Sunday, February 28, 2010

Celebrating Sunday

And he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath."
[Mk 2, 27-28]

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder

About Celebrating Sunday

Saturday, February 27, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Potato Gratin

Adapted from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

2 T olive oil

2 T butter
1/2 cup minced onion

4 eggs
4 T milk
4 T minced fresh herbs
2/3 c grated cheese
salt and pepper

3 potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease pie dish with olive oil.

Melt butter in skillet. Sautee onions about 5 minutes, until translucent. Remove from heat. Set pie dish in oven to preheat.

Beat eggs; fold in milk, herbs, cheese, and salt and pepper. Stir in onions, using a spatula to transfer all the butter.

Peel and grate potatoes. Press all the liquid out. Mix potatoes into egg mixture.

Pour egg mixture into preheated pie dish. Bake 40 minutes, or until set. Serve with a green salad or other vegetable.

Field Trip!

If you're planning to be in Minnesota sometime soon, you might want to plan a Church Lady field trip to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota and go to Mass at the St. Paul Cathedral (and National Shrine of the Apostle Paul) to see the Vatican-approved replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà currently on tour there.

Steven Bishop, owner of Vescovo Buonarroti Art, said that the statue’s nationwide tour is starting at the Cathedral because it is “the most beautiful cathedral in the country.”

Mass times at the Cathedral (confession and adoration times also)

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Memoriam

Wednesday afternoon a consummate church lady, Gail Walton, beloved director of the University of Notre Dame Liturgical Choir, wife and mother passed from this vale of tears after a battle with leukemia at the age of 55.

It's difficult to begin to write about Gail. She was an amazing and wonderful woman, so selfless and tireless.

As Director of Music at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame, a position she held since 1988, Gail was extremely influential in liturgical music. She was an excellent musician, married to another wonderful musician, ND organ professor Craig Cramer. They were "the cutest couple" in everyone's eyes - especially when they played dual organ recitals.

Gail was everyone's second mom. She was always looking out for you, but she never looked out for her self. Last year she hurt her foot - falling off a stool if I remember correctly. The doctors told her the foot had to rest and be in its boot until it healed. But how do you play organ with a boot on your foot? So she took it off. I scolded her after one of our rehearsals (she was not only director of the Liturgical Choir, but assistant director of the Women's Liturgical Choir to which I belong) and told her she had to take care herself. She laughed and said she'd be ok. That was Gail. Our head director visited her just before Christmas. The doctors had allowed her to return home for a period, so long as she was strictly on bedrest. Was Gail following the doctors' orders? Of course not. She was baking, trimming the tree and doing all manner of things around the house. That was Gail. She was a such a wonderful woman...Absolutely unstoppable.

She was a perfectionist, too, and always drove us to be the best we could be. Everyone loved Gail. She will be missed so much - she already is. It's hard to believe she's gone.

Lastly but most importantly, Gail's faith was always inspiring. Today, the Notre Dame Observer published the following letter from an alumna, Laura Hoffman:
"I came to Notre Dame raised on Christian values but as a non-Catholic. When I auditioned for choir my freshman year in 2000, I wasn’t sure I would feel comfortable in a choir that sang at masses weekly. Gail Walton and Andrew McShane selected me to sing for the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir and I did so for four years.

Gail had a profound influence on my life beyond music. Singing at the mass at the Basilica weekly, I was exposed to the Catholic faith. Gail provided an extraordinary example to me of what it meant to be a faithful Catholic through the respect she trained us to have for our service in the liturgy and the way she personally conducted herself with class. I was baptized after graduating from Notre Dame during my first year of law school. I was touched by a stunning bouquet of flowers sent to me by Gail Walton and Andrew McShane on that special day of my entrance into the Catholic Church.

Gail Walton gave so much more to us students at Notre Dame than training and excellence in music. She brought us closer to God and made us better people. The Notre Dame family matters because of people like Dr. Gail Walton who helped us grow beyond our years at Notre Dame.

Thank you Gail, we love you and will miss your presence terribly in the Notre Dame community."
Gail herself was a convert and I can think of few others who embraced the service of the Church as she did. Gail shines as a model for all of us - a true church lady in every way.

Please take a moment to pray for Gail and her family, especially her husband. This has been so difficult for him.

Requiescat in pace.
In Paradisum deducant angeli...Chorus angelorum te suscipiat...Aeternam habeas requiem.

Gail conducts the Liturgical Choir in a 2008 concert:

(The Mawby Ave Verum (at the 5:20 mark) is one of my favorites)

Adapted from my original post at The Sober Sophomore. Funeral details can be found there.

House of God, Gate of Heaven

Some of the most incredible architecture can be found among churches. I find fascinating both the actual process of building and all the theology that is literally and figuratively built into churches. [Sister Julie's full post "Church Architecture and God" at A Nun's Life]

Also, check out Sister Julie's compilation of blogs by women religious.

