Posts Tagged ‘Saints’

St. Martin the Veteran

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Today is Veterans’ Day, instituted first as Armistice Day after WWI, then Veterans’ Day after WWII (although my mother occasionally still called it Armistice Day) as a tribute to veterans of both world wars. It’s also the Feast of Martinmas, which is less well known in this country, although having been raised Catholic I grew up familar with the story of Saint Martin of Tours. It seems somehow fitting that Veterans Day is celebrated on the festival of a former Roman soldier.

Martin was born in the 4th century in what later became Hungary but what was then Pannonia, a province of the Roman Empire. His father, an important officer in the Roman army, naturally expected his son to follow in his footsteps. Martin had been named for Mars, the god of war, presumably to encourage that military spirit. But apparently young Martin was an easy-going, sociable fellow, more curious about strangers, and generous with handouts, than aggressive toward them, so to get him into the army his father arranged for his kidnapping and forcible enlistment by his soldiers, hoping that Martin would grow accustomed to military life through daily exposure. I bet Dad didn’t get many loving letters from the front. Today this method of recruitment is frowned upon.

However, there was Martin, a soldier at last, obliged to serve the Emperor for three years, outfitted with a Roman uniform and a sword. Even in the army, Martin was open-handed, and his military salary usually found its way into the hands of the unfortunate. His unit was sent to Gaul, as part of an ongoing attempt to civilize the native barbarians. Civilization in Gaul was eventually attained at a level far beyond their wildest dreams, but that’s another story.

One winter day, the story goes, Martin arrived at the gates of Amiens, where he encountered a poor ragged beggar shivering by the side of the road. Martin had already given away all his extra clothing, but, taking pity on the beggar, Martin unsheathed his sword and cut his warm woolen (army-issue, uh-oh) cloak in half and wrapped one half around him.

That night, Martin dreamed that Jesus appeared to him wrapped in Martin’s half-cloak saying, “Martin has covered me with this garment.” This made him determined to leave the army permanently, at the end of his term. When he attempted it, however (inconveniently during a barbarian invasion), he was accused of cowardice, in response to which he offered to advance alone against the enemy. Instead he was imprisoned. Eventually he was released at the conclusion of an armistice, and was finally able to pursue his vocation, settling in Gaul, founding an order, living very simply and developing a reputation for feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

Over the years our homeschooling group celebrated Martinmas (sometimes in combination with Diwali, Festival of Light, which can occur at around the same time—this year it falls on the 14th) with storytelling, a night-time walk in the park carrying lanterns and singing songs about light, and afterward gathering to share dessert. Happy Martinmas! Happy Diwali! Happy Veterans Day, everyone!

(A re-post from an earlier year.)

St. Patrick’s Soda Bread

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Up early this morning, to prepare the St.Patrick’s Day table and bake soda bread for breakfast. There are many choices, and this recipe (below) is my current favorite. But I was out of wheat germ, so I substituted bran, resulting in a gutsier product. Great with Irish cheddar, or yogurt and jam (or all of the above, if that is to your taste). Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Brown Soda Bread

1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (or bran)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 T cold unsalted butter cut into bits
1-1/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (I’ve tried both)

Preheat oven to 425º.

Sprinkle baking sheet with a little flour.

In a large bowl whisk together flours, oats, wheat germ/bran, baking soda, and salt. With fingertips rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk/yogurt and mix quickly until dough is evenly moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Turn dough onto floured surface and shape quickly into neat sphere, sprinkling with more flour as needed. On prepared baking sheet pat dough out into 7-inch round. With sharp knife cut shallow X in top.

Bake 25 minutes or so (depends on your oven) until bread looks set in center. Cool before serving.

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Hark!

Friday, December 25th, 2015

For Christmas Day, a painting and a poem. Merry Christmas, everyone, as we go onward together holding hands, listening for angels.

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A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, some troubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping the sidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
And are there angels hovering overhead? Hark.
— Gary Johnson

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St. Nicolas le chocolat

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Our daughter has been so good all year that St. Nicholas found her even at her new address in this tiny hillside village. And brought a treat from our favorite bakery too.

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St. Swithin’s Day

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Look out the window. Happy St. Swithin’s Day!

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Annunziazione

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

It has arrived!

In honor of the first day of Spring, a poem by Robert Frost, and a painting.

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 A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

—Robert Frost

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For every storm, a rainbow

Monday, March 17th, 2014

An Irish blessing, and a page from my Ireland sketchbook. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.

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May God give you
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

—Irish blessing

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Saint Lucy’s Gingerbread

Friday, December 13th, 2013

A warning to all my cookie guinea pigs! This year I set aside the traditional gingerbread cookie recipe to try a new one. I set it up last night and trudged to the kitchen before dawn (which is, admittedly, pretty late by mid-December) to finish the dough, which now must chill thoroughly before it’s cut and baked. If it’s a success, I’ll post the recipe in time for next Santa Lucia Day.

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St. Nicholas Day Plagiarist

Friday, December 6th, 2013

As part of my continuing obsession each December to remind the world about the discovery of the TRUE author of the beloved Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” I cannot resist once more posting a link to the story. Naughty, naughty, Clement Clarke Moore. No golden walnut for YOU.

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Rise Up, O Flame

Monday, November 11th, 2013

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As we move into the darkest season, looking increasingly inward and reflecting on the year nearly past, and on our losses and our shortcomings, we encourage and inspire ourselves and each other with a multitude of festivals of light: Michaelmas, Dia de los Muertos, Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas. On November 11th we celebrate simultaneously Martinmas, the feast of kindly St. Martin of Tours, and Veterans Day, each with its acknowledgement of sadness, courage, and hope.

In our family, we follow a tradition begun when our children were tiny Waldorf kindergarteners, and we have a lantern walk at nightfall. Despite my [now very big] children’s inevitable complaints and eyerolling, we’ll all do the last dog-walk together, carrying our homemade paper lanterns and singing. Someday they’ll thank me…

In case you also would like to go singing through the darkness, here is one of the songs, a lovely round by Praetorius.

 

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