Wednesday, March 31, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Portabella Sandwiches

Marinade (enough for 6 large portabella caps):
1 cup balsamic vinegar (you may also substitute part white wine or other good-tasting vinegar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

For each sandwich:
toasted hamburger bun or roll
cheese (Swiss is a good choice)
caramelized onions

Marinade the mushroom caps for at least one hour. Grill (or pan-fry) for 5 minutes or until tender. Build your sandwiches like a burger and enjoy!

Notes: I highly recommend grilling the mushrooms if you are able, it adds a nice flavor. One thing to keep in mind is that the mushrooms are rather like sponges: as soon as you squeeze them (say, to bite into the sandwich), a lot of the juices squeeze out and into the bottom bun. So, if you don't like soggy buns, you might try broiling the cheese onto the bottom bun, or putting the lettuce on the bottom to protect that bun. At any rate, it's a juicy sandwich, so keep those napkins handy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Holy Week...

... do you know where your Easter dress is?

This has been a Church Lady Public Service Announcement.

40 Meatless Meals: Quinoa Risotto with Broccoli Pesto

adapted from this source

5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
3 medium garlic cloves
2/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted (divided)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 big pinches salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream

1 c. uncooked quinoa*
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
3/4 c. white wine
3-4c. clear liquids, as described below

Steam the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge off; reserve the water from steaming. Transfer the broccoli to a strainer and run under cold water until it stops cooking.

To make the broccoli pesto puree two cups of the cooked broccoli, the garlic, 1/2 cup of the almonds, Parmesan, salt, and lemon juice in a food processor (or use an immersion blender). Add the olive oil and cream bit at a time until the desired texture is reached.

Heat the oil and butter in a dutch oven or a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the quinoa and stir for a few minutes until the grains are shiny and fragrant. Add the wine, and cook, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed. Continue to add the reserved cooking water from the broccoli, vegetable stock, and/or water 1/2 c. at a time, stirring until absorbed. After most of the liquid has been used, start taste-testing the grains for doneness and season as desired.

Toss the quinoa and remaining broccoli with the pesto, starting with about half the pesto and adding more until the desired texture is reached. Top with more almonds and Parmesan if desired.

*Quinoa is a grain that is available in natural foods stores. You can also substitute various rices and grains in this recipe. Arborio rice, of course, works well when cooked with this method, and other grains may be cooked according to their package directions and used with this sauce.

Monday, March 29, 2010

40 Meatless Meals - Black-eyed Pea Cakes and Cauliflower Gratin

Black-eyed pea cakes and Cauliflower Gratin (minus the recommended horseradish)

Beauty for Beauty's Sake

The Spring/Summer Issue of Knitty has a feature on knitted lace edgings perfect for hankies.

40 Meatless Meals - Double Spinach Pasta

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb fresh spinach, wilted, or one block of frozen spinach, cooked and thoroughly drained
2 cups white sauce
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/2 c parmesan cheese

8 oz dried spinach pasta

Press all the liquid out of the spinach. Fold into sauce; stir in nutmeg and cheese and cook until heated through. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Toss noodles with sauce and serve.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"He is not here"

In case you're one of those people who like to inject little lessons on the Faith into everyday life (or you happen to appreciate a bit of bad humor), you might like to join my family's tradition of enjoying cream puffs after Mass on Easter Vigil.

I ask you to use your imagination -a cream puff will be your reward at the end, so work with me here! The lesson comes from the structure of the bread; it's round - a little like a cave shape, and like the original Easter surprise, it's empty inside! The pun comes from the delicious filling piped into the center. Again, like the tomb on Easter morning your little caves are filled with something unexpected - the "odor of sanctity." I know, it's a stretch, but we like it, and it's a great excuse to make cream puffs.

This is one of those recipes that's easy to make but people are always impressed to learn you've done it yourself. In the cooking world this pastry is known as Pate au Choux.

Pastry Recipe:
1 cup water
3 ounces butter (unsalted, if it's available)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/3 cup flour (bread flour, if you have it)
4 large eggs
1 or 2 large egg whites

Yield: Not enough. Make a double batch.
Just kidding - it makes about 4 dozen. But they're small so consider yourself warned.

1 box of vanilla pudding made with 3/4 of the milk called for on the box so it's a little thicker than usual.

In a saucepan -Melt butter in water.
Add flour and stir vigorously with a whisk until ball forms or pulls away from sides of pan.
Remove from heat.

Cool slightly.
With an electric mixer, beat in eggs, one at a time.
Beat for about a minute until it looks glossy but no longer wet.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
I used a #60 food scoop, capacity- 1 tablespoon.
You can reuse the same sheet of parchment several times.
Bake at 400 º for 20 minutes.

Cool and use a pastry bag and piping tip to fill the breads.

Notes—bake until thoroughly browned and they will not flatten when cool. They keep their nice texture and height even when made a day ahead of time. I keep multiple baking sheets going at a time so I always have a cool one to put the next batch of batter onto. The breads can be made ahead of time and frozen. Do not fill until the day you'll serve them.

If you'd like to see this demonstrated, watch this two part lesson from the always entertaining Alton Brown:

Celebrating Sunday: Palm Sunday edition

"On the eve of Passion Sunday, all the statues, crucifixes, and paintings in the abbey were veiled in purple, and for Palm Sunday, palms, real ones, were blessed, the echo of those long-ago hosannas in Jerusalem. Then it was Holy Week and the glory and hope of Easter."
[Rumer Godden, In this House of Brede]

Maple Dijon Chicken

Or, if you're feeling POD, try Palm Sunday Pasta.

Also check out these darling Fig Bible Cupcakes at Catholic Cuisine.

About Celebrating Sunday

Saturday, March 27, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Creamy Lentil Soup

This was a cleaning out the refrigerator soup that turned out pretty well.

