.
They our Lord to Pilate led at the hour of prime,
And by witnesses full false accused much of crime,
His hands tied they beat Him with fists in great dispite,
They upon God's face do spit the heaven's grateful light.
Ant: O victory of the Cross, and admirable sign, cause us to hold our triumph in the heavenly court.
At the third hour of the day they crucify Him cry,
In a purple robe clad Him more to mock thereby,
Piteously His head was pricked with the crown of thorn,
To the place of pain His cross was on His shoulders born.
Ant: The punishment of bloody death is condemned, whilst Christ upon the cross hath destroyed the bonds of our offenses.
To the Cross Christ nailed was the sixth hour of the day,
And there hanging with two thieves reputed was as they:
Thirsting by torments made with gall they seek to slake:
Mocked was the Lamb while He our guilt on Him did take.
Ant: By a tree we were made bondsmen, and by the Holy Cross we are set free: the fruit of the tree seduced us, the Son of God redeemed us.
Jesus Lord at the ninth hour His spirit forth did send:
Crying Eli and His soul to Father did commend:
With a lance a soldier did pierce through His tender side:
The earth then trembled and the sun His shining light did hide.
Ant: O great work of piety: Death then died when life was dead upon the cross.
At the hour of eventide Christ from His cross was ta'en,
In whose soul His fortitude did covertly remain.
Such a death vouchsafed to take of life the medicine sound:
Glory's crown alas the while lay groveling on the ground.
Ant: O Blessed Cross, which only wast worthy to bear the value of the world: sweet wood, sweet nails bearing sweet weights: thou only excedest in highness all the wood of Cedar: upon which the salvation of the world did hang: on which Christ did triumph, and death overcame death forever.
When as Compline was come was laid in His tomb,
Christ His body precious the hope of life to come.
Embalmed it was: scriptures thus accomplished we see:
Still this death to have in mind my care O let it be
Ant: Save us O Savior of the world, which by Thy cross and blood hast redeemed us, help us we beseech Thee O our God.
V. We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
Let us pray:
O Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, set Thy passion, cross, and death between Thy judgment and my soul, now, and in the hour of my death and vouchsafe to grant unto me grace and mercy: to the living and the dead rest and pardon: to Thy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners life and glory everlasting, who livest and reignest, God, with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.

O Bona Crux
O good Cross, made beautiful by the body of the Lord, long have I desired thee, ardently have I loved thee, unceasingly have I sought thee, and now thou art ready for my eager soul. Receive me from among men and restore me to my Master, so that He, who redeemed me through thee, shalt receive me through thee.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saint Patrick's Day Fun, Part 3: The Music

You will notice that this year, it is not all the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, though I love them dearly, God rest their souls.

Makem and Clancy, The Rambles Of Spring

The Orthodox Celts, The Star Of the County Down

Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners, Dublin In the Rare Auld Times

Mary Black, Óró 'sé do bheatha 'bhaile

Johnny McEvoy, The Spanish Lady

The Dropkick Murphys, The Wild Rover

Cherish The Ladies, The Ballad of the Fox Hunter

Danny Doyle, Whiskey On A Sunday

Foster & Allen, Nancy Myles

The Rankin Family, Mo Run Geal, Dileas

The Dubliners, Seven Drunken Nights

The Dublin City Rambers, Molly Malone

Paddy Reilly, Carrickfergus

The Wolfe Tones, Serjeant William Bailey

The Makem Brothers and Brian Sullivan, Fare Thee Weel Enniskillen

The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem, Isn't It Grand, Boys?

The Corrs & The Cheiftains, A Shindig Medley

Davey Arthur & The Fureys, It's A Long Way From Clare To Here

Sean Dunphy, Delaney's Donkey

Luke Kelly & The Dubliners, The Monto

Jim McCann, Grace

Liam Clancy, The Patriot Game

The Irish Rovers, The Unicorn

Makem & Clancy, The Town Of Ballybay

The Chieftains, Lillibulero/The White Cockade

Robbie O'Connell, Kilkelly, Ireland

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, Johnny McEldoo

The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem, The Juice Of the Barley

Ronnie Drew & The Dubliners, The Parting Glass


Saint Patrick's Day Fun, Part 2: Skellig Michael

I have often used an allusion in a sort of intellectual shorthand, and it recently occurred to me that a sizable chunk of even my well-informed audience may not get it.

