Tag Archives: Christmas

The Reason for the Seasons: Why Christians Celebrate What and When They Do

James V. Schall, S.J.
Sophia Institute Press, 304 pages


“We cannot be joyful without ultimately knowing why we should be joyful, without having something to be joyful about,” writes Fr. Schall, and so the feasts of the liturgical year invite us to “wonder” so as to experience “an awe that is fully aware of the truth that makes us free.” This collection of essays by the eminent Jesuit scholar reflects on the Church’s major observances, primarily Christmas and the seasons from Lent through Pentecost, but also the key Marian feasts, All Saints, All Souls, and even a touch of Ordinary Time. As always, Fr. Schall provides nourishment for both mind and soul.

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The Savior arrives as a baby

Christmas could rightly be called the holiday of the senses.

It is the season of lights and tinsel, choirs and carols, the aroma of evergreen and roasting chestnuts. Christmas comes to us with sumptuous meals, hearty laughter, and kisses beneath the mistletoe. Christmas scenes — by the old masters and by modern advertisers — decorate the walls of museums, billboards on the roadside, and cards in the mailbox. For nearly 2,000 years, the world has marked the birth of Jesus as its most festive jubilee. No other day of the year offers the world so many earthly pleasures.

But why? No pope or Church council ever declared that it should be so. Yet every year, Christmas comes onto the calendar like a sudden December wind, like the blinding sun reflected off new snow. It is a shock to the senses, to go from barren winter to the season of lights and feasting.

And so it should be, for the first Christmas — the day when Jesus Christ was born — was a shock to human history.

For millennia, humankind had lived and died, uncomprehending, in its sin, the miseries of this world inevitable and the joys few and fleeting. Then Christmas arrived, and even the calendar went mad. From that moment, all of history was cleft in two: before that day (B.C.), and after that day (A.D.). The world — with all its sights and sounds and aromas and embraces — was instantly transfigured. For the world’s redemption had begun the moment God took human flesh for His own, the moment God was born in a poor stable in Bethlehem.

The greatest Christian poem commemorates this moment when God definitively came to dwell on earth. St. John begins his Gospel by describing a God of awesome power, remote in space and transcending time: a Spirit, a Word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him.

This is the God that even the pagan philosophers knew: the Prime Mover, the One, the Creator. Yet, precisely where the pagan philosophers stalled, John’s drama proceeded to a remarkable climax:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

This was shocking news. From the distant heavens, from remotest time, God Himself had come in flesh to “pitch His tent” among His people. Yes, God is eternally the Word, but a word is elusive, and not everyone may grasp it. Now He is also a baby, and a baby may be picked up and held and embraced.

Of all the amazing and confounding truths of the Christian religion, there is none so outrageous as this: that the Word was made flesh, in a particular little town, in a stable filled with animals, on a certain day of the year. The Word was made flesh and changed everything. This makes Christmas the most shocking feast in the calendar.

This is what Christmas teaches us: We have bodies so that we can use them to worship God, as Jesus of Nazareth did. We have bodies so that we can use them to serve others, as Jesus did. We have bodies so that we can bring comfort and consolation and healing, as Jesus did. We have bodies so we can celebrate together, as Jesus did. We have bodies for glory’s sake.

Christmas tells the story of how the flesh became holy, the body was sanctified, and simple earthly joys became hymns of praise to God. We love to hear the story over and over, and we always will love it so long as a scrap of humanity remains in us. L

MIKE AQUILINA is the author of many books, including Faith of Our Fathers (Emmaus Road), from which this essay is adapted. He has hosted 11 series on EWTN Television, and appears weekly on Sirius Radio’s “Sonrise Morning Show.”

Catholics in waiting: celebrating Advent

The feast of Christmas was formally established as December 25 in the early fourth century by Pope Julius I. Not long after, Christians in France began observing a 40-day period of preparation for Christmas involving penance and fasting. By the early seventh century, Pope Gregory had written liturgical prayers for the Advent season, and the practice of Advent as a penitential season continued into the middle ages. Later developments led to the four-Sunday celebration of the season we celebrate today.

According to the Church norms, advent — which derives from a Latin term meaning “coming” — is about more than just the birth of Christ. Instead, it has a dual character involving both “comings” of Christ.

The eight days leading up to Christmas, from December 17 to December 24, focus on preparations to celebrate Christ’s birth, while the period from the First Sunday of Advent (which falls on December 2 this year) through December 16 directs our hearts and minds to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time.