Image source
Article cloche tip: A Sister of Saint Joseph

40 Meatless Meals: Greek Pizza

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 10 oz. packages frozen spinach(or less), thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
20 sheets fillo dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups (1 pound) mozzarella cheese, grated
3 medium tomatoes, sliced thin

2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup bread crumbs

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add spinach and sauté until all excess moisture has evaporated. Add basil, oregano, lemon juice and pepper. Mix well. Cool slightly.

Prepare fillo pizza crust:

Use 10 sheets of fillo dough, brushing each with melted butter, margarine, oil or vegetable spray. Use 1/4 cup butter. Repeat this step. Place length of fillo across width of greased 15” x 10” x 1” cookie sheet or baking pan. Overlap each set of 10 buttered fillo sheets 5 inches at center. Roll overlapping fillo onto itself on cookie sheet to form “pizza crust.” Brush top layer with melted butter or olive oil.

Spread spinach mixture on prepared fillo sheets. Top spinach with 1/2 of mozzarella. Dredge tomatoes in bread crumbs and arrange on top of mozzarella. Top with remaining mozzarella and feta cheese.

Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 12

NOTE: This serves nicely. To make appetizers, simply arrange the tomatoes closer (so there's one in the center of each piece) and cut smaller. Diamond shaped would be nice.

Via Crucis

Of all the pious exercises connected with the veneration of the Cross, none is more popular among the faithful than the Via Crucis. Through this pious exercise, the faithful movingly follow the final earthly journey of Christ: from the Mount of Olives, where the Lord, "in a small estate called Gethsemane" was taken by anguish, to Calvary where he was crucified between two thieves, to the garden where he was placed in freshly hewn tomb.

The love of the Christian faithful for this devotion is amply attested by the numerous Via Crucis erected in so many churches, shrines, cloisters, in the countryside, and on mountain pathways where the various stations are very evocative.

The Via Crucis is a journey made in the Holy Spirit, that divine fire which burned in the heart of Jesus and brought him to Calvary. This is a journey well esteemed by the Church since it has retained a living memory of the words and gestures of the final earthly days of her Spouse and Lord.

In the Via Crucis, various strands of Christian piety coalesce: the idea of life being a journey or pilgrimage; as a passage from earthly exile to our true home in Heaven; the deep desire to be conformed to the Passion of Christ; the demands of following Christ, which imply that his disciples must follow behind the Master, daily carrying their own crosses.

-Directory on Popular Piety, 131-133

For today's prayer, the Church Ladies suggest you consider Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's meditations and prayers from Lent, 2005.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What to do (and not do) about vocations

Some Dominican wisdom from one of my favorite blogging priests, Father Powell at Domine, da mihi hanc aquam.

There is no vocations crisis. God is calling more than enough men to the priesthood to cover the needs of the Church. The real crisis is twofold:
  • A crisis of commitment (men who are reluctant to say yes to their call)
  • A crisis of encouragement (Basically, mothers and fathers who are not supporting sons who express an interest in saying YES to God’s call. Also, bishops and their vocation directors, and their discernment and vetting processes. Does your bishop really believe that an ordained priesthood is necessary for the flourishing of the Church? Is there a culture of priestly community in the diocese? Are the priests happy and encouraging of vocations? Bottomline: no young man is remotely interested in joining an order or a diocese controlled by bitter, angry ideologues who loudly and proudly celebrate the coming demise of the priesthood. Who wants to jump on a failing project as it sinks under the weight of its stewards’ neglect?)
So, what should we do?
  • First, give God constant thanks for the vocations He has called.
  • Second, pray that God will encourage those whom He has called. Pray that they will say YES.
  • Third, personally, one-on-one invite a young man to think about priesthood.
  • Fourth, spend some time studying what the Church teaches about priesthood. Ignore functional models of priesthood (i.e., the priesthood is a job or a role) and ignore attempts to turn the Catholic priest into a Protestant minister (i.e., a minister of the Word in the pulpit but not a priest at the altar of sacrifice!). Also avoid all attempts to understand that priesthood is rooted in baptism only - ordained priest ministers out of his baptism AND out of his ordination.
Those called to priesthood will not be encouraged to say YES to their call until it is crystal clear to them that we need them. Communion Services and other forms of “celebrations in the absence of a priest” only serve to reinforce the idea that a priest for Mass is a luxury.

Image Credit: St. Dominic by Cosme Tura

40 Meatless Meals: Polenta Stuffed Peppers

For 4:

1 cup of cornmeal
1 t olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic

4 Italian or red bell peppers

1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare 1 cup cornmeal into polenta. Stir in olive oil and garlic.

Spread polenta over peppers. Bake 20 minutes. Top with corn, beans, and cheese.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Sweet Potato Pancakes

This meal is really easy to prepare on a griddle or electric skillet where you can cook everything at once

For every 2 servings:

Potato Pancakes:
2 sweet potatoes, grated and liquid pressed out
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt and pepper
oil for frying

Combine all ingredients thoroughly; shape into pancakes and fry.

1 apple, cut in wedges
1 red onion, cut in rings
oil for sauteeing

Sautee apples and onions; serve with pancakes.

