Archive | April 2015

The Art of Baking, with Whiskey

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A Friday of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and cake-baking

This Damsel enjoys cooking and baking. (Not because I’m trad…well, maybe it is because I’m trad. The general population of twenty-something females do not… too bad for them.) Cooking and baking are such satisfying works in both tastes and femininity. It’s often difficult to find time in a busy work schedule to cook or bake for enjoyment, let alone cook at all. Luckily I have a family and mother who loves me and I rarely ever go meal-less. And even if there is time, the kitchen of a large family is rarely, if ever, absent of others. But the busy kitchen of a large family must call a cease fire when I enter it on a mission to cook or bake.

I am inspired to cook by my own love and appreciation of all things savoury. But when I bake, I am inspired by others love for sweets and desserts. I rarely bake because I long to appease a sweet-tooth – I bake because I have an innate desire to enchant the sweets pallete of others. I also love to make things pleasing to the eye. And I take pleasure in doing something extra special for a group or one person in particular.

I am a detail orientated damsel, but when it comes to food I tend to throw things together and hope it all turns into what I want it to. Of course I know what I’m trying to make, but I’m not very good at following recipes. I take the general concept and start throwing things together. Measurements are uncommon in my world of cooking. And I am a firm believer in this theory, because it works for me. The art of cooking is affected by personality, nationality, upbringing, personal tastes, strengths, etc. That is why the same recipe can taste very different depending who makes it. It takes doing to know what your style is or where your strengths are.

Baking on the other hand, is very different. If you aren’t a baker, know that baking is very precise and the slightest mistake or mis-measurement can affect the entire result. In years past, the shrieks of horror from across the counter when I tossed in the rough amount of a teaspoon were many. Now I generally only bake when no one else is in the kitchen. And no one is the wiser for my measurement goings-on!

Today was a rare occasion in this large family – I found myself in the kitchen alone (kept company in part by the currently invalid youngest). Friday’s are usually my evening to relax after a long week of work, and it was the opportune time to spend an evening of baking. And so, after slipping my retro apron (I am a collector of retro/feminine aprons) over my camouflage cozies, I whipped a mixture of batter while sipping on my newest addition of Irish whiskey and singing along with Ella Fitzgerald. While the cakes cooled, it changed to Allegri’s Miserere as I sifted icing sugar and made my second favourite icing type (for alas, we were our of cream cheese!). And now that I have made one into a priestly collar for my parish priests approaching birthday, and the other is ready to freeze for next weeks bake sale, Barber’s Agnus Dei plays as I am settling down for the night.

There is something ever so satisfying and pleasurable about creating an edible arrangement. Maybe it’s my own enjoyment of deliciousness, or my love of creating things pleasing-to-the-eye, or my thrill in bringing happiness to others. But there is truly an art to cooking and baking, of which I am not yet a skilled master. It is an excellent skill to have, particularly for us traddish Catholic women who embrace our feminine role.

And some good Irish whiskey adds just the right touch to an evening of baking! (But not IN the baking… that would ruin the whiskey!)

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Good-bye Gilbert Blythe

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“Gilbert Blythe” … the very ring is romantic! Despite the fact that he is a Presbyterian, he is probably every Catholic girls first crush – he was definitely mine. He is swoon-worthy, particularly for us Canadians 😉 Not because he is  perfect, but because his character is such an example of noble manhood. And, even unconsciously, we girls lap that up. Men, I can see your eyes rolling. Please keep them steadily in place.

The movie series adaptation is very different from L.M. Montgomery’s series, but that doesn’t make them any less intriguing. Jonathan Crombie portrayed Gilbert so splendidly in the Anne of Green Gables 1980’s movies. For most, Jonathan Crombie IS Gilbert (for I have found that the majority of “Anne” fans haven’t read the novels). Tragically, he passed away April 15th. And so, in honour of Jonathan Crombie’s recent decease, Gilbert is the topic of today’s post. Men, stick around and find out why we Catholic girls like Gilbert so much…(No, I won’t be a silly girl about it, I’ll just give you some short and simple facts that may enlighten your understanding of female enthusiasm over the character of Gilbert Blythe):

1. Gilbert has Fortitude – He forcefully grasps’ Anne’s attention: Anne isn’t even introduced to Gilbert before he pulls her braids and calls her “Carrots”. In a child’s world, a boy throws rocks at you when he thinks you are pretty. Naturally, this doesn’t make sense to us girls. We simply cry and don’t understand the purpose of being so mortally wounded and humiliated. BUT… something in this strange course of nature is intriguing, and this boy has forever gained our attention. I’m not saying women like being insulted, I’m saying we like it when a Catholic man decidedly makes an attempt at meeting us. It shows a sense of confidence and manly quality.