1/2 cup dried red lentils
8 cups of vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 cup hummus
1 cup cooked pasta

Cook red lentils in enough water to cover them until tender. Stir in stock and hummus; add bay leaf and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in pasta and cook until heated through. Serves 4-6.

Friday, March 26, 2010

And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as you will. Matthew 26:39

My mother, in lieu of a picture of her Lenten Wreath, sent me this picture of her home altar - the fireplace mantle in the family room.

Will you share your home altars and prayer corners with us?

Join our Flickr Group and add your photos!

40 Meatless Meals: Asparagus Casserole

After Easter, make the original version to use up your extra ham. For now, substitute sauteed leeks for the ham, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Stations of the Cross for Children

For this Friday's prayer, the Church Ladies invite you to pray with a child (or with child-like faith) as you consider these meditations from the Passionist Missionaries.

Image Credit: St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion by Fra Angelico

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The whole world awaits Mary's reply

From the Office of Readings on December 20:

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

-Saint Bernard

Image Credit: Domenico Beccafumi

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Tis the Season

to learn how to braid palms!

If you've never tried it before, I'd recommend learning a little ahead of time. My son and I attended a youth group activity night recently where we had a chance to learn some basics by practicing on paper cut into strips about 3/4 inch by 17 inches.

Be it done unto me according to your word

Are there special graces given for praying the first Joyful Mystery on the feast of the Annunciation? Probably only if I'm also visiting a parish of that name, but even so I have faithfully added this decade to my daily prayer routine for the past year or so.

It started with friends who were in the midst of some serious discernment about their relationship, and I just wanted to pray for them in a more focused way. For some reason I decided the first Joyful Mystery is this perfect framework. Every day it plays out a little differently, depending on the current needs and issues, but essentially it goes like this:

An Angel came to Mary to deliver a message
  • In art, Mary is almost always portrayed as being in prayer or studying God's Word at the time of the Annunciation. I pray that my friends focus on their faith lives first, and that they are using their time well, in complete trust that God will answer in His time. (Until then, they are still individuals with obligations and blessings to be found in their current vocational state.)
  • I ask that they be open to all the messengers God is sending to them. Surely God is always speaking to us all! In their case I imagine God is sending messages through parents, siblings, friends, circumstances, the words and signals each gives to the other, and so on.
  • I pray that these messengers (me included) take this responsibility seriously and am also praying for guidance that our advice would be sound and based on God's will (and hopefully free from personal bias).
  • I pray my friends have ears to hear all these messages, to sort through them with wisdom, and to discern their meaning correctly.
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
  • Mary had a sure sense of who she was. She had no idea of the details, and at that point the plan didn't even make sense, but she knew above all that she was a Church Lady (I had to add that ;-) and she trusted her Beloved unconditionally. I pray that my friends also know themselves well enough to maintain that kind of focus.
May it be done to me according to your word."
  • "Thy will be done" can be the hardest four words in a prayer, especially when the outcome you want is so clear. I pray that they are both able to set aside personal hopes and dreams and be completely docile to God's will, sure that the greatest joy will be found there. (This is the part of the prayer that's evolved the most as the path has become more and more clear over the past year.)
Mary obeyed faithfully and went on with her life
  • I ask that once they have clear direction, they can move forward confidently. Mary's life teaches the important fact that knowing your direction does not mean the obstacles are eliminated (or even lessened in some cases), but that sense of knowing makes action so much easier!
If you're interested in seeing more Annunciation images, be sure to look at Gianna's posts under our Advent label.

On a only slightly related note, the fresco is from the convent at San Marco in Florence, Italy, where each monastic cell features a different Fra Angelico scene from the life of Christ. It's now a museum, but if ever I were in Florence, I'd gladly spend time on retreat in one of the cells. This Last Supper by Ghirlandaio adorns what is currently the bookstore. You can read more about it here, and here.
Image credit: Web Gallery of Art

40 Meatless Meals: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

1 medium head cauliflower, cut in little flowerets
1/4 c butter
1/2 c chopped onion
2 tbls flour
2 c vegetarian broth
2 c light cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp salt (if necessary - see note)
1 c grated cheddar

Cook cauliflower in boiling water; drain, reserving 1 c liquid.

Melt butter. Add onion and cook until soft. Blend in flour; add broth, and cook, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Add cauliflower water, cream (milk), Worcestershire sauce and salt. Add cauliflower and heat to scalding. Stir in cheese.

Yield: 2 quarts
Source: Original recipe was from 1972 Farm Journal Cookbook
Notes: Velveeta is a good melty substitute for the cheddar but omit the salt if you use it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Roasted Vegetable Pasta

2 lbs sliced vegetables (zucchini, corn, peppers, tomatoes, etc)
4 garlic cloves
1 sliced jalapeno (optional)
1/4 c olive oil
8 oz dry pasta
1/2 cup fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Grease an oven safe casserole dish with olive oil. Scatter vegetables (and jalapeno, if desired) on the bottom of the pan. Roast 20-30 minutes, or until tender.

Prepare pasta; drain. Toss pasta and remaining ingredients with vegetables; serve warm or cold.

Serves 4.

Monday, March 22, 2010

St Joseph's Table 2010

On Saturday, my family held its annual St Joseph's Table. We had a nice group of attendees, including a Sister of Saint Joseph.

The altar was constructed with the traditional three tiers. On the first tier was donations fuests generously brought for a local Catholic food pantry. Adorning the altar were two statues of St Joseph, a vigil candle, and holy cards.

I made Sicilian caponata (eggplant relish), ciabatta bread (shaped like St Joseph's slipper), a white bean and tomato salad, spaghetti and meat sauce, and zeppole. The altar was blessed, then we enjoyed dinner at a table decorated with lilies and red, white, and green linens.