May God Give You Pardon and Peace

Of course, you all make sure you and your family receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly, but in case it's been a while, you may find the following resources to be helpful:

How to go to Confession (from the Knights of Columbus)
  • Pray to the Holy Spirit for self-knowledge and trust in the mercy of God. Examine your conscience, be truly sorry for your sins, and resolve to change your life.
  • Go to the priest and begin with the Sign of the Cross. Welcoming you, the priest will say:“May God, who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy,” or similar words taken from Scripture.You answer:“Amen. Then say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been ____ weeks/ months/years since my last confession.”
  • Confess your sins openly and candidly. Tell the priest of all mortal sins and the number of times each was committed, and then you may confess some of your venial sins. (Although it is not strictly necessary to confess venial sins, the Church recommends that you do.) If you do not know whether a sin is mortal or venial, ask the priest. If you have no mortal sins, confess venial sins you have committed since your last confession; you may also mention some mortal sin from your past life for which you are particularly sorry, indicating that it has already been confessed.
  • Then listen to the priest for whatever counsel he may judge appropriate. If you have any question about the faith, how to grow in holiness, or whether something is a sin, feel free to ask him. Then the priest will assign you a penance.
  • Pray the Act of Contrition when the priest tells you.
  • Listen as the priest absolves you of your sins and enjoy the fact that God has truly freed you from all your sins. If you forget to confess a mortal sin, you are still forgiven, but must mention it the next time you go to confession.
  • Do the penance the priest assigns you.
How to go to Confession (A YouTube link! I suspect the patron saint of the internet is pleased.)

A Confession Primer from the Anchoress (and Busted Halo), also with video.

We should…
  1. ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
  2. ...wait our turn in line patiently;
  3. ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
  4. ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
  5. ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
  6. ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
  7. ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
  8. ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
  9. ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
  10. ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
  11. ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
  12. ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
  13. ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
  14. ...don’t confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
  15. ...don’t leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
  16. ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
  17. ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
  18. ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
  19. ...keep in mind that priests can have bad days just like we do;
  20. ...remember that priests go to confession too … they know what we are going through.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Particularly paragraphs 1422-1498.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

40 Meatless Meals- Lettuce Wraps

For Stir-fry
oil for frying
1 package firm (not extra firm) tofu
1/2 cup marmalade (if not using Epiphany marmalade, add 1 t powdered ginger)
3 T hoisin sauce
soy sauce to taste
pepper flakes to taste
1 1/2 cups peapods or brocoli florets

To serve
Leafy lettuce, like Bibb or romaine hearts
Ramen noodles or rice (prepared)
sliced scallions
bean sprouts
dipping sauces

Heat oil. Saute tofu gently. Stir in marmalade, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, & pepper flakes. Cook 5 minutes over medium heat; add vegetable, and cook 2-3 minutes more.

At the table, let everyone prepare their rolls with desired fillings.

Monday, February 22, 2010

40-Meatless Meals - Egg-Ceptional Tuna Pie

1 c. crumbled soda crackers (about 30)
1 c. shredded cheese
1/2 c. chopped onion
13 ounces tuna, drained
6 eggs
1 c. mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crumble soda crackers into bottom of ungreased 9 1/2" pie pan. Mix together cheese, onion, and tuna and sprinkle over crumb crust. Beat eggs until lemon-colored and stir in mayonnaise and milk. Pour evenly over pie. Bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. 6 servings.

  • Originally from a pamphlet, presumably from some egg promotion board.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celebrating Sunday

Reflection: "And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." [Neh 8, 9-10]

Recipe: Country Pork Stew

About Celebrating Sunday

40 Meatless Meals: Tips and Tricks

We won't be publishing Lenten recipes on Sundays, but as you plan your menus for the upcoming weeks, I thought I'd offer a few tips for converting some of your normal recipes to meatless:
  • Caramelize the onions: In recipes that start by sauteeing onions or garlic, cooking them until they begin to blacken adds flavor and color that might be lost in a meatless rendition. Roasting vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes before adding them to the dish also helps.
  • I've yet to find a recipe where vegetable stock can't be successfully substituted for other broths. For a healthier version than the canned ones, save the water you use to steam vegetables in your refrigerator (use a wine bottle or something opaque to help keep the vitamins intact--they don't like light). Add salt and herbs as needed, or just keep in mind that you'll need extra in the dishes it's used in. For the adventurous, pull out your food processor and try making your own vegetable bouillon!
  • Whole wheat pasta, flour, breads, and pizza crusts lend a richer flavor than their refined counterparts. If you're worried about substituting successfully, try White Whole Wheat Flour, which yields a lighter finished product than regular whole wheat, but with the same nutritional value. I wouldn't use it for very light pastries or cakes, but for things like breads, cookies, pancakes, etc., I've had no problem substituting this for all of the white flour in my recipes. Whole wheat flours also contain more protein, which reminds me:
  • Don't forget the protein! It's one thing to make up for the flavors lost from meat, but make sure you're getting the nutrients back in, too. Aside from vegetarian standards like tofu, try tossing in a handful of cashews or almonds with your green beans or carrots, use plain yogurt (or better yet, Greek yogurt) in your creamy sauces, add beans or nuts to your salads, and for the experienced cook, try thickening sauces (and even some soups) with eggs rather than flour or cornstarch. Dark green leafy vegetables and shellfish are great sources of the iron you may be missing, as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Tomato Basil Soup