2. Gilbert is Just – He is apologetic when he realizes he was unkind: When it is made perfectly clear that his actions were hands-down unkind, he is sorry for them. He only wanted to meet Anne (and in his defence, she is so dreadfully proud, he had to make some sort of impression!!) But nonetheless, it hurt Anne, and he is sorry because of that. This is not to say that we gals want an apology every time you blink wrong. We are more emotional beings then men, and we appreciate the acknowledgement of how your actions (albeit unintentionally) hurt us. Not all girls can be logical and sensible when it comes to emotions, which is a fault. And you probably shouldn’t waste your time with those who don’t work on it. But be patient with them if they are working on it, and in return they should be patient with you for not understanding their emotional reactions.

He knows all her faults, and loves her despite them: He likes Anne for being different than other girls, for just being herself. She goes against conventional females, and whether it be her fire-ey temper or her empathy towards fellow creatures, he likes her because of it. He never wishes she was anyone or anyway other then exactly who she is.

4. Gilbert is Charitable & Humble – He encourages her to be the best she can be: The point of friendship is to help one another be the best we can be, to grow in virtue and love, and ultimately gain heaven. Gilbert never hesitates to correct Anne when she is in the wrong, to put her in her place, to encourage her when she is down, to praise her when she needs or deserves it. Gilbert doesn’t allow his pride to over-throw his love for Anne. He always puts her before himself, and eventually Anne learns from him to always put Gilbert before herself.

5. Gilbert is Chivalrous – He is the “Knight in Shining Armour”, even when she rejects it: We all love the river scene. Anne ends up in a leaking boat, and climbs onto the leg of a bridge, waiting for help. When Gilbert comes along in his fishing boat, she is sarcastic and snobbish. Despite this, Gilbert faithfully pulls her into safety, and when she demands to be delivered to land, he does so with no sharpe tongued digs. Of course Anne’s treatment of him is wrong, but he nevertheless is meek and true, as St.Joseph would have been, and does his duty to her (undeserving though she may be). As Catholic women, we naturally do not condone Anne’s behaviour, but it is the noble love that Gilbert shines forth in this scene that grabs our attention.

6. Hand-in-hand with chivalrous, he is Sacrificial: He arranges to give up the Avonlea school to Anne and take the out-of-town school instead, so she might stay at Green Gables with aging Marilla and help run the farm while she also does her studies through correspondence.

7. Gilbert has Perseverance – He works hard to achieve his goals: whether it is his noble perseverance of Anne or pursuing his medical dreams, Gilbert works hard for what he wants in life. He doesn’t give up when obstacles are in his way, when one avenue is shut down. Anne foolishly rejects him – he is saddened but never gives up, he endeavors to deserve her love. His father can’t afford medical school – he works as a teacher to save enough money to put himself through medical school. It is a positive trait for a man to be persistent in what he wants.

These are all praise worthy virtues in men that are valued by true Catholic women. Any man who has these virtues (and others) is worth the time of day to get to know. I love Anne & Gilbert’s relationship because at the very start, it was based on camaraderie, a true and good friendship, instead of the desperate relationship status of today’s world. No two characters I know of have as true a devotion for each other as Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe. I love that Anne learns so much from Gilbert – he is someone she can aspire to be like, to trust, to confide in, to devote herself wholly to in years to come (the book series shows farther into the years & their souls than the movies do).

So here’s to you, Jonathan Crombie, for portraying Gil as perfectly as you did – for to play a character, one has to have  those qualities in oneself.