I sometimes speak (justifiably) of the decline of traditional morality in rather apocalyptic terms, adding that there is no safe place, no "Skellig Michael" to which the civilized may repair to wait out the latest triumph of barbarism (gay marriage, overwhelming immigration, political correctness, safety Nazis, high taxes, Islamicization of Europe, environmental weirdness, vegetarianism, what have you).

Well, the reference to Skellig Michael comes from my varied reading. Four books in particular have shaped this little intellectual shortcut. Kenneth Clark in Civilization wrote that:

"Looking back from the great civilizations of twelfth-century France or seventeenth-century Rome, it is hard to believe that for quite a long time-almost a hundred years-Western Christianity survived by clinging to places like Skellig Michael, a pinnacle of rock eighteen miles from the Irish coast, rising seven hundred feet out of the sea."

Clark's theme was picked up and amplified by Thomas Cahill in his recent bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization. Cahill's book is about the very phenomenon that Clark mentioned in his first chapter, the survival of Western Civilization.

You see, at the time of the barbarian takeover of the declining Roman Empire, civilization was in quite a plight. Learning declined markedly. Even high culture declined precipitously. In the looting of the pelf of the empire, many of the works of classical culture were lost. The Germanic warlords who came to replace other Roman officials in actual charge out in the provinces were often illiterate. They did nothing to encourage literacy or to preserve the Graeco-Roman literary deposit. While the Church preserved some of Graeco-Roman culture on the continent, she and her agents could not hold all together.

A great deal was preserved in the island hermitage/monasteries of the Irish, who had absorbed Roman culture through the work of St. Patrick and his successors. Skellig Michael, a particularly uninviting location in the Northern Atlantic, was one of those places where the traditions of Graeco-Roman culture and writings were preserved by the Irish monks until Europe had calmed down enough to allow for this learning to be re-exported to it.

Irish monasticism was not the safe, comfortable sort of Saint Benedict and those who follow him. It was the white martyrdom of the desert fathers, harsh, almost brutally ascetic in ways Saint Benedict rejected so that monasticism could be followed by many, rather than just the elite ascetics. It sought out desert places, wastes, inaccessible islands, deep forests. And there it enacted sometimes harsh penances, like the Cross Vigil, in which a monk held out his hands in the posture of the Lord on the cross for days or weeks at a time. Sometimes, these monks would make the Cross Vigil waist-deep in freezing water.

Their greatest enemy was not the lack of women or material goods. Indeed, they considered themselves as athletes in training for Heaven. Such deprivations were just routine. No. The real enemy was depression, acedia, or the noonday devil "the destruction that wasteth at noonday," in the words of the Psalmist, the feeling, which uncannily comes in the middle of the day, that you have made no progress, that you are wasting your time, indeed your life. I have, for the first tie in my life, come to know this scourge myself in the last 6 months. A formidable enemy indeed, one that I am not sure I have conquered. Indeed, it seems to return, in one guise or another, every few days.

But they also kept libraries and scriptoria, and spent some of their time studying such literary works as their limited involvement with the greater civilization of the continent before its collapse afforded them.

Once Europe had recovered somewhat from the initial shock of the fall of classical civilization and the breakdown of government of the Western Empire, Irish monks, venturing forth from fastnesses like Skellig Michael roamed about France, Germany, and Italy, bringing with them copies of the books from their monasteries, books in which much of Plato and Aristotle, Cicero and Ovid were preserved, some works that Europe had not seen in a hundred years and more. These Irish monks gained great influence in the Merovingian, and later in the Carolingian courts.

The period in which Ireland, in the form of its monks, "saved civilization" was roughly from the death of St. Patrick to the time of Charlemagne. Then, in rapid succession, new waves of barbarian invaders, Vikings, mercilessly plundered the Irish monasteries, attacking even remote Skellig Michael in 823, only a few years after the death of Charlemagne. Duns Scotus was the last great figure in this Irish Renaissance.

