Friday, June 18, 2021

Gochujang Chicken and Tortellini

 This is a real hybrid recipe. I  couldn't imagine the final dish, coupling as it does the unlikely combination of cheese tortellini with Korean chile paste. And some honey. And some fontina cheese.

But it works. Really well.

Find out more at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Tea Service

Tea service by Albert Anker, c. 1890s.
via J.R.'s Art Place


The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities ...

The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities, and Flambeau had stocked it with such things as his special philosophy considered necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die.
G.K. Chesterton, The Innocence of Father Brown,
The Sins of Prince Saradine

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Mulk (Country)

This was based on a true case where a terrorist's entire family was taken to court and accused of being a terrorist cell. We were invested on the family's side, as most American viewers would be, and as the movie intended everyone to be. It was also very interesting to see how the top terrorist persuaded the family son to his cause.

The movie did an especially good job of showing the friendly Hindu-Muslim relations between neighborhood families which then spiraled downhill after the terrorist act. And we appreciated the inside views of the horror-stricken family and how they also got different reactions to the crime from inside their own Muslim community.

The actors were all great, especially Rishi Kapoor as the family patriarch and Ashutosh Rana as the public prosecutor. Rana is well known for his "negative roles" and we could see why.

Some reviewers criticized this for a lack of subtlety but c'mon. It's a courtroom drama. That means over-the-top speeches whether in America or India. Even the venerable Twelve Angry Men doesn't escape that. Overall, a good legal movie with a message that works today in America in a lot of ways.

Rating — for viewers with medium to difficult Indian film experience. (It's not rocket science, but without any cultural background at all you might feel kind of lost.)

Edward Penfield, His Book


Bookplate of Edward Penfield

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Canticle — Daniel 3:57-88, 56

 Let every creature bless the Lord

We begin taking a bit of a break from Psalms with an  occasional look at the Canticles, as I mentioned in this book review.

Fiery Furnace, Toros Roslin, 1266

Let's look first at this Canticle for Sunday morning prayer of the first week.  (The Liturgy of the Hours goes in four week rotation.)

I'm a real sucker for anything that shows us God's reflection in nature. This one, featuring the song of the three young men in the furnace in the Book of Daniel, does that in spades. Here it is.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord.
You heavens, bless the Lord.
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.
All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord.
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.
All you winds, bless the Lord.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord.
Cold and chill, bless the Lord.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord.
Nights and days, bless the Lord.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord.
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.

Let the earth bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord.
Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.
You springs, bless the Lord.
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord.
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.
All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord.
You sons of men, bless the Lord.

O Israel, bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord.
Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Let us bless the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Let us praise and exalt him above all forever.
Blessed are you, Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.
I never thought about the three young men being connected with the resurrection, especially so early that icons of them have been found in the Roman catacombs.
In this text, in the form of a litany, it is as if our gaze passes all things in review. Our gaze focuses on the sun, the moon and the stars; it settles upon the immense expanse of the waters, rises to the mountains, lingers over the most varied elements of the weather; it passes from hot to cold, from light to darkness; considers the mineral and vegetable worlds, dwells on the various types of animals. Then the call becomes universal: it refers to God's angels, reaches all the "sons of men", but most particularly involves the People of God, Israel, the priests and the holy ones. It is an immense choir, a symphony in which the varied voices are raised in praise to God, Creator of the universe and Lord of history. Prayed in the light of Christian revelation, it is addressed to the Trinitarian God, as we are invited to do by the liturgy which adds a Trinitarian formula to the Canticle: "Let us praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit".

It is traditional to associate the Canticle with the Resurrection. Some ancient records show the existence of the hymn in the prayer of the Lord's Day, the weekly Easter of Christians. Moreover, iconographical depictions which show three young men praying unharmed amidst the flames have been found in the Roman catacombs, thereby witnessing to the effectiveness of prayer and the certainty that the Lord will intervene.
John Paul II, Psalms & Canticles, May 2, 2001 homily

An index of canticle posts is here.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Julie couldn't win enough at the roulette wheel to get an exit visa to Lisbon until Scott, wearing a very fine white tuxedo jacket, told her to bet on 22.

 We discuss Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Episode 259 of the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Digging into the roots of our faith

I just figured out that I'm partway into a pilgrimage in seeing just how far back the roots of our faith reach into Jewish tradition, history, and overall context. (Hint: it goes all the way back to the beginning and all the way to the top).