Let’s remember to keep Jonathan in our prayers.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Minute Meditations

This is a post to rave about minute meditation books, and insist that everyone have one. Minute meditation books are awesome – filled with short meditations for everyday of the year. I’m not neurotically committed to it, but I like it best for those exhausted nights when the only thing I want to do once I’m ready for bed is to crash and “zzzzzz!!!” On such nights, I find the best form of prayer is a simple prayer I can whole heartedly be absorbed in – even just for a few minutes. The book I have consists of a short bible quote, with some considerations to dwell on for a few minutes. Then there is an invocation typically directed to Our Lord (unless it is a special feast of a great saint, such as Our Lady or St.Joseph).

The other night, this particular minute meditation really jumped out at me as one that every twenty something (or teen) could benefit from. So here it is:

“If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

Reflection: We belong to the Lord both in life and in death! This gives every human life a particular meaning, a particular goal, and also a special dedication. It casts a comforting and victorious light on every suffering, every sadness. and every trial. 

Prayer: Good Father, let me never forget that I am always completely Yours. 

God Bless!

Seminarian stats: Vocation increase without sacramental marriages?

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The Church has been praying for an increase in vocations for (at least) twenty-something years. I grew up in a Norvus Ordo parish, and every Sunday the prayer for vocations went up on the projector and the whole parish would recite it. And yet during all these years as a young Catholic girl, I never heard of any young men from my parish joining the seminary.

The “crisis” seems to be pointed to priestly and religious vocations. But where are these vocations to come from? This article http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/what-the-cara-reports-tells-us-about-our-newest-priests/4724/  gives very interesting statistics in regards to our seminaries, and what type of men are in them. According to statistics, our current future priests are coming from families and parishes that cultivate strong formation and a solid spiritual life. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “The family is fundamental because it is the place where there germinates in the human soul the first perception of the meaning of life. This perception grows in the relationship with the mother and with the father, who are not the owners of the life of the children but the first collaborators with God in the transmission of life and the faith.” (Who doesn’t love Pope Benedict!?)

The more sacramental marriages we have, the more holy children we will have, the more solid priestly and religious vocations our Church will have. It’s basic logic. As a generalization, our grandparents generation failed at passing down the faith (we won’t get into why, that’s for another post entirely). The few of our parents generation who, by the grace of God, were preserved in the faith, have passed it onto the few of our generation. We are the future of the Church Militant. We ARE the Church Militant. It is our duty to find spouses who treasure the faith as much as we do, and be open to life in such a way that allows every single child God intends to be born into this world. (I’m not saying every one of us must have 16 children, but NFP is as rampant among “Catholics” as the pill is in high schools.) So it is our call to either enter into a holy marriage and raise soldiers of Christ who are stronger then the last, or to devote our life to prayer and fasting for said soldiers.

I know, it is isn’t easy not knowing which of these two paths God intends for you. In fact, I am convinced that this state of uncertainty is far more uncomfortable then almost any discomfort related to any certain vocation…almost. But God only has you in a certain spot because you can benefit from it. Just think of all the sacrifices… the discomfort in uncertainty can be offered up for your future spouse, future children, future religious order, etc etc. Why not embrace this time of sacrificing as a gift from God for your (and those you love) eternal salvation. In the end, the ultimate goal is to reach heaven, and bring along as many as you possibly can.

Fixing the lack-of-marriages problem

Are you one of those Catholics who sometimes/always comments that there is no one to marry? It’s a typical complaint heard from Catholic young adults. Girls will wail “there’s no nice Catholic guys around to marry!” and the men will begrudgingly whine “but there are no respectable Catholic young ladies around!” And then there’s the dating vs. courtship debate, which is exhausting, since no one has the same definition of either term.

In this day and age, good men rarely ask out good girls, because (and correct me if I’m wrong, men) they are afraid of rejection. And justifiably so. Somehow in the last 50 years, girls have lost sight of the worth in an evening night out with an amiable young man – whether you find him dazzlingly attractive or not. If Catholic girls said “yes” every time a good Catholic man asked us out, the men would be more apt to ask us out more often.