Skellig Michael itself has been described by the local (Newburyport) Irish-American author James Charles Roy in his superb book The Road Wet, The Wind Close: Celtic Ireland. He explored the place for a couple of bleak days. It is indeed from his description a desolate spot. It is indeed hard to imagine that here, a large part of western civilization's written heritage was preserved.

"Skellig Michael now stands before us....Even from afar it looks menacing, unfriendly, barren, seemingly a perfect cone rising from the sea. jet-black in colour and everywhere jagged, sharp. There doesn't seem to be a smooth place anywhere."

Nevertheless, Roy is probably correct in calling it the "very essence of Celtic Ireland."

Today, ithe island's inhabitants are three lighthouse keepers who rotate every few months to lessent he chances of going mad, puffins, rabbits, and various seabirds. The island has two peaks. The higher one has a Way of the Cross, after a local fashion. In the vale between the two peaks, under a windswept spit known as "The Saddle of Christ," is the monastery. The monastery was built of dry-laid stone, and consists of 6 clochans, or dwelling huts, circular and beehive shaped. There are two stone oratories.

The monastery was probably built around 650 A.D. It was almost literally carved out of the rock of the island. It is not certain when the Way of the Cross was developed. It consists of "The Needle's Eye," a narrow vertical shaft in the rock about 20 feet high which must be climbed, "The Stone of Pain," a smooth rock 14 feet high which must be scrambled up, and "The Spindle":

"...a long narrow fragment of rock, projecting from the summit of this frightful place, over a raging sea (700 feet below-GTF); and this is walked to by a narrow path only two feet in breadth, and several steps in length. Here the devotees, women as well as men, get astride of this rock, and so edge forward, until they arrive at a stone cross...and here, having repeated a Pater Noster. Returning from thence concludes the penace."

The cross on "The Spindle" was usually kissed by the pilgrim, which required getting very far out onto the ledge.

In Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Robert Bork, perhaps the most prescient observer of our culture of the present age, sees a new barbarian invasion. This invasion that threatens western culture today is almost entirely from within.

The new barbarism takes the form of a decline of standards, a coarsening of public life and discourse, and decline in educational achievement, and standards. It is vile rap music, played very loudly. It is political correctness destroying the study of history and forcing history through the unnatural prism of womyn's studies, African-American studies, gay and lesbian studies, etc. It is immigration run amok, so that a tidal wave of people unable or unwilling to conform themselves and their families to the American Way (the English language and the Anglo-Saxon culture, Christianity and democratic pluralism combined with free enterprise) It is drugs and the culture of dependency on government transfer payments. It is a loss of objective truth and morality and a rise of moral relativism. It is the abortion culture, the gay rights culture, the equality-at-any-price-to-civilization culture that dominates the fields of law, journalism, academia, increasingly the helping professions, and government service. It is ever-more invasive government intruding into areas of personal behavior that were never regulated before, while allowing mayhem to rage in other areas.

Bork sees this barbarism as all-engulfing, its reach being co-equal with the spread of television, popular music, liberal social attitudes, and the nanny state. Looking back to how western civilization in 450-850 was able to survive the barbarian onrush by clinging to rocky outcroppings like Skellig Michael, Bork sees little possibility of survival now.

There are gated communities, conservative publications, Latin Mass parishes, TV-less families, and homeschooling. But nowhere can a traditionalist parent spank without fear of the DSS worker showing up on your doorstep with a warrant and two cops to take your children away if you dare "abuse" them by spanking. The barbarians will not let us withdraw to a safe place, a Skellig Michael. Their reach is all-encompassing. It is everywhere the writ of a modern western government runs. No one was able to stop the British legal system from jailing that farmer who shot two burglars breaking into his home for the third time.

So that, my friends, is what I mean when I say that there will be no Skellig Michaels this time. There are no safe enclaves where traditional life can flourish in the midst of the liberal take-over. Civilization as we know it faces extinction.


