The Visitor celebrated Catholic Press Month during February . To share in the fun, I searched “Food, Faith and Fellowship,” a food blog I wrote for The Visitor from August 2010 to December 2012 for a “Flashback Friday” recipe for the paper’s Facebook site.
Looking back through my blog entries was a delicious trek! I re-discovered a collection of salmon recipes that I posted in March 2012. They are so enticing I am eager to prepare them again soon and I’m excited to share this tasty series with our readers of “From The Heart.”
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sherry (or apple juice)
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
1 (1 lb.) salmon fillet
In large resealable bag, combine the first seven ingredients. Add the salmon. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour, turning several times.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil. Coat the foil with no-stick cooking spray. Place salmon in prepared baking dish and discard the marinade. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Yield: 4 servings
A note from Sandy: We’ve had lots of compliments on this recipe, which can easily be adapted to suit your own tastes. Make it sweeter by adding more honey or sassier by upping the amount of orange juice and ginger root.
This year for the first time since 1945, Ash Wednesday coincided with that saccharine Hallmark Holiday, Valentine’s Day. I’ve been reflecting on this rare coincidence and at first, found it rather hilarious. My husband and I are not wont to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s not because we disdain romance or because we don’t enjoy a nice date night. In fact, we try to make date nights a regular thing, which might be a part of why we don’t like Hallmark bossing us around and telling us when we should celebrate our love for each other.
After reflecting on the convergence of such seemingly divergent celebrations, I began to find the marriage of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday quite fitting and appropriate. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent and as such is most often equated with the themes of penance, sacrifice, prayer, almsgiving, and the like. We often spend this day of fasting and abstinence asking our friends and family what they are “giving up for Lent” or what spiritual disciplines they are taking up for the six and half week season. We wear ashes on our foreheads and forgo our usual snacks. On the other hand, things we associate with Valentine’s Day include indulgence, beauty, feasts, and gifts. But what is almsgiving if not a gift of love? What is penance if not an act of love? And what is prayer if not a song of love for our Father in heaven?
Lent is meant to prepare us for the Pascal Mystery, the celebration of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection, which, of course, is the greatest act of love the world has ever known, much more grandiose and at the same time authentic than any Valentine any of us has ever given. Perhaps Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have more in common than I initially thought.
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition lift up married love as an image that can remind us of the Trinity. We hear repeatedly throughout Scripture how God’s love of the Church is like that of a groom for his bride. Isn’t this the type of love that Hallmark wants us to celebrate on February 14? The honeymoon-esk love? However, lasting married love isn’t about roses and chocolates (although who doesn’t love those?). It is much more so about sacrifice and humility and the grace received in the Sacrament of Matrimony. It turns out that some of the keys to a successful romantic relationship might be the same things that lead to a successful Lenten journey, namely prayer, sacrifice and humble self-gift.
Valentine’s Day is thought of as the quintessential celebration of love. I propose that Ash Wednesday, and in fact the entire Lenten season, are an even truer celebration of love. We will spend these next several weeks, purifying our hearts for the One who loves us most of all. How do you plan to grow in love for Christ this season?
Yesterday diocesan employees gathered for our second all-staff retreat centered on StrengthsFinder, a program that we’ve been using to learn more about our own strengths and those of our co-workers and to assist all of us in exploring how we can best minister together as a team. Leisa Anslinger, a national leader in StrengthsFinder work, parish engagement and stewardship, led the retreat. We had a great day with team building activities, collaboration, self-reflection and prayer.
Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl played an important role in our day, too. Two of this year’s meatless Rice Bowl recipes were featured at lunchtime — vegetable stew from Haiti and chickpea soup from Iraq. Both soups received good reviews from those who attended the retreat!
CRS Rice Bowl is a Lenten program sponsored by Catholic Relief Services that helps parishes, schools and families learn more about its work around the world and the people it serves. Participants are urged to put the money they save from eating simple, meatless meals into a symbolic “rice bowl” to be donated to CRS. Perhaps you have saved the Rice Bowl pullout section from our February 9 issue or have viewed the section online. This year’s theme is “Who is my neighbor? Called to be companions on the journey.”
Kateri Mancini, who has recently been named the new director of social concerns for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud, coordinated the preparation of the Rice Bowl dishes with staff of The Visitor. Kateri has worked as the coordinator of mission education at the St. Cloud Mission Office for the last 12 years. (The Mass collection taken at the event was earmarked for Rice Bowl.)