Thus Advent “is a time of waiting, conversion and of hope,” according to a 2001 document of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Church no longer imposes specific penitential practices during this season, but repentance remains an Advent theme. Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum pontifical university in Rome, said that while Advent is “more centered on spiritual purification and preparation to receive the Lord,” it also “has a certain penitential character,” even if not as pronounced as that of Lent.

That call to penance is reflected in the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, which speaks of John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (see Lk 3:1-6).

Catholic devotions and traditions of Advent can help us prepare for the two “comings” of Christ and keep us mindful of the call to repentance during this season.

“Popular piety,” the Vatican document states, “intuitively understands that it is not possible coherently to celebrate the birth of Him ‘who saves his people from their sins’ without some effort to overcome sin in one’s own life, while waiting vigilantly for Him who will return at the end of time.”

Common traditions

Advent wreaths, Jesse trees, Christmas trees, and Nativity scenes are a few of the most common traditions.

The Advent wreath, a custom that originated in Germany, consists of a circular wreath of evergreen branches into which four candles – usually three purple candles and one rose candle – representing the four weeks of Advent are inserted. The color purple indicates the season’s penitential character, while the rose candle represents the Third Sunday in Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, a day for rejoicing as the Christmas feast draws near.

Lighting the candles each week accompanied by prayer and hymns symbolizes our hope and expectation for the two comings of Christ.

The Jesse Tree tradition dates to the Middle Ages. To a small bare tree is added each day a new ornament symbolic of God’s plan of redemption – depicting, for example, Noah’s ark or the Ten Commandments. Reading the relevant Scripture passages provides a way to reflect on salvation history.

The evergreen Christmas tree symbolizes life; it further reminds us of the tree of Eden, setting for mankind’s original sin, and the wood of the Cross by which Christ atoned for our sins. A Nativity scene with the manger left empty keeps us mindful that we await the fulfillment of our salvation in Christ.

Feasts and fasting

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) is a holy day of obligation commemorating not the Christ child, as is sometimes erroneously thought, but the Virgin Mary, who was conceived without sin in preparation for her vocation as the Mother of God.

Many families in the United States celebrate St. Nicholas Day (December 6) and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12), but a lesser-known Scandinavian tradition marks St. Lucy Day (December 13). The eldest daughter of a family dons a white dress, a red sash, and a crown wreath of candles as she takes pastries to members of her household in the pre-dawn hour. It recalls St. Lucy, a third-century martyr who carried food to Christians hiding in the catacombs of Rome during the Diocletian persecutions. The white dress is reminiscent of a baptismal robe, the red sash indicates martyrdom, and the candles represent the light of Christ that dispels the darkness – all symbols worthy of reflection during Advent.

Posada, a Latin American tradition, is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem as the birth of Jesus drew near. Leading a procession of the faithful who follow while singing Advent hymns, individuals portraying the holy couple walk from house to house seeking shelter before finally finding welcome. More than an elaborate drama, posada reminds us of our need to be prepared to receive Christ when he comes.

Novenas and penances

Spiritual preparation requires increased attention to contemplation. Praying the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer of thanksgiving at the time of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, during the final week before Christmas using the O Antiphons is a longstanding Catholic tradition (see sidebar).

Advent novenas provide another tool. The St. Andrew novena is prayed 15 times a day from the saint’s feast day (November 30) through Christmas day. There also are several novenas dedicated to the Holy Child Jesus, usually prayed from December 16 through Christmas Eve.

Another Advent tradition is a novena of Masses. Celebrated in Spanish-speaking, Portuguese- speaking, and Filipino communities, this tradition goes by names such as Misa de Aguinaldo (“Gift Mass”), Misa de Gallo (“Rooster Mass”), and Simbang Gabi (“Night Mass”). The Masses are celebrated daily at dawn from December 16 to 24 (or at night on December 15 to 23) as a way to prepare for Christ’s coming with joy and thanksgiving.

Acts of penance go to the historical roots of Advent tradition. Making a good examination of conscience followed by sacramental confession during Advent is a salutary preparation for Christmas. Many parishes offer communal celebrations of the sacrament of Penance during December for this reason.

Just as Catholics observed an Advent fast through the Middle Ages, the Eastern Catholic churches have retained a 40-day fast in the weeks leading to Christmas – a period called the Nativity Fast. Beginning on St. Philip’s feast (November 15), the Nativity Fast is more rigorous than the Lenten fast in the Roman Catholic Church in that it includes abstinence from meat, dairy, eggs, and all animal products. The fast becomes even stricter over the final 12 days before Christmas.

