Holidays

Lent Introduction

Ash Wednesday to Easter

 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. John 3:17

Happy Lent!  Yes, I do mean Happy Lent.  Lent is one of the most misunderstood of the holidays.  Yes, it is a holiday!  The season of Lent is spiritual season, so it is outside of time and space, hence the reason you see a lot of purple, the color of the spiritual.  It, like Advent, is a time of contemplation.  God does not want you morning and suffering like is commonly believed.  He is our Father.  Would you want your child in pain and upset?  Of course not!  And how much more God loves us than we can ever love each other, for He is Love itself.

So what is Lent?  It is forty days prior to Easter that are set aside for spiritual contemplation.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.  In many churches ashes, from the palms of Palm Sunday the year before, are put on the foreheads of the people in the sign of the Cross.  The reason for this is to remind us that “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  The funeral of Carnival has concluded.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near, when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain; in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows are darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; yes, they shall be afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the way; and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goes to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets: before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the spring, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “All is vanity!”

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

All that you found wrong with your life during Carnevale (see Carnevale Introduction post) – put into action now!  It is a proven psychological fact that forty days of consistent change will break a habit.  Now, you have forty day of Lent.  Convenient isn’t it? If you stop doing something, or start doing something, for forty days then it becomes a new habit.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come. Matthew 24:43-44

While Carnevale taught us how stupid our lives can get, Lent teaches us that you only have a finite amount of time here on this earth.  Use it wisely.

Lent Prayer

Lord, please help me so that everything I do from now on comes from You and is inspired by Your Love.  Help me to grow closer to You, O Lord, so that I do not have an empty hole in myself that I fill with silly worldly things.  Help me to be filled with Your spirit so that I do not want.  Amen.

Peace be with you,

drj

Lent Recipes

Pretzels

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1 and 1/2 cups warm water

1 packet active instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)

Dissolve yeast into the warm water.  You might need a pinch or two of sugar to wake the yeast up.  Let it alone to do its stuff for five minutes.

1 teaspoon salt

Add to yeast mixture.

3 ¾ to 4 ¼ cups flour

Slowly mix into the yeast mixture until the dough is thick and no longer sticky.  Then roll the dough into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape.

9 cups of water

2/3 cup of baking soda

Bring to a boil.  Gently lower the pretzels one at a time into the boiling water for 30 seconds and then take them out put on a parchment paper cookie sheet (silpat, or whatever non-stick you have)

Coarse salt

While still wet, sprinkle pretzels with coarse salt.  Bake 10 minutes.

Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
Salt to taste
Sauté in a large pot.

1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
Add to the sautéed vegetables and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer 40 minutes.
Grilled Salmon

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoons chopped dill

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix.

2 pound skin-on side of salmon, bones removed

Brush with previous. Grill on oiled grates for 7 minutes a side, basting again after turning.

Peace be with you,

drj

Lent Activities

Burying the Alleluia

There is a tradition called the Burying of the Alleluia.  During Lent, as a symbol that we are separated from God by sin, we don’t sing the Alleluia during the Mass because we are separated from praising God with the Angels and Saints.  Traditionally, they would take a coffin inscribed with the word Alleluia and bury it as a symbol of this separation, thus burying the Alleluia.  This funeral like all funerals is what is called a deposition of the body, Latin for “giving on deposit”.  Because like our dead, the Alleluia is only deposited into the earth in hope of the Resurrection and the life of the world to come.  Thus, the Alleluia is on deposit until Easter.  To bring that tradition home and update it, make a small pile of mustard seeds on a plate or in a bowl.  This to symbolize the faith you wish to obtain.

“… For most certainly I tell you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

Take a little coffin, from those Halloween villages or make your own, and write the word Alleluia, or decoupage a picture of an angel or whatever Alleluia means to you.  Then make a hole in the center of the mustard seed and put the coffin into it.

Pray the Act of Contrition:

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I love above all things.  I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.  Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.  In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen.

Bury the coffin in the mustard seed.  At our home we also put a figure of Jesus knocking at the door on top and leave it there as a visual reminder all during Lent.

 

Don’t give up!  Change! Spring Cleaning!

