Restoring a Catholic Culture through Liturgical Cooking: Early August Thoughts

I’m currently reading Eternity in Time: Christopher Dawson and the Catholic Idea of History edited by Stratford Caldecott and John Morrill. It is a collection of essays by various authors honoring Christopher Dawson’s life and work as a Catholic historian. Throughout the years I have been influenced by Dawson in his vision and purpose of his work. His daughter Christina Scott explains “he was inspired by a single idea, namely, that religion is the soul of a culture, or to put it simply, faith and culture are one…he saw how Western civilization was born from a complete fusion of the Christian faith and a Christian way of life, which came be called Christendom.” (p. 15).

Dawson saw Europe in the Middle Ages as the time this spiritual unity was very closely achieved.  Further in the book in the essay Christopher Dawson and the Catholic idea of history, Dermot Quinn explained:

It was…an age in which the implications of spiritual unity were worked out and made manifest in the life of a society. In the secular sphere, ‘a new democratic spirit of brotherhood and social co-operation’ arose, along with growth in communal and corporate activity. In the ecclesiastical sphere, the Church became responsible for education, art, literature, the care of the poor, the comfort of they dying: not institutional obligations but the duties felt by men towards men….But medieval spirituality joyfully embraced the goal of Christian brotherhood…. Separation between faith and life, or between the spiritual and material was avoided, ‘since the two worlds [had] become fused together in the living reality of a practical experience’. Francis made that Augustinian fusion a reality, St Thomas gave it philosophical authority. It was Aquinas who recognized the autonomy of natural reason in epistemology, ethics, and politics, precisely because he recognized the incarnational implications of that autonomy….

This was the medievalism Dawson celebrated: an era and a people transformed by the power of the gospel. Here was no exercise in mere pietas, no lament for lost centuries. The importance of those centuries was ‘not to be found in the external order they created or attempted to create, but in the internal change they brought about in the soul of Western man’. Dawson loved Langland’s great visionary poem Piers Plowman, thinking it ‘the last…most uncompromising expression of the medieval ideal of the unity of religion and culture’. Notice the implication: culture was not swallowed up by religion by was transformed and transcended it, so that Incarnation itself begins to be understood in and through culture, not apart from it. (pp. 80-81)

Now we can’t turn back the clock to try to live as medievalists, but restoring and living a Catholic culture should be our daily aim. And the Liturgy especially through the Liturgical Year is the gift of the Church as the central guide to help us live that Catholic culture…..

Read the rest on how I connect liturgical cooking, St. Dominic, St. Lawrence and St. Clare on how we can restore a Catholic Culture….

The Feast of the Transfiguration

Interspersed throughout the Season of the Year (Ordinary Time) are feasts of Our Lord that are not directly connected to the Temporal Cycle, but integrated in the Sanctoral Cycle. There are two cycles within the Liturgical Year, Temporal (or Proper of Time) and Sanctoral. The Temporal Cycle celebrates the mystery of the redemption and takes preeminence over other celebrations outside of the cycle. It is not just composed of the Easter and Christmas cycles of feasts, but the 33 or 34 weeks of Ordinary Time are also an integral part of the Temporal Cycle. The Sanctoral Cycle consists of the feasts of devotion of Our Lord and Our Lady and feasts and memorials of the saints through the year.

The Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th is an example of this type of feast of Our Lord. The placement of this feast within the Liturgical Year has no relation to any other feasts or seasons. This feast was established early in the East Syrian Church in the 5th century, and then it appeared in the 10th century in the Western church and quickly spread due to the enthusiasm and interest in the Holy Land and the sites related to the events of Jesus’ life. Pope Calixtus III added the feast to the universal calendar in 1457 in gratitude for the victory of the Franciscan monk John Capistran and John Hunyadi of Hungary had over the Turks the preceding year…..Read the rest at Catholic Culture

Our Family Ties with Saints Anne and Joachim

Many years ago as a small baby I became a member of the Catholic Church, baptized as “Jennifer Ann” in St. Anne Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. Being named after the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus always felt as a special privilege. As time has passed, my relationship has grown from simply understanding St. Anne as a patron saint, to understanding her role as special family member of Christ and how she interceded for my vocation as a single woman, now wife and mother. There is also a special closeness when I think of the role of grandparents in our lives, and it will deepen even further when (or if) I become a grandmother.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy explains that

it is always useful to teach the faithful to realize the importance and significance of the feasts of those Saints who have had a particular mission in the history of Salvation, or a singular relationship with Christ such as St. John the Baptist (24 June), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), the Apostles and Evangelists, St. Mary Magdalen (22 July), St. Martha (29 July) and St. Stephen (26 December).

Now Saints Anne and Joachim do not appear on this list because they are not mentioned in the Bible, but they played a large role in our salvation history. It is a fact of life that a human being must have parents, and usually those parents become grandparents at some point. The Church understands and values the importance of family and family relationships. We have already experienced a few feasts (like the Visitation and Birth of St. John the Baptist) that illustrated the closeness of family ties. The family relationship is key with our relationship with God, as Abba/Father, and Jesus as our adopted brother. The family relationship is used as imagery throughout the Scriptures, but the emphasis of Jesus with his physical family on earth is also beautifully reflected in our liturgy.