Carrying on this tradition is important. One of the most important American developments of the last 60 years is shifting away from ethnic parishes to understanding that the Church is global. At the same time, this should not come at the loss of some forms of popular piety or a sense of forced homogeneity. Just as the Gospel was first given to a small group of people and then spread to all creation, so must certain traditions or they will be lost. The message of the St Joseph's table is universal: thanksgiving for God's providence opens our hearts to recognize our brothers and sisters in need.

Lucy's Zeppole
1/2 cup butter
1 cup boiling water
1 T sugar
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1 t salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

vanilla instant pudding, prepared with milk and 1 T cognac infused with orange zest
powdered sugar
raspberry jam

Melt butter in a large, deep pot. Stir in sugar, zests, and water. Stir in all the salt and flour at once. Continue stirring until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat and let cool briefly. Add each egg individually, beating well (I used an electric hand-mixer at this point). Let mixture rest 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450. Pipe pastry onto well buttered baking trays using a pastry bag or cookie press. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden. Loosen from tray; let cool thoroughly.

Immediately prior to serving, slit the puffs open and fill with pudding. Dust the top with powdered sugar and garnish with a small spoon of raspberry jam on top.

Makes twelve 2-1/2" zeppole.

40 Meatless Meals - Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Mustard Croutons


5-6 ounces of whole wheat bread, torn into 1-inch pieces, roughly 3 cups total
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large bowl, whisk the mustard and salt into the butter and add the bread. Toss well, then turn onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy, stirring once or twice while baking.

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped*
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
2/3 cup freshly grated Cheddar, plus more for topping
1 - 3 teaspoons brown mustard, to taste
smoked paprika, more olive oil (optional)

Melt the butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute for a couple minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, just long enough for them to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil. Once potatoes are tender, stir in the broccoli. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is tender, 2 - 4 minutes.

Remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add half the cheddar cheese and the mustard (a little bit a a time), as well as more water or broth if the soup is too thick.

Serve sprinkled with croutons, the remaining cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.

Serves 4 - 6

Note: I substituted a large leek for both the shallots and the onion, and it worked quite well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Keeping the Lord's Day Holy

Saint Patrick’s Day Letter to the Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan

17 March 2010

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Archdiocese of New York!

This is the day which the Lord has made,

let us be glad and rejoice in it! (Psalm 118:24)

I have been eagerly looking forward to my first St. Patrick’s Day as the Archbishop of New York – there are few places that celebrate it as we do here. We observe it with the Mass, parades, festivals and maybe even the pouring of a celebratory pint! All that is good, for Saint Patrick is the patron saint of the entire archdiocese, from the cathedral in Manhattan to the upstate counties. We take pride in him and celebrate him. We ask for Saint Patrick’s intercession, that with the benefit of his prayers we may be the Catholics we ought to be.

St. Patrick’s Day is always a grand day in New York. While we can enjoy the green beer and shamrocks, it should not be a merely superficial feast for us. It should be a day of particular prayer, commending to St. Patrick the archdiocese, our parishes, our hospitals and schools, and all those who are close to us – our families, our friends, and especially anyone who is suffering. We should pray for our own growth in virtue and holiness.

It is also a good occasion to look at how we are living the Catholic faith that has been handed on to us by so many generations – for some, the faith can be traced all the way back to St. Patrick himself! Might I suggest that we look together at one important aspect of living our Catholic faith, namely the Lord’s Day?

Since my arrival in New York I have been asked about many subjects of public controversy. I have tried to answer as best I could, considering all questions as opportunities to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the daily demands of urgent items can mean that truly important matters are not emphasized. Can anyone doubt that Sunday, our observance of the Lord’s Day, is essential for the Catholic Church, for the vibrancy of our Catholic faith, for the clarity of our Catholic identity?

We Need Sunday Mass!

In a Catholic New York column, I mentioned that I received a Christmas card from an old friend a few months back, with the usual annual update of family news. The year previous, in 2008, his card had brought good news: he had landed a very prestigious and high-paying job as a geologist — the profession he cherished — at a mining exploration company in Montana. I was so happy for him, a friend since high school. He had explained in his card that the job was three weeks at a time, in a very isolated area of the mountains, then a week back home in Illinois with his wife and three children. He regretted being away, but he and his wife had agreed this career opportunity was well worth it.

Then came this year’s Christmas card with the news he had quit that job! Was it the money? Hardly, the card explained, since the salary was exceptional. Lack of challenge? Just the opposite, the news went on, as he really enjoyed the work. Why, then, had he quit?

Listen to this: “I missed my wife and kids, and I missed Sunday Mass. Up in the mountains, at the site, we were over a hundred miles from the nearest Catholic church, so I could only go to Mass one Sunday a month, when I was home. The job — as much as I loved it — was ruining my marriage, my family, and my faith. It had to go!”

Talk about an inspirational Christmas card!

The power, the meaning, the beauty, the necessity of Sunday Mass … Just ask my friend.

Anybody fifty or older can remember when faithful attendance at Sunday Mass was the norm for all Catholics. To miss Sunday Eucharist, unless you were sick, was unheard of. To be a “practicing Catholic” meant you were at Mass every Sunday. Over 75% of Catholics went to Mass every Sunday.

That should still be the case. Sadly, it is not. Now, the studies tell us, only one-third of us go weekly, perhaps even less in some areas of the archdiocese.

If you want your faith to wither up and die, quit going to Sunday Mass. As the body will die without food, the soul will expire without nourishment. That sustenance comes at the Sunday Eucharist.

How’s this for a resolution for St. Patrick’s Day? Make Mass the centre of your Sunday!

