Spotlight on Clergy Abuse

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Important to understand:

1. Many claims of abuse are exaggerated.
2. Many claims are against deceased priests who cannot defend themselves.
3. The Church has already taken MANY steps, and continue to do so, to correct wrongs, and to prevent abuse from taking place, including child protection programs that involve laity. The responsibility for preventing abuse belongs to ALL of us.
4. The Church has done so much to prevent abuse from happening again that it is now one of the safest places to be.
5. Abuse in the Church is ONE symptom of the overall DISEASE that afflicts society. Abuse is EVERYWHERE — in our schools, in non-Catholic churches, in our families, in Hollywood, in day care, in sports teams, etc. There’s enough blame to go around, but it’s not surprising that the spotlight for the last couple of decades has been on the Church, because we tend to hold the clergy to a higher standard than we do other adults in positions of authority. Whether that’s fair or not, you decide.
6. Transparency and honesty are needed EVERYWHERE, not just the Church, if we are to stop the cycle of abuse.

In case it helps, some links:

– The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002: A Research Study Conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/The-Nature-and-Scope-of-Sexual-Abuse-of-Minors-by-Catholic-Priests-and-Deacons-in-the-United-States-1950-2002.pdf
– The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010: A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research Team http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/The-Causes-and-Context-of-Sexual-Abuse-of-Minors-by-Catholic-Priests-in-the-United-States-1950-2010.pdf
– March 2015 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/2014-Annual-Report.pdf
– Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors articles:
http://www.ncregister.com/tags/10540

Dear Mainstream Media, We Know What You’re Doing

image from Mike Brummond
image from Mike Brummond

Today my feed was inundated with Pope Francis supposedly relaxing the rules on abortion.

Except that’s not quite accurate.

He didn’t relax the rules on ABORTION per se — it’s STILL considered a sin in the Catholic Church — always has been, always will be. We already know that most folks in mainstream media these days are too lazy to do any real research or real reporting, although since they had an idea this was going to happen back in May, you’d think they’d have done some of the legwork between then and now, but no.

[Edited to add: It always also has been a forgivable sin, because ALL sin is forgivable in the Catholic Church, given the conditions necessary for forgiveness. Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, has for a long-time talked about this here. This is misleading.]

So, for the sake of those who might stumble upon this and actually want to learn something:

What Pope Francis relaxed was the way the sin of abortion is forgiven, so that the person can once again partake of the Sacraments.

Note that Pope Francis is simply addressing the FORGIVENESS of those who PROCURED an abortion. He doesn’t say anything about ABORTIONISTS. And he makes a distinction between those who know how serious a sin abortion is when they get one, versus those that don’t or that are coerced into getting one. This is called culpability.

Despite reconsidering their position on abortion. The tide IS turning, and media is panicking.

Presenting Pope Francis’ words this way makes it appear that the Catholic Church is either changing Her teaching or realizing that She’s been wrong about abortion all along. In a sound bite world, people will read those headlines and conclude wrongly that abortion really isn’t the major evil that CMP, conservatives and pro-lifers and all those fanatic Christians/Catholics are always portraying it to be.

Except that it still is.

In so doing, those of us who respect life in all its stages from conception/fertilization to natural death can be painted as “holier than the Pope”. See the reversal here?

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
– Isaiah 5:20, RSVCE

To sum up: Abortion is still a sin. Relaxing the rules on forgiveness of the sin still requires repentance. It still requires Confession. It is not automatic. It is not planning to sin and then planning to confess later since one will be forgiven anyway: that’s What Pope Francis’ Abortion Announcement Really Means

More info for those who actually want to understand:

What Pope Francis actually said (though translation is somewhat clunky): Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis According to Which an Indulgence is Granted to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
From Jimmy Akin: Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share
From Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters: Pope Francis on reconciliation for abortion (I will not pretend to understand this better than the average Catholic, though some points were clearer to me than others.)

Let’s Talk Submission (Part 1)

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts


Last week, a friend asked me if I had a blog post on submission. She asked,”Does that mean we (women) don’t get to have opinions?” I promised her a more detailed answer, but assured her immediately that the answer to her question was NO.

Why is submission so misunderstood? When we talk about the husband-wife relationship, it seems to be the one word that makes everyone bristle, men and women alike, which is a pity, because understanding what submission is could be very helpful in our marriages, our families, and our faith.

I will hazard a guess that the misunderstanding is related to the hypersexualized language we have these days, as evidenced by a peek at Google.

What I’d like to present here is the Catholic viewpoint, with a few practical hints thrown in for good measure. But first let’s start with the Scripture that’s most quoted when talking about submission:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:22-33, RSVCE

St. Pope John Paul II talks about submission several times in his Theology of the Body audiences. In the various examples he gives us, it is clear that submission is meant to be understood as submission to God’s will. Because of concupiscence, we are born with a spirit of rebellion, and it is in the learning to crush this spirit that we work out our salvation.

We know that marriage as an institution has already been damaged by a contraceptive and abortive culture, divorce, cohabitation, and the legalization of same-sex “marriage”. We also know that rebuilding a culture of life means we have to rebuild marriage and family. Submission plays a large role in that.

In order to follow God’s will, we need to be attuned to His Voice.

We are our children’s first authority figures. As they grow, it is through our example of surrender, obedience and submission to God’s will, that they also learn to see God as the ultimate Authority in their lives. I submit to my husband because I want my kids to learn what it means to submit to their father. In so doing, I am also teaching them what it means to submit to their Creator.

I am blessed in that I am married to a man who takes his role in the domestic church as seriously as he does, but one common lament I’ve heard from some married friends is that their husbands won’t lead, or don’t know how. I’ll tell you now, my husband has GROWN into that role through the years. While he was strong spiritually when we got married 25 years ago, he is even stronger today and is more comfortable and decisive about being our spiritual head and moral beacon here at home.