It is looking at these family ties that help us understand and pray for intercession from this saintly couple. (Read the rest at Catholic Culture….)

Mary and Martha and our Place in Bethany

I had not planned a vacation, but the past couple of weeks became a vacation by default with health concerns and funerals and family events. I hope to be back more in the swing of writing, especially as the Church celebrates some of my favorite saints at the end of July.

Within a week we celebrate the memorials of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) and St. Martha (July 29). The true identification of St. Mary Magdalene is not quite clear. The Greek Fathers gave her a separate identity than Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, but most Latin Fathers say she is one and the same. Father Saunders explains the confusion, but ends by agreeing with the Latin Fathers. I am in his camp – I have always thought Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha. The Church places the two saints’ feast days so close to each other, treating them as they are sisters. After all, if Mary chose the better part, where is her separate feast if she is not Magdalen?…. Read the rest at Catholic Culture

Feasts of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

The final weeks of June are full of multiple feasts, including several solemnities. If you are one for adding dessert to celebrate special feast days, this time can be hard on the waistline! We end this week with the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which falls the third Friday after Pentecost and the following Saturday is the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Having just celebrated my six month anniversary of my open heart surgery, these feasts that focus on the hearts of Jesus and Mary have taken on new dimensions for me, and I couldn’t let the days go by without giving a little mention of these feasts….Continuing reading the entire post at Catholic Culture

Mid-summer Feast

Merry Christmas! I know it’s not December, but June 24, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, is often referred to as “Summer Christmas” because it is exactly six months from Christmas.

The cult of St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ is very ancient, which makes this such a multi-faceted feast both in the liturgy and traditions connected to the feast. To touch on a few highlights:

A Birthday Celebration

The only other births that are celebrated in the Church's Liturgical Calendar are the birth of Jesus on Christmas, and the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8th. Jesus is the Son of God, so He is always without sin. Mary was immaculately conceived, having no original sin and staying sinless throughout her life. Church tradition states that while in St. Elizabeth's womb, upon hearing Mary's voice, John the Baptist's soul was cleansed of original sin as he leapt for joy. The Church celebrates St. John’s birth and death, but usually saints' feast days are celebrating the day of their death, marking their birthday into heaven — the first day of their eternal reward.

….Read the entire article at Catholic Culture….

Getting to Know St. Isidore and the Agrarian Life in the Liturgy

Isidore the Farmer by Ade Bethune

Isidore the Farmer by Ade Bethune

Of all the saints on the calendar, St. Isidore the Farmer ranks as one of my favorite saints. (I rarely can narrow down to only one favorite, but I will say he is included in my “Top 10″.) I’d like to have a garden statue dedicated to St. Isidore. I’ve only seen St. Francis and St Fiacre, so it might be a novel idea. I have often thought that he would fit wonderfully nearby my vegetable garden. I’m merely a girl that has lived in cities and suburbs all my life, so I know it may sound strange that I identify with a farmer. But perhaps we all should? Read the rest at Catholic Culture….

Review of “The Little Oratory”

The Little OratoryMy review for The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Lawler is live at Catholic Culture.

I wanted to add a few more reflections on the book.

Continue reading

Basking in the Easter Joy

GRÜNEWALD, Matthias ResurrectionResurrection by Matthias Grünewald from Isenheim Altarpiece.

Of all the resurrection art, this is my favorite depiction of Christ rising. It’s because of the light shining right through Christ. Christ IS the light, Christ our Light. It makes me think of the theory of the imprinting of the Shroud of Turin, that there was some magnificent light, almost like a nuclear blast that would imprint that image. And this painting puts that into perspective.

I didn’t plan on waiting until Thursday in the Octave of Easter to post, but here I am. Frankly, Holy Week does wear me out….I mentioned that in my Holy Week Preparation post. Now we are in the Easter Season! He is alive! Jesus has conquered sin and death! There is less frenzy and more of recalling and enjoying. I wrote a post on ways to spread the rejoicing over 50 days at Catholic Culture. I know this must be a general feeling of relaxing, because my stats have gone way on views.

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Podcast recommendation

As we are gearing up for Holy Week and Easter, I wanted to recommend The Lanky Guys podcast, The Word on the Hill, particularly this week’s podcast on Palm Sunday.

The podcasts are focused on giving insights to the Sunday readings. Their description:

The Lanky Guys (Fr. Peter Mussett and Scott Powell) are two utterly brilliant and charmingly witty Catholic theologians who host the wildly popular podcast, The Word on the Hill, which attempts to tie together all of the readings from the Sunday Mass.

They generally run 45 minutes, so I start listening in small segments before Sunday. It really deepens my prayer having this food for thought on the readings.

Two thumbs up recommendation!