Coffee & Canticles
For the past few years, inspired by other families who do this, we have served meatless meals all though lent, Monday thru Friday. This has worked well for the whole family as a penance.
But especially for the cook. Me. Besides giving up meat–which is abundant and relatively cheap in our rural, cattle-farming area– I get to offer up the chore of coming up with lenten menus, and of enduring the reactions of my family on days when my choices were not sufficiently creative, or maybe a little too creative. Although most days, my husband and kids do pretty well disguising these reactions as part of their lenten penance.
Vegetarian cookbooks abound, so it’s not really difficult to come up with meatless recipes. The challenge is to come up with recipes that are cheap, tasty, and don’t take long to prepare. I’m not going to spend the price of a steak dinner, plus an hour slaving over the stove on that brie/endive/arrugula/tofu souffle with carmelized onion and papaya reduction sauce. Forget it.
Instead I cycle through a basic list of very easy and inexpensive dishes. Here is most of my list. All of these things can be looked up on the internet, and one or more versions found which can be made with common ingredients.
Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup
Cream of cauliflower soup
Broccoli cheese soup
beans and rice
fish fillets, baked potato and salad
pizza with vegetable toppings
meatless panini (cheese, mushrooms, peppers,onion, tomato)
spaghetti with red clam sauce
broccoli or spinach quiche (bisquick “Impossible” style is super easy)
tuna cheddar chowder
baked potato bar with variety of toppings
pancakes or waffles and eggs
tuna noodle casserole
bean burritos or tacos
salad bar (include protein source such as nuts, boiled eggs or chick peas)
Once I go through this list I just start over again.…
You know those days when some verse in the day’s Divine Office jumps out at you, as if your guardian angel had gone over it with a highlighter? You notice a verse that you’d read many times before, and suddenly, bam! It’s brand new.
I’ve been moping about the sorry state of world and national affairs, the economy, the decline in civilization, the decline of American society. (I’d been trying not to listen to much TV, radio or internet news, but it just keeps seeping in.) But this morning I read psalm 89 in the psalter for the Office of Readings:
Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of their bliss. And so, applying the moral sense of interpreting scripture (what is God telling me about how I ought to live?), I made a decision to quit moping. That does not mean ignoring the ills of society. It does mean to be a happy warrior when fighting them. It means remembering Who is King and finding joy in His name bliss in His justice.
These thoughts then drove me to look up a relevant quote from Dorothy Day:
How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout.…
“Blessed be the Lord; for love of him St. Thomas Aquinas spent long hours in prayer, study and writing.” (Lauds, Jan. 28th)
(a popular post re-run from last year.)
St. Thomas Aquinas is a favorite in our family, so we will certainly be praying the full office in his honor, using the common for doctors of the Church. My husband’s degree is in Thomistic philosophy, and we’ve sent three of our brood to the wonderful Thomas Aquinas College in California.
I’m not a scholar, but whenever I dip into the Summa, I am impressed and delighted at St. Thomas’ method of setting out a question, stating objections, and then giving his reasoned conclusion. I love GK Chesterton’s biography of St.Thomas, which you can get for only $2 on Kindle. What stands out in St. Thomas’ life, even more than his intellect, is his purity, and I don’t mean just in the chastity sense, but pure as in single-hearted. He had no interest in his academic reputation or importance or career. All he cared about was Truth.
St. Thomas reasoned and wrote about thousands of topics. These ranged from sublime to practical. Book II of the Summa deals with the moral and spiritual life. One section, “Of the remedies for sorrow or pain”(Part I Q.38), contains much of the same advice that we still see today when we open those magazines whose covers promise ” Simple Ways to Lift Your Mood”.…
Yesterday at the National Catholic Register blog, Simcha Fisher (a really fun and wise writer) linked my personal blog in an article on “Praying as a Couple.” One of her suggestion for couples was to do part of the Divine Office together, hence the link.
Which prompts me to re-issue part of an old post on this exact same topic. It originally appeared in October of 2011:
We women, who buy and read nearly all of the popular Catholic Marriage books sold in this country, frequently read about the importance of Husbands and Wives Praying Together. And we’re told that family rosary with all the kids kneeling or slumping around the living room does not count. We’re talking about a special, quiet, set-aside time with you, your spouse, and God, where the two of you join hands and offer your spontaneous and heart-felt praise, thanks, and petitions. Out loud. Together. Well, together but taking turns.
Are there more than 100 Catholic male, non-Steubenville graduates * in this country who enthusiastically go along with such a program? (not just tolerate it out of love for their wives, but really enjoy it?) I’d be surprised.
This type of intimate, spousal prayer might sound beautiful to women. But to most guys–good, devout guys–not so much. It requires seat-of-the-pants verbal skills that many of them do not have. Not to mention a willingness to, at times, express emotions that are hard for a guy to discuss with his wife in an ordinary conversation, let alone talk to God about with his wife listening in.…
First Monday in Ordinary Time. One of two Mondays in Ordinary Time with no ordinary Sunday to precede it. Trivia question: when it the other?
I’ve said it a couple of times, but it bears repeating.”Ordinary” in this context does not mean routine, let alone dull or uninteresting. It means that the weeks are ordered, or numbered. With ordinal numbers, get it?
