Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

For me, Christmas Eve is the holiest time of the year, saving only the Easter Triduum.

It is a time for beginning the Christmas feast, after the first Christmas Masses have been said. It is the occasion for opening a single Christmas Eve gift, for reading the Nativity Story, for putting the Chrisat Child in the crib, for lighted candles, enjoying the Christmas Tree, and the most treasured Christmas albums, lighting the single white candle in the center of the Advent wreath. It is a night of hanging stockings, leaving cookies and milk for old Saint Nick, for roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding, for eggnog and mince pie. It is a time for family and homely entertainment amid holly and ivy, candles (even if electric) in the window, and for peace.

After the dinner on Christmas Eve, it is the time to sit back. The frantic pace of shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, sending greetings, and entertaining is over. The spiritual preparation is done as well. A good confession has been made, and God willing, you can be housled in something close to a state of grace, baring only the veial sins committed since the confession. Sometimes, I wish I could just pop into the confessional seconds before receiving the Blessed Sacrament, as that is the only way this sinner can be clean enough for Him.

Days of rest are ahead. Now is the time to be with those you love best. The anxiety and stress of modern Christmas is a thing of the past.

I wish all of my readers the most Joyous and Blessed Christmas, and the most Happy and Most Prosperous New Year!

Merry Christmas!!!


Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

Latin version:
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

From Godzdogz:


Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Rex Gentium

December 22

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

Latin version:
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

OK, We Are Almost At Christmas

You might have noticed that, unlike in some past years, I have been very good here, scarcely mentioning Christmas throughout Advent. No posts devoted to Christmas videos, or Christmas Cookie recipes, or Santa Claus retrospectives, or antique Christmas postcards, no serializations of Washington Irving, or Dickens, not even a mention of Colonial Williamsburg decorations.

So I've been wicked good to date.

But here we are past the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The Embertide is over. The liturgical preparation is complete. You should have your examination of conscience well in hand, and be ready for a good confession in the next few days so you can make a truly worthy Communion for Christmas. That is the hard work of Advent. Not rigging up the lights (though when you put 3,000 lights on a 7.5 foot tree, there is a lot of work to that), not baking the cookies, or wrapping the gifts, or sending the cards, but spiritual preparation for the birth of the Lord, made as if happening for the first time through the readings of the Mass.

I know everybody is going to be too distracted to be reading blogs for the next few days, with trying to finish up work projects for the end of the year, and with preparations for Christmas.

So I think it is time to kick back and start to enjoy Christmas.

An instrumental of The Sussex Carol

Frank Kelly, Christmas Countdown

Joe Dolce, The Twelve Days Of Christmas (Italian Style)

Blackmore's Night, I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In

Maedieval Baebes, The Holly And the Ivy

A British group called Blur singing The Gloucestershire Wassail

The Irish Rovers, Good King Wenceslaus:

Trillium singing Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake

Ending with a bang, Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Wizards In Winter


O Oriens

December 21

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Latin version:
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.


Christmas Tippling

I'm pretty abstemious in my personal habits. A bottle of 18 year old single malt scotch can last me 2 years. But there are a few occasions when I will moderately indulge, and the Twelve Days of Christmas are one of them.

I have an eggnog recipe coming at you in the next couple of days, and it is very easy to make, but today I want to post some other choices.

Smoking Bishop Punch
6 Clementines
1/2 C sugar
30 cloves
8 C moderately sweet red wine
1 bottle ruby port

Bake the oranges in a medium oven for about 20 minutes. Stick cloves into the oranges and then put them into a large bowl. Pour the wine over them and add the sugar. Cover and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and mix it with the wine. Add the port and heat the mixture in a pan. Do not boil. Serve hot.

Charles Dickens' descendant Cedric Dickens says that you should have at least one bald-headed gent in the crowd you serve this to. When the top of his head becomes read, you know the punch is a success. I have tried this and it works! Great for a tree-trimming party, or any Christmas occasion.
Adapted from Cedric Dickens, Dining With Dickens.

4 C (2 pints) Guinness
4 C fresh apple cider
2 C sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves
1 C apple sauce

In a saucepan combine the cider, sugar, and spices. Stirring until the sugar dissolves, heat over medium heat. Strain out the whole spices, and return to saucepan. Add the apple sauce, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes stirring very frequently. Then add the Guinness, and heat thoroughly, but do not boil.