Misdirected feminism, unfortunately, has given us many emasculated men. It might take some retraining for them to assume that role, especially if they didn’t have adequate preparation prior to marriage, or received the wrong messages early on.

More tomorrow.


Let’s Talk Submission Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts

Our Homeschooling Story, Part 2, and Favorite Sources

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Part 1 is here.

And so our journey began anew.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I found an awesome online support group: Catholic Charlotte Mason (aka CCM — they still exist, if you would like to join).  I also had the local support group plus several other online ones, but CCM became my lifeline.  Every single question I had on homeschooling philosophies, materials, parenting, motherhood, Catholicism, etc. was answered there. There is/was so much collective wisdom that I wish I could bottle up and hand on to my kids when they have their own.

The group switched to forum format in 2005, which you’ll find here. Although there were people who stayed at the YahooGroup or did both, and both the forum and group have continued to grow since then. At the forum, we are about 2500 strong globally, so you’ll meet all kinds of lovely Catholic homeschooling moms from all over, and you can ask just about any homeschooling question you need answered (among other things).  We love to help!  I’m there as “stefoodie” and I help moderate the “Our Lady’s Loom, Larder and Laundry Board“.

One of the founders, Elizabeth Foss, wrote the book Real Learning. It contains much of the advice you’ll find at CCM or the 4Real Forums, plus stories, booklists, and practical tips on how to homeschool Catholic Charlotte Mason-style.

Vatican Documents and Papal Encyclicals that helped solidify our family and homeschooling philosophy:

After that first year of our eldest being enrolled at Angelicum and me absorbing and learning everything I could from “the moms”, we started designing our own curriculum.   I’ve listed my favorite homeschooling resources here.

Needs organizing, but I also have some of my kids’ curricula/booklists linked at my old blog.

More of our favorite resources through the years, by subject:

Religion/History/Geography:

English/Literature:

Math:

We’ve used just about every Math curriculum there is, so I don’t really have a favorite.  Whichever one works for the kids is the one we go with.

Science:

Latin and Greek:

Languages:  

This is one area we haven’t been really successful with. Our kids struggle with Tagalog even though it’s my husband and my first language, because we just weren’t consistent through the years. Our latest attempt is to read Tagalog books aloud at dinner time, one paragraph per person, until they get the pronunciation right. I don’t know if it will stick or how successful it will be in terms of them learning grammar at the same time. In the past we’ve used Rosetta Stone for Spanish and French, but while that was fun none of the lessons stuck, because there was no consistent practice. The most effective method we found was immersion/travel, like when we stayed in Italy for a bit for husband’s work and the kids picked up the language quickly.

Music:

  • Daily exposure to classical music
  • For years we used the “The Story of” series: this is the Beethoven CD, but these days we play from old CDS we’ve collected or Spotify or YouTube.

  • Musical instrument of choice and/or choir – I’ve taught the kids basic piano, and most of them know guitar (self-taught)
  • Voice lessons, participation in choir
  • Our music plan which we were following for a while

Physical Education

Various things through the years. Individual sports/lessons: Martial Arts, Ballet, Gymnastics, Swimming.

Art:

  • Artistic Pursuits – used by all of the kids – obviously we love this program
  • Local art classes
  • Trips to Art Museums
  • a list of some of my yearly plan, which we’ve followed off and on through the years

 

A peek into our shelves.

More than the nitty-gritty, though, of curricula and booklists and lesson plans and daily schedules, what I’ve received from these moms are priceless gifts of their time, experience, advice, and (most importantly) prayer, because you’ll find that as you begin/continue your homeschooling journey, PRAYER is the number one thing that will sustain you.  There will be difficult days, some when you will feel burned out and totally spent, and there are days you’ll want to throw up your hands and say, ENOUGH!  Public school will be so much better than this!  (That’s a lie. Don’t you believe it.)

I have been mentored by some of the “best” (for want of a better word) homeschoolers out there, and I cannot possibly share every single thing I’ve learned from them.  In Part 1 I said “You don’t need a homeschooling group to homeschool your child.”  That is true.  You need God, your spouse, yourself, and your children.  BUT I believe you need a homeschooling group (and I highly recommend CCM and/or the 4Real Forum Moms) to homeschool YOURSELF.  No man is an island and I wouldn’t be the homeschooler I am today if not for these moms.  I’m a better child of God, wife, mother, homeschooler, Catholic, because of them.

We’ve been homeschooling a total of 16+ years now. We have one child successfully graduated from college and working as a chef/sommelier. The next child is 19 and in his second year. He just completed a summer internship of 13 weeks doing engineering work. The next one is 16, a senior in high school, though he’ll be taking some college courses starting this fall at the local community college. So far, no regrets, and if we had to do it all over again, we’d have homeschooled from the beginning. I hope that tells you something about our experience.

The Future Church: Truth Has a Way of Getting Out

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I am both hopeful and despairing when I think of where America is today and where she’s going in terms of the faith.

On the one hand I am very much encouraged by what I see as a burgeoning men’s movement, which can only lead to good things. Authentic Catholic men means authentic Catholic fathers, which will create a much needed ripple in society. The effects may not become apparent in our churches and other institutions until decades from now, as the prevailing culture will continue to fight its flourishing. But I believe in our men and I’m seeing a conviction in them that I didn’t see ten years ago.

On the other hand, the population rate will probably continue to decline. Our contraceptive and abortive culture, where children are more often than not seen as commodities or liabilities, will take several more decades to reverse, if it ever can. While a small segment of the population will continue to raise large families, I don’t know if it will be enough to make a difference in the society or the economy.

What encourages me most is seeing our youth who are on fire for the faith and continue to engage the culture in novel ways. Though Christian beliefs will increasingly be unwelcome in our universities, I am convinced that our youth will not take this sitting down.

Despite the minimal uptick in vocation numbers in recent years, I remain optimistic that more will be called to the priesthood and religious life, and respond generously with their yes.