1 medium onion
2 Tbsp butter
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato soup
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 8 oz package cream cheese, cubed

Saute onions in butter. Stir in tomatoes, soup, milk, and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer ten minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Church Lady Must-Read

If you've never read Alice von Hildbrand's book By Love Refined, you simply must. That's all there is to it. It's subtitled "Letters to a young bride," but don't let that stop you even if you can't consider yourself one of those. I first read it a couple years ago, and make it a habit to reread every six months or so. When my roommate recently asked me if I could recommend a good relationship book, I didn't hesitate to lend her my copy. A couple days later, I walked into our room to find her reading sections aloud to her boyfriend. She says it totally changed her view on their relationship, and I've found the same to be true for me and mine.

Every chapter deals with a different aspect of relationships (married, dating, friendship, just plain interpersonal), with practical and down-to-earth advice. Von Hildebrand understands the strengths and weaknesses of women, and how this affects relationships. She's a master of integrating the unique - but certainly different - gifts of men and women, and turning what could be a weakness into a strength. One passage that particularly sticks out in my mind is from the chapter involving those those four "lovely" words that we all know we shouldn't say but somehow can't help thinking: "I told you so."

Alice could have been writing to me personally when she writes,
No doubt when Michael embarks on a hopeless enterprise or is about to make a serious blunder, you must warn him. But if he ignores your warning, you have to let him make his own mistakes. Once the error has been made, your theme changes radically: it's definitely not to stress how wise you were to foresee the catastrophe. It's rather to use your gifts to lessen the consequences of the mishap and help Michael not to lose face. (He should do the same for you when you're the wrong-headed one.)....

Objectively there's very little sense in ever saying "I told you so," because by the time you say it, the culprit knows it full well himself.

(emphasis mine)

I highly encourage you to move this to the top of your reading list. Read it all at once, a chapter or two a day, or just pick out the chapters that seem applicable (you certainly don't need to read them in order). At two pages each, a chapter is the perfect length for a quick reminder when you need it.

40 Meatless Meals- Red Lentils, Yogurt Rice, & Roasted Brussel Sprouts

For 4:

Dahl (red lentils)
2 cups dried red lentils
2 garlic cloves, minced or 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
pinch of curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk

Place lentils in a pan and add enough water to cover. Cook on medium heat until tender; drain if necessary. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 T olive oil
3 cups fresh Brussels sprouts (or broccoli) , quartered
1 red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Grease baking dish with olive oil; spread vegetables evenly. Roast 25 minutes, or until crisply cooked. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Yogurt Rice
1 t oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t diced hot pepper or pepper flakes to taste
2 cups of rice, prepared
1 cup plain yogurt (not fat-free)
salt to taste
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely diced

Heat oil in large frying pan. Toast mustard seeds and pepper briefly; fold in rice and coat evenly. Mix in yogurt and heat through; taste for salt. Fold in fresh cilantro.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Fresh Tortillas, Guacamole, and Caprese Salad

Since finding this recipe for homemade tortillas last year, I have never bought them from the supermarket. That's because my East Coast supermarket lacks a tortilla lady in the bakery unlike the grocery stores of my Texas childhood. Avocados are in season in the spring; you can substitute cubed block mozzarella for the fresh.

Flour tortillas

3 avocados, mashed
splash of olive oil
juice of one lemon
pinch of diced fresh jalapenos
a couple cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin

Min all ingredients together. Let rest 5 minutes, then serve.

Tomato Mozzarella salad
1 tub of fresh mozarella or a block of mozarella, cubed
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or a couple large ones, cubed
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
a little basil if you have some

Toss all the ingredients together. Serves 4-6.

Discerning Your Vocation

I've been thinking about vocations lately--about the mysterious process of discerning, and how would I feel of one of my children were called to religious life, and how does one really know their choice is the right one, and about how many people there are who would firmly declare themselves t0 be Catholic, but don't even ask themselves the question, and I'm reading a piece of McInerny fiction where a number of people seem to have chosen poorly, and what am I supposed to do as a parent, and gee, those Dominican Sisters sure seemed to be happy (despite the fact that their choice is so very different than the one that has made me happy), and I have a number of young friends who are in the process of discernment right now. So, yes, I've been thinking about vocations lately.

I don't have too many answers, except the Catechism tells me that parents should encourage the vocation that is proper to each of their children, "fostering with special care any religious vocations," but it also emphatically states that adult children have the right and duty to choose for themselves and it then becomes a parent's duty to give advice and then respect their choices (which is a polite way of saying something that could be summed up in two words - butt out).

I also found this recent post with lots of really sound advice about the process of discernment and reminders that God will let you know His plan in His own time, when He thinks you're ready to hear it. Until then, pay attention to what God is calling you to do today.