As Pope Leo the Great said in the fifth century, “What is more effective than fasting, by which we approach God, and, resisting the devil, we overcome indulgent vices? … And through these voluntary afflictions, our flesh dies to concupiscence and our spirit is renewed for moral excellence.”

Fasting further provokes physical hunger, reminiscent of the spiritual hunger we have for Christ. This fasting, as with repentance and other Advent traditions, is an appropriate model for the anticipation of His “comings” during Advent.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Christmas and the inversion of the family

The most accurate word to describe Christmas is “Nativity.” More than anything else, Christmas is about a birth, the birth of Christ. While this simple fact has occupied a comfortable place in the Christmas tradition, its revolutionary implications might remain hidden to many people. Nonetheless, Christmas has had a decisive revolutionary impact on the ordering of the members of the family.

Pater familias, “father of the family” or “owner of the family estate,” according to Roman law, gave the father autocratic authority over his family. In the family hierarchy, the father came first, the mother a distant second, and the child a far distant third. In contrast to pater familias, the Nativity was revolutionary in that it placed the child first, the mother a close second, and the father a comfortable third. The various images of the Madonna give the Christ- child a centrality, while Joseph is often absent. Mary nourishes, Joseph protects, but the Christ- child, who elicits these virtues, is the centerpiece. The Holy Family inverts the order of pater familias and gives the child a status of pre-eminence.

The Nativity is also a celebration of life, for a new life comes into the world amid widespread rejoicing. It truly brings joy to the world. The shepherds kneel in adoration of the Christ-child, virtually ignoring, though not disrespecting, the parents. Even the angels sing their praises to the newborn. It is not Mother’s Day nor Father’s Day that is celebrated, but the Nativity.

The Nativity affirmed the primary importance of the child. This notion had a deep impact on human history. King Lear, in a moment of uncontrollable rage, pronounces the greatest curse he can imagine on his daughter, Goneril: “Hear, Nature, hear, dear goddess, hear! Suspend thy purpose if thou didst intend to make this creature fruitful. Into her womb convey sterility. Dry up in her the organs of increase, and from her derogate body never spring a babe to honor her” (Act 1, Scene 4). Here, though stated in the negative, is a powerful testimonial to the importance of new life and how it brings joy and fulfillment to a woman. Love always has a forward motion. It does not hold back. It overcomes obstacles and reaches out to new life. Honoring and embracing the Christ-child is an acceptance of the mystery of love and the rewards it confers.

When we look at the contemporary world, we are witnessing a loss of that proper hierarchy of the family in which the child has pre-eminence. The abortion mentality accords the mother absolute dominion over her child, while the father holds, tenuously, to a distant second place. In many instances the child is downgraded into a subhuman. One example from a university textbook entitled Sociology more than illustrates the point. In referring to the neonate, the author writes: “The physical care, emotional response, and training provided by the family transform this noisy, wet, demanding bundle of matter into a functioning member of society.” King Lear retained enough mental clarity not to wish that his daughter would never deliver a “bundle of matter.”

The title of this brief essay employs the word “inversion.” This word is appropriate in relation to pater familias which had viewed the family upside down. A more precise term, however, is “conversion,” for the order of the Holy Family is a conversion from error to truth, from the unholy to the holy, and remains with us forever as the proper hierarchic model of all human families, perhaps more needed in our own time than ever before in human history.

DR. DONALD DEMARCO’S latest book is Apostles of the Culture of Life (TAN Books), and he has also released the recent title, Why I am Pro-Life and Not Politically Correct. He is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review.

Christ’s gift of purity at Christmas

In these days of turmoil within the Roman Catholic Church – on whether longtime doctrine should stand, or priests should remain celibate, or obedience should extend to certain apostate shepherds, or select traditions should be “relaxed” or set aside – there’s a simple but often overlooked reality in the Holy Family.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

“When the Son of God came into the world on Christmas night, He surrounded His Incarnation with the aura of chastity,” the late Fr. John Hardon stated. “His mother, He made sure, would miraculously conceive Him without carnal intercourse. She would be a virgin before birth, in birth, and after birth.” He made sure He was brought up in the virginal family of Mary and Joseph. St. Joseph, Christ’s foster father, was legitimately wed to Mary, yet remained her “most chaste spouse” throughout their marriage. We even recite those words in the Litany to St. Joseph.

Christ was a virgin during His stay on earth, and He never married. During His public life, He showed special affection for pure souls, especially John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, “the beloved Apostle.”