A lot of people have a tradition of giving up something for Lent.  This comes from the older tradition of “giving up the flesh” or abstaining from anything of the body, by which they meant veganism in a strange medieval sort of way.  This was also because it was a spiritual season, not a physical one and we just said goodbye to the flesh with Carnevale.  However, fish specifically salmon, where considered a symbol of spiritual wisdom and as a remembrance of “being fishers of men” people sometimes eat fish during Lent.

Today, it is about giving something up for Lent.  Everyone askes, ‘what are you giving up for lent?’  It is thought to be giving up something so that you will suffer for God, but on Sundays and starting Easter you get whatever it was right back.  This is a waste of Lent!  If you give up something for Lent it is supposed to be for the betterment of your soul!  God does not want suffering!  God is Love!  And what does Love want in return?  Acceptance.  God only wants you to accept the love He is giving you, nothing more.  If you accept this Love your life changes completely!

So change or give up something?  I have an idea that will solve both.  It will help you change and it allows you to give up something, because many people feel guilty if they don’t give up something for Lent.  Give up the world and take in the Spirit!  That is what the season is all about!  Living in the word and deed of Love!

How do you do that?  Give up materialism.

As we learned in Carnevale consumerism is ridiculous.  So let’s start tearing down some barns!

He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.” He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do, because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared—whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:15-21

For greater detail please see my post on Real Minimalism it has stories and ideas to get you started.

 

Spring Cleaning of Your Soul

The best way of spring cleaning your soul is to pray, re-enforce your connection with God.  Spend some time each day praying to and listening to (meditating on) God.  Start simply, talk to God about your day, your hopes, your dreams, what you feel good about, what you feel guilty about – anything, everything.  Then after you pray, meditate.  Mediation is not blanking your mind.  Focus on God, not on nothing.  It is listening to God.  Praying is talking; meditation is listening.

 

Spring Cleaning of Your Mind

The best way of spring cleaning your mind is to be a mermaid (or merman)!  While going to the beach and getting in the ocean is months away, if ever, for many of us, the mermaid is a great visualization.  We can learn from the mermaid.  We can relax and grow our mertail.  We can go deep into the ocean of our subconscious mind, explore the shipwrecks of our past deeds and relationships.  We can acknowledge them, explore them and make peace with them.  Ask for forgiveness if necessary, give forgiveness if necessary.  Let those shipwrecks become merely structures for you to build beautiful coral reefs of your new way of being.  Do not get trapped in the sinking ship of past wrongs you’ve done or were done to you, but acknowledge it as beautiful for it has made you who you are and has helped you on the road to who you wish to be.

 

Eat Pretzels

According to tradition, the pretzel first came about during Lent as an invention of Italian monks.  To make bread without butter, eggs or anything of the body they invented, basically pretzel sticks, then added the salt on the outside for flavoring.  During Lent, if children learned their prayers the monks would make special Lenten bread folded over to look like praying hands (arms crossed over the chest), as a treat.  Hence the name Bracchiola in Italian meaning “little arms.”  German monks liked the idea and began to make them as well calling them Brezel from the Latin, bracellus meaning bracelet.  The English speaking monks then started to make them as Pretzels.  Now you can easily by pretzels in the store but you can also make nice soft pretzels at home.  A recipe is in the Lent Recipes post.

Peace be with you,

drj

Candlemas Activities

Plant Snowdrops (later)

They are bulbs and must therefore be planted in the fall.  However, you can “force” them if you don’t live where there is snow.

Planting to have for Candlemas if you don’t live in an area that gets cold is easy. Snowdrops look best in a wide pot that is at least 4 to 6 inches deep.  Make sure that the roots have at least 2 inches to grow down.  Use a few rocks on the bottom for drainage and fill the rest with good potting soil.  They will look best if they are crowded together so plant them about ½ inch apart, pointy side up.

Then put in refrigerator for 15 weeks, make sure to water every so often. Take them out and gradually wake them up, indirect sunlight and 60 degree temperature.  Soon the shoots will be 3 to 5 inches tall.  Put them in direct sunlight at room temperature (about 70 or so) and they will bloom within about 2 weeks of coming out of the refrigerator.

If planting in snowy areas plant outside in partial shade and water every so often during the fall and winter.  Soon as it starts to warm the snowdrops will grow, sometimes even through the snow.

After blooming, the leaves need to grow and photosynthesize.  When they yellow and wither remove those leaves and leave the green leaves.  You can fertilize in the fall and winter.

