Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Food

Crazy Christmas Stats

I know, Christmas can sometimes be outrageous because of the craziness and the loss of the sacred. That being said, I cannot help but enjoy this infographic even if it means, but for a brief moment in the immortal words of Jane Austin,

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

The info is interesting though…

Christmas in the World 2010 - Infographics

Basil and the Triumph of the Cross

Thanks Fr. Z for sharing this yesterday. Vultus Christi offers us a great custom on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross:

Blessing Basil Leaf in Honour of the Holy Cross

The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross. Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful. Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant Blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
Let us pray.
Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech Thee, to bless
Thy creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His most Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to Thy glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.
R. Amen.
The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.




Encourage & Teach: Happy Malasada Day!

WHAT!?! You have never heard of malasadas? That is unacceptable! You have been shamefully deprived. Let me explain…

To most of the Catholic world, today is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. Both names are used to designate the day prior to Ash Wednesday, and each has its own unique connotation and reason for celebration. Fat Tuesday, for instance, is celebrated by all Catholics and some Protestants. The name predated the Reformation and recalls the tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent. (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: Evangelism Should Be Like Dunkin’ Donuts…

About once to twice a week I go by Dunkin’ Donuts and pick up a cup DunkinDonutsof coffee before work. I have a few options, but I always choose the one that is in the opposite direction of my office, adding an extra ten minutes to my commute time on purpose.

“Why?” you ask.

The reason is simply that the workers there are full of joy. And it is not just the pasted-on customer “service with a smile” – they truly are joyful. Not only are they joyful but they take an interest in each person that approaches the counter. (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: What an Epiphany!

Hugo_van_der_Goes_-_The_Adoration_of_the_Kings_(Monforte_Altar)_-_Google_Art_ProjectOn the twelfth-day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany (the January 6 feast has been transferred to the Second Sunday after Christmas). The celebration of the Epiphany pre-dates the celebration of Solemnity of the Incarnation.While we do honor the three Magi’s adoration of the Christ-child, it originally celebrated the three manifestations of the Lord’s divinity: Christ’s birth, adoration of the Magi, and the Baptism of our Lord. There are a number of traditions families can engage in to celebrate the day…(Read more)

Encourage and Teach: Holy Doughnuts!

halloween-donuts“All Hallows’ Eve” has become quite the industry here in the United States. Revered Catholic traditions and devotions that have been deeply rooted in our cultures have seemingly been eclipsed by a quick trip to the costume aisle in Walmart.

Still, many families continue to practice our devotions related to Halloween and I thought I would share one or two…Read More

Lenten Special: Gator’s on the Menu

I love being Catholic. We have so many big “T” and little “t” traditions that sometimes it is hard to keep track of them. One of our time honored Traditions (big T) is the Lenten fast. Meaning, we abstain (no meat) from meat on Ash Wednesday, all Fridays and of course, fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Related to this subject, sometimes there are questions that make me chuckle. In fact, the Church chooses to answer some of those fun questions which is also hilarious. Take for instance Mr. Piculas, owner of the Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery in Covington, LA. His question asked if gator was acceptable to eat on Fridays during Lent. Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans his local ordinary replied back with a resounding “Yes” (Check out the official letter). Not only yes but also agreed that they are “magnificent creatures.” Who would have thought? Obviously, it is important to Mr. Piculas and so important to his Archbishop. But seriously, it makes you chuckle, right?

That being said, this time of year causes people to ask why we do what we do. Abstinence and fasting have a long history that pre-dates Christianity. If you want to know more, check out the following:

Anyway, I just wanted to pass on this gator-funny to you. Have a great Lent and know that we continue to pray for you and those intentions closest to your heart.


Lenten Foods: The Pretzel

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” was first coined by Richard Franck’s in ‘Northern Memoirs, calculated for the meridian of Scotland‘ in 1658 (as best as we can tell). It is interesting to observe how many traditions were embraced due to necessity. Foods during Lent are no exception. Take the pretzel for instance.

Many say that the pretzel started out as a Lenten snack because of its original shape that seemed to mimic arms folded in prayer. One etymology of the word pretzel states that it is derived from Latin meaning branched with little arms.[1] Others explain this simple food as the perfect Lenten fast food since no dairy, eggs, or lard is used among the simple ingredients of flour, water and salt.

Another explanation shares that it was a common reward for children when they learned their prayers.[2] Accordingly, this simple bread received the name pretzel which in this interpretation means “little reward.”

Still another account says that a pious monk took the bread dough folded the strands over to make them in the shape of arms and so was born the pretzel. Whatever the explanation, it has taken on the persona of being a Lenten food. Who am I to argue? I just think they are good in season and out!

[1] Peter Klein, ed., The Catholic Source Book, 3rd ed. (Dubuque, Iowa: ACTA Publications, 2000), p. 300

[2] Ibid.

Happy Malasada Day!