The Sabbath as a Gift to the Jews and from the Jews

One of the joys of being Archbishop of New York is the close contact I have with our “elder brothers in the faith” – to use the wonderful phrase of the Pope John Paul II about the Jewish people. Catholics and Jews work, live, and pray together in this city as they are able to do in very few other places around the world. The welcome the Jewish people have given me here in New York has been a true blessing.

We can learn from each other, and one lesson that the elder brothers can teach the younger brothers is the importance of the Sabbath. Observance of the Sabbath is now, and has been since time immemorial, a constitutive part of being a Jew. Even if many Jews today, like Catholics, no longer observe the Sabbath, it remains a distinctive mark of identity.

The Sabbath is a gift from the Jews to the religious patrimony of the human race. What lies at the heart of this gift? It is our one protest against the tyranny of time. Or perhaps it would be better to say that it is our one refuge from the ravages of time. Or perhaps better still: It is our sanctuary from the daily, petty concerns which can easily fill up every available moment.

New York was home to one of the great rabbi scholars of the twentieth century, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – an important contributing voice to the progress the Second Vatican Council made in our relations with the Jewish people. One of his most famous books was called simply, The Sabbath. His argument there, still fresh after almost 60 years, is that Judaism is a religion of time more than it is a religion of space. Humans can conquer space, but we are powerless before time. Words from the epilogue of that justly famous book are worth quoting at length:

“Technical civilization is man’s triumph over space. Yet time remains impervious. We can overcome distance but can neither recapture the past nor dig out the future. Man transcends space, and time transcends man. Time is man’s greatest challenge. We all take part in a procession through its realm which never comes to an end but are unable to gain a foothold in it. Its reality is apart and way from us. Space is exposed to our will; we may shape and change the things in space as we please. Time, however, is beyond our reach, beyond our power. It is both near and far, intrinsic to all experience and transcending all experience. It belongs exclusively to God.”

“Time is the process of creation, and things of space are results of creation. When looking at space we see the products of creation; when intuiting time we hear the process of creation. … Things created conceal the Creator. It is the dimension of time wherein man meets God…. On the Sabbath it is given us to share in the holiness that is in the heart of time. Even when the soul is seared, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats, the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath leads us to a realm of endless peace, or to the beginning of an awareness of what eternity means. There are few ideas in world of thought which contain so much spiritual power as the idea of the Sabbath.”

The power of the Sabbath! Rabbi Heschel makes the point in great depth, but the experience he speaks of is an ordinary one. It’s the daily grind – we work in the world of space, moving here and there, doing this and that. And then we do it again. And again. The Sabbath breaks though this repetition and inserts something altogether new – the taste of rest, a taste of peace, a taste of eternity. Of this Sacred Scripture speaks: there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10).

In recapturing our sense of Sunday, of the Christian Sabbath, it is important to grasp this key point, that the Sabbath rest is our liberation from the profane and our encounter with the sacred. The Sabbath is not rest so that we can work harder. Listen again to Rabbi Heschel:

“The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.. .. The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude, but the climax of living.”

Living for Sunday

Are we Catholics then living for Sunday? I am afraid if you were to ask someone today whether he lives for Sunday, he might think that you are asking whether he is a football fan!

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up in a family where no sooner were we home from Mass on Sunday than my father was putting the beer in the cooler and looking forward to the baseball game and a barbecue. But that was after we got home from Sunday Mass!

Do we Catholics think that Sunday is the “climax of living”? Do we look forward to Sunday as a day dedicated to the Lord which gives meaning and purpose to our whole week? Or have we become accustomed to a weekend mentality, wherein we sleep late, catch up on chores around the house, run errands, drive the kids to sports, do a little recreation and then fit Sunday Mass in between everything else, if at all?

Pope John Paul II, in an apostolic letter entitled Dies Domini (The Lord’s Day) wrote about the difference between the weekend mentality and a proper Christian Sunday observance.

“The custom of the ‘weekend’ has become more widespread, a weekly period of respite, spent perhaps far from home and often involving participation in cultural, political or sporting activities which are usually held on free days. This social and cultural phenomenon is by no means without its positive aspects if, while respecting true values, it can contribute to people’s development and to the advancement of the life of society as a whole. All of this responds not only to the need for rest, but also to the need for celebration which is inherent in our humanity. Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a ‘weekend’, it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see the heavens. Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so. The disciples of Christ, however, are asked to avoid any confusion between the celebration of Sunday, which should truly be a way of keeping the Lord’s Day holy, and the ‘weekend’, understood as a time of simple rest and relaxation.” (Dies Domini, #4)

As the pace of life quickens, we are in danger of losing weekend rest, let alone true Sabbath rest. So often our weekends have become periods of intense activity – some people might even find it a relief to get back to the regular routine on Monday morning after a frenetic weekend. In such an environment, we need Sunday all the more, to enter into the Sabbath rest of God, to worship Him, and to realize that our salvation comes not from the many good things we do, but from what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

The Church and Sunday

In that letter Dies Domini, Pope John Paul II speaks of Sunday as not only the Lord’s Day, but as the “Day of the Church”. Just as the Sabbath – the seventh day of God’s rest – united the Jewish people and marked the covenant, Sunday expresses what most unites us as disciples of Jesus Christ. We proclaim the Risen Christ, and so our time is marked by Sunday, the first day of the week, the first day of a new creation, the day of a new covenant.

The link between the covenant with Moses and the Sabbath is explicit. After all, the Third Commandment requires us to keep holy the Sabbath. No one would argue that commandments against killing, adultery or lying are optional for Christians. The Sabbath commandment comes before them. It is at the heart of the covenant God made with Moses, shaping the Chosen People. It should be no less for us Christians, with whom God has made a new covenant in Jesus Christ. Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made this point with his customary insight:

“The account of creation and the Sinai regulations about the Sabbath come from the same source. To understand the account of creation properly, one has to read the Sabbath ordinances of the Torah. Then everything becomes clear. The Sabbath is the sign of the covenant between God and man; it sums up the inward essence of the covenant. If this is so, we can now define the intention of the account of creation as follows: creation exists to be a place for the covenant God wants to make with man. The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and man. The freedom and equality of men, which the Sabbath is meant to bring about, is not a merely anthropological or sociological vision; it can only be understood theo-logically. Only when man is in covenant with God does he become free.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 26.)