Faith will always have a future here in America, because we are created with a thirst that only God can fill. And no matter how we pretend that it can be quenched by the material or through our own efforts, deep in our core, there will remain that need that will not be satisfied by nothing less than communion with our Creator.

People may say they don’t need faith, but it will be in the most unexpected of times that they will be confronted with the need for it. Too many have come to associate religiosity with falsity, and it will take us living authentic Christian lives to bring about conversions, which usually happen when Christ is encountered in relationship, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul.

There will continue to be debates about Christ’s resurrection, Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the Holy Trinity. Those debates won’t go away but they are also secondary; converts to the faith usually come to embrace those bit by bit. While modernity and technology may continue to erode our relationships, there are those of us who will continue to swim against the tide and spread the Gospel where we are.

Truth has a way of getting out. Wherever it is encountered in its fullness, it will be recognized and embraced, and bring about peace. That’s why living that Truth is our #1 challenge today as Catholics — we who strive to remain faithful will have to infect the world around us. But then again, the circumstances may be different, but in a sense our mission has never changed.

And we still know how this story ends.

(How) Can I (Catholic) Homeschool for Free?

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A friend who likes to plan early asks: Can I homeschool for free?

Quick answer: Yes.

Since so many homeschooling resources are now available online, you could get away with little more than pen, paper, a computer, a printer, and an Internet connection. BUT, unless you’re thinking of becoming a 100% unschooler (I’ve met only one person like that in 15+ years), then you will have to spend some time figuring out your curriculum for the year, which materials you’ll be printing out, which digital resources you’ll be using online, and some sort of schedule or lesson plan. I’d also recommend that the discerning Catholic parent keep an eye out for anti-Catholic bias, so you can at least discuss these things with your child if necessary. I also am a book lover, so I’m not in favor at all of doing away completely with books in the home and/or doing all schoolwork on the computer. Find the balance that works for you and your family.

I’ve gathered some links to get you started. There are thousands more on the Internet, but some of these are my favorites, some come highly recommended by fellow Catholic homeschoolers.

The basics for Catholics:

The Holy Bible
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Saint Nook
Printable Liturgical Calendar from Michele Quigley
Liturgical Year from Catholic Culture
Catholic Encyclopedia

Other good Catholic sources:

First Eucharist — really good resource, I have a hard copy of the book and we use it for Sacramental preparation
Eucharistic Miracles
Waltzing Matilda’s Coloring Pages
Domestic Church
EWTN Kids
Free Catholic Children’s Audio Books
Free Catholic Books
Our Catholic Homeschool
Catholic Handwriting Books
Free Vintage Catholic Textbooks and Readers

General Websites, secular, covering a wide range of subjects:

Dictionary
Thesaurus
Open Culture
Khan Academy
The American Library Association’s Great Websites for Kids

Literature
Literature.org
International Children’s Digital Library
The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project
Children’s Books Online
Project Gutenberg

Math
Numeracy, from BBC
YouCubed, from Stanford University
Kids Math Games Online
Free Math Worksheet Printables from KidZone
Mathematics Enhancement Programme

Science
e-Learning for Kids
Neo K-12
Knowledge Adventure
Science Printables from Education.com
Printables from Scholastic.com

History and Geography

We like timelines for studying history, which you can do either on a wall, a lapbook, a notebook, or download Michele Quigley’s Book of Centuries.

We do history and geography here mostly through literature, so I recommend Alicia Van Hecke’s excellent list Reading Your Way Through History, which has been a go-to resource for us almost since we returned to homeschooling in 2001.

Mary at the 4Real Homeschooling forums put together this excellent Picture Book List for History that you’ll want to check out.

Eyewitness to History
USHistory.org
History World
History Learning Site
Look for time lapse maps on YouTube, like this one.
Worldology.com

Music
Piano Nanny
8notes.com
Classics for Kids
Harmony Fine Arts
MusicTheory.net

Art

Web Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
Art Coloring Pages
Google Art Project
Jerry’s Artarama

Languages

Duolingo
Livemocha
Open Culture
Babbel
Worksheets from Education.com


Buying low-cost books

Other ways to get freebies or low-cost homeschooling materials are via book swaps or co-ops, so try to find a local homeschooling group; they’ll probably have other resources they can share with you.

Cathswap on YahooGroups remains the largest online Catholic swap group, at 7000+ members worldwide. In our early years of homeschooling I bought a lot of books through there. Do be careful if you’re buying internationally because besides the increased cost due to shipping, shipments are also harder to track and complaints/returns more difficult to manage. Facebook version here

Start collecting used books early. You can print out the following curricula and booklists or save them on your phone, for when you’re shopping used bookstores and book sales.

St. Thomas School from Jean and Maria Rioux
Angelicum Academy
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Ambleside Online (secular, but has lots of Catholic- /Christian-friendly options)
Mater Amabilis – the Catholic version of Ambleside Online
Kolbe Academy – click on each grade for booklists
Free Resources from Our Catholic Homeschool
The 4Real Learning Booklist from Elizabeth Foss
Catholic Mosaic Booklist — this is the booklist for Cay Gibson’s excellent book Catholic Mosaic

Free Resources, Middle School to College:
HippoCampus

Other Resources, Secular:

Homeschool Freebie of the Day
Free Unit Studies
Free Lapbooks at HomeschoolShare
Lapbooklessons.com
Homeschool for Free and Frugal
Free Homeschool Deals
Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool
Donna Young
Clipart

If you need help with purchasing books, you might want to check out:
Book Samaritan


Lastly, check out my Homeschooling Pinterest Board for other ideas and freebies.

Click on Page 2 for places to buy used books in the Philippines.

If you’ve got other favorites, please tell me about them in the comments!!

Contraception, Abortion, Population Control, and Laudato Si’

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From Laudato Si’:

50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”. To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”. Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.