My Irish Grandmother had four marriage proposals – and one was after she was already married! (unbeknownst to the proposer). Now this doesn’t mean we girls wish to flutter about comparing marriage proposals – the point I am trying to make is that my Grandmother went about with several young men, her and her twin sister even switched up dates sometimes. There was no rule that said Suzy could only go out with Fred now, since Fred had asked her to dinner three weeks ago. They went on group excursions, and Bob would courteously ask if he could pick Suzy up for it. Everyone went out with everyone. Eventually there was one you preferred over the others, and eventually he asked you to marry him. And you, of course, would say yes. Men weren’t timid about asking girls out. Certainly men have always had nerves, but it was easier to overcome them because the girls were gracious and feminine. Men will hold themselves up to our standard. Men love a challenge. They bask in fighting for what they believe or want. They were built for that. If you expect a man, then be a woman. And I don’t mean empowering “wo-man”, I mean a valiant woman – a true woman in the eyes of Christ. If you are kind and gracious, the men will rise to the occasion.

The next time a Catholic guy – be he close friend, acquaintance, or someone who just noticed you in mass 😉 – askes you out…say yes. I don’t care if you don’t think him dashingly handsome. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and more often then not, the more you get to know someone, the more beautiful you find them. So give the guys a chance! Let them have the opportunity to be a man and try to woo a pretty girl! And if nothing comes from a date (or two or three), the world isn’t going to end. It’s just a date. The ideal result of this campaign of mine would be more good, strong, Catholic marriages. No one meets new people by staying at home all the time. No one becomes a proficient knitter without hours of learning and practise. Just like no one will get married if we don’t start being open to more of the men/women we meet!

So men, start asking the gals out for casual, low-key dates. And gals, start saying yes.

Happy Easter!

“O God, Who, on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, hast conquered death, and thrown open to us the gate of everlasting life, give effect by Thine aid to our desires, which Thou dost anticipate and inspire. Through the same our Lord.”

– words from Easter Sunday’s Collect.

These words stuck out to me at Easter Sunday mass yesterday morning, I read them over and over. Sometimes it’s a fine line between seeking God’s will or our own, especially when you feel so strongly about one particular thing. For instance, getting married: many of us feel called to marriage, and yet there is no one around who appears to be “the one”. Maybe we missed something? Maybe God’s trying to show us that it isn’t marriage He wants from us, but a religious life instead? I can hear you from up in Canada girls… “But I don’t WANT to be a nun! I want to have a house and sew and cook and cuddle babies!” Alas, it isn’t always about what we want. In fact, it has nothing to do with what we want, but rather, what God wants for us. We will be the happiest in this world by fulfilling the path HE has for us, not what WE have for us. Of course we all know this, but it’s different to actually put it into practise. It’s a decision we have to make every single day, maybe even several times during the day. And we can do it, with His help.

But back to my point… I think often times we are given certain desires because, in the end, that is what God wants of us. On the rare occasion you hear of someone who dramatically entered a convent or became a priest. But more often than not, people end up doing what they have always desired to do. Most married men and women did want to get married, most nuns always desired to be a nun, most priests had it in at least the back of their mind for most of their lives. So my point is that God inspires certain desires in us. If you can’t shake that longing to get married deep in the back of your heart. chances are you will get married (preferably to the man or women God has set aside as a perfect fit for you). But in the mean time, why not enjoy where God has you right at this moment? He’s given you this time in your life to grow, to learn new things, to become the man or woman He wants you to be. And despite the longing to get married, He knows exactly when you will meet that right One. So for now, maybe He wants you to learn to cook for the sake of your future family, maybe He’s giving you the opportunity to travel and see more of His beautiful creation, or maybe He wants you to learn perseverance in a job you don’t like because He knows down the road you’ll need that same perseverance with a mother-in-law who nit picks at you constantly. We don’t know exactly the reason, but we do know that He has put us in this exact spot in life because He wants something of us during whatever time it is for you.

So don’t let go of those deep rooted desires, or bury them, but rather keep them on the top of your bookshelf in plain site, dusted and ready to by pulled down whenever God inspires you to reach for them. After all, that’s exactly what this past weekend was about. His passion and death were for us to reach heaven, and the particular path He has for each of us will get us there.

Side note: Easter liturgies are the most solemn and beautiful of the whole church year, anyone who doesn’t attend the Latin mass should really seek it out for next Easter! But maybe go a few times to a regular Sunday mass beforehand so you’re not completely over-whelmed by the length and sacredness of the Easter liturgies! 😉