This year Rice Bowl offers recipes for cheese soup with fritters from Nicaragua, bean cakes from Burkina Faso and vegetables with rice from Malawi in addition to the Haitian stew and chickpea soup.
Perhaps you remember a Rice Bowl recipe you’ve enjoyed from past years or would like to explore other meatless options during Lent — or any other time. Recipes from 2013 to the present are featured on their website. One that I want to try soon is the bean soup with squash and rice from Honduras. It is a Rice Bowl favorite of our editor, Joe Towalski and his wife, Dianne, Visitor multimedia reporter and graphic designer.
“Do one thing every day that scares you” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Can you believe Lent is here already?! I can’t believe how much it has snuck up on me. It feels like yesterday we were putting the Christmas decorations up!
I have been spending the last couple days really praying and trying to figure out what I am going to give up and do for Lent. One word that keeps coming to mind is “different.” This Lent I want to be different.
The song “Different” by Micah Tyler explains this perfectly:
“I want to be different, I want to changed, ‘til all of me is gone and all that remains is a fire so bright the whole world can see, that there’s something different, so come and be different in me.
I don’t want to spend my life stuck in a pattern, I don’t want to gain this world but lose what matters.”
Something that I have been trying to do lately and I am going to do throughout Lent is stepping out of my comfort zone to do things that scare me. A perfect example of this occurred just this past weekend: performing in front of over a hundred people each night in our performances of the musical “Guys and Dolls”! I never would have imagined myself in a musical if I am being honest!
St. Peter’s Church put on the show and my sister Nikki and I were asked to be in it. I immediately wanted to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it, but I felt a nudge to go for it, and was cast as General Cartwright. Even though this opportunity was incredibly out of my comfort zone, it was such a rewarding experience. Not only did I meet some awesome people and gain life-long friendships, but I also realized how capable we are of things we put our mind to. Our comfort zones are just that—comfortable—but comfort can often keep us reaching our true potential. Like St. John Paul II said,
“This world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness!”
So this Lent I am going to try to step out of my comfort zone and be different. I want people to wonder why I smile when things aren’t going my way and why I am excited to go to church. I challenge you to be different this Lent and to do one thing every day that scares you.
17 dead. When will these senseless mass shootings stop? Parkland Florida, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook… the list goes on and on.
When I heard another shooting took place, I immediately got super angry. How can someone think they have the right to end someone else’s life? Or was it a mental illness that went untreated that caused them to act this way? As I have been reflecting the last couple days on not just this shooting but all the past shootings, I thought about the shooters, how lonely, angry, or hurt they must have been to do something so horrible. I thought about each of the victims’ families and how horrible that moment must have been when they were told they would never see their son/wife/sister/etc. again. Then I thought about each of the victims and the split-second decision they had to make to be either selfish or selfless. In a moment when they could have been just victims, so many of them stepped up to be heroes.
Aaron Feis was the football coach and security guard at the school in Florida. He died shielding students from bullets.
Sonny Melton was killed while covering his wife during the Las Vegas Shooting as they were celebrating their first wedding anniversary.
Firefighter Steve Keys was shot while performing CPR on a woman in Las Vegas.
Fire captain Mark McCurdy carried his sister-in-law to her hotel in Vegas after she was shot and ran back into the danger zone to see if any more help was needed.
Jonathan Smith, 30, saved about 30 people before he was shot in the neck in Vegas.
First grade teacher Victoria Soto from Sandy Hook hid her students in closets and cabinets. When the gunman entered her classroom, she convinced him the students were in the gym so he killed her and left.
Jose Martinez was saved by Christopher Hansen and Carlos Rosario in the Orlando shooting. One held onto Martinez’s rosary while the other stuffed a knotted bandanna into Martinez’s two gunshot wounds to save his life.
As hard as it is to focus on the positive in situations like this, it is very comforting to know that even though there was one ‘bad’ guy, there were countless selfless and generous people involved. These situations show us that in the times when the worst of humanity comes out in its cruelest form, the best of humanity is sure to emerge in its wake, stronger than ever.