95. The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment “Thou shall not kill” means when “twenty percent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive”.

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.

172. For poor countries, the priorities must be to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote the social development of their people. At the same time, they need to acknowledge the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population and to combat corruption more effectively. They are likewise bound to develop less polluting forms of energy production, but to do so they require the help of countries which have experienced great growth at the cost of the ongoing pollution of the planet. Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies which allow developing countries access to technology transfer, technical assistance and financial resources, but in a way which respects their concrete situations, since “the compatibility of [infrastructures] with the context for which they have been designed is not always adequately assessed”. The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change. In any event, these are primarily ethical decisions, rooted in solidarity between all peoples.

More thoughts later.

My Selfish Reasons for Staying Catholic

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[In response to Elizabeth’s question.]

Why am I still Catholic? First and foremost reason before any other is the Eucharist, where my Savior is fully present: body, blood, soul, and divinity. No other Church can offer me what my Savior, the One who died for ME (and FOR YOU!!) gives me at every Mass.

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

– John 6:53-56

This is where the invisible is made visible, through the physical… through the Sacraments.

I’m still Catholic because Catholicism is where the answers are, and they’re not platitudes or “feel good” answers… which means I get to suffer. (Wahoo!!) Catholicism is the only place where suffering — my own, my neighbor’s, the world’s — make sense. Pain becomes bearable because it’s purposeful.

It’s where self sacrifice hurts for the time being, but we do it anyway because it leads to someone else’s ultimate happiness, which leads to our own. Catholicism calls me to real love, where even the person who has hurt me most is someone I could and should pray for.

I’m Catholic because I love being part of the Mystical Body of Christ. I love not only that I can attend Mass anywhere I go in the world because it’s the same Mass. I get to unite in spirit and pray with all the Catholics around the world, day in and day out. I not only praise my Lord with the Church Militant, but with the Saints and the Angels too.

I love that there are no compromises. I cannot use my confusion to stay lukewarm. I am continuously pursued by Truth whenever and wherever I go. It’s where I am constantly called to (spiritual) perfection, where mediocrity isn’t celebrated. At the same time, it’s where competition makes no sense. We’re all just trying to get to where our outward appearances won’t matter, and our bodies and our intellects won’t have limits.

Catholicism is where I grow in faith, every single day. Even if I had to start at ground zero, there’s still no way to go but up. Going the opposite direction however, and starting at nothing, leads nowhere, because there isn’t a way to believe in less than nothing.

I get to fight alongside the best warriors, each of us wounded, limping, but leaning on each other, and holding each other up.

I’m still Catholic because I want to get to heaven, and see God’s original plan. I want to see what Adam and Eve foolishly gave up. I want to know what it’s like to see my loved ones happy all the time. I don’t want them to get sick, get old, or die. I want to see them wearing the crowns they earned, bearing their crosses gracefully and faithfully here on earth. I want them released from the walls that they built around themselves.

Catholicism is my legacy to my kids. It’s the map they can hold on to for the rest of their lives. When I was growing up, my parents always reminded me that we weren’t wealthy people and that I don’t have a sizeable inheritance to look forward to, that’s why I should prize my education above other things. It’s what will lead me to success. What they didn’t know was that they’ve already given me the best inheritance possible. And I’m passing it on to my children, because it’s the only thing I can offer that goes beyond what this world offers. I want eternity for them. (And just to illustrate, here’s my daughter’s post — she who writes and thinks 100x better than I can. See what I mean?)

Our faith is where every moment has import. Each choice we make has repercussions. Leisure time has meaning when used for silence, for listening to our Creator, for refreshing our souls. Naming kids isn’t just a fun exercise, because of the saints. Continuing to honor and look after our aging parents has meaning, because Catholicism demands that we look at the whole person, from the very beginning of life until that last breath when we take a step into Jesus’ arms. Death itself has meaning, because it’s not the end, only a crossing over.

I’m Catholic because every prayer that I’ve ever prayed has been answered. They weren’t all yeses, but I did get answers. You better believe I have so many more questions! That’s why I can’t wait to have that endless conversation, when I finally come face to face with Him who made me. I do hope He’s got Earl Grey.

Consecration to Jesus Through Mary: A Rite of Passage

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My mom has been a Marian devotee since she was a little girl. She would stand in front of the Mary statue at Church and mutter made-up prayers because she didn’t know any “official” ones. She was so enamored with Mama Mary’s face and just knew that someone who looks so beautiful must love her so much.

Naming daughters after Mary was common practice when I was born, so I was christened Mary Stephanie. My mother taught me how to pray the Rosary at age 5, and we prayed the Angelus and the Rosary almost every day as I was growing up. I wasn’t very prayerful as a young woman, and I credit my parents’ devotion to her that God blessed me with such a wonderful husband and marriage.

I didn’t know Mary that well, and I’m embarrassed to admit, thought of her with envy. How could I possibly be as obedient as she was, when she was conceived without the stain of Original Sin and I wasn’t? She had an unfair advantage, or so I thought, though I begrudgingly allowed that she must have needed the Grace to get through all that suffering, being the Mother of our Savior. Still, Jesus’ words at the Cross, “Behold thy mother,” didn’t mean much to me. She was His mother, sure, but I found it hard to believe that she was mine.

Mary stayed in the background most of my life, until I became a mother myself and started falling in love with her. Online mom friends started talking about consecration in 2007, and I was intrigued. As one of them said, “All the practices lead to the same end: imitation and full conformity to Christ.” It was an intense 33 days of preparation, many of which were uncomfortable because I was forced to confront personal demons I didn’t even know existed before. I made my consecration on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2008, 22 days before our youngest child was born.

