Discovering the cross with sweet-smelling basil

For Catholics, making the sign of the cross is second nature. We do it upon entering and exiting a church, during Mass and at home before and after prayers. For me, growing up, it was even a custom on my dad’s side of the family to make the sign of the cross on each of my relative’s foreheads upon greeting them at a family gathering. And I have since passed on that very tradition to my own family.

Blessed Fruit on the Feast of the Assumption

Whether planting a Mary Garden or participating in a May crowning, I’ve become familiar with many customs that honor Our Lady during the spring season. I have always tended to think of May as the “best opportunity” to show our devotion to her. But of course, her earthly and heavenly presence are timeless and marked throughout the Church calendar. An age-old tradition I recently read about illustrates just that.

Take ‘heart’ in knowing Jesus loves you

The day after Christmas, the store aisles instantly turn red and pink, and hearts start popping up everywhere. And then on February 14, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are given to loved ones, chalky heart candies with messages are exchanged in schools, heart-themed desserts are shared on Pinterest and entire paychecks are spent on heart-shaped diamond-studded jewelry … all in the name of saying “I heart someone!”

We can’t live on bread alone … but try this bruschetta

I love bread. All bread. I think I could live on it. Which is why in the book of Matthew (4:4) Christ reminds me – no, Michelle, one cannot live on bread alone. Which is good because there are times when I think I might otherwise try it.

I wonder if that is where bruschetta came from. Italians make amazing bread. And sure, one can’t live on bread alone, but slice it, toast it, adorn it with flavorful olive oil and various toppings and … perhaps now we have something we can live on? If you love bruschetta as I do, once again, you’d be tempted to try!

There are shortcuts in cooking, but not in faith

On the weekends my kids usually request waffles for breakfast. Not the easy ones you throw into a toaster, but the ones made in a real waffle iron that you have to stand over… for several minutes at a time… and then painstakingly clean afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I enjoy cooking and baking, I sometimes opt for the shortcut toaster variety, so I can use my weekend to work on other projects.

But recently, my perspective on taking shortcuts in certain areas of my domestic life has changed a little.

Creating an appetite for faith

We recently hosted dinner for two of our parish priests, and in the minutes before they were due to show up, I was frantically finishing up the appetizers. With an eye toward presentation, I meticulously arranged the crackers and veggies both spatially and by color, and garnished the dip with a sprig of dill. When I was satisfied with the display, I carefully set the tray out … only to have my 11-year-old son dive in like a ravenous vulture. So much for the carefully crafted presentation!

A recipe leads to Fatima

A short time ago, I met up with a couple of friends for coffee at a small café, and ordered an egg tart. I wasn’t too excited about my choice, but it ended up being really tasty, so I went home to search online for recipe ideas to make my own. I came across a woman’s food blog, which featured a delicious-looking Portuguese egg custard tart. But my attention turned quickly from food to the place where she discovered it – in a small town just outside of Fatima, Portugal.

Fishing for answers

My child asks me if lobster are fish. I say no, they are crustaceans.

He asks me then why they are called “shellfish,” and suggests they are fish just crammed inside of shells. I don’t have enough energy to engage on the topic, so I reply not with an answer, but with a question. “Why do you need to know?”

“Because we can’t eat meat for Lent, but we can eat fish and if lobster are fish, we are all set.”


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