Huh? What a square notion in today’s sexually corrupt culture. I’ve heard ‘progressive’ priests and deacons try to mitigate truths on the Holy Family and others in the Gospels and Scriptures, in homilies and parish classes, as if they were embarrassed by them. That stirs confusion and weakens faith for sure.

Church history shows there is a clear connection between upholding the traditional states of virginity and celibacy among priests, and purity of doctrine. Priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes are our ‘teaching doctors’ of the Church. If they violate the vows of their vocation, flaunt decadence, or spread disavowing opinions, they in essence become unclean in their doctrine and lose holy credibility before us all.

Surprisingly in the 16th century, it was the great unwillingness of so many priests to remain celibate that tilted the pressure in favor of Protestantism – the mortal split from Catholicism that divided the flock. Though there were other issues as well that splintered Catholic unity, the central issue was really priestly celibacy.

And what value is there in Catholic priests remaining celibate?

If a priest is to be like Christ – in persona Christi
if he is to realistically represent the Savior, be an authentic teacher to the people, administer sacraments and counsel in Confession, and offer pure sacrifice at Mass, isn’t it fitting that he, like his Master, should remain virtuously aligned with God – in and out of season? Celibacy isn’t a ‘choice’ or something a priest simply endures. It is a gift from God – a charism – for men called to Holy Orders, in perfect imitation of the life and ministry of Christ.

Christ Himself endorsed priestly celibacy, saying that there are “…those who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom,” and He added that “not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given” (Mt 19:12).

Celibacy is a great gift to Christ’s chosen priests, one worth preserving for the High Priest and His kingdom.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala Dazzles Record Crowd

On December 1st, over 200 Legatus members from 18 different chapters gathered in Midtown Manhattan for the 20th Annual Legatus Christmas Gala. The yearly tradition, begun in 1997 as a chance for Legatus members from different New York City-area chapters to come together annually for shared fellowship, follows the standard format of a Legatus chapter meeting with rosary, Confession, a cocktail reception, and then dinner with a featured speaker. The scale is exponentially greater, however, due to the large and diverse attendance and the grand locales: the historic Church of Our Savior for the sacramental portion of the evening, and the Union League Club across Park Avenue for the reception and dinner.

This year’s Legatus Gala featured Mass celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano, the fifth bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and home to Legatus’ thriving Fairfield County Chapter. Concelebrating was Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Center on Long Island and other priests including many Legatus chaplains. A reverent rosary was led by Dr. Max and Isabel Mercado of the Bucks County Chapter in eastern Pennsylvania, with many members receiving Reconciliation, which was available at multiple confessionals at Church of Our Savior. Bishop Caggiano’s stirring homily left all present spellbound and set the tone for the entire evening.

After Mass, the evening continued at the Union League Club, New York City’s world-famous city club. Legatus members dressed in black-tie enjoyed the company of hundreds of their peers from their own chapters and many others. Nine northeast chapters sponsor the Gala each year and make the event possible. They are: New York City, Long Island, Jersey Shore, Northern New Jersey, Hartford, Fairfield County, Pittsburgh, Bucks County, and Westchester County. These chapters were recognized during the program. The Gala project is managed and presented by the office of regional director for the Northeast.

Paul and Sherry Durnan, founders and longtime officers of the Long Island Chapter, served as masters of ceremonies. Father Chris Monturo, chaplain of the new Westchester County, New York Legatus Chapter gave the invocation. Tom Monaghan, founder and chairman of Legatus, spoke on the importance of the Legatus mission and the significance of the milestone 30th year of Legatus.

Lou Dicerbo of the New York City Chapter was recognized for leading the group that organized the first Legatus Gala 20 years ago. DiCerbo was presented with a navigational compass symbolizing his vision and leadership and then shared remarks from the podium.

Chris McMahon of the Pittsburgh Chapter, the Northeast’s representative on the Legatus International Board of Governors, introduced the keynote speaker, congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith spoke on a range of issues he works on in both the United States Congress and the United Nations, including human trafficking, protection of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, and of course, protecting innocent life. Smith’s speech and presence were deeply appreciated by all.

The program closed with a moving benediction — in song —from Fr. Joseph Mele, Chaplain of the Pittsburgh Chapter, and recognition of John DiSanto of the Harrisburg Chapter, the 2017 Ambassador of the Year award winner. Many members stayed after at the Union League for continued camaraderie late into the evening.