If there’s one virtue I’d like to cultivate most in my children, it’s humility, because only by being humble can they be obedient to God’s call. But humility can’t be taught or modeled unless one is humble himself/herself. It’s something I still struggle with daily, though I try to keep it at the forefront of my spiritual life. Fortunately, Mama Mary is the perfect example of humility. Through her we learn to become more and more docile to the workings of the Holy Spirit, to see God’s hand in everything that comes our way, and to see ourselves as God’s instruments.

Humility has nothing to do with timidity, with fickleness or with a mediocre life lacking in ambition. Humility discovers that everything good in us, both in the order of nature and in the order of grace, belongs to God for from his fullness we have all received. And such profusion of gifts moves us to be grateful. – From In Conversation with God

Our two oldest children have consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary. It was a choice they made for themselves, and clearly signaled to me when they did so, that they truly owned their faith. I see their consecration as a rite of passage, from their childish faith to that of an adult. They have their own stories of why they chose to do so and how their lives have changed as a result, and I wish I could tell you those stories, but they’re theirs to tell. All I know is that my eldest child, at 24, has suffered through a lot. My second child, at 18, is still discerning his vocation. They have crosses to carry, but they take their faith seriously, and my heart is at peace knowing that they are loved by God’s Mother, more than I could ever love them. There’s something bittersweet in that realization, almost like a relinquishing of my role as their mother, but there is also comfort in being able to let go and let God and His Mother take care of them in ways that I can’t.

Many of our saints were consecrated to Our Lady, like St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Pope John Paul II. Their lives were radically changed by consecration, and I have the same hope for my children. Mary knows our hearts, like she knew her Son’s, and so we look to her as she was at the Wedding at Cana, instructing us, “Do what He tells you.”


Some helpful resources:

True Devotion to Mary: with Preparation for Total Consecration (Tan Classics)

MyConsecration.org

33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration

“Catholic” Marriage in the Philippines

Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc
Image Credit: Daxx Bondoc

The conversation on legalizing divorce in the Philippines continues unabated in my circles, and last night’s discussion led me to an AHA! moment.

It is common knowledge that the Philippines is “a Catholic country”. However, lately it’s become clearer that many Filipino Catholics have not internalized their faith. It is but natural, therefore, that the Catholic approach is too often seen as harsh, unfeeling, or out of touch, even by those whom we expect or hope would know better. We wrestle with finding an answer that would explain the unremitting tug-o-war between Church and state, and a solution that satisfies all. Where do Truth, Love and (perceived) Need intersect?

We assume that Filipino + Catholic + marriage = a predictable, positive result, but it’s high time we asked hard questions and faced painful facts:

I am waiting for the official quote and reference from a friend who knows these things, but according to him, only 30% of marriages in the Philippines are Catholic marriages, surprising in a country that’s supposedly 90% Catholic! It’s yet another sign that there are deep-seated problems which need addressing.

In online discussions over weddings, concerns over cost seem to overshadow everything else. Many think that it costs thousands to get married in church, but closer inspection shows this is untrue. See this 2013 breakdown of wedding costs in one of the Philippines’ major cities. Of the total estimated average wedding cost of PHP250,000-500,000 (about $5,650-11,300), PHP5000 (roughly $113) goes to the church, a measly 1-2% of the total cost. Air-conditioning in a tropical country is costly, so tack on an additional $300 or so for electricity and you have a whopping PHP20000 or $452 as your “church cost”. Clergy have also tried to assuage the cost concern by offering free or low-cost mass weddings. It helps, but misunderstandings still abound.

Touristy spots and historical settings, patriotism, old world architecture and sentimentality, the sound system (yes, I’ve heard this), the perfect combination of food and wine… all these figure in many wedding plans. Notice that they don’t constitute THE ONE NEEDFUL THING: the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Other problems surfacing:

– People equating “Catholic wedding” to “Catholic marriage”.
– Too many wrong expectations of what marriage is, not to mention Catholic marriage.
– A horrifying lack of intentionality with regards to following Church teaching.
– People want the blessing, but the rules are seen as burden, hence the Church becomes the enemy when they want out.
– Church wedding/blessing is little better than superstition, something people regard lightly but nevertheless partake in to avoid reproach or ruffling feathers.
– Fulfilling cultural expectation, wanting to satisfy the demands of family, friends, authority figures. “It’s what we do.”
– Marriages of mixed faiths, where one of the spouses is a faithful Catholic and the non-believer agrees to have a Catholic wedding, simply to appease.
– Modern ideas taking hold, people equating happiness with warped concepts of liberty and license.
– Permanence and indissolubility, the cornerstones of a Catholic marriage, are foreign concepts. Nice sounding, but not necessarily applicable to reality.

What’s really going on? We may all be using English (or Filipino), but we are definitely NOT speaking the same language. Our conversations amount to nothing, when our definitions of truth, sanctity, marriage, happiness, love, vocation, family, sacrament, are fundamentally different. That’s where the severe disconnect comes from.

There is no magic trick that will make it all better. There are those who will continue to see divorce as panacea even after the havoc that it’s wreaked on families and societies in other countries. But there IS a solution for anyone wanting to get married from here on out. If you think about it, it’s the simplest one.

Parents shouldn’t expect adult children to suddenly act Catholic when they didn’t do what it takes to make sure their children grow to own their faith. If we want our children to have the blessing of the Church on their marriage, then by golly, we need to take our Church and our Sacraments seriously, and that means living the faith at home. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect people to embrace what a Sacrament is all about when they don’t even know what it means.

Clergy needs to support the parents in this endeavor. They need to do a better job teaching from the pulpit, so their parishioners don’t just receive Sacraments blindly. This applies to all Sacraments, of course, not just Matrimony.

Schools need to decide whether they’re Catholic or not; there shouldn’t be compromise in this area at all. If a school doesn’t intend to teach and uphold Catholic teaching, then they really shouldn’t advertise themselves as Catholic. That’s deception, period. Parents need the reassurance that whatever they teach at home isn’t undermined at school.