WHAT!?! You have never heard of a malasadas? That is unacceptable, you have been deprived! Let me explain…

To most of the Catholic world, today is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. Each name for the day prior to Ash Wednesday has a different connotation and reason for celebration. Fat Tuesday is celebrated by all Catholics and some Protestants. The name predated the Reformation and recalls the tradition of of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday comes from the Old English word Shrive meaning to obtain absolution for ones sins or to repent. It is the preparation that the Church encourages in order to enter into the season of Lent ready for battle against the world, flesh and the devil (Yes, he does exist). It is also appropriate for those individuals, cities and countries countries who are more…well, rowdy…during their Mardi Gras celebration. In New Orleans and Brazil, massive lines for confession after a week of partying is not uncommon.

For the Portuguese who live on the island of Madeira (my peeps), it is traditional to eat malasadas. It is basically the Portuguese version of the doughnut. Krispy Creams and Dunkin Donuts – HAH! – peasant food to the Portuguese. Large batches of these warm succulent yeast balls, deep-fried in oil till they are golden brown, and then coated with sugar (Mmmmmmmm!) were made to use up all of the butter and sugar prior to Lent.

The only place to buy your malasadas from in Hawai'i.

This early 1800s tradition also made its way to Hawai’i (also my peeps), who, in fact, have named Fat Tuesday, Malasada Day. I have extremely fond memories growing up and gorging myself on malasadas. Don’t shake your head in disgust. This was an act of charity. Someone must be pressed into service to assist in using up all the butter and sugar from the plantations prior to Lent. I was just assisting in our Lenten preparation. Hey! Don’t hate the player, hate the game. :)

Being that my wife is Croatian and Welsh, I need to address the traditions handed on to her through the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Today, is also known as is known as Fastnact Day. The Fastnacht is a fried potato dough that is served with dark corn syrup. Wikipedia, I cannot believe I am using it, shares that in

John Updike‘s novel Rabbit, Run, the main character remembers a Fosnacht Day tradition in which the last person to rise from the table would be teased by the other family members and called a Fosnacht.

Even prior to the reform of the Second Vatican Council, there was an on-going liturgical reform at the turn of the century concerning Lenten observance. For Latin Rite Catholics, the pre-Lenten preparation included the removal of all dairy and rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting  emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.

Additionally, one might even understanding the nastier and more pagan side of Mardi Gras with the tradition of rampant acts of carnal knowledge. Why? Also in the Latin Rite for a number of centuries, the Lenten fast included marital relations.

So there you have it. Three key traits of this day:

  1. Eating something fried and lots of it (preferably malasadas);
  2. Going to confession; and
  3. Preparing to begin your Lenten observance.

Have a great day and use today as a call to arms. Tomorrow, we go to battle!

Thanksgiving and Communion

Happy Thanksgiving! If your family is like mine, today will be a day of family, feasting, and fun. And, that is the way it should be. Meals are incredibly important to our understanding of who we are and our communion with others. Jesus’ own ministry demonstrates the importance of meals.

His great respect for food and drink can be seen throughout his public ministry. His first public miracle was changing water into wine. He understood our need for bodily nourishment. When He raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead, he did not wait for thanks, but told them to get her something to eat. When the crowds came to hear him teach and Jesus saw they came without food, He provided it for them.

He believed in the dignity of all creation and particularly food. The devil tempted Him in the desert to turn stones into bread and, though hungry, He refused. Jesus recognized that the stone was something real and should be respected and likewise with the bread. He showed the great potential of water becoming more than itself by becoming wine.  Through the multiplication of loaves, He used it to show the ultimate potential of bread.

It is interesting to note that our Lord taught the meaning of forgiveness, the supremacy of love, and the dignity of service in the context of meals. Remember Zacchaeus once he came down from the tree?  Perhaps when he visited Mary and Martha for a meal and had to calm Martha’s anxiety over the preparation? Of course, one of my favorites is the Samaritan woman at the well when our Lord said that while the water might refresh, He could give a drink that would quench her thirst eternally.

At the Last Supper, His self-gifting became the context for giving us the His Body and Blood. Through this Paschal meal, he brought to fullness all the Passover Sedars; the manna in the desert that had been celebrated since the captivity in Egypt. The Last Supper is replete with meaning and emphasizes the sacredness of every meal that He had partaken of in Nazareth, Bethany and Capernum. Notice that after the Resurrection, He revealed Himself to the Apostles in the intimacy of a meal on the beach.

The family meal is so important. Growing up, regardless of the dive or track meets, the meetings or getting home late from work, we always ate our meals together. If dad was getting home late, a snack could hold us over. In my own family, we also eat our meals together. The family meal is one of the most important, and overlooked, moments in our lives. Sr. Timothy Prokes, FSE in her chapter on Real Food and Virtual Nourishment says,

It is difficult for persons who have not experienced the simple, consistent ritual of family meals to know the significance of Jesus’ revelations and actions being integrated within meals.

Faith is more caught than taught. For Jesus, the best place to be with His companions (which incidentally means “together with bread”) was a meal. They were not only teaching moments but moments of community. So, as you gather to be thankful for God’s blessings and time with your family, remember to talk about the things closest to your heart. It is during this time that you will be learning and teaching the most profound aspect of the theology of the Trinity…Communion. Happy Thanksgiving!