Anyway, if you have any other great links on the topic, be sure to share them with us.

Thanks for listening, and keep praying for an increase in vocations.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Sunflower Squash Fritters

Squash fritters are a great meatless entree. You can serve them as you would tuna patties, or halve them and serve in a hoagie roll for a satisfying sandwich. This recipe is different from most in that you don't cook the squash first and that the fritters are pan-fried, rather than deep fried. An electric skillet makes the frying go quickly. They freeze well; separate them with waxed paper first.

For 2 fritters:

1 summer squash, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 red onion, finely chopped

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour
1 1/2-2 cups cornmeal
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
pinch of curry powder

Oil for frying

Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Press all the water out.

Combine the dry ingredients in a second bowl.

Add milk/egg to squash. Fold in flour, adding more cornmeal if necessary. Fry in skillet until golden brown on both sides.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lenten Reading

If your Lenten resolution involves more spiritual reading and you don't mind reading on your computer (or iPod, or phone, or whatever), check out this library of free PDFs. Some are familiar classics, and some I've never heard of.

(Link found via The Crescat)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Celebrating Sunday

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." [Jn 15, 10]

Turkey Neck Gumbo

About Celebrating Sunday

N.B. for all the Pious Men

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

-Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, '39

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Holy cards for Lent?

These lovely images, and 225 more, are available for you to use royalty-free for your church programs, holy cards, coloring book pages, prayer books, stationery ... oh, the possibilities! Thanks to those at New Liturgical Movement for this wonderful album!

Stamped with Episcopal Approval

Stamps are miniature documents of human history. They are the means by which a country gives sensible expression to its hopes and needs; its beliefs and ideals. They mirror the past and presage the future. They delineate cultural attainments, industrial works, domestic, civil, and social life. In a word, these vignettes give a vivid picture of the world, its occupants, and their multifarious endeavors. –Francis Cardinal Spellman

Last weekend, I unexpectedly toured the Cardinal Spellman Stamp Museum, featuring the collections of His Eminence and President Eisenhower. I admit, I was predisposed to like the place: as a young priest, Father Spellman was pastor of my parish and I have a connection to the women's religious order that once ran the museum. Cardinal Spellman was a great philatelist; the permanent collection features his own stamps, while the exhibitions change monthly.

This postcard was sent by one Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli (who became Pope Pius XII) to Cardinal Spellman's mother. What a great piece of history!

Giveaway winner

Congrats to Carmela James, whose comment was randomly chosen as the winner on our Lenten Resolution post. Carmela, shoot me an email at PSoChurchLadies (at) with your mailing address!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A cure for the winter blues

In the winter, there were bread and crumpets to be toasted in front of the fire and in the summer there were sardine sandwiches filled lavishly with raspberry jam or butter icing. Dolls were treated to a tea party too, from miniature sets of china... and in the nursery 'make-believe' went hand in hand with Garibaldi biscuits and cream fingers.

Although the green baize doors, nannies, and nursery maids have become a thing of the past, the practice of giving children a combined tea and supper still continues with sandwiches, cakes, and biscuits forming the main part of the meal.
[The Book of Afternoon Tea]

Wouldn't your Junior Church Ladies enjoy a tea party supper for a bit of fun on a cold winter's night? Here's a list of tea sandwich recipes for inspiration. Happy baking!

Image: Gianbattista Gigola, Portrait of the Daughters of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, 1807

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book Review: "The Gargoyle Code"

I recently received in the mail a copy of Fr. Dwight Longenecker's latest book, The Gargoyle Code. The cover bills it as "A book in the tradition of The Screwtape Letters," and that's what I found it to be - equally as challenging, engaging, and excellent as C.S. Lewis' classic. There is one key difference: it deals not only with "classic" sins and spiritual dilemmas, but also specifically modern problems (modern liturgies, reality television, etc.). Written as a series of letters from an experienced demon to his protege, this book details their strategies for leading souls astray, including spiritual laziness, bitterness, and criticism.

The book is divided into 40 chapters - generally 2-3 pages each - with one designated for each day of Lent. This makes it easy to fit into your schedule if you're too busy to read it all in one or two sittings (though that's also totally doable). Each day will challenge your spiritual life and habits, and ultimately lead you to Easter with lots to think about. The book is written in such a way that it's accessible and relevant to a broad audience: young and old, pious and less-so. Read it yourself and consider giving a copy to someone else. It may seem critical at times of conservatives, liberals, Anglicans, rad-trads, priests, men, and women, pointing out flaws and weaknesses. But then again, we're all targets of temptation, aren't we?

The Gargoyle Code can be purchased here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A modern take on Matthew 28:19

There are lots of things I've never done. I've never purchased a lottery ticket or spent money in a casino (not even for the cheap buffet), never watched American Idol (or Survivor, or the Bachelor, or any other "reality" show for that matter), or ever been in a bar fight. I've never smoked a cigar, never tried sky diving, never been arrested, never hitch-hiked, and never participated in a public event that involves less clothing than is considered decent by a reasonable moral standard (and three come to mind right off the top of my head).