For Christmas Day and anytime you are having friends over between Christmas and Twelfth Night. "Wassail" means "Be well," in Old Anglo Saxon. Traditonally, this beverage was passed around in a large ceremonial cup or bowl from which each guest drank. It is sometimes called "Lamb's Wool" because of the apple sauce. Sometimes it is made with baked apples, but I have found the apple sauce easier. Of course, those who could not afford their own Wassail went about from house to house, sometimes with an empty bowl, offering songs and bits of impromptu plays in exchange for a drink. This is one of theose luck visits I talk about so much from Halloween until Twelfth Night, a New Year's custom.

Artery-Clogging Hot Chocolate
6 ounces dark chocolate
2 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup heavy cream

Combine in double boiler the chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. Add the cream very slowly and do not boil. Serve over a handful of mini marshmallows and garnish with a bit of nutmeg.

Try adding some liquers in small amounts, Cointreau, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Drambuie, Chambord, and Kirsch all work.

Spiced Punch
4 C water
1 C sugar
20 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
32 oz. fresh apple cider
24 0z. purple grape juice (Welch's concentrate is OK)
1 C lemon juice

Bring the water, sugar, and spices to a boil stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Refrigerate. At serving time, combine apple cider, grape juice, and lemon juice with the strained spiced syrup.

You can serve this punch hot or cold. No alchohol, so this works for the kids and those avoiding intoxicating beverages.
From the 1979 and 1980 Boston Globe Holiday Cooking and Cheer supplements.

A good host will also have on hand fresh apple cider, and dairy eggnog.


No More Time To Put Off Baking!

Honey Cookies
1C butter
1C sugar
2 eggs
2 C honey
2/3 C water
7 C flour
4 t baking soda
3 t cream of tartar
1 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 t nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, honey, & water. Add flour to baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, & spices. Add the dry mix to the creamed mix. Blend thoroughly and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut to desired shapes. place on ungreased cookie sheets 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees until cookies are lightly browned. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies depending on the size of the cutters you use.
From Yuletide at Winterthur.

22/3 C sugar
4 C butter
8 eggs
4 T vanilla extract
4 T cinnamon
4 t nutmeg
51/3 C flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg and mix completely. Blend spices with flour and add to the creamed mixture. Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are golden brown (about 10 minutes, but watch them carefully). Makes 16 dozen small cookies, but the recipe can be easily halved or quartered.
From Yuletide At Winterthur

Springerle Cookies
8 eggs
4 C sugar
8 T anise seed
8 C flour
2 t baking soda
Beat eggs until light, gradually adding sugar and continue beating 15-20 minutes or until batter is thick and lemon-colored. Add anise seed. Combine flur and soda and add to the egg mixture. Blend. Cover the bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Divide the dough into thrids. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section of dough out to an 8-inch square 1/4 inch thick. Let rest 1 minute. Flour your cookie cutters, and press your designs into the dough, cut, and place each cookie on a lightly floured surface. Cover with a towel overnight. Grease cookie sheets, and flour them lightly, brushing off the excess. Align cookies 1/2 inch apart on the sheets (they don't spread). Bake 15-20 minutes at 300 degrees, but do not let the cookies brown. Makes 12 dozen. the recipe can be easily halved. Store in an airtight container. if the cookies become hard, place a slice of apple in the airtight container with them to soften them.
From the Greenfield Village Cookbook

Rum Balls
3 cups fine vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup ground pecans
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, mix vanilla wafer crumbs, ground pecans, cocoa, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, water, and rum flavoring together.
Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, and then roll in remaining confectioners' sugar. Store, covered, about a week before serving. They cure, but may need to be rolled a secod tim ein confectioner's sugar befoe serving, as they tend to absorb the sugar.
From The Colonial Williamsburg Cookbook

Chambord or Cointreau Brownies
1 bottle of chambord of cointreau liquer
1 box of dark chocolate bronwie mix with syrup packet
ingredients (egg and oil) as specified on the box of brownie mix)

Follow the recipe on the box, except substitute either Cointreau or Chambord for hte water called for in the recipe on a 1-for-1 basis (if the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of water, make it 2/3 cup of chambord or cointreau.