Its so exciting! And you know what that means. I've got to share the good stuff with you.

As we know I've lately been digging into the Psalms (and beginning tomorrow, some of canticles too!) with the help of the Church Fathers and other commentaries

That and the strong recommendation from The Burrowshire Podcast led me to dabbling in the Liturgy of the Hours which, in turn, led me to Saint John Paul II's and Pope Benedict's excellent homilies on the psalms and canticles. 

Topping off my deep immersion in Jewish and Old Testament context was Rabbi Sacks' essays Genesis: The Book of Beginnings. I'm now about halfway through his essays on Exodus which are similarly eye opening in connecting Catholicism to Jewish context.

Suffice it to say, I recently realized that God had positioned me for a deep, deep dive into connecting the Old Testament with Jesus. It is so fascinating to see how far back (like all the way to the beginning) that Jesus' priesthood stretches, how much deeper the liturgical readings are linked than the obvious connections we can see, and to feel it all come together.

Recently it all came together in a perfect storm of resources from author John Bergsma.

First, my daughter Rose alerted me to a Pints with Aquinas podcast episode where John Bergsma talks about the Biblical basis for the priesthood of Jesus. This had some stunning connections which make so much sense once someone has pointed them out. Bergsma recently wrote Jesus and the Old Testament Roots of the Priesthood which went straight onto my wish list after seeing the sample and hearing that podcast episode.

I am not surprised at considering that Bergsma's collaboration with Brant Pitre (another excellent author who shows "Jewish roots" connections) on A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament is a simply wonderful scholarly overview of contemporary understanding of the language, literature, history, and culture of the ancient Hebrews. This was a big investment for me but well worth the money. I love it.

But Bergsma's been busier than I realized. Looking around on Amazon for the priesthood book I also came across two other treasures.

I approached the first discovery warily. I've got devotionals the follow the daily and Sunday Mass readings. This would have to offer something different and I felt as if most devotionals tended to fall into the same few general categories. 

However, The Word of the Lord: Reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings for Year B delighted me by focusing on the readings from a deep connection to scripture that wasn't held down to the excerpts that the liturgy uses. Bergsma's background as a Biblical scholar comes to the fore in identifying unifying motifs and intriguing connections that you don't see a lot of the time. I splurged on it as my book to buy this month and it is truly wonderful for anyone who loves Bible study and the Sunday Mass liturgy.

Bergsma's connection with the Ave Catholic Notetaking Bible is simply in writing the introduction (as far as I can tell). But I'm grateful to have this Bible called to my attention. Rose got her own copy so I've been able to see it up close and it is on my wish list now.

Here's why.

I've used the same Catholic study Bible (1980) since I converted. It's got the accumulated notes of 20 years from Bible studies, commentaries, and anywhere else that I found something I was afraid I'd forget. I like having all these notes in one place, but I hate having nowhere to write. And as you can see, some of these pages are full!

The pictures and reviews of that notetaking Bible make me itch to begin transcribing everything into a place with enough room.

Honey Jar with Comb

Honey Jar with Comb, Duane Keiser


Monday, June 14, 2021


Determined, Remo Savisaar


Psalms & Canticles by John Paul II

The daily Liturgy of Lauds, in addition to the Psalms, always offers a Canticle from the Old Testament. Indeed, it is well known that besides the Psalter [Book of Psalms], the true prayer book of Israel and later of the Church,  another sort of "Psalter" exists, found among the various historical, prophetic and sapiential [relating to wisdom] pages of the Bible. It also consists in hymns, supplications, praises and invocations, often of great beauty and spiritual intensity.
John Paul II, Psalms & Canticles:
Meditations and Catechesis on the Psalms and Canticles of Morning Prayer
Toward the end of his life and pontificate, John Paul II began a series on of homilies on the psalms and canticles of morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. They were collected in this book. When I began dabbling in the Liturgy of the Hours I picked it up. It is a real  treasure.