The 2016 and 2017 Legatus Galas have been the best attended Galas ever, nearly doubling attendance from just a few years ago. It is a members-only special event and a celebration of the Legatus mission. Next year’s Legatus Gala will be held on December 7, 2018. All Legatus members are welcome and encouraged to attend this unforgettable occasion.

Christ reveals man to man himself

The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.
— Evangelium Vitae, ¶1

In order to authentically redirect society from its perilous direction and transform it into a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love, hearts must be re-oriented toward Christ, the Light of the World. After all, the closer the human person comes to God, the closer he comes to his own humanity and the truths of the world in which he lives. As Gaudium et Spes says, “Christ…fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” [¶22]

The human person, in every age, seeks answers to the meaning of human existence: “Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What follows this earthly life? What is truth, the meaning of happiness, and why is there suffering and evil?”

Sadly, as Judeo-Christian values have decayed, the common language used to express and defend those values has become foreign to many. The foundational principles that have guided centuries of civilization are no longer points of demarcation for understanding the human person and his inherent dignity, his relationship with his neighbor or his Creator. This is why we must once again turn our gaze to the One who reveals man to man himself.

The joyous herald of the angels that first Christmas night sheds light upon the answers we desperately seek: I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2:10 11) Christmas reveals the full meaning of every human life and in Jesus’ birth all life in all of its stages is given its purpose and full significance. It is the good news offered to people in every age and culture.

The unwavering reverence for the dignity of every human person is at the heart of the transformation of cultures, and the resolution to the challenges confronting contemporary humanity cannot be found apart from this single truth. It is this truth that provides the safeguard against the individualistic and totalitarian tendencies that have tragically scarred our cultures, societies and families.

Man is called to a fullness of life, which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶2

Catholic tradition affirms, “The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual… [The] body and soul are inseparable” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 362-368); therefore, they stand or fall together (Veritatis Splendor, ¶49). As citizens of two cities, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one that is to come, we are mistaken to think we can evade our earthly responsibilities instead of discharging them conscientiously.

Christianity is not just about social action, or feeling good about one’s life, or working out one’s own salvation, or practicing one’s faith when convenient or opportunistic. Faith in Christ is about an unwavering commitment to Jesus, His mission, commands and Church.

Being transformed by Christ, the One who reveals man to man himself is the fulcrum for a radical transformation of our societies and cultures.

This Gospel exceeds every human expectation and reveals the sublime heights to which the dignity of the human person is raised through grace. — Evangelium Vitae, ¶80

To the extent to which we answer the call to personal holiness, to the extent to which it is the Holy Spirit living the Life of Christ in us, we will transform the world around us and build a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.

 

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA.

Sparkle of Louisiana Christmas traditions

Le Réveillon, or the awakening (the morning feast following Midnight Mass on Christmas or New Year’s Eve) is an age-old custom inherited by the Louisiana Creoles from their European ancestors and adopted by the Germans who settled in the River parishes of Louisiana. Réveillon was a time of family reunion and thanksgiving, which began early in the evening with family members converging on households for hours of conversation. In the French Quarter of New Orleans when the church bells began to ring at about 11 o’clock, the Creoles and their families strolled to St. Louis Cathedral for Christmas Mass. A man might miss any service during the year, but he would be certain to join his family for Midnight Mass at Christmas.

Christmas Eve was recognized as a day of fasting and abstinence by most Catholics. By the end of Midnight Mass the Creoles were hungry and ready to celebrate with a Réveillon feast. Family members returning from church were greeted with an elaborate meal of daube glacé, chicken and oyster gumbo, salmis or game pies, egg dishes, sweetbreads, soups and soufflés, grillades, grits, hominy, homemade breads, crystallized fruits, fruitcake and lavish desserts, wine, brandy, eggnog and New Orleans coffee. The Creole table emulated what might have been found on the tables of France during that same hour.

In rural South Louisiana, Le Réveillon was celebrated though in admittedly more humble circumstances. People gathered at the house of the family matriarch or patriarch to visit, then to walk to Midnight Mass. Often, the trip was lighted by bonfires along the levee, and a hearty breakfast always followed. It is actually the bonfire tradition that has stood the test of time. St. James Parish, where I grew up, was settled in the 1700s by French and German settlers from the Old World. It seems that the bonfire tradition was inherited from these generations past. As necessity is so often the mother of invention, many surmise that because there were no churches on the east bank of the Mississippi River at that time, those living there had to cross the river to attend Mass. So, bonfires were lit on the west bank to guide their skiffs safely across the muddy waters.