The goal of creation is the covenant! The reason anything exists at all is because God wanted to make a covenant with His people. And if the crown of creation is God’s covenant, how does this act in history remain a present reality? The Sabbath keeps it alive, inserting continually in history the saving work of the Lord, revealing that history in its true depth is the story of God loving, saving, redeeming and sanctifying His people!

Sunday Mass

The idea of the Sabbath making present the covenant reminds us Catholics immediately of the Mass. In the Mass, the one sacrifice of Calvary, the new covenant ratified in the Blood of the Lord Jesus, is made present anew. It is not another sacrifice, but the one sacrifice of the Cross. Is it not repeated, as though Christ were being crucified again, but rather made present to us across time and space.

The heart of Sunday must be the Mass! How could it be anything else? The Mass is nothing else but the supreme work of the Lord Jesus, and nothing else will do to mark the Lord’s day, the day of salvation, the day of the Church!

There are many things that I have to do as Archbishop of New York, but there is nothing more central, no blessing greater, no work more important than offering the Mass on Sunday, whether it be in the morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or later in the day in our parish churches. No matter how much we accomplish during the week by our efforts, nothing can compare to what God does at Mass – drawing together His people into the new covenant, fashioning them together into the communion of the Church, sanctifying them by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and nourishing them by the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus offered on the Cross for the redemption of the world! How can this not be the heart of our week? How can we not live for Sunday and the Sunday Mass?

On this first St. Patrick’s Day as Archbishop of New York, let me make this appeal to all the Catholics of the archdiocese: Make Sunday Mass once again the heart of your week! Put the Sunday Eucharist at the heart of your parishes and your families! Live once again for Sunday!

A Word to my Brother Priests

I consider it a special gift of providence that my first year here in New York has coincided with the Year for Priests. I love being a priest, I love inviting young men to become priests, I loved my years working in the formation of priests. I love the priesthood, and I love my brother priests! Without them, I could do nothing. Without them, the Church could do nothing, for we would then be without the Eucharist, without Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

In this Year for Priests, we have heard marvellous testimonies from Catholics about how much they love their priests, and how much they appreciate the hard work they do for the sake the Gospel. Too often, the priest’s work is thankless task, but in this year our priests have heard their people thunder thank you! I add my voice to that chorus of gratitude!

If we are to recapture our sense of the Lord’s Day, our priests will lead us. We often hear people tease their priests that they only work one day a week – Sunday! That’s in good fun, for parishioners know that a priest’s work in never done, but there is something to that. For Sunday is the day of our greatest work. It is the Lord’s work, and we are at our most priestly when we consecrate the Lord’s Day by leading the people in the Lord’s own sacrifice. Many priests, who prudently begin preparing their Sunday homilies early in the week, are always thinking about the next Sunday. They live from Sunday to Sunday as it were, their eyes fixed during the week on the Lord’s Day to come. Our priests need to share that sense of Sunday with their parishioners, so that the Church as a whole lives from Sunday to Sunday.

In this year dedicated to Saint John Vianney, it was a gift to make a retreat in Ars last month with the priests of the archdiocese. It was bracing to read the saintly pastor’s homilies, which in their intensity and directness are not what we are accustomed to today. But even if we do not preach as our patron saint did during his time, we can look to him as a model for courageous preaching. Listen to what he preached soon after arriving in Ars, when he notice that Sunday observance was not what it should have been in that village:

“You keep on working, but what you earn ruins your soul and your body. If we ask those who work on Sunday, ‘What have you been doing?,’ they might answer: ‘I have been selling my soul to the devil, crucifying our Lord, and renouncing my baptism. I am doomed to hell. I shall have to weep for all eternity for nothing.’ When I behold people driving carts on Sunday, I think they are carting their souls to hell. Oh! How mistaken in his calculations is the man who toils on Sunday to earn more money or accomplish more work! Can two or three francs compensate for the wrong he has done himself by violating the law of God?”

Hearing those words, we immediately protest: Life is more complicated now and our culture makes it necessary for some to work. Fair enough, but St. John Vianney’s words remind us that we should at least feel a sense of urgency about Sunday observance. Let’s face it – we priests, myself included, have let the words “Sunday obligation” disappear from our vocabulary. But they have not disappeared from the Ten Commandments, or the precepts of the Church, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or simple common sense about practising our faith!

The Curé of Ars may sound harsh to our ears today, but does not the basic point remain? If we do not spare an hour or so to worship God, then does He really occupy the proper place in our life? If the Lord’s Day is apparently no different to any other day, then can we say that He is truly Lord of our life?

I urge you then, my brother priests, to be bold in inviting people back to Sunday Mass who have grown distant from it! Encourage those who are faithfully present to truly make the Lord’s Day a day of rest, a day of the Church, a day for the family. All of us need to rededicate ourselves to Sunday! So much depends on it. For if we let our Sunday observance slide, when it is so clear that the Lord desires it, how can we hope to follow the Lord’s will in more difficult things?

Permit me to make another recommendation to my brother priests. It would bear good fruit in the Year for Priests to return to the apostolic letter Dies Domini. The Pope John Paul II issued it on Pentecost 1998, and obviously it is still highly relevant. It would make good spiritual reading for priests, and might also be suitable for adult faith formation groups, Catholic reading clubs, and parish councils. A deeper study of the theological dimension of the Lord’s Day may well give rise to pastoral initiatives that would further consecrate Sunday. Here I think of the noble tradition of Sunday Vespers, for example. Or Sunday might be a time for visiting the sick and the lonely, the infirm and shut-ins within the parish. Each priest and each parish will find their own ways of celebrating Sunday precisely as the day of the Lord and the day of the Church.