Saint Patrick's Day Fun, Part 1: The Food

Here we are, at that day on which we are entitled (by annually issued indult of the Archdiocese of Boston) to a relaxation of Lenten austerity in order to honor Ireland's patron, Saint Patrick. It has now been almost a month since I tasted meat of any kind.

Corned beef is Jewish, not Irish. Irish immigrants here in the US picked it up from their Jewish neighbors, and it has, in the last 30 years, made an appearance in Ireland. But it isn't Irish in origin. Smoked shoulder, however, is, as the Irish are great pig farmers.

Here are some more foods you can have:

Limerick Ham
Limerick is that very depressing gray place depicted in Angela's Ashes. It is just across the Shannon from where my family is from, Ennis in County Clare. To the Irish, ham is a cured leg of pork. Traditionally, Limerick Ham is smoked over juniper branches. Whole hams should be steeped in cold water overnight before cooking but this is not necessary with smaller joints. The ham in this recipe is not really baked but rather finished off in the oven after having been marinated in cider.

3-5 lb ham pre-cooked
cider to cover
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp mustard
20 whole cloves

Cover the ham with fresh apple cider (from the produce department; frozen at this time of year, not the clear apple juice sometimes called "cider" from the juice aisle) and cover with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 2 days. Take out the ham and stud with whole cloves. Mix the sugar and mustard and rub well into the surface of the ham. Bake in a pre-heated oven for a further 10 minutes to the 1 lb at 400°F.

Adapted from the Appletree Press' A Little Irish Cookbook.

Chicken and Leek Pie
10-12 inch pie pastry
11/2 lb of seasoned boneless chicken breasts
4 1 inch-thick Slices ham steak
4 large leeks, cleaned/chopped
1 large onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper (or 4-pepper blend w/ allspice)
1/2 tsp ground mace or nutmeg
3 cups cream of chicken soup

In a deep 1 - 1 1/2 quart dish, place layers of the chicken, the ham, leeks and onion, adding the mace, nutmeg and seasoning, then repeating the layers until the dish is full. Add the stock, then dampen the edges of the dish before rolling out the pastry to the required size. Place the pastry over the pie and press the edges down well. Crimp them with a fork. Make a small hole in the center. Roll out the scraps of pastry and form a leaf or rosette for the top. Place this very lightly over the small hole. Brush the pastry with milk, and bake at moderate heat, 350F, for 25-30 minutes. Cover the pastry with damp greaseproof paper when partially cooked if the top seems to be getting too brown. Gently heat the cream. When pie is cooked, remove from oven. Carefully lift off the rosette and pour the cream in through the hole. Put back the rosette and serve. (This pie forms a delicious soft jelly when cold.)

Baked Stuffed Herring
4 TBSP Breadcrumbs (heaping)
1 TBSP Parsley, chopped
Small egg, beaten
Juice and rind of lemon
1 pinch Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
8 Herrings, cleaned
2 cups Hard cider
Bayleaf, well crumbled
Fresh ground pepper

First make the stuffing by mixing the breadcrumbs, parsley, beaten egg, lemon juice and peel, and salt and pepper. Stuff each of the fish with the mixture. Lay fish in an ovenproof dish, close together; add the cider, crumbled bayleaf and salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

From Traditional Irish Recipes.

Tom Fitzpatrick's Champ
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
pepper to taste
1/4 pound butter
1 pound Irish back bacon

Cut a strip 1/2 inch wide along the circumference 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!

Black Pudding With Vegetable Casserole
2 Shannon Traditional Black Puddings, skinned and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, pared and sliced
1 large leek, sliced
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 small white cabbage, shredded
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Optional: 1 chicken buillon cube
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoonfuls of oil

Put the prepared onions, carrots, potatoes and leek into a large non-stick skillet with about 4 cups of boiling water. Add stock cube if desired. Cover and cook until the vegetables are almost tender, for 25 to 30 minutes. Add the cabbage and the kidney beans and cook for 5 minutes more. Saute the slices of black pudding in oil until they are crisp on the outside. Gently stir into vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the seasoning and serve hot with bread or rolls.
Serves 4 to 6

Irish Soda Bread, Fitzpatrick Family Version
2 C. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 T. sugar
6 T. butter
2/3 C. raisins, brown or golden or mixed
2 t. caraway seeds
1 C. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Using a pastry blender or fingertips, work the shortening into the flour until the consistency is the same as that of small peas. Stir in the raisins and caraway and mix to distribute evenly.