All the above — parents, clergy, and schools — have to actively work together in the formation/information of children. We’ve had enough of the pretense; now let’s get back to basics and do things right.

Couples looking to marry need to figure out what they really want, and honest discernment is needed here. As a friend put it, “Till death do us part” HAS to count for something. In the Catholic Church, we take these words to heart, and for good reason.

Belief and action go together. A Catholic wedding does not a Catholic marriage make, any more than going to Mass at Easter and Christmas makes one a practicing Catholic. If a couple doesn’t like Church teaching, they really shouldn’t get married in the Church. When they want out, there won’t be a problem. They get a civil wedding, and if they ever need to, they can get a civil annulment. No beef with the church necessary. End of story.

Helpful reading: Ten Things Every Catholic Should Know About Marriage

No Need for Divorce in the Philippines

Image Credit: Maria Go, https://marythedefender.wordpress.com/
Image Credit: Maria Go, https://marythedefender.wordpress.com/

In just the past week, Philippine news outlets, plus several international ones, published almost 50 articles on divorce, and how oppressive it is to keep Filipinos from having access to this ‘unmet need’. There are too many intertwined issues which cannot all be covered here, but here are some important points to consider.

The Philippines is the last country besides the Vatican that has not legalized divorce. According to Senator Pia Cayetano, this is no cause for national pride. But there are countless reasons why keeping divorce illegal in the Philippines isn’t about patriotism. It’s about not giving up the fight for marriage and for children.

Unfortunately for some Filipinos these days, that may be cute but is no longer representative of Filipino sentiment. For sometime now there has grown a general disillusionment about and disdain for traditional marriage, parenthood, and family. Who can blame these commenters? These are the voices of pain, experience, and long-suffering. We cannot continue to ignore them, not as a Church who tends to Her wounded and does Her best to keep more wounds from getting inflicted. Adultery, second and third families, separations legal and illegal, have all become part of the national narrative. Though families intact and healthy still exist, even Filipino pro-lifers lament about modernist values that have crept in and taken hold. Too many children have already grown up broken, some of them beyond repair.

The proposed solution, divorce, however, cannot be considered “greener pasture”. The devastation that divorce has wreaked in its wake, in the United States and other countries, is well documented and readily observable. Why would anyone want the Philippines to jump from the frying pan into the fire?

Divorce is simply a stopgap measure that doesn’t address the roots of the problem. It does nothing but perpetuate cycles of fatherlessness, trauma, instability, and poverty. While there are divorce survivors who seem to have adjusted quite well, the best option is still to promote healthy marriages and families. The effects of divorce ripple across society and touch everyone. The consequences of legalizing divorce in the Philippines won’t be available for scrutiny until decades later, when we will look at each other’s faces and ask, what have we done?

Divorce proponents tout the recent SWS survey that says most Filipinos now want divorce legalized, but as a research analyst friend points out, the sentence used in the survey is too complex to quantify properly.

Gaano po kayo sang-ayon o hindi sang-ayon sa pangungusap na ito: “Ang mga mag-asawang hiwalay na at hindi na maaaring magkasundo pa ay dapat pahintulutang mag-diborsyo para ang mga ito ay legal na makapag-asawa uli?”.
(Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again. Agree or disagree?)

He states, further, “Open ended questions are ideal, except that they are more difficult to survey; but the data would be richer than that provided by SWS.” A better line of questioning could and should have been presented thus:

  1. What is marriage?
  2. Are you married?
  3. What is divorce? (Some people may not know the distinctions between legal separation, which is available in the Philippines, and divorce.)
  4. Are you in favor of divorce or not?
  5. What are your reasons?

Not surprisingly, the Church and religious freedom are yet again under attack, but the Philippine clergy are standing firm.

Besides this, there are already laws and agencies in place for those wanting to end a marriage.

Abuse could be a sign that there are indeed grounds to have a marriage declared null and void, though not necessarily. Halfway houses and women’s crisis centers are available to victims of abuse, and the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Law (Republic Act No. 9262) already protects them. The obvious consideration here is that men can also be abuse victims, and there is currently no law in place that protects or benefits them.

Legal separation is also available, though not many avail of it these days. While nothing stops couples from separating, a legal separation works like divorce, without the right to remarry. The conjugal partnership is dissolved and the custody of children decided by the court. Obtaining a legal separation benefits abandoned spouses and children.

For Catholics who want to remain faithful to Church teaching, annulment is available. A declaration of nullity says that the couple was not really married in the first place, and can therefore marry. People object that getting an annulment is too tedious and expensive to bother with, but there is no guarantee that divorce will be less tedious or cheaper to obtain. Clergy and laity alike agree that reform of the annulment process is needed, and this discussion is ongoing. More canon lawyers are needed to solve the problem of tribunals being understaffed. Besides this, there is still the task of making sure Catholics understand what annulment is and why determining if a ground really does exist takes time.

For civil annulments, most fees are actually lawyers’ fees. Of course, there is the additional problem of the Philippine judicial system, as a whole, having a huge backlog; courts’ dockets are consistently clogged.

Right now, House Bill No. 4408 is pending in Congress. But Filipinos would do well to pay attention to and understand other pending bills. One option is to consolidate these and take the good, choosing provisions that will help strengthen marriage, encourage marital fidelity and penalize marital infidelity, while protecting/benefiting the victims, thereby serving the Filipino family better.

We could argue that Filipinos are naturally resilient, and they are, but that doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility to find the best answer possible. This is a difficult task, but not insurmountable. Both Philippine Church and state can respond to citizens’ needs AND still say no to divorce.

ETA helpful link: Some Clarifications on Divorce, Declaration of Nullity, and Legal Separation

Click here for Part 2.
Click here for Part 3.

French Onion Soup / Soupe a l’Oignon Gratinée

Reposting from my old blog.