But there’s nothing ordinary (in the sense of dull or unimportant) about the breathtaking poetry in the book of Sirach this week (Office of Readings). Nor the reading from Pope St. Clement I, which is a lovely, long petitionary prayer which certainly covers every base. Nor does todays daytime reading (midafternoon) from 1 Peter ever fail to inspire awe:realize that you were delivered not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price! And so it goes. The liturgy fills us with a thousand gifts, all year long. Never “ordinary”.
At the same time, I feel a good kind of ordinary (in the “ordinary” sense of the word) whenever I put away the Christmas paraphernalia, put the furniture back where it belongs, and get back down to the business. The relative quiet and the relatively slender to-do list clears my mind. And leaving behind for a while the page flipping and calendar checking of Christmastide does much to fuel the notion that ordinary time in the liturgy, is a little less cluttered, and breathes upon us a goodly simplicity.…
Please check out this short, eloquent video about the Liturgy of the Hours by the Dominican Friars of the Western Province. The testimony of the young friars about what they are learning form the Divine Office is powerful, and should give fence sitters one more reason to give it a try.
It’s monthly Q&A day. For recent newcomers to this blog, that means there is no question or comment about the Liturgy of the Hours, breviaries, psalms, or the liturgical year that is too dumb to put in the comment boxes below. I will endeavor to reply either with Magisterial Truth, or lacking that, an educated guess.
The Good News:This is just a birdwatcher thing. For the first time in five or six years, there are cute little Common Redpolls frolicking at my bird feeders. This arctic finch takes irregular winter vacations to the northern USA, and this year my little corner of Northwest Pennsylvania has been graced with their cuteness. I am in awe of these tiny but tough little creatures who look upon my snowy backyard as the sunny south.
The Bad News Something to Offer Up: I’ve just learned that, contrary to what it said on Amazon, my book about the Liturgy of the Hours will not be available on February 2…, but instead sometime in April. Oh well, I guess that would have made me way too giddy during Lent. Better to welcome those hot off the press copies after Easter.
The Serious News: Lots of our Protestant siblings in Christ used the word “convicted” to describe how they feel when they read a scripture passage and get hit with how it applies (in a decidedly unflattering manner) to themselves. Did any of you feel this today when reading the Office of Readings passage from Isaiah?
photo from inashoe.com
Today’s first reading in the Office of Readings, from Isaiah, contains lines that were enormously consoling to me years ago when I was expecting my fourth child. We were living in a smallish 3 bedroom ranch in California–no attic, no basement, and a one car garage that held all the things one would normally store in an attic or a basement.
Although I laugh now to think about it, I was at the time in a minor panic over how I would house the next child were it to be a girl. My two older daughters were in one small bedroom, and our son in the other. A certain relative hinted that putting three children in one bedroom simply is Not Done, nor does one ever, ever, let children of opposite sexes share a room, even if one is a preschooler and the other a newborn. I was still young and silly enough to care about keeping this person’s good opinion, even though it had already been lost years before when I had the bad taste to become pregnant on my honeymoon.
Sure enough, I had another girl. Little Maryanne had no idea how unhappy she was supposed to be, sharing a 10×11 room with two adoring sisters who were in fierce competition to see who could make her smile often. When she was 5 weeks old I picked up the breviary and read this December 22nd passage from Isaiah:
Though you were waste and desolate,
a land of ruins,
Now you shall be too small for your inhabitants,
while those who swallowed you up will be far away.…
Making Polish nut roll right now. Here’s a post from last year.
From tonight’s Vespers:
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
This is my favorite O Antiphon. I love sunrises–they’re the only thing that ever makes it worth getting up early. And there’s that serendipitous Sun/Son homophone that we English-speakers enjoy. Also, there is a tradition that at the Second Coming (which is what we are rehearsing for with our yearly celebration of Advent and Christmas), Our Lord will appear in the east: “For as lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the son of man be.” (Matt.24:27) Today’s concluding prayer also references that final advent:
Hear in kindness, O Lord, the prayers of your people, that those who rejoice at the coming of your Only Begotten Son in our flesh may, when at last he comes in glory, gain the reward of eternal life.
Furthermore, the corresponding verse from O Come O Come Emmanuel, with the words, “come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here, disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadow put to flight.” Is my favorite prayer during bouts of the blues. Custom made, I think, for seasonal depression, coming as it does, on this darkest night of the year.
Surely you’ve already bought gifts for all the book lovers on your list. But perhaps you are the book lover, and want to drop a few hints. Thanks to the miracle of e-readers, all of these can arrive by Christmas. Even for hard copies, you still have until 3 p.m. today (Eastern standard time) to get them in time from Amazon.
The Christmas Plains by Joseph Bottum A well known writer and editor tells of his childhood Christmases in the Black Hills of South Dakota, while meandering back and forth to other times and places as well: 1888 and its killer blizzard; modern-day New York during it’s rare moments of snow-covered stillness. Bottum fondly recalls so many favorite things–story books, carols, vinyl LP Christmas recordings, toys–that were of almost sacramental significance to him as a boy. Needless to say, the larger spiritual themes are there, subtle and graceful.
The Complete Thinker–the Marvelous Mind of G.K.Chesterton. Some people find Chesterton’s essays difficult because of all the references to the culture, politics, and personalities of early 2oth century England. They find to easy to miss the forest among all those pesky trees. Dale Ahlquist acts as your personal Chesterton sherpa. On a wide variety of topics (the problem of evil, war and peace, law and lawyers, life and death, the universe, and more!) he shows us the essence of Chesterton’s thought, serving up generous helpings of direct quotation. He explains these in a winsome style peppered with humor that must have G.K.…