“I believe this world isn’t half as bad as it looks;
I believe most people are good
I believe if you just go by the nightly news,
Your faith in mankind would be the first thing you lose.” – lyrics from the song ‘Most People Are Good’ by Luke Bryan
I remember Lent as a kid and it was always about giving something up. Usually it was candy or sweets. Other kids, braver and stronger than I, would give up TV. Now Lent is different. I still try for the candy thing, but I try to look beyond food in conscious choices to do or be different.
Lent always sounds like New Year’s Resolutions and often we joke about those, and how quickly those are broken. I am happy to say that I do much better with Lent than New Years. I take that as a good sign in terms of my Catholic faith.
Some time ago, I taped a picture to my computer screen at work. Many have seen it, but only one co-worker has asked me about it. The college students who work with me probably just take it as confirmation that I am odd. It is my resolution – for Lent and really for every day.
What does it mean?
Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? If not, zipper (as in my mouth, as in be silent, as in walk away). There are cool looking Pinterest things with this, but my purpose is not décor for the office, or to remind others. It is for me. Quiet. Subtle.
In researching the origins of this, I found out in ancient Greece, the philosopher Socrates spoke of it and it was called the Triple Filter Test (Truth, Goodness/Intention, Usefulness/Function).
This, however, is not one of those resolutions where if you fail, you give up. Because I fail often, repeatedly. It is too important, however, to give up. The little reminder puts me back into a place to try again. Following it makes me a better person, better colleague, better friend. Giving up candy has good consequences as well, but that is between the weight scale and me. This resolution, I think, centers my life with God. My relationship with Him is reflected daily, even hourly, in my exchanges with others. My simple “T, N, K” makes me pause. Sometimes it helps and causes me to filter. Sometimes I say things anyway. This resolution helps me recognize my failings.
On the other side, “T, N, K,” also serves as an inspiration to be bold, but on the side of affirmation. Speech is all too often associated with hate and bullying. Negative stuff, but I can use “T, N, K” to lift people up. How many people need that boost? How many people get it? If it is true and it is kind, odds are it is necessary and someone really needs to hear it. Be the light in someone’s otherwise dark day. That is why my picture is open at the top. I need to find the times when opening my mouth is important and necessary. Why is this harder for me? It shouldn’t be.
At the end of each day this Lent, I am going to spend a minute and ask myself “Today was I as quick with my compliments as I was with my complaints?” If not, I resolve tomorrow to do better. Maybe at the end of the 40 days, I will be able to say “yes” more often than “no.” I know it won’t be every day. God knows that too.
When a common theme comes up in your prayer time or the Scriptures, do you hear it? Do you stop to listen and take heed?
I’m certain that such recurring themes are not usually coincidence. Especially not when they fall within a time span of less than one week. When those promptings happen, they tend to stir the heart and get the gearboxes in my mind starting to move.
Consider these recent Scripture passages (emphasis mine):
“There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Mark 5: 25-34
“When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them,”Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Mark 5:38-41
“Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. Mark 6: 56
Reading these over again kind of makes me appreciate the Gospel of Mark with new fondness. When I sat in the pew on Sunday and Father Sudhansu (a priest in themSauk Centre parish cluster) in his homily spoke the sentence that I had been contemplating for several days, my husband and I did a sideways glance and smiled at one another. Father Sudhansu said,
“Those who are in need of healing want to just touch Jesus.”
These people in the scriptures lay aside everything in order to be near Jesus, meet him, just touch him. This is what we seek, isn’t it? We walk by faith and sometimes it’s only the thread of hope that we grasp. Our bodies and souls are in varying degrees of a need to be healed. In the darkness of the night, I too feel it.
“Jesus, I need you. There is this area of my life, a relationship, unforgiveness, anger, fear, hurt, despair, that I cannot move away from. I cannot fix on my own. Come near me, Jesus, let me just touch your cloak.”
As Father Sudhansu also mentioned in his homily, just as Jesus felt power go out from him when he was touched, there is a strength and energy that leaves each of us as we hug another person, “Like 1,000 horsepower of electricity!” While Jesus sees our need for healing and He offers that healing to us, He may also send that healing to us through the embrace of a human touch that we can feel and see, or send us to deliver that healing embrace to another for him.
Maybe now is the time that Jesus is passing by and saying, “Arise! Your faith has healed you, my child.” Let us ask Jesus for strength to walk forward to a path of healing that draws us closer to Him. Now is the time. Arise, my brothers and sisters!