Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vegfest 2008

So this afternoon Jeanette and I went to Seattle's Vegfest, a kind of convention for vegetarians, and it was great. Now I am certainly no vegetarian, and neither is Jeanette, but we were enticed by the promise of hundreds of samples of food, and we were not disappointed. The convention center was packed, and there were lots and lots of samples to go around. Some of them even tasted almost as good as normal food. I did think some of the displays were a little silly, though; as I sampled some salsa on a tortilla chip, I remarked to Jeanette, "Wow, it's almost as good as non-vegetarian salsa!" But that was not the funniest thing I said today.

Like I said, the place was packed with people, and as we were slowly meandering through the masses, we ended up near a baby in a stroller who clearly was not enjoying Vegfest quite as much as the rest of us. He was crying pretty hard. And as I heard this baby crying, I was struck with inspiration. Now, sometimes an opportunity for a funny remark will present itself, but I'll miss my window of opportunity, and later on I'll think of something hilarious that I could have said and wish that I had said it at the time. This was not one of those situations. I had the perfect line, and I did not hesitate in delivering it. Loud enough for those in the immediate vicinity to hear, I said, "That baby wants some meat!"

It was so funny that even Jeanette laughed, and a girl nearby nearly spit out her free sample. I had to keep my eyes peeled, though, in case I'd offended any of the more militant vegans in the area who might want to bludgeon me with a block of tofurkey.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

"Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward," by John Donne

Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I'almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc'd with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag'd, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish'd thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They'are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may'st know mee, and I'll turne my face.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter Triduum

Tonight begins the Easter Triduum, which is basically the most intense period in the liturgical year. The Triduum officially begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and continues until the evening of Easter Sunday. During this three-day period, the Church celebrates the core of the entire Christian faith, the three historical days that changed the course of history forever.

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, we remember and celebrate the Last Supper, the meal that Jesus shared with His apostles on the night before He was crucified, at which He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist when He took bread and wine and told His apostles "this is my body" and "this is my blood" and "do this in remembrance of me."

On Good Friday, we are drawn into the most sorrowful of mysteries, the death of God on a Cross. Crucifixion was a painful, shameful way to die, and Jesus willingly submitted Himself to such suffering and ignominy on our behalf, to free us from our sins. We mourn as we recall that, in a very real sense, it was our sins that drove those nails through Jesus' hands and feet.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence and prayer as the Church prepares for the evening Easter Vigil, the "mother of all vigils," when the Church recounts the history of salvation, receives the Elect into the Church, and celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord.

Easter Sunday is the holiest day of the year. It is the day when the Church celebrates Jesus' Resurrection from the dead, by which Jesus gave proof of His divinity and opened for us the way to a new life of grace.

If you've been away from the Church for a while, this would be a great time to give it another try. If you don't even know what I'm talking about, you might try reading the accounts of these events in the Bible: Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, or John 13-21.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

A few months ago, I decided I would like to eat some peanut butter cookies. So I opened the Betty Crocker Cookbook and looked for a recipe for peanut butter cookies. Once I found the recipe, I followed it, and I made some peanut butter cookies.

And they were not good. At all.

So I decided to make up my own recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I did, and I followed it, and I made some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

And they were fantastic.

So fantastic that I considered keeping the recipe a secret, like a secret family recipe. But then I decided that it would be much nicer to give the recipe out to whoever would like it, so that everyone could enjoy these fantastic peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. So here's the recipe:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavor shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

18 oz. jar of creamy peanut butter

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

extra granulated sugar for dipping

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar, egg, and yogurt until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients in three batches, mixing until smooth after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips with a spatula. By the rounded teaspoons, form dough into balls, dip the top in granulated sugar, and place on cookie sheet (preferably neither dark nor non-stick). Bake for 5-7 minutes. Cookies will not spread much. Remove from oven at first sign of browning. Let set for 2-3 minutes, then transfer cookies to cooling rack. Once cookies have cooled completely, you can pile them loosely in an open container. Let them sit out uncovered overnight. After that, you can put them in airtight containers. Makes 60-80 cookies, depending on how big you make them, and how much raw dough you eat.

So there you go. Follow the directions, and you will not be disappointed, I hope. Enjoy, please!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Society of St. Vincent de Paul

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a pretty awesome organization. Its members are devoted to serving the poor through personal, face-to-face encounters. In 2007, the Society helped 229,503 people in western Washington alone. Anyway, this year, the Society is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its founding in 1833 by a group of college students in Paris, and I got to write a story for the occasion for The Catholic Northwest Progress. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A day in the life of Pope Benedict XVI

This is a pretty cool video. It's in German, so I have no idea what the narrator is talking about, but you can get a pretty good idea of what's going on. It's interesting to see what the Pope does all day, celebrating Mass, signing documents, greeting visitors, eating lunch, addressing a crowd in St. Peter's Square before praying the Angelus, taking a walk, watching TV, etc. He keeps busy. Anyway, enjoy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Get free stuff

You should really go here to request an absolutely free copy of the monthly magazine Magnificat. It's a beautiful little book that could really help you deepen your prayer life. I bought the March edition, and I'm loving it. For each day of the month, it has morning and evening prayers adapted from the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as all the Scripture readings and prayers of the Mass. Each issue also has prayers for night, daily meditations, mini biographies of Saints, a few editorials, and an article on a piece of religious art.

I'm also a sucker for publications that feel nice, tactilely, and this is one of the nicest feeling ones I've come across. It would be worth getting one of these things just to hold it in your hands. It's about 400 pages, but you could still put it in your back pocket. The paper is really thin, but the whole thing's incredibly sturdy -- very high-quality. The covers are smooth and shiny, smoother than a normal magazine. Anyway, maybe not so important to the normal person, but I enjoy it.

So yeah, check it out. Like I say, it's completely free -- no shipping cost, and it's not even one of those awful "free trial" things where you have to send back a card so they don't start billing you. Just free. And you might really like it.