Gradually stir in the buttermilk, 1/4 cup at a time, using only enough to allow the dough to come together. Knead the dough for 1 - 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet. Cut an X on the top and over the sides of the loaf. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool on a rack.
Great heated with butter melting over the top.

Lemon Curd
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

In saucepan, combine all ingredients except lemon peel. Stirring
with wooden spoon, cook over lowest heat, being careful not to
let mixture boil or yolks curdle. Cook until mixture coats back
of a spoon. Pour into small bowl and stir in lemon peel. Allow
to cool.
Makes 1/2 cup. Great on hot soda bread!

Irish Cream
1 cup whisky (Jameson's)
1 can condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

Blend and refrigerate

Irish Whisky Cake
8 ounces Raisins
Grated rind of 1 lemon
150 milliliters Irish Whisky
6 ounces Softened butter
3 Eggs
6 ounces Soft brown sugar
6 ounces Plain flour
1 pinch Salt
1 pinch Ground cloves
1 teaspoon Baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon
8 ounces Confectioners' sugar
Warm water as needed

Put the raisins and grated lemon rind into a bowl with the whiskey, and leave overnight to soak. Grease a 7-inch cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment; preheat oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs and sift the flour, salt, cloves and baking powder into a bowl. Beat the yolks into the butter and sugar one by one, including a spoonful of flour and beating well after each addition. Gradually add the whiskey and raisin mixture, alternating with the remaining flour. Do not overbeat at this stage. Finally, whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mixture with a metal spoon. Turn into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until well risen and springy to the touch ~- or test with a skewer: when it comes out clean, the cake's ready. Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing by mixing the lemon juice with the sieved confectioners' sugar and just enough water to make a pouring consistency. Put a dinner plate under the cake rack to catch the drips, and pour the icing over the cake a tablespoonful at a time, letting it dribble naturally down the sides. Don't worry if a lot of it ends up on the plate underneath -- just scoop it up and put it on top again. When the icing has set, it can be decorated with crystallized lemon slices if you like.

Walnut Mince Tart
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (27-ounce) jar mincemeat

Refrigerate unused half for up to 3 days or freeze, double-wrapped, for up to a month.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the melted butter, walnuts, and mincemeat. Spoon into the pastry shell. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 325° F, and bake for 50 minutes longer, or until the filling is slightly puffed and firm. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.


Saint Patrick's Day

Our Patron and Ghostly Father

The Book of Kells

Irish High Crosses

Our Lady of Knock

How To Make a Saint Patrick's Cross Button

How To Make a Saint Brigid's Cross

You can print up this Celtic Cross and make an appropriate St. Patrick's Day button out of it.

And I'll conclude with my favorite version of St. Patrick's Lorica (Breastplate):

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven, (God the Father)
Light of sun, (God the Son)
Radiance of moon, (Our Blessed Lady)
Splendor of fire, (God the Holy Ghost)
Speed of lightning, (Saint Michael)
Swiftness of wind, (Saint Gabriel)
Depth of sea, (Saint John the Baptist)
Stability of earth, (Saint Joseph)
Firmness of rock. (Saint Peter)

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and all evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.

Christ in the heart and mind of every one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me or to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me or my works,
Christ in every ear that hears me or hears of me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.


Thursday Of the First Week In Lent

Station Church: S. Lorenzo in Panisperna
Today is not an Ember Day (but yesterday, tomorrow, and Saturday are).

From The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

My dearest Jesus, it does indeed afflict me to see Thee dying with such dreadful sufferings upon an ignominious tree. But at the same time, I am greatly consoled and inflamed with love for Thee, when I see, by means of these Wounds, the love that Thou bearest me. O heavenly seraphs, what do you think of the love of my God, who loved me and delivered himself for me?