Threats to Sunday

There are many threats to Sunday observance. The more obvious ones may be easier to tackle head on. Do we need to work on Sunday? For some, there may be little choice, but for others it may well be possible to clear Sunday of unnecessary work. Sometimes, it may be a moment of evangelization to tell the boss, “I would like to have Sunday to worship God and be with my family.” It may plant a seed that bear good fruit.

Another obvious challenge is Sunday recreations – particularly children’s sports and other activities. This requires a firmer stand, as recreation is not as essential as work. At the very least, children’s activities should be organized in a way that permits the family to go to Mass, together if possible. There is no denying that this will occasion some sacrifice, but the development of a child is not well-served by indicating that Sunday Mass is secondary to other things. Social, sporting and other activities on Sunday can be a real occasion for family togetherness and fruitful rest. But if just getting to everything on Sunday leaves everyone in the family worn out, then some adjustments need to be made.

A more subtle challenge to authentic Sabbath rest is our communications technology. It is possible to be at home with the family on Sunday but engaged elsewhere, answering emails from work, text messaging friends far away rather than talking to family members in the same house. Indeed, with multiple televisions and computers in the same house, it is possible for members of the family to isolate themselves from each other. A twenty-first century update to Sunday observance may well include a deliberate setting aside of mobile phones, laptops and video games!

Objections to Sunday Mass

Many of you reading this St. Patrick’s Day message already are keeping the Lord’s Day holy. Keep it up.

How about giving this message to someone who no longer does, especially if he or she has stopped going to Sunday Mass? Get ready for the excuses:

– “Sunday is our only free time together.” (Great, what better way to spend that time than by praying together at Mass).

– “I pray my own way.” (Nice idea. But, odds are, you don’t).

– “The sermon is boring.” (You may have a point).

– “I hate all the changes at Mass.” (see below)

– “I want more changes at Mass.” (see above)

– “Until the church makes some changes in its teaching, I’m staying away.” (But, don’t we go to Mass to ask God to change us, not to tell God how we want Him and His Church to change to suit us?)

– “Everybody there is a hypocrite and always judging me.” (Who’s judging whom here?)

. . . and the list goes on.

And the simple fact remains: the Eucharist is the most beautiful, powerful prayer that we have. To miss it is to miss Jesus — His Word, His people, His presence, His Body and Blood.

Saint Patrick, Pray for Us!

We celebrate the saints because they remind us of what is truly important – to get to heaven! The saints are there already and they pray for us that we might follow them in drawing close to Jesus. That’s why the Blessed Mother is the greatest of all the saints, because she is the closest to her divine Son and wants nothing more than to draw us close to Him.

Our Sunday observance, above all our Sunday Eucharist, is our anticipation of that definitive Sabbath rest when we shall enter into the Lord’s Day that will have no end. We need Sunday here below so that we might not lose our path to heaven above! We live on Sunday now what we hope to live forever in heaven.

On my first Feast of Saint Patrick as Archbishop of New York, I extend to all my blessing, ask for a remembrance in your prayers, and promise you mine in return.

+Timothy Michael Dolan

Archbishop of New York


Saturday, March 20, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Three Cheese Enchiladas

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 pkg. (3 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 cup picante sauce, divided
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp. cumin (powder)
8 flour tortillas (7-8 inches)
shredded lettuce
chopped tomato
sliced black olives

Combine 1 cup Monterey Jack and 1 cup cheddar, cream cheese, 1/4 cup picante sauce, the red pepper, onions, and cumin; mix well. Spoon 1/4 cup of this mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll and place, seam side down, in a 13" x 9" baking dish. spoon remaining picante sauce over enchiladas; cover with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot. Top with lettuce, tomato, and black olives. Serve with additional sauce if desired.
Yield: 4 servings.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Zeppole di San Guiseppe

translated and adapted from this source

Pastry cream:
250 ml of milk
3 egg yolks
60 gr of sugar (a scant 1/2 c.*)
20 gr of cornstarch ** (1 T)
the zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the milk, lemon zest, and vanilla over medium-low heat and allow to a simmer. Meanwhile, cream the egg yolks and sugar together very thoroughly, then add cornstarch and continue to stir. ***Temper the eggs with the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly, then pour back into the pan and cook over very low heat, without allowing it to boil, until thickened. Remove from heat and chill.

125 gr flour (~1 cup)
4 eggs†
100 gr butter (just less than a stick)
125 ml water
a pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
50 ml milk
marachino cherries
vegetable oil (if frying)

Place the butter, milk, sugar and water in a large, nonstick saucepan over low heat. When it starts to bubble, add the flour, a little at a time, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until mixed thoroughly. Remove from heat, and add the eggs one at a time, stirring each until incorporated.

If baking, pipe the dough in small swirls on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper (I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off). Make them a good distance apart, as they will grow while baking. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 5-10.††

If frying, heat several inches of oil in a large pot or dutch oven and fry, turning once, until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Pipe chilled pastry cream onto the zeppole, garnish with cherries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

*The volume measurements given in parentheses are approximate, and I haven't tested them, so caveat baker.
**The recipe calls for farina bianca, literally "white flour", but that definitely wasn't enough thickening power, so it either refers to cornstarch or something not available in the US.
***The original recipe calls for a piece of lemon rind and one of vanilla bean in the milk. If you use that, you would remove them at this point.
†I used 2 whole eggs, plus the whites left over from the cream.
††The recipe actually says, as best as I can tell, 475° for 30-35mins, but that didn't seem right at all, so I swiped the baking directions from elsewhere. I also used the technique of poking each pastry with a knife after they were out of the oven to allow the steam to escape and keep them from falling, but as they're relatively flat to begin with, I'm not sure if this was worth the effort or not.