One of my "nevers" may fall tomorrow though, as I'm almost tempted to watch Oprah for the first time in my life. In case you haven't heard, she will be featuring the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist on tomorrow's show. Of course, TV being what it is, she will also be featuring a "related" segment on what it's like to be a Geisha. Um, yeah.

The Anchoress shares her insights on what it is about our culture that would logically put these two topics together:
I guess Oprah’s “theme” here is that two rather “secret” lives are being looked into, but I do wonder at the mindset that puts Consecrated religious and Geisha on the same footing. Either one of these subjects could easily fill an hour’s worth of television, and by reducing them to 23 minute overviews, both features promise to be as penetrating as prop knives; superficial, shallow and sensationalistic.
It's worth reading the entire article.

I have no idea when it's on - check your local listings, and then I'd recommend you set your system to record it and fast forward through all the garbage when you watch it later.

Whether you plan to watch or not, the good Sisters are asking for your prayers that "God will bring much spiritual fruit out of this experience." That's something we all can do! God bless the Sisters for their bold witness and their willingness to go out into ALL the world to preach the Gospel. May they never stop!

Actually, it looks like I live a pretty sheltered life. J

I hereby resolve, with the help of Your grace...

Lent is fast approaching and if you're anything like me, you did a double-take just now when you realized it. Rather than waking up on Ash Wednesday in a panic because you still don't know what you're giving up this Lent, let's help each other out a little. Leave a comment related to your (or someone else's) resolutions. What are you giving up this year? What's the most creative thing you've ever heard of someone doing for Lent?

As incentive, one commenter - chosen randomly - will win a copy of The Gift of the Cross: Lenten Reflections in the Holy Cross Tradition. So comment away - let's help each other out. Just be sure you chime in before Wednesday at 11:59 pm.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I don't get it

What could possibly be offensive here?

Celebrating Sunday

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Welcome to a new Church Lady initiative. Celebrating Sunday, the Lord's Day, is a topic near and dear to the heart of your Church Ladies. In this weekly series we will share a short meditation or reflection and an easy, one-pot dinner recipe, because Sunday should be a day of rest for the lady of the house. Please share tested recipes and your family's traditions in the combox or via email.

Hallmarks of Sunday dinner at my house are:
-using my wedding china and silver
-following the Eastern European tradition of lighting a candle before an image of the Trinity
-Praying Evening Prayer after dinner

Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD. [Ex 35, 2]

Last Sunday I made Crock-pot Split Pea soup. I added a bay leaf and some thyme, and found the lentils and vegetables were so smooth I didn't need to puree it. With Superbowl Sunday, I'm making chili.

Lucy's Blue-Ribbon Southwestern Chili
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 t cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
2 beef bouillon cubes
Kitchen bonnet

In a stockpot, sautee onions and garlic. Add turkey, cook until brown; drain fat. At this state, you can transfer to a Crock-pot, or keep going on the stove. Stir spices in to the meat, then add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 3 hours. (NB: If you use the stove, you might need to add more water at intervals.)
Coming tomorrow - the first ever Church Lady giveaway post (at least as far as I know)! Be sure to check back in the morning!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

C.L. Hint of the Day: Perfect tablecloths

To iron your whole tablecloth easily, pull your ironing board parallel to the table. With the minimum amount on the board, iron it, then pull it on to the table, flat. Keep ironing the material and adjusting it across until you're done. Voila! No wrinkles, little turning, and a freshly pressed cloth.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tis the Season: Spring Interview Season

The Church Ladies have professional experience in a number of fields including, but not limited to: parish and diocesan administration, the non-profit sector, education, the arts, and architecture/engineering. We believe that women bring a unique perspective and much needed voice to the workplace.

My job has always had a strong geographical commitment, so as a result, at less than 5 years after graduation, I have been on over 100 interviews. As spring interview season and job fairs approach, I'd like to share some tips that I've gleaned through the years (including the memorable spring break of my senior year at Our Lady's University, which seemed to be spent entirely on the Metro-North railroad).

-See if your field has a professional organization website with job postings.

-If you are looking for a job in a faith-based context, check out, the diocesan website, or the local Catholic Charities website. It might not hurt to call over to HR with the latter two; some places don't keep their websites up to date. If you are interested in education, call the Catholic Schools Office of the diocese.

-For other nonprofit jobs, check out

-For jobs in higher ed, I strongly recommend HERC. Smaller institutions might belong to independent consortiums, so google "independent colleges" and your area.

-Word of mouth is great. Ask, ask ask.

-Take advantage of your alumni connections. Our Lady's University is very good about facilitating networking. If you are still in school, ask if your department maintains a list of alumni and their professional connections.

-Narrowly focused job fairs, such as those set up to specifically recruit students from your school/ school's department- can be rewarding. In my experience, smaller is better, excepting fields that hire a lot of employees, like public education.

-Schedule your interviews at least 3 hours apart. I have had good interviews that lasted from 15 minutes to 2 hours and counting. You never know.