 

Ice Candles

What better way to celebrate Candlemas than with candles?

You will need:

A clean wax coated cardboard box (like a milk carton)

A chime candle (those small ½ inch by 4 inch candles)

Candlewax (beads are best or you can chop into tiny pieces)

Ice pieces (not crushed)

Take the wax coated cardboard box and place the chime candle in the center.  Fill the rest of the carton with ice, the smaller pieces the better.  Melt your wax in a double boiler or microwave.  Be careful that it doesn’t catch on fire by heating it too fast!  If using a microwave keep your eye and stop and stir every 10 seconds or so.  When it turns liquid take it out – it will be extremely hot, so again be careful.  Slowly pour the wax into the mold.  When pouring, slowly move the pouring pot to different places so you are not pouring in the same spot constantly.  Wait until it is totally cool before ripping away the box.  And done.

 

Prayer for the Blessing of Candles

You can bless your candles with any prayer you choose or take them to church.  If they don’t bless candles at your church, here is a prayer you can use.  In the old days, they would first purify the candle by passing it through incense three time and then the pray over the candles. This is a variation on the prayer from the Vatican Exorcist Father Gabriel Amorth.

“May this candle fix in our minds the image of God who loves us all, who is ever gentle and kind and picks us up when we slip and fall.  May He guard us from evil traps and watch over us day and night, that our faith may never collapse as we walk always in the path of the light.  May God bless all who use this candle in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.”

 

Spring Cleaning

Yes, it doesn’t sound much like a celebration, but when you’re done you’ll feel sooo much better.  In Scotland in earlier times, they would take everything out of the house and clean it and make sure that light, from the sun or from Candlemas candles shined in every inch of the place so that no darkness (symbolic of remaining evil) would have place in their lives.  Once everything was cleaned, light shined upon it and then put back, they would then make crosses.  Sometimes Saint Brigid’s crosses (her feast day is also Feb 2), and sometimes out of rowan sticks (also representing St. Brigid for legend says a rowan tree grew outside her front door ensnaring any evil that thought to come after her) – either cross would be tied with red sting (representing the flame of the Holy Spirit, shining in the world) and put over the front door inside the house.

 

Making Saint Brigid’s Cross

This can be done with rushes, wheat, long grass, even pipe cleaners, but for clarity’s sake I will use the term rush, because in the story of Saint Brigid she made a cross of rushes from the floor and converted a King.

You will need:

16 rushes of equal length

Raffia or Red string

Take the first rush and hold it straight, then taking the second fold it in half around the middle of the first.  It should look like a weird sideways T.  Then turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise so that the first rush is horizontal to the floor and the second is pointing up.  Now take the third rush fold it in half placing it around the second rush and pointing to your right.  Make sure it is all the way down and touching the first rush.  Rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise again so that the third rush is pointing up and the first rush is now going straight up and down.  Then fold the forth in half and place it around the third, and half of the first and pointing to your right.  Again, make sure that it is all the way down.  Keep turning and adding more rushes until you have used all sixteen.  Tie off the ends with a piece of raffia or red string.

 

Present Jesus at the Temple

I have personally never done this, but it is a very big deal in some Latin American countries.  They take the baby Jesus from the manger that they used at Christmas and dress him up, usually baptismal clothes, but sometimes other things like soccer uniforms, tuxedos, etc.  Then they put him in a basket and bring him to Church on Candlemas, some churches bless the figurines.  Then they bring him back home and set him up in a little chair and celebrate with a feast.

 

Eat Pancakes

Pancakes are the oldest festive food known to man, and it is the traditional food of Candlemas.  The reason being that pancakes are round and golden and therefore representing the sun, one of the main nature symbols of Christ.  They are made of eggs for remembrance of God’s creative power, flour as a symbol of the staff of life, oil long associated with blessings of God, and sugar for the sweetness of Life.  You could have them for breakfast or they make an excellent dessert with blueberries (for peace and protection, and one of the fruits considered a favorite of St. Brigid) and whipped cream (sweet reminder that you should use the “milk of human kindness” as a follower of Christ).