A Mother Superior remembers her Father

In Italy, Fathers' Day is celebrated on March 19, the feast of St Joseph. Hence, this lovely article from Sister Mary Denise Villaume, originally published in The New York Times blog.

On a regular basis the Little Sisters of the Poor drove their truck up to the macaroni building, and Dad filled it with food. I once heard my mom ask if it was prudent to be giving so much when they didn’t know if they’d be able to put us kids through college. It wasn’t a hostile challenge, but an earnest question. Dad’s answer was unequivocal: help neighbors today, trust God with tomorrow. [full post]

Saint Joseph - old or young?

Today we celebrate the solemn feast of St. Joseph.

We see St. Joseph's image is everywhere, but how much do we really know about this saint?

He is the patron and protector of the Church, just as he was he protector and patron of Our Lord and Lady while they walked this earth. We know that he was a "just and holy man" - the perfect pious gentleman. We usually think of him as a bearded man in green and brown holding the Christ Child and a staff of lilies.

But how much more do we know?

St. Joseph never speaks in the Gospels. We find him in Matthew and Luke, but only briefly. The Gospels say little about him. Yet we know that he was a carpenter. We read that he was a "just man" from the line of David. His age at the time of his betrothal and marriage to Our Lady is highly debated.

Many of our statues and images depict him as a middle-aged or even elderly man. We sing in the Cherry Tree Carol "Joseph was an old man, a very old man was he, when he married Mary in the land of Galilee."

But was Joseph really old?

The concept of the elderly Joseph comes from the apocryphal gospel The Protoevangelium of James. There we read:

And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: "Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?"

And they said to the high priest: "You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her"... behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: "Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be." And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judæa, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple...and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph's head.

And the priest said to Joseph, "You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord."

But Joseph refused, saying: "I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel."

And the priest said to Joseph: "Fear the Lord your God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in your house."

And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: "Behold, I have received you from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave you in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to you. The Lord will protect you."

Here we see St. Joseph as an old widower, with children, and frankly, a bit of a jerk.

So was that St. Joseph? The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, certainly did not think so as he condemned the Protoevangelium as "apocryphal ravings."

While St. Thomas doesn't offer any insights on the life of St. Joseph, a number of holy mystics do. Ven. Maria de Agrida and Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich both write of St. Joseph as seen in their visions.

Ven. Maria writes in The Mystical City of God that:
"Among the number was Joseph, a native of Nazareth. and then living in Jerusalem; for he was one of the descendants of the royal race of David. He was then thirty-three years of age, of handsome person and pleasing countenance, but also of incomparable modesty and gravity; above all he was most chaste in thought and conduct, and most saintly in all his inclinations. From his twelfth year he had made and kept the vow of chastity. He was related to the Virgin Mary in the third degree, and was known for the utmost purity of his life, holy and irreprehensible in the eyes of God and of men."
Bl. Anne Catherine, in The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, does not specify St. Joseph's age, but merely that he was "unmarried." His actions and demeanor in her writings do, however, seem more reflective of a younger man than an older one.

To note a third: Padre Pio reportedly insisted the St. Joseph was even younger - perhaps only 18 when espoused to Our Lady.

Numerous other scholars and theologians have agreed that Joseph was certainly not old. A number believe that he may have been even as young at 16 - only a year or two older than Our Lady.

Why would St. Joseph's age matter? Perhaps it doesn't, but it seems easy enough to believe that an old man, already a father, would be more likely to live chastely with a girl he could regard as his granddaughter (or at least daughter). The virtue required of a teenage or young adult man to care for a pregnant girl, help her raise her son, all the while living a perfectly chaste life, without committing a single personal sin, would be truly heroic. That is the kind of virtue that merits the title "Patron of the Universal Church" and the kind of virtue you'd hope the patron of husbands would possess.

Further Reading:

The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
The Mystical City of God: The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, Ven. Mary of Jesus of Agrida
Redemptoris Custos, Pope John Paul II
or follow any of the links in the text

Blessed Brother André to Be Canonized

Brother André’s particular affection for St. Joseph, in addition to the need to accommodate the throngs of people seeking his help, advice and prayers, led to the foundation of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, at first a small structure constructed on Mount Royal with funds from small donations and Brother André’s barbershop income and now a massive basilica which attracts some 2 million pilgrims each year.

Brother André was entombed there after his death on Jan. 6, 1937. Between his death and burial, more than 1 million pilgrims came to pay tribute.

“We are honored and moved beyond words at Brother André’s formal recognition as a saint,” said Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross. “Not only because this immensely humble man is the Congregation’s first recognized saint, but because he is such an extraordinary example for every Catholic of every age. Not for him the trappings of power and status, of money and prestige; he was famous first as a ferociously hard worker at the high school where he worked his whole life; he simply did everything and anything that was needed, from cleaning the floors to fixing shoes, from doing students’ laundry to cutting hair. What an example of prayer in action, of active service to others as the most eloquent and powerful prayer of all! And that is the essence of the Congregation – we serve the Christ in every being, with our hands and hearts and souls, with all our might. Brother André would be horrified were I to call him a hero, but his unrelenting focus on serving others, his blunt humor and utter devotion to God, the greatness of his simplicity – those are heroic virtues, and it seems wonderfully apt and instructive that the first Holy Cross saint was a man who insisted, sometimes testily, that ‘to serve is sweeter than to be served.”