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Onion soup is a lovely thing to make right after the onion harvest at end of season, when the weather’s just starting to cool down. Onion soup is also a lovely thing to start love stories with. Like ours, which certainly didn’t begin with onion soup, but has seen its share of this dish through the years. Our first real date (though with a group) was at the now-defunct 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant in St. Louis. My then-suitor invited me via a sweet 2-page note, hyping up the view of airplanes taking off and landing as “romantic”. I didn’t see anything romantic about airplanes doing what they do, but whatever. Well, everyone ordered this starter served in a crock like the one in the last photo. I fell for the crocks.

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Now ubiquitous, French onion was in vogue at the time, served in a crock at the (also defunct) Famous-Barr‘s basement restaurant on Kingshighway and Chippewa in St. Louis. St. Louis Bread Company chose to serve it in sourdough bread bowls, crowned with golden melted cheese flecked with brown. You take the bread lid that’s served on the side and dip it in the soup, then you eat the soup, then you eat the bowl it came in. Scrumptious and brilliant.

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As a newlywed, I burned my hand making Julia Child’s version (in The Way to Cook) in our apartment one monthiversary. The soup had just finished its short foray into the broiler to melt the cheese and when I pulled the sheet bearing the cups (we didn’t have crocks) a bit too quickly and sloshed the boiling liquid right onto my wrist. My hubby promptly got butter and ice and ice water in a large bowl, and I ate dinner with one hand in the bowl and one hand holding my fork. Yeah, romantic indeed.

Our children all love French onion soup, and it’s one of our emergency meals, the closest SLBC (now Panera) a mere 5 minutes away. The homemade version, of course, is so much better, cheaper, and customizable. To make it, you’ll need:

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3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 large onions, sliced thin (red and yellow combo is nice, as are Vidalias, and no need to get too fanatic about slicing evenly)
2 large pinches sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup wine, red or white (almost any dry wine will do, or sherry or French vermouth)
2 tablespoons flour (gluten-free instructions below)
1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
2 quarts beef broth or stock, or as some will debate, water
Grated Gruyere, I prefer Swiss over French, but your choice
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Pecorino or Grana Padano), optional

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Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring every once in a while, until onions are limp and just beginning to brown.

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Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions are caramelized nicely, 20 minutes or so. Add garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. I just stick the thyme sprigs in there — if you want to go through the trouble of picking the leaves off the stem, be my guest, but I don’t usually bother as the leaves tend to fall off anyway in the cooking and I can fish out the stems easily enough later. Cook a few minutes more. Add wine and bring to a boil by turning up the heat. When boiling, reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, and cook about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the beef broth and bring back to a boil. When boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes more.

While soup is cooking, toast bread slices and grate the cheeses.

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Fish out the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and you’re done! Ladle into crocks or individual soup bowls, top with toasted bread slices and sprinkle on the cheeses. I prefer Swiss Gruyere and try to find the real thing as I find locally produced ones too salty. I do like the touch of Parmigiano on top. You can also use use grated or sliced Swiss cheese (holey or not), or any yellow melty cheese for the top, like Mozzarella or Provolone.

Amusing trivia I found while researching for this post: the French/Swiss Gruyere Cheese war.

Broil for 3 minutes or so, just until cheese is melted and top is golden.

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Gluten-free note: If you wish to make this gluten-free, besides subbing gluten-free bread slices for the bread, omit the flour and thicken the soup instead, right before ladling, with some tapioca, arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in some water. Bring the soup to a boil again and stir the starch mixture in to incorporate and cook a few more minutes. Taste to make sure the soup doesn’t have any raw starch taste before serving.

The Lyon(s), France version of this is known to be particularly thick and rich, so preparing this dish would be a great way to celebrate St. John Vianney‘s Feast Day on August 4.

It’s also perfect for our meatless days during the Lenten season.

Further Up and Further In: The Adventure of Raising Catholic Teens

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I started this post days ago. A discussion at the 4Real forums called my attention to this article, and I quickly typed up some notes — things I wanted to cover in response. That very night, with this post still in my drafts folder, I got a long email from our daughter, detailing how she was in a slump physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. She was still going to daily Mass, but she was starting to buckle under the weight.

We went on a dad-mom-daughter date at the first opportunity. She is now back on the mend, making changes — general and specific — in her life. She’s a young adult and adult things are still new to her, so we’re here to nudge when she starts going off on a tangent, to bring her back to the main road.

As our kids grow, the parent-child relationship becomes even more essential to their developing relationship with God as ultimate authority in their lives. I’d like to propose that this giving over of themselves to God comes so much easier when their heart has been molded in the home. Holding on to my children’s hearts has been my guiding principle these teen years. (I currently have three, ages 13, 16 and 18.)

Every family, every parent-child dynamic varies from home to home. We’ve always tried to keep our hearts open to each other. We’ve had the one-on-one and the two-on-one talks behind closed doors, in the car, in a café, in the parking lot of the church. And I’ve done everything I can in these moments with our children to express exactly what’s in my heart and mind, holding back nothing. I’ve also encouraged the hubby to do the same, though I know it can be hard for men to do that, and that it’s really only necessary in the rare case when a child has no clue where dad is coming from. Our talks always work best when dad remains the unemotional, rational, cool and logical one, even if I dissolve into tears.

So many young people today struggle with living in this world. I don’t want to take Melody’s post apart and say well, she could have done this instead of that, or did more of this than that. Raising Catholic children today *is* hard, and we’re all just trying our best.

When I got my daughter’s e-mail, I was reminded that we are not exactly out of the woods yet, and that my journey as parent isn’t over and won’t be until I leave this earth. So I may offer some words of wisdom here and there but the best that I have is “take all these with a grain of salt”, because while I know the answers up to this point with this particular child in this particular instance, something may happen next week, next month, next year, that will bring me back to “I know nothing.”