When the brownies are out of the oven, let them set for about 30 minutes. Then pick rows of holes in the brownies with a fork, corresponding to the lines you will cut with a knife.

liberally pour (your finger partially covering the opening of the bottle) more of the chambord or cointeau over the brownies, but not so much that the brownies will be a sodden mess.

let the brownies soak up and imbibe the liquer. Then slice off as desired.


Saint Thomas, Apostle, Martyr

Today is the feast in the traditional ordo of one of my primary patrons, Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Saint Thomas, please pray for us!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Clavis David

December 20

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

Latin version:
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.


Monday, December 19, 2011

O Radix Jesse

December 19

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Latin version:
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Adonai

December 18

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Latin version:
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

From Godzdogz:


The Fourth Sunday Of Advent

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

(If this Sunday fall on December 24, it is omitted, and in its
place is said the Office of Christmas Eve)

We have now entered into the week which immediately precedes the
birth of the Messias. That long-desired coming might be even
tomorrow; and at furthest, that is, when Advent is as long as it
can be, the beautiful feast is only seven days from us. So that
the Church now counts the hours; she watches day and night, and
since December 17 her Offices have assumed an unusual solemnity.
At Lauds, she varies the antiphons each day; and at Vespers, in
order to express the impatience of her desires for her Jesus, she
makes use of the most vehement exclamations to the Messias, in
which she each day gives Him a magnificent title, borrowed from
the language of the prophets.

Today, she makes a last effort to stir up the devotion of her
children. She leads them to the desert; she shows them John the
Baptist, upon whose mission she instructed them on the third
Sunday. The voice of the austere Precursor resounds through the
wilderness, and penetrates even into the cities. It preaches
penance, and the obligation men are under of preparing by self-
purification for the coming of Christ. Let us retire from the
world during these next few days; or if that may not be by reason
of our external duties, let us retire into the quiet of our own
hearts and confess our iniquities, as did those true Israelites,
who came, full of compunction and of faith in the Messias, to the
Baptist, there to make perfect their preparation for worthily
receiving the Redeemer on the day of His appearing to the world.

See, then, with what redoubled earnestness the Church, before
opening the book of her great prophet, repeats her invitatory:

The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

From the Prophet Isaias.

Ch. xxxv.

The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the
wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. It
shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and
praise; the glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel
and Saron. They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of
our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak
knees. Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not. Behold
your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will
come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be
opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall
the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be
free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the
wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and
the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwelt
before shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. And
a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy
way: the 1melean shall not pass over it and this shall be unto you
a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall
be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be
found there: but they shall walk there, that shall be delivered.
And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into
Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads:
they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall
flee away.

Oh, the joy of Thy coming, dear Jesus! How great it must needs be,
when the prophecy says it shall be like an everlasting crown upon
our heads. And could it be otherwise? The very desert is to
flourish as a lily, and living waters are to gush forth out of the
parched land, because their God is coming. Come, O Jesus, come
quickly, and give us of that water, which flows from Thy sacred
Heart, and which the Samaritan woman, the type of us sinners,
asked of Thee with such earnest entreaty. This water is Thy grace;
let it rain upon our parched souls, and they too will flourish;
let it quench our thirst, and we will run in the way of Thy
precepts and examples. Thou, O Jesus, art our way, our path, to
God; and Thou art Thyself God; Thou art, therefore, both our way
and the term to which our way leads us. We had lost our way; we
had gone astray as lost sheep: how great Thy love to come thus in
search of us! To teach us the way to heaven, Thou hast deigned to
come down from heaven, and then tread with us the road which leads
to it. No! there shall be no more weak hands, nor feeble knees,
nor faint hearts; for we know that it is in love that Thou art
coming to us. There is but one thing which makes us sad: our
preparation is not complete. We have some ties still to break;
help us to do it, O Saviour of mankind! We desire to obey the
voice of Thy Precursor, and make plain those rugged paths, which
would prevent Thy coming into our hearts, O divine Infant! Give us
to be baptized in the Baptism of the waters of penance; Thou wilt
soon follow, baptizing us in the Holy Ghost and love.

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