-Check out my earlier post on buying a good dark suit.

-If you are interviewing at several offices over a few days, consider buying a second suit. Depending on your complexion, I'd recommend grey, navy, or chocolate brown. Pick shirts or camis that can go with both suits.

-If your interviews include trudging through spring slush, consider investing in a pair of dressier walking boots you can keep on during your interview, or trade out for your dress pumps if you would rather.

-A stylish briefcase/large purse makes a good first impression. It should be big enough to fit a ring binder inside. Interior pockets are a plus for your wallet, keys, etc.

-Lightly apply make-up and cologne.

-Unless you are interviewing at a parish or chancery, swap out your religious jewelry for the Church Lady Classic, a string of pearls. Modern HR policy forbids discrimination on religious grounds, but you can never tell what will set someone off. You can be an example of the faith- after you get the job.

-Have a small emergency kit: clear nail polish (for runs in stockings), stain stick, safety pins, umbrella, headache remedy, and gum/mints.

-Interview season may be the first time you have been in a metro area alone. Be safe.

-Make an index card for every interview with: date/time, the name of organization, address, interviewer, phone number, and brief summary of the organization. When your GPS picks the wrong one of six highways named after Boston's Irish bishops, you'll be glad to have a direct contact. If taking public transportation, note the nearby stations and schedules. Keep this card in your coat pocket for easy reference.

-Someone should know where you are. Share a list of interview locations and times with a parent or roommate.

-Don't talk about your travel plans in public.

-Bring your charged cell-phone, but turn the ringer off.

-Sole proprietorships can offer a more flexible work week and a wider professional experience. But go with your gut here. If you feel uncomfortable with the proprietor, or the office is very remotely located, don't take the job.

-Confirm your interview a few days ahead of time.

-Print off extra copies of your resume, at least one for each interview. I know you emailed it to them already... but they misplaced it. Or gave it to a colleague for review. Their kid drew on it. The dog puked on it. Don't take it personally. Have another to hand out.

-Consider having business cards made.

-Arrange your documents in a ring binder or folio. Check that your portfolio is up to date.

-Print off the company's home-page and list of recent ventures. Talking about these expresses your genuine interest in the organization.

-Think of creative ways to describe some of your faith-based activities for the public sphere. You led a book-study? Translation: Experience facilitating small groups.

-I strongly recommend reading Drucker's "What NonProfits are Teaching Business."

-Arrive early.

-Speak clearly and cheerfully.

-If asked about a skill you lack, express your willingness to learn.

-Send a thank you note promptly. Use professional stationery.

-Follow-up as necessary. It can take longer than you think for some hiring decisions to be made.

Good Luck! The Church Ladies are praying for you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My favorite thing

If Therese's favorite appliance is her kitchen scale, mine is definitely my stand mixer. I use it most often for making pizza, but the homemade bread, pastries, turn-overs, and Chinese dumplings have let me make home-made convenience foods for less money and better nutrition than store-bought products. Icing and whipped cream stay much fluffier; meringues are a snap. The construction is solid and powerful.

The attachments connect right into the mixer proper, so you don't end up with a series of stand-alones. Options include a pasta roller/cutter, ice-cream maker, food mill, and more.

The biggest down-side to a stand mixer is the cost. I was lucky; the department store my wedding china came from offered a 5% gift card of the total registry purchases, so I paid less than $20 for Max the Mixer. But between Black Friday sales, Craigslist, and manufacturer rebates you might be able to score a deal.

Happy mixing!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Holy Father's Homily on the Day for Consecrated Life

The purpose of this day is threefold: first of all to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; in the second place, to promote the knowledge and appreciation by all the People of God; finally, to invite all those who have fully dedicated their life to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the marvels that the Lord has operated in them.

In reality, it is properly and only from this faith, from this profession of faith in Jesus Christ, the only and definitive Mediator, that consecrated life has meaning in the Church, a life consecrated to God through Christ. It has meaning only if he is truly Mediator between God and us, otherwise it would only be a form of sublimation or evasion.

Full of trust and gratitude, let us then also renew the gesture of the total offering of ourselves, presenting ourselves in the Temple. May the Year for Priests be a further occasion, for priests religious to intensify the journey of sanctification, and for all consecrated men and women, a stimulus to support and sustain their ministry with fervent prayer.