Saint John Paul II's homilies going through the psalms and canticles for morning prayer used over the 4 week period. His commentaries are both accessible and rich, giving the context in which they were first prayed and then showing how they show us Christ. They often end with a connection to a Church Father or saint who spoke about a particular psalm. I can't recommend them highly enough.
I discovered that JPII followed that up with a series of homilies covering evening prayer, which Pope Benedict XVI finished when his predecessor died before finishing commenting on the four weeks of Hours of the Liturgies.  The book versions of these are out of print or ridiculously expensive and a Catholic publisher would be doing the faithful a great service in reprinting them (so that's my plea, moving on). Luckily, some industrious soul made a linked reference to all the homilies. See the second chart in this location for links to the evening prayer homilies which are posted at the Vatican website.
These have been so enriching that I will be sharing a few of the insights in an occasional post on the Canticles that I'll be interspersing these occasionally with our psalms series.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior's Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today's feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue" (Decree of May 4, 1944).
As always you'll find a lot more information, prayers, and activities at Catholic Culture.

I particularly like this reflection which reminds me of why Mary was not only the first and best of Jesus' disciples, but why I should ask her for help in my own Christian journey.
The Preface of the Mass attributes a number of qualities to the Heart of Mary. It is wise, because she understood the meaning of the Scriptures as no other person had ever done, and she kept in it the memory of the words and things relating to the mystery of salvation. It is immaculate, that is, immune from any stain of sin. It is docile because she submitted so faithfully to God's will and to every one of his wishes. It is new, according to the ancient prophecy of Ezechiel  -- a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit -- clothed in the newness of grace merited by Christ. It is humble because she imitated the humility of Christ, who said Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart. It is simple, free from any duplicity and full of the Spirit of truth. It is clean and thus able to see God according to the words of the Beatitude. It is firm in her acceptance of the Will of God when Simeon announced to her that a sword of sorrow would pierce her heart, when persecution broke out aginst her Son or when the moment of his death was at hand. It is ready, for whilst Christ slept in the sepulchre she kept watchin the expectation of his resurrection, just like the spouse in the Canticle of Canticles.

As we consider the splendour and holiness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we can examine today the depths of our own soul: whether we are open and docile to the graces and inspirations of the Holy Spirit, whether we jealously guard our heart from anything that could separate it form God, whether we pull up by the roots our little feelings of resentment, of envy ... which tend to bed themselves down within it. We know that from our heart's richness or its poverty our words and deeds will speak. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good things. (Matt. 12:35)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

This is one of my favorite solemnity feast days. And not just because it is always on a Friday, which means I can eat meat! Though that does make it a proper celebration!

On the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we give special honor to the source and symbol of the love Our Saviour has for us. Celebrated the Friday after the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast day celebrates the devotion to the Heart of Jesus; one of the oldest devotions of the Church, dating back in some form to the Patristic Era, the era of the early Church Fathers. Sr. Mary Jeremiah, O.P., S.T.D. Describes the importance and significance of the devotion:

“Jesus Christ is the center of the universe. His pierced Heart, as the symbol of His infinite and divine charity united to his human affections and love, is the focal point of all time. Those who lived during the long period before his incarnation and redemptive death and resurrection waited with yearning for the promised redeemer. Those who witnessed the piercing of his side, as well as all people who will live, are invited to gaze upon and contemplate this mystery. . . As Christians lovingly gaze upon his Heart, they are given the grace to believe in God's mercy and forgiveness.” - from the book The Secret of the Heart
Originally from an article on Aquinas and More, link dead
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable feast, which means that it depends on the date of Easter Sunday. It is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, which falls on the 50th day of Easter.

I personally have a special love for the novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
O Lord Jesus Christ, to your most Sacred Heart I confide this intention. Only look upon me, then do what your love inspires. Let your Sacred Heart decide. I count on you. I trust in you. I throw myself on your mercy. Lord Jesus, you will not fail me.

(Mention your request)

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, your kingdom come.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have asked you for many favors, but I earnestly implore this one. Take it, place it in your open heart. When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.
There is something about this part especially that gets to me: "When the Eternal Father looks upon it, he will see it covered with your Precious Blood. It will no longer be my prayer, but yours, Jesus."

I tend to forget about the Litany of the Sacred Heart but it is very useful for prayerful meditation on the perfection that is Jesus' heart with which we try to bring our hearts in line daily.

Other Good Thoughts about The Sacred Heart of Jesus
"In the best apologetic manner the Catholic lady said, "Well, you know how you Baptists accept Jesus into your heart? We Catholics ask Jesus to accept us into his heart.
He also has a nice piece which reminds me that one of my very favorite churches, La Basilica de Sacre Coeur in Paris, is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Go. Read.