I also like to use a small amount of acorn flour in the pancake batter.  I like to use acorn flour for Holy Days because of the symbolism of the oak, also known as the Jesus Tree. For the oak is considered a symbol of strength, virtue, and re-birth.  Its tiny acorns feed us as Christ feed the multitude on so little.  Its leaves and bark have medicinal properties as Christ healed the sick.  And it teaches us to realize that not only are we of the earth as it has its roots firmly in the earth yet we need to strive, just as its branches always reach towards heaven.   And it also teaches us love as Jesus did, for the oak’s first branches form a cross.  A recipe for Spicy Pancakes is in the post Candlemas Recipes.

Peace be with you,

drj

 

 

Candlemas Recipes

Spicy Pancakes

1 cup flour

¼ cup wheat germ

¼ cup oatmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup milk

1 egg

3 tablespoons melted butter

Wisk together.

 

½ cup raisins

½ cup walnuts

Add to previous as you grill them.

 

Tequila Lobster in a Green Chili Cream Sauce

1 pound cooked lobster

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauté.

 

¼ cup diced green chilies

4 tablespoons cilantro

2 shots of Tequila

Add to previous until alcohol has burned off and set aside.

 

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

3 tablespoons butter

Cook on high and make into a roux, cooking for 3 minutes.

 

Half and half

Add enough to previous to make a gravy and cook until desired thickness then add lobster.

 

Dijon and Brie Minions

4 filet minions

4 tablespoons olive oil

Pan broil until half done.

 

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup dried rosemary

Add to previous and finish cooking.

 

1/4 pound Brie

1/4 pound butter

Cut into small pieces (no casings – don’t be gross).  Microwave them for fifteen seconds to soften and beat until well mixed.  Spoon onto fillets when they are done and on the plates, the filet heat will finish melting it.  Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.

 

Peace be with you,

drj

Candlemas Introduction

February 2

When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. Luke 2:22

Happy Candlemas!  Before I can tell you what this holiday is I have to go back to when it starts.  Long ago, to mark the changing of the seasons the Church instituted the Ember Days.  Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, close to or before the change of the season.  Ember Days are the days of preparation, marked with prayer, fasting or abstinence.  This, like most of the medieval holidays, therefore most of my holiday blogs, Christianity no longer really practices.  I say go for it!  The Spring Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday before The Feast Candlemas.

Personally, I have never found fasting to be a helpful prayer tool.  It, for me, is distracting.  I do not think of God, I think I have a pounding headache and I feel sick.   Moreover, God does not want you to suffer, He wants you to accept His Love.  Christ joined humanity to lift us from our suffering, not to make it greater.  When He comes in Judgment no one can says He does not know our suffering, for He has suffered for us and with us.  Why increase it?  Everything that we put up with, He has put up with.  So fast and abstinence or not, up to you.  Spiritual preparation is the real key, however you choose to do it.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come. Matthew 24:43-44

Now that you are spiritually prepared for the season of Candlemas, what is it?  Candlemas is the celebration of when Jesus was presented at the temple.

When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. He came in the Spirit into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, that they might do concerning him according to the custom of the law, then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

“Now you are releasing your servant, Master, according to your word, in peace; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Joseph and his mother were marveling at the things which were spoken concerning him, and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

There was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years), who didn’t depart from the temple, worshiping with fastings and petitions night and day. Coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.

When they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. The child was growing, and was becoming strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:22-40

This idea of purification and light have become the cornerstone of the celebration customs throughout the world.  In the Middle Ages and up until comparatively recently, candles to represent “the light of revelation” were brought to Church on Candlemas.  Some churches have now revived this tradition. Yay! These candles were blessed so that the use of them throughout the year would be a constant reminder of Christ.  Since this is also a feast of purification “purification rites required by the Law of Moses” there is also the tradition of Spring Cleaning, for this is also the first day of spring and by extension the start of the renewal.  This renewal comes soon in the form of Lent but is represented on Candlemas by bear and snowdrops.

Bears, as representatives of the resurrection and the life of the world to come, were watched closely in early Christian times.  Bears are strong and vital, but then they die and are buried (go deep underground in caves to hibernate) and then with the coming of Spring (the coming of Life Everlasting) they emerge renewed and ready to live again.  Sadly, the only remnant of this celebration of purification, light and renewal is “Groundhog day”.  But we are Christians so we rejoice in Candlemas!  Spring is on its way!