Devotions For A Lenten Thursday Holy Hour:

Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine
Devotion To the Holy Face

Today is not an Ember Day, even though we are in the midst of the Lenten Embertide. Thursday is never counted as an Ember Day because of the Institution of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday.

In listing devotions you might choose to make use of for every day of the week during Lent, I often use the shorthand for one, calling it simply "Threnus Prayer." It occurs to me that many people might not know what prayer I am referring to. The Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine I make a part of daily Lenten devotions. It is one of the most penitential, and one of the truest to human nature that I have encountered. Saint Augustine knew what he was talking about when he discussed human sinfulness. Michael W. Martin did the groundbreaking work of translating this from Saint Augustine's works. I have taken the liberty of re-writing it to put it in the 1st person singular, rather than the 1st person plural, and to break it up, as far as possible, into matched lines. I think this makes it a much more personal prayer. Here it is as I have re-written it:

If I place before Thine eyes, O Lord,
My sins and the wounds I have received,
The less I suffer
And the greater I merit.

I feel the punishment for sin,
Yet I do not shun my obstinacy in sinning.

My fragile nature is shattered by Thy scourges,
Yet my evil ways remain unchanged.

My sick mind is wrenched,
Yet my stiff neck is not bent.

My life sighs in pain, and
Yet it does not amend itself.

If Thou waiteth, I do not reform,
If Thou punisheth, I do not last.

When accused, I admit what I have done,
Yet, when punished, I forget.

If Thou punisheth me, I make promises.
If Thou holdeth back the sword, I do not carry out my promises.

If Thou striketh me, I cry out that Thou might spare me;
If Thou sparest me, I again provoke Thee to strike me.

If difficulties come, I ask for a time for repentance.
If mercy comes to my aid, I abuse the patience which has spared me.

Even when my wounds are scarcely healed,
My ungrateful mind forgets.

If Thou hearest me quickly, I become haughty from Thy mercy.
If Thou art slow, I complain out of impatience.

I am willing to serve Thee because of what Thou hast done,
Yet I do not fear to neglect what Thou wouldst have me do.

Thou hast in Thy power, O Lord, this guilty wretch who has confessed;
Be merciful, for Thou art kind and loving.

I know that, unless Thou forgiveth me, Thou shalt justly punish me.
But with Thee is much pity and abundant forgiveness.

Grant, without any merit on my part, what I ask,
O Thou, who hast made from nothing him who asks Thee.

Have mercy on me crying out to Thee, O Lord.
May my faithful and tearful voice stir up Thy mercy.

May that forgiveness not consider that I have sinned,
But may it reflect on the fact I am asking.

Since it is a great misery that I am accused,
May the fact that I am miserable make Thy mercy the greater.

I beg Thine help,
And before Thee I place the evils and sorrows of my crimes.

By my prayers I seek Thy mercy,
The very mercy which I have spurned by my sins.

Raise me up in Thy mercy, o Lord my God,
so that in the fellowship of salvation and the joy of charity,
While I long to be saved,
I may rejoice in the faith and peace of all the world to come.

Through Christ our Lord,


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday In the Lenten Embertide

It is the Lenten embertide, probably the most solemn period of penitence until Holy Week itself. In embertide, which occurs four times per year (the week of Gaudete Sunday in Advent, the week after Ash Wednesday in Lent, the week of Pentecost, and the week after the Exaltation of the True Cross in September) the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are set aside as special days of prayer, fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving.

Station Church: Saint Mary Major

From The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

O my Jesus, Immaculate Lamb sacrificed on the Cross for me! Let not all that Thou hast suffered for me be lost, but accomplish in me the object of Thy great sufferings! O bind me entirely with the sweet chains of Thy love in order that I may not leave Thee, and that I may nevermore be separated from Thee: "Most sweet Jesus, suffer me not to be searated from Thee, suffer me not to be separated from Thee!