But isn’t that how God works? You think you’ve mastered a game, but then you find that there’s a more complicated game surrounding it. You think you’re in an adventure, and then you take one step further and you find that you were actually wrapped up in another, bigger one. Further up and further in, Lewis said in The Chronicles of Narnia. When Lucy thought she was playing hide and seek, and then ended up in that Wardrobe, that’s when the real adventure began. And then for the reader to find out that Narnia isn’t THE world but part of a bigger world, and even one of many worlds… that’s what parenting Catholic teens is really like.

And so we can talk about practicalities, and dos and don’ts, but as long as we don’t forget the big picture of why we’re here, and why we picked and stuck with homeschooling, I believe we’ll be fine. Homeschooling doesn’t completely immunize us from the effects of the culture of death, but I think we get a running start from being aware in the first place that there ARE things out there — some of them very dangerous, and no, we won’t ever be able to shield our children from these 100%, but I don’t think that’s what we’re all about anyway. I would say it’s almost a necessity for them to experience some of these things, for them to be the light that they need to be.

We’re not being helicopter parents — whatever that means — when we give our children the tools that they need to navigate the world they live in. I make my opinions known on just about everything — their clothes, their friends, the activities they choose — but around high school that’s when I gradually let go and let them make those decisions for themselves. So they stumble, and they get hurt, and it does get very painful especially when our hearts are tethered so tightly to theirs. But keeping them away from mistakes and pain only hurts them in the long run. They will be the beautiful testaments to God’s plan that they ought to be, when they’ve also been tested by fire.

The thing about community is that you find it where you are able, but in those times when you can’t, then maybe it’s the season for online friendships, and for cocooning with the family. We’ve homeschooled and raised kids in several states and briefly in the Philippines and Italy. I can’t say that there’s one ideal place to raise kids because they’d be surrounded by faithful Catholic friends and community. Sure, some areas were better than others, but we always had to come back to how we lived and loved in the home. As long as I’m able to know each child deeply, know where his or her heart is, know where he or she is spiritually at any given time, then I’m at peace. Yes, there have been difficulties, like the one time I didn’t think a child would stop lying to me, or that one time I thought one of my kids would grow to be an atheist because of personality/behavioral flaws, or the one time a child was getting too close to people that I couldn’t exactly call Godly…. but we need to take these things in stride. The reason those things are allowed to happen is so that we know exactly how to pray for each one.

We do a lot of bouncing thoughts off of each other at the dinner table. We share views of the world, of people, of relationships. Through this they absorb more of our world view, how we look at things, how we handle what happens to us, how we struggle to keep our eyes and our feet directed towards True North as much we can. Each child gets the benefit of hearing from parents, older siblings, younger siblings. We hash out a lot here.

Would that our faith and our children’s hold as steady and ever-bright as the sun, but we know that too often they’re more like the flicker of a candle. We tend to it and try to protect it from getting blown out, but we have limits. As we grow older, we kinda need to lose our faith — the faith planted in us by our parents — and then find it again and own it. We cannot set our kids purposely on that path. There might be times when they’ll have to touch that darkness with the tip of their finger, to figure out that they want no part of it. Through circumstances or through their own mistakes, or through ours, they will let go of pieces of the whole that we’ve imparted to them, but like pieces of a puzzle long disappeared into basement storage boxes, when found, make us feel like it’s Christmas in July. Sometimes things — pleasant and otherwise — have to happen, for them to realize that they have the faith to sustain them through everything, including the trials. It was kept in store, maybe even hidden from their own consciousness, a treasure buried inside them that they aren’t always aware of, but it surfaces right when the need is there. This is how they learn how to hear God’s voice in their lives, in their own ears and in their hearts.

Prayers for all of us parents!!

Montmorency (Sour) Cherry Lambic Sorbet / Sorbetto alla Ciliegia

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I’m in a cherry mood. 🙂 And I’ve been wanting to make cherry sorbet for a while now, except the recipes I’ve been running into seem to produce a light rose-colored sorbet, and I wanted to replicate the deep-red cherry sorbet that I tasted in Italy years ago. I didn’t quite achieve it with this experiment, some of the smoothness is lacking, but maybe just a couple more tweaks — perhaps the addition of corn syrup — will do it. Will post an updated recipe when I get to it! Meanwhile, enjoy 🙂

1 cup dried sour cherries
1 cup cherry lambic
up to 1 cup simple syrup made from 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water (instructions below)
enough fresh or frozen cherries to make 4 cups total
the juice of 1 lemon
enough water to balance sweet/sour

Soak the dried cherries in the cherry lambic overnight.

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Make the simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat, stirring gently. until sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool and set aside, covered.

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Puree the soaked cherries in blender and add in half the simple syrup, the lemon juice, plus enough cherries to make 4 cups total. Taste and adjust to your desired sweetness/tartness using the rest of the simple syrup or water, to make about 4 1/2 cups total.

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Run blender again until everything is smooth. Freeze in ice-cream maker using manufacturer directions, about 20 minutes. This should produce a sorbet that’s still fairly liquid. Freeze in airtight container until firm. It will not be firm like ice cream. Leave out 5 minutes or so until scoopable before serving.

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One mistake I made with the first batch was putting in the whole cup of simple syrup immediately. I did not figure on the dried cherries being so sweet, so the resulting product was much sweeter than I had planned.


Some notes about tart/sour cherries: Dried cherries are available at Eden Foods.

From Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise:

//Montmorency cherry juice consumption improved the recovery of isometric muscle strength after intensive exercise perhaps owing to the attenuation of the oxidative damage induced by the damaging exercise.//

Due to the high ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) values of Montmorency Cherry, the powdered fruit extracts are also placed in capsules as organic health supplement/vitamins.


Because Pope St. Gregory for some reason craved cherries on the feast of St. Mark, this would be a fitting dessert for Feast Day on September 3, or for St. Mark’s Feast Day on April 25.