Wednesday, August 27, 2014

St. Augustine and St. Monica

 It has been awhile since I last posted. July was a busy month with an unexpected trip to Vermont to attend the funeral of my maternal aunt and godmother.

My hometown parish and the site of the funeral was St. Augustine Church, Montpelier, Vermont. It is in Montpelier that I was born and St. Augustine Church where I was baptized, received First Penance, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Montpelier is a charming, capitol city and St. Augustine Church's is a Gothic styled church built out of Vermont granite.

St. Augustine was a fourth century bishop from Hippo, Africa. The wayward son of St. Monica, who shed many tears and offered many prayers for his conversion. He was a brilliant man, who when he did embrace the Catholic faith at age 32, brought his great natural talents to bear when explaining and defending the faith to others. He is a doctor of the Catholic Church. His feast day is August 28.

 St. Monica is the model for mothers and all who seek the conversion of a loved one. She prayed and trusted in the power of prayer. Her prayers were not immediately answered. She persevered, trusted and cried out to the Lord, begging Him to draw her son to the truths of the Catholic faith. St. Augustine wrote an autobiography, Confessions, describing the state of his mind and soul during his youth and early adulthood. He had a tender love for his mother and knew of her heartache at his lack of faith. However, he persisted in sin and followed false doctrines. Eventually, the clouds of disbelief and the shadow of sin were lifted, and he came to know the God of truth. He is remembered for saying: "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you."   St. Monica, pray for us and for our loved ones.
 One of my favorite stories about St. Augustine is reflected in this picture. It is the story of Augustine trying to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity. As he walks along the beach pondering the mystery, he sees a little boy trying to put the ocean into a little hole he had dug out of the sand. "You can't fill the hole with the ocean," Augustine tells the child. "Neither can you comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity in your limited intellect," retorts the boy and upon saying it, he vanishes!

Here is a link to an Algerian Dessert possibly from Augustine's time


Friday, August 15, 2014

Feast of the Assumption

The Eastern Catholic Churches refer to the Assumption as the Dormition, the Falling Asleep of Mary. The Roman Catholic Church refers to the dogma of Mary's being taken into heaven by the Lord as the Assumption of Mary. The picture of the Dormition to the left shows the Apostles and holy men and women surrounding the Blessed Mother before her Assumption. The Assumption of the Blessed Mother was defined by Pope Pius XII on November 11, 1950. It solemnly declared:
     "The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory" (Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 44.) This is "a divinely revealed dogma" explained Pope Pius XII.
To learn more about the Dogma of the Assumption read this excellent article in the National Catholic Register

To honor Mary and celebrate her glorious Assumption, here is a favorite recipe of mine for Cake Pops.


INGREDIENTS                                                               Makes about 36

 cake mix any variety except angel food or sponge cake, and the oil, water and eggs that are required.
lollipop sticks, 3 inch, 36
 chocolate melts, any color you like (Michael's Craft Store and A.C. Moore Stores have an extensive variety of colors and flavors) probably about 2 bags of melting chocolate
sprinkles, all colors, shapes, to decorate with (Michael's and A.C. Moore)
additional items you might want
pastry bag with decorating tips for designs (Michael's and A.C. Moore, Wal-Mart, Wilton on-line)


Follow the directions on the box for preparing and baking the cake. Using a rectangular pan is easiest but not essential. When the cake is out of the oven, let it cool completely.

Crumble baked cake into large mixing bowl. Crumble completely so there are no lumps.
Add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of prepared frosting gradually. You want the crumbled cake to become moist enough to roll between your hands and form into a small round ball. If you use too much frosting the mixture will be too wet and will not hold its shape. 

When you are ready to roll the  mixture into round balls have a couple of oblong cake pans or cookie sheets lined with aluminium foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap. I prefer aluminium foil.  

Take a small amount of the mixture and roll  between your palms into a  1-inch ball. Place on lined cookie sheet. Repeat until you have finished the bowl of mixture. Should be about 36 balls. Then place in the center of each ball one lollipop stick. Repeat until finished. Place rolled balls in freezer for 2 - 3 hours. 
(If your freezer can not accommodate such a large pan, then use smaller pans or plates. Be sure to line them with aluminium foil for ease of removing the cake pop.)

Heat up the chocolate melts in a microwave safe bowl. Use about 1 1/2 cup of melts. Microwave at 35 seconds and then stir the mixture. Heat in increments of 35 seconds or less, until the melts are melted. You do not want to over heat the melts or they will be ruined. 

Take the cake pops out of the freezer and one by one dip them in the heated chocolate melts. My technique is to dip the cake pop in so that it is completely covered. If necessary, I use a plastic spoon to shovel the melted chocolate up around the collar of the cake pop where the stick enters. When the entire pop is covered, I remove it carefully and place on a clean sheet of aluminium foil. You must put the sprinkles on immediately before the chocolate hardens. I usually do about twelve cake pops or so and then put the decorated batch in the freezer or the refrigerator depending on where I have room. Then I continue on with twelve more and so on, until I have completed all thirty six cake pops.  If you want to add a design by melting the chocolate in a disposable, plastic pastry bag with a decorator tip, you can wait and do that later after you have finished all the cake pops, or even on another day, if you are not planning to eat them right off! The cake pops stay very fresh for up to two weeks because of the chocolate coating.