Not only among the priests, sisters and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, but also throughout the Notre Dame community, the new saint is affectionately regarded, conspicuously honored and continually invoked. He is routinely mentioned in campus liturgies, and his statue, carved by Rev. Anthony J. Lauck, C.S.C., is in the northeast apsidal chapel of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Another statue of Brother André, this one carved by Notre Dame art professor Rev. James F. Flanigan, C.S.C., is above the south entrance of the University’s Eck Visitors Center. [full article]

[Courtesy of the Notre Dame Alumni Association]

The Way of the Cross

For today's prayer, the Church Ladies suggest these Stations of the Cross
with meditations from EWTN's Mother Angelica.

Image Credit: St. Veronica Holding the Veil by El Greco

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy, happy birthday, Lucy!
Have a wonderful day and a blessed year!

Spring is in the air... it must be time to think about First Communion!

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods is offering you the opportunity to write about your fondest First Communion memory, share it with others, and possibly win a $100 gift certificate!

You'll need to submit the story by March 31, and voting runs through April 30, 2010.

Complete rules can be found here, and if you'd like to read some of the stories people submitted last year, click here and scroll down a bit.

And while you're thinking about it, you might also want to do a little shopping for those gifts you'll need. My favorite? I think 2nd grade is the perfect time for a child to get their own Bible so they can read along at Mass. (Although, I do have to admit I really like the idea of personalized holy cards.)

40 Meatless Meals: Vegetarian French Onion Soup

4 pounds onions (sweet onions work nicely)
3 T butter
1 tsp. salt
2 c. white wine
3-4 c. vegetable stock
1 c. apple cider (or more if you prefer a bit sweeter taste)
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley
1 bay leaf
8 slices french bread
1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated (Asiago or Mozzerella will do in a pinch)

Peel and slice the onions into thin wedges. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes without stirring. After that, stir occasionally until onions are very well browned and reduced, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Do not worry about burning.

Add wine and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrup consistency. Add broth, cider and herbs. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, until toasted.

Season soup mixture with salt and pepper; remove bay leaf and ladle soup into broiler-safe crocks. Place bread, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Lenten Programs for the ND Family

This Lenten season, join the Alumni Association as we honor Christ’s supreme sacrifice. A new video and a Holy Week gathering at the Grotto will unite the Notre Dame family as we embrace the greatest act of love ever: Christ’ suffering, death, and resurrection.

Pray the Way of the Cross

Throughout Lent, ND alumni, parents, and friends can pray the Stations of the Cross virtually, thanks to a new online offering from Praying the Way of the Cross is a brief video that places you at the Stations of the Cross in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. With meditative music and reflections, the video creates a spiritual experience that helps you contemplate the passion of Christ. Easily integrate this prayer experience into your day by visiting and selecting the “Lent” tab.

Lenten Offerings at the Grotto

Lenten Offerings at the Grotto unites the ND family in prayer to remember our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection, while also praying for our loved ones who carry their own crosses. All ND alumni, parents, and friends are invited to participate in this Holy Week gathering, which will take place at the Grotto on Monday, March 29, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Representatives from the Alumni Association will join other members of the ND community to pray the rosary and to remember by name (or through anonymity) all of those in need of prayers. A special NDAA green candle will be lit as we offer these prayers up to God. Those who wish to submit the names of loved ones to be remembered may do so through

This experience is modeled after last year’s All Souls Day event on campus. On Nov. 2, 2009, representatives from the NDAA and other University departments gathered at the Grotto where they honored the passing of alumni family members by name. More than 3,000 alumni, parents, and friends submitted prayer requests for All Souls Day, and the group prayed for more than 13,000 people.

Learn more about these important initiatives by visiting The site offers daily prayers, Gospel readings, reflections, and other spiritual materials, including printable prayer cards. Subscribe to receive daily prayers by e-mail here.

[Courtesy of the Notre Dame Alumni Association]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/4 c butter (or margarine)
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
2 c milk
2 c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.
Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worchestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Whisk in milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
Mix with the macaroni and bake in an uncovered casserole dish 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 4 generous servings

There is LOTS of room for variation in this recipe. You can add vegetables, tuna, or meat or change the seasonings. You can vary the pasta shape or the type of cheese. (I think a sharp cheddar gives the nicest flavor.)

You don't have to bake it; just serve it directly from the stovetop. It doesn't get that nice, crunchy top, but it's fully cooked and fast to make. If you don't bake it, you might want to cook the macaroni slightly longer. Cook it to al dente if you plan to bake it.

I teach a junior high food prep class and they love this recipe. It takes about the same amount of time as that nasty, orange, boxed stuff but it's rich and creamy and doesn't taste like salt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

40 Meatless Meals: Crustless Quiche

Crustless Quiche master recipe. I made a broccoli-cheddar quiche, served with a side of potatoes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Share your St Joseph altar

Calling all Church Ladies!

Our friends at Catholic Cuisine directed me to the Virtual Saint Joseph Altar blog.

Here's what you do:
To be included, make a blog post about your Altar, including details and pics, then link it here. I will begin the linking on the March 19 Feast of St. Joseph and continue till the end of March. Simple or extravagant, we want to see it! So come back on March 19 to link your Altar post. In the meantime, head to the Virtual St. Joseph Altar for all the info you need to get started planning your Altar.

40 Meatless Meals: Vegetarian Minestrone

2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 cup sliced celery (or more)
1/4 c minced fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c vegetable oil
5 (15 oz.) cans vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 (8 0z) can tomato sauce or tomato paste
2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
1 c chopped carrots (or more)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
1 c fresh green beans (sliced)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup uncooked pasta (I used large rings)

Saute the onions, celery, parsley and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, cabbage, carrots, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour. Add zucchini and beans.

I cooked the pasta in a separate pan according to directions, but you could just cook it in the soup if you have enough liquid.

Optional: Top each serving with grated Parmesan cheese.
20 servings