[Full homily]

A Valentine's Day Challenge

We Church Ladies tend to be big fans of the Corporal Works of Mercy (go figure). Personally, I like them so much that I'll sometimes expand the list a little. After reading this challenge, I'm tempted to add "Send Valentines to the lonely" to my canon of tasks. Go read the post, and I guarantee someone will spring to mind immediately. Dash off a little heartfelt note - along with, if appropriate, some chocolate - and brighten someone's day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Reader Asks:

  1. How tall should the monogram be for a man's handkerchief?
  2. What stitch do you recommend for forming the monogram? The monograms in today's picture look like machine embroidery.
  3. Any recommendation for fonts and colors?
My suggestions:
  1. The height can vary. I guess I'd go with something about 1/2-5/8". That would depend on your overall design though. The round design in the photo is bigger. I'm inclined to smaller monograms, but I've seen purchased handkerchiefs with a single initial that's almost an inch high.
  2. Those pictured are definitely machine embroidered. For hand embroidery, I'd recommend using a satin stitch with a single strand of floss for most monograms. You might want to use a back stitch for very narrow areas and thin lines. I like to use an embroidery hoop to keep everything stretched tight; it always gets pucker-y for me if I don't.
  3. Colors: navy, grey, maroon, black, and cadet blue are all classics. If I were making one for my son, however, I would be tempted to use bright red. (He's kind of a flashy dresser. :-) Fonts: I worked out a few examples below. (Click on the image to make it bigger.) If the directions aren't clear, just put your questions in the comment box. I used Microsoft Publisher for the WordArt features to make the funky shapes. You might be able to do it on MS Word also, but I'm not as familiar with that program.

A gift for your beloved

It's February and you know what that means ... time to think about Valentine's Day! Happily, it comes before Ash Wednesday this year so you can celebrate as elaborately as you'd like.

If you didn't make some of these as Christmas gifts, this might be just the idea you're looking for to show how much you appreciate him. It's handmade by you, especially for him, and sends a nice message about qualities you may appreciate in a man: chivalry, thoughtfulness, and practicality.

This post from the Art of Manliness may be just the motivation he needs to carry a handkerchief:
But the best reason to carry a handkerchief has nothing to do with you. It’s the chance to lend it to others that’s commends this practice the most. Be sure to put one in your pocket when you go see a tear-jerker movie with your girlfriend or accompany your wife to a funeral. When women are feeling vulnerable, they’ll really appreciate your offer of a soft hankie. It’s a gallant and chivalrous gesture; there’s just something comforting about it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Waste not, want not

"Anne's a good housekeeper," she said to Marilla in the spare room the night of their arrival. "I've looked into her breadbox and her scrap pail. I always judge a housekeeper by those, that's what. There's nothing in the pail that shouldn't have been thrown away, and no stale pieces in the bread-box. Of course, she was trained up with you, but then she went away to college afterward." [Anne's House of Dreams, L.M. Montgomery]

Stop! Don't throw that away! That last bit of dinner not big enough for anything, the lone carrot in the crisper, the ends of your bread loaves, stale cracker crumbs. The sum is greater than the parts, and the savings do add up.

All of these odds and ends can be re-purposed if one has the foresight to freeze them before they spoil. Depending on the the size of your family and your freezer space, you will need freezer bags or containers. When I was single I used quart bags; a mixture of quart and gallon bags now better fits my needs.

Freezer Soup
"Have all the good bits of vegetables and meat collected after dinner and minced before they are set away; that they may be in readiness to make a little savoury for supper or breakfast."
[The American Frugal Housewife, 1829]

I've tweaked the Tightwad Gazette's Freezer Soup a bit. Instead of one container into which all scraps go willy-nilly, I have three themed bags. It takes a little longer to accumulate left-overs, but the results are far more palatable.

Get in touch with your inner Italian- make minestrone from leftovers. This bag is for your most robust vegetables, like zucchini, bell peppers, or tomatoes. Odd bits of beans, pasta, rice, and lentils find their home here. Don't let that half used can of tomato paste languish in the back of the fridge- scrape it in. I keep this bag meatless.

Bones (like thighs and drumsticks) get frozen for pot-au-feu broth. In separate bag go vegetables such as peas, carrots, or unseasoned potatoes to be stirred in the soup.

Ditto for beef. Save the bones for broth. The deeper flavor of beef means you can get away with saving vegetables or other bits cooked in a flavored sauce here. Root vegetables are a natural fit, and I usually add some barley to the finished soup.

"Above all, do not let crusts accumulate in such quantities that they cannot be used. With proper care, there is no need of losing a particle of bread, even in the hottest months." [The American Frugal Housewife, 1829]

You might be surprised how quickly all the loaf ends and stale bread add up. Just cube the old bread before putting it in the freezer. When you have enough to fill a terrine, toss it with a pinch of sage or tarragon, a little melted butter, some chopped onion, and enough stock to moisten it before baking it in the greased dish at 325 for 30 minutes, covering to start and finishing uncovered.

You can also crush stale bread for great bread crumbs.

Cracker crumbs
Excellent for breading chicken or fish. Substitute for bread crumbs in your favorite recipe.

Pork bones
Are saved for a top-secret Church Ladies' purpose!

Image source: Crespi, The Scullery Maid

The Official Stamp of Church Ladies

With this stamp, the U.S. Postal Service recognizes Mother Teresa, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years. Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.

[full USPS press release]

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for February

General Intention: Scholars
For all scholars and intellectuals, that by means of sincere search for the truth they may arrive at an understanding of the one true God.
Missionary Intention: The Church’s Missionary Identity
That the Church, aware of its own missionary identity, may strive to follow Christ faithfully and to proclaim His Gospel to all peoples.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.