The other symbol of Candlemas is snowdrops.  Snowdrops are flowers that are the first to bloom.  Sometimes even blooming up through the snow in little white drop flowers, hence the name.  Snowdrops have an apocryphal story themselves.

The first winter when Adam and Eve were in the world was a hard one.  They had never seen the world die and grow cold.  As food became scarce and the world colder with January, Eve began to despair that life would never return to the world, that they would have to live in death until they finally succumbed to it themselves.  And she wept for all that had happened.

God wanted her to know that this suffering was only temporary, that He still loved her and that there was life to come.  But she was in such despair that she could no longer hear Him.  So He called St. Michael and told him how much Eve suffered and asked him to do something for her, something that would let her know she was not forgotten, that she was loved, that suffering is temporary, to do something to make her happy.  St. Michael came to Eve but she could not see or hear him either, so he saw where her tears were landing in the snow and he caused a pure white flower to come up and bloom.  And her tears turned to joy and she went off to bring Adam to see this wonderful gift.

 

Peace be with you.

drj

Carnevale Recipes

Jambalaya

2 cups white rice

4 cups water

Boil water, add rice.  Simmer 20 minutes.
1 pound ham

2 boneless chicken breasts

1 cup onion
½ cup celery

3 cloves of garlic

1 link Andouille sausage

½ cup green bell pepper

¼ cup green onion

Chop all and sauté.
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Cajun spices

Hot sauce as desired.

Add to the meat and bring to a simmer.  Add rice and mix thoroughly.  Heat through.

King Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix. Preheat oven to 350.

 

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Mariner

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest

Mix with previous.  Pour into buttered and floured pans. Bake 35 – 40 minutes

Decorate with Carnevale colors, with sprinkles, icing or whatever you like best.  Then take your little baby Jesus figure and lift the edge of the cake and hide it underneath.  Make sure you press it down so that the cake is still even.  Some people bake the baby in the cake which seems kind toxic sounding to me, but to each his own.

 

New York Steaks in Brandied Mushrooms

1 small clove of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 sliced mushrooms

Sauté.

 

2 tablespoons Benedictine

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon parsley

Add to previous and keep warm.

 

1 pound New York Steaks

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cracked pepper

Slice into 1/4″ strips and sauté.  Add sauce and serve.

 

 

Peace be with you,

drj

Carnevale Activities

Make a Mask

Making a mask is helpful, psychologically as well as a spiritually.  Making a mask from paper or decorating one from the store allows you to explore who you are and who is the façade that you show to the world.  While making the mask decide for yourself, is this who you are deep inside or is this the way you want others to see you?  Why do you wear it?

Now, we all want everyone to think that we are good people.  But few actually try to change to be good people.  We care about how we are perceived instead of who we are.  We want to be accepted.  We all wear the masks of who we think we need to be depending on who we are with.  God already knows who you really are and He already accepts and loves you.

God sees you as you truly are and loves you unconditionally.  He does not care who others want you to be or even worse who you want others to see you as.  He cares about the real you, the true you, the you that will someday leave this body and all the materialism and masks behind.  When that day comes, who will God see?

After using the mask through Carnevale at midnight on Mardi Gras as Carnevale turns to Lent take off the mask.  Know that you are beloved. Focus on God, not everybody else. Then you will not have to say that you are a good person, you will be it already because you want to love God back.  Perhaps you could burn your mask, or throw it in the trash, so that not only are you telling yourself psychologically that you will no longer be the mask but your true, better self but also spiritually you are letting go of the body and will live only in word and deed of Love in Lent.

 

Jambalaya

We’ve already discussed King Cake and another great holiday food is Jambalaya (Jamba meaning ham, and laya meaning mess).  Why?  Not only is New Orleans birthplace of Jambalaya, and it is also the home of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in this country, but more importantly because we are saying goodbye to the flesh and this whole material mess we make and there is a whole lot of flesh and mess in Jambalaya.  Funny, tasty and symbolic.  The recipe is in the Carnevale Recipe post.

 

Have a Wake

Parties are all a part of Carnevale.  But since we are saying goodbye to the body, why not have a wake?  You can have it just as you wish it to be.  Invite family and friends.  Tell them what you always wanted to say, exactly how much you love them, sorry for anyway you wronged them, just everything.  It will be an interesting evening.