Devotions For a Lenten Wednesday Holy Hour:
Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms & the prayers against the Seven Deadly Sins
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer
Seven Prayers of St. Gregory

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Of the First Week In Lent

Station Church:
S. Anastasia (S. Teodoro) al Palatino

From The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

Thou wouldst then die for me, Thine enemy, o my Jesus! And yet, can I resist so much love? Behold, here I am. Since Thou dost anxiously desire that I should love Thee, I will drive away every other love from my breast, and will love Thee alone.

Devotions for a Lenten Tuesday Holy Hour:
Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine
Devotion of the Seven Last Words

Note: This is the Lenten Ember Week. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Of the First Week In Lent

Station Church:
S. Pietro in Vincoli al Colle Oppio

From The Passion And Death of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

O my most loving Saviour! I feel indeed that all Thy speak to me of the love that Thou bearest me. And who that had so many pfoofs of Thy love couldst resist loving Thee in return? St. Teresa was indded right, O most amiable Jesus, when she said that he who loves Thee not gives a proof that he does not know Thee.

Devotions for a Lenten Monday Holy Hour
Dies Irae
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Threnus Prayer of Saint Augustine
Devotion of the Five Sacred Wounds

Note: This is the Lenten Ember Week. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Quadragesima Sunday, the First Sunday Of Lent

Station Church:
St. John Lateran

Devotions For a Lenten Sunday Holy Hour
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Seven Penitential Psalms
Prayer of St. Thomas More
Psalter of St. Jerome
Threnus Prayer of St. Augustine

Prayer from The Passion And Death Of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori:

Therefore, O my Jesus, I cannot any longer, without injustice, dispose of myself, or of my own concerns, since Thou hast made me Thine by purchasing me through Thy death. My body, my soul, my life, are no longer mine; they are Thine and entirely Thine. In Thee alone, therefore, will I hope. O my God, crucified and dead for me, I have nothing else to offer Thee but this soul, which Thou hast bought with Thy Blood: to Thee I do offer it. Accept of my love, for I desire nothing but Thee, my Saviour, my God, my love, my all. Hitherto I have shown much gratitude towards men; to Thee alone have I, Alas! been most ungrateful. But now I love Thee, and I have no greater cause of sorrow than my having offended Thee. O Jesus, give me confidence by Thy Passion; root out of my heart every affection that belongs not to Thee. I will love Thee alone, Who dost deserve all of my love, and Who hast given me so much reason to love Thee. And who, indeed, could refuse to love Thee, when they see Thee, Who art the beloved of the Eternal Father, dying so cruel and bitter a death for our sake? O Mary, Mother of fair love, I pray thee through the merits of thy burning heart, obtain for me the grace to live only in order to love thy Son, Who, being in Himself worthy of an infinite love, has chosen at so great a cost to acquire to Himself the love of a miserable sinner like me. O love of souls! O my Jesus! I love Thee too little. O give me more love. Give me flames that may make me live always burning with Thy love! I do not deserve it, but Thou dost well deserve it, O Infinite Goodness.
This I hope.
So may it be.

From The Liturgical Year, by Abbot Prosper Gueranger, OSB:

Lent solemnly opens today. We have already noticed that the four preceding days were added since the time of St. Gregory the Great, in order to make up forty days of fasting. Neither can we look upon Ash Wednesday as the solemn opening of the season; for the faithful are not bound to hear Mass on that day. The holy Church, seeing her children now assembled together, speaks to them, in her Office of Matins, these eloquent and noble words of St. Leo the Great: "Having to announce to you, dearly beloved, the most sacred and chief fast, how can I more appropriately begin, than with the words of the Apostle, in whom Christ Himself spoke, and by saying to you what has just been read: Behold! now is the acceptable time; behold! now is the day of salvation. For although there be no time which is not replete with divine gifts, and we may always, by God's grace, have access to His mercy, yet ought we all to redouble our efforts to make spiritual progress and be animated with unusual confidence, now that the anniversary of the day of our redemption is approaching, inviting us to devote ourselves to every good work, that so we may celebrate, with purity of body and mind, the incomparable mystery of our Lord's Passion.