The Folse family certainly participated in the annual bonfire tradition. The day after Thanksgiving, we started gathering timber to create the bonfires that we would enjoy in the weeks ahead. Much to our father’s dismay, we put willow branches within the wooden pyre so that once lit, there would be popping and sparks like fireworks.

Today, it is believed that the bonfires light the way for Papa Noel and his team of swamp gators. Bonfire festivities are accompanied with a celebration of food. Most commonly served are steaming bowls of Chicken and Andouille Gumbo served over rice. Faith, family and food – then, as now – is a mainstay of Louisiana life.

Chef JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle Catholic, Chef Folse supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

 

Daube Glacé – A festive Creole hors d’oeuvre

Daube glacé is a classical Creole hors d’oeuvre, traditionally beef braised with vegetables; this one is made with leftover cooked daube, which is seasoned and set with gelatin. Any combination of leftover meats can be used – such as chicken, turkey, ham, or pork – along with any terrine mold. During the holidays, try a festive shape to add flair to your table.

Prep Time: 2.5 Hours, Yield: 12-15 Servings

Ingredients:
1 (3-pound) cooked daube, cut into (1-inch) cubes
2 quarts beef stock reserved sauce from precooked daube
½ cup minced onions
½ cup minced celery
½ cup minced red bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
½ cup minced carrots
½ cup chopped parsley
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
3 (1-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin, dissolved in ¾ cup warm water

In a cast-iron Dutch oven, bring beef stock and sauce from precooked daube to a light boil. Add daube, onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic into sauce, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until meat becomes very tender and easily shreds apart. Strain all ingredients from liquid through a fine sieve and set aside. Return liquid to heat and reduce to 1½ quarts. Add carrots and parsley then season to taste using salt and cayenne pepper. Whisk dissolved gelatin into sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Break the meat into small pieces and place equal amounts into two terrine molds. Divide cooked vegetables from the original sauce evenly between the two molds. Ladle stock over the meat, cover with plastic wrap and allow to set in the refrigerator. Daube glacé is best when allowed to sit 24 hours for flavors to develop. When set, slice daube glacé and serve with garlic croutons.

Joy to the World

SCOTT HAHN’s latest is a perfect read for Advent or a great stocking stuffer . . .

hahnJoy to the World
Scott Hahn
Image Books, 2014
192 pages, $23 hardcover

The Christmas story is both familiar and utterly extraordinary. The cast of characters includes shepherds, magicians, an emperor and a despot, angels, and a baby who is Almighty God. In his new book subtitled How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does), Hahn examines the characters and the story in light of the biblical and historical context.

He brings evidence to light, dispelling some of the mystery of the story. Yet Christmas is made familiar all over again by showing it to be a family story — the story of a father, a mother, and a child.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Make a Catholic Advent

Patrick Novecosky writes that Catholics need to embrace the real meaning of Advent . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

You probably share my frustration. A week or so after Labor Day, you’re walking through The Home Depot or Walmart and you hear “Jingle Bells,” and as you round the corner: Christmas trees and tinsel.

I get it. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Wouldn’t it be great to have the Christmas feeling all year-round!? Yes… and no. All good things are worth waiting for, and Christmas is one of them.

First, let’s get the language right. We need to celebrate Advent and Christmas, not “the holidays.” The incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity is not merely a “holiday,” but rather the launch of God’s ultimate rescue plan for the human race.

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” Adventus is the translation of the Greek parousia, which means the second coming of Christ. Advent anticipates Christ’s coming from two different perspectives: We share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s coming, and we develop a heightened alert for his return.

The four weeks of Advent are a time to “prepare the way of the Lord.” The Catechism teaches that “when the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (#524).

What does this mean in practical terms? December is a busy month for everyone, so prioritize. Sift out what’s important and what’s not. In doing so, you can make time to embrace this essential season. That doesn’t mean shopping online so you have more time for baking or entertainment. It means cutting out the non-essentials so you have time to pray and ponder Jesus. Go to Mass during the week. Go to Confession. Make an Advent retreat (yes, they exist). Read a spiritual book. Ponder the empty manger (keep Baby Jesus put away until Christmas).

If you keep a Catholic Advent, you can be sure that when Christmas Day arrives, your heart will be overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Jesus. One last thing: Christmas doesn’t end on Dec. 25. It begins. The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Be countercultural. Keep the decorations up a little longer this year. When the neighbors notice, tell them it’s still Christmas!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.