Peace be with you,

drj

Carnevale Introduction

Epiphany to Mardi Gras

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Happy Carnevale!  Epiphany started the season of Carnevale (see Epiphany posts).  Carnevale is not a spiritual season, a season out of time and space, but a season within ordinary time, meaning physical realm time and space.  It is a time of saying goodbye to the flesh (Carne meaning flesh and Vale meaning farewell).  It is a long, wonderful funeral wake.  It is a time filled with excess, as you can see by watching anything about Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) which is the last day of Carnevale.

In the last few decades Mardi Gras has become so popular that the entire season is sometimes thought of as Mardi Gras.  We see the green, gold and purple and the King cakes.  We see masks, the beads, the coins and the parties.  How can this be a religious holiday?

By looking at what it is, not what it is portrayed to be.  Very much like the commercialization of Christmas, we have to look beyond what people have made it into to see what it truly is.

The colors and the King cake set the tone of what should be a significant teaching.  The colors of Carnevale are purple, green and gold.  The purple is for royalty of Christ the King.  It also represents the contemplative quality that underlies the season – yes, you are supposed to be thinking about your life at this time.  The second color is green.  Green is the color of life not just this one but the one to come.  The third color is gold for Divinity of Jesus.

The King cakes are very significant.  What it is, is a cake, any kind because it changes region to region and family to family.  The thing that is special about this cake is there is a tiny figure of the baby hidden inside the cake.  It not only relays the story of the Wise men but also of how we each must seek Jesus.

The beads and the coins show us how silly we can all get with the ways of the world – wanting more money, bigger house, better car – more, more, more, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine.  How ridiculous we get with the material world is never as obvious as when you see some drunken fool stumbling under the weight of the Mardi Gras beads on his neck, the rings on his fingers, and the coins in his pockets.  Look how rich he is with worldly possessions!  Isn’t he important!   There is a reason that the jester is the main figure in Carnevale.  The jester, or King’s fool, is the only one who can tell you, no matter how important you think you are – the way things really are.  How are things really?

Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than they? Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won’t he much more clothe you, you of little faith? Matthew 6: 25-30

So what does that have to do with the masks, and weird outfits?  Everything!  During Carnevale we make fun of what we do to ourselves!  Instead of being honest with ourselves and others, we wear masks, hiding what we think or how we feel and instead put on the mask that we think others expect us to wear.  That is why at midnight on Mardi Gras when Carnevale ends and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, there is a great unmasking.  We put aside the body to live in only in the word and deed of Love.

With all of this excess we see ourselves in a new light.  Is this really what we want to be?  Is this really what we want to spend years of our finite time on Earth doing? In this grand Goodbye to the Flesh, we think back over our lives and ask ourselves: “Is this what I want to say I’ve done with my life?”

Carnevale Prayer

God, please forgive us for our greed, selfish ambition, conceit, arrogance and other worldly vices.  Forgive us for loving things and placing them over You.  Forgive us for not being good stewards of Your blessings.  And most of all, please help us to rise above it. Amen.

 

Peace be with you,

drj

 

Epiphany Recipes

King Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix. Preheat oven to 350.

 

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Mariner

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest

Mix with previous.  Pour into buttered and floured pans. Bake 35 – 40 minutes

Decorate with Carnevale colors, with sprinkles, icing or whatever you like best.  Then take your little baby Jesus figure and lift the edge of the cake and hide it underneath.  Make sure you press it down so that the cake is still even.  Some people bake the baby in the cake which seems kind of toxic sounding to me, but to each his own.

 

Pasta with Lobster and Herbs

1 pound cooked lobster meat

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium minced onion

2 minced cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons basil

1/2 teaspoon mint

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 pound spinach

Sauté all until lobsters are golden brown, spinach is cooked through and the vinegar has evaporated.

 

1 pound of prepared angel hair pasta

4 medium chopped Roma tomatoes

Mix with previous and top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves.

 

Spinach Pesto Soup

3 tablespoons butter

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

Sauté.

 

1 pound Fresh spinach leaves

Add to previous and wilt.

 

1 tablespoon basil

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

Add to previous and bring to a boil.

 

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups milk

Just before serving add to previous and warm, DO NOT BOIL.  Garnish with shredded parmesan cheese.

 

Peace be with you,

drj

 

 

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