"It is true that our devotion and reverence towards so great a mystery should be kept up during the whole year, and we ourselves should be at all times, in the eyes of God, the same as we are bound to be as we are bound to be at the Easter solemnity. But this is an effort which only few among us have the courage to sustain. The weakness of the flesh induces us to relax our austerities; the various occupations of everyday life take up our thoughts; and thus even the virtuous find their hearts clogged by this world's dust. Hence it is that our Lord has most providentially given us these forty days, whose holy exercises should be to us a remedy, whereby to regain our purity of soul. The good works and the holy fastings of this season were instituted as an atonement for, and an obliteration of, the sins we commit during the rest of the year.

"Now, therefore, that we are about to enter upon these days, which are so full of mystery, and which were instituted for the holy purpose of purifying both soul and body, let us, dearly beloved, be careful to do as the Apostle bids us, and cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit: that thus the combat between the two substances being made less fierce, the soul, which, when she herself is subject to God, ought to be the ruler of the body, will recover her own dignity and position. Let us avoid giving offense to any man, so that there be none to blame or speak evil things of us. For we deserve the harsh remarks of infidels, and we provoke the tongues of the wicked to blaspheme religion, when we who fast lead unholy lives. For our fast does not consist in the mere abstinence from food; nor is it of much use to deny food to our body, unless we restrain the soul from sin."

Each Sunday of Lent offers to our consideration a passage from the Gospel, which is in keeping with the sentiments wherewith the Church would have us be filled. Today she brings before us the temptation of our Lord in the desert. What light and encouragement there is in this instruction!

We acknowledge ourselves to be sinners; we are engaged, at this very time, in doing penance for the sins we have committed-but how was it that we fell into sin? The devil tempted us; we did not reject the temptation; then we yielded to the suggestion, and the sin was committed. This is the history of our past; and such it would, also, be for the future, were we not to profit by the lesson given us today by our Redeemer.

When the Apostle speaks of the wonderful mercy shown us by our divine Saviour, who vouchsafed to make Himself like us in all things save sin, He justly lays stress on His temptations (cf. Heb. 4:15). He, who is very God, humbled Himself even so low as this, to prove how tenderly He compassionated us. Here, then, we have the Saint of saints allowing the wicked spirit to approach Him, in order that we might learn from His example, how we are to gain victory under temptation.

Satan has had his eye upon Jesus; he is troubled at beholding such matchless virtue. The wonderful circumstances of His birth; the shepherds called by angels to His crib, and the Magi guided by the star; the Infant's escape from Herod's plot; the testimony rendered to this new Prophet by John the Baptist: are all these things, which seem so out of keeping with the thirty years spent in obscurity at Nazareth, are a mystery to the infernal serpent, and fill him with apprehension. The ineffable mystery of the Incarnation has been accomplished unknown to him; he never once suspects that the humble Virgin, Mary, is she who was foretold by the prophet Isaisas, as having to bring forth the Emmanuel (Is. 7:14). But he is aware that the time has come, that the last week spoken of to Daniel has begun its course, and that the very pagans are looking towards Judea for a deliverer. He is afraid of this Jesus; he resolves to speak with Him, and elicit from Him some expression which will show Him whether He be or not the Son of God; he will tempt Him to some imperfection or sin, which, should He commit it, will prove that the object of so much fear is, after all, but a mortal man.

The enemy of God and men is, of course, disappointed. He approaches Jesus; but all his efforts turn only to his own confusion. Our Redeemer, with all the self-possession and easy majesty of a God-Man, repels the attacks of Satan; but He reveals not His heavenly origin. The wicked spirit retires without having made any discovery beyond this-that Jesus is a prophet, faithful to God. Later on, when he sees the Son of God treated with contempt, calumniated and persecuted; when he finds that his own attempts to have Him put to death are so successful; his pride and his blindness will be at their height; and not till Jesus expires on the cross, will he learn that his victim was not merely Man, but Man and God. Then he will discover how all his plots against Jesus have but served to manifest, in all their beauty, the mercy and justice of God: His mercy, because He saved mankind; and His justice, because He broke the power of hell forever.

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