Friday, October 31, 2014


Peace, and the joy which comes with it, cannot be given by the world. Men are forever "making peace" and forever getting entangled in wars. This is because they have forgotten the advice to struggle inside themselves and to go to God for help. Then he will conquer, and we will obtain peace for ourselves and for our own homes, for society, and for the world. If we do things in this way, you and I will have JOY, because it is the possession of those who conquer. And with the grace of God-- who never loses battles--we will be able to count ourselves conquerors as long as we are humble.

-St. Josemaria Escriva

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mushroom and Leek Pot Pies

wild-mushroom-pot-pie2Serves 4


  • 1 (8oz) sheet thawed frozen puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 2 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tsp water

To make top crusts for the pies, place pastry on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Place a ramekin on pastry and trace around it with a knife; repeat until you have 4 circles. Save pastry scraps for another use. Poke circles all over with a fork and refrigerate on the baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add leek and carrots; cook, stirring frequently, 5 mins. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until they are softened, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring 1 minute. Slowly stir in broth. Stir in peas, mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour into the ramekins and cover tops with prepared pastry circles. Brush pastry lightly with egg and place the ramekins on a baking sheet to catch drips. Bake until pastry is very browned and filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Synod on Family

Synod: Marriages Suffering from “Back-

burner” Husbands & Wives

Posted October 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The Synod opened yesterday with an interesting nod to the digital age. Cardinal Peter Erdo’s opening address noted, if not lamented, the fact that we “live in an audio-visual culture, a culture of feelings, emotional experiences, and symbols.” Later in the same speech, Erdo linked this culture with the challenges of teaching the faithful about true marital intimacy. “Under the influence of the existing culture,” he told the assembly, “many reserve the right not to observe conjugal fidelity … without a clear awareness before the Lord of assuming an unconditional and life-long commitment to welcome the other and make a total gift of self to the other.”
Not long after making that point, the Washington Post provided a good example of the problem, and the challenge to the Catholic Church. Caitlin Dewey wrote about a new study from Indiana University on the rise of “digital infidelity,” a new twist on an old story.  The explosion of social media has allowed people to maintain contact with a much wider group of people, including old friends — and often, old flames. One study from a research agency shows that half of married women stay in contact with what they call “back-up husbands,” an escape option if and when their marriage begins to struggle. Among men, Dewey writes, the problem is even worse; they are twice as likely to have “back-burners.” In both groups, though, the prevalence of sexual flirtation among these escape options is high, with respondents to the survey averaging two such “back-burners” each.
The problem isn’t new to the social-media age. Workplace flirtations are notorious, and notoriously destructive, as any manager or executive either has learned or will in short order. Those who travel on business are arguably more at risk; the underrated film Up In The Air gave a bleak, depressing view of just how empty and false the promise of fleeting intimacy can be. With social media’s global and ubiquitous scope and its covert capabilities, though, the opportunities to look for and find outsiders to divide intimacy are practically endless — far beyond just a business office. The seeming cornucopia of choice challenges marital intimacy at its core, as Dewey notes:
[T]he Internet represents a previously unavailable, untapped source of endless new connections, endless choices.
That’s critical, because the strength of a relationship relies on three things, broadly speaking: satisfaction, emotional investment, and the availability of alternative partners. And that is, this new research suggests, exactly what social media promises — not constant temptation, exactly, but the constant, casual reminder that alternatives exist.
Dewey’s analysis takes a more anthropological approach. From a Catholic perspective, the issue is one of understanding what true intimacy really means, and Erdo provided the answer. The sacrament of marriage is “an unconditional and life-long commitment to welcome the other and make a total gift of self to the other.” The search for and use of “back-burners” is the antithesis of this definition. And the trouble is that the existence of back-burners make the issue on which they are based – just in case it doesn’t work out — a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As someone who has been married for twenty years to a wonderful woman, I can personally attest to the fact that while we have a great marriage, it hasn’t been a trouble-free marriage. We have had a (blessedly) few times where we could barely stand to speak to one another, for what always turn out to be petty reasons or miscommunications. Those happen in every marriage. If we had not committed to the total gift of self for life, it would have been very easy to walk out — and the existence of “back-burners” would make it almost impossible to resist. Even when the spouses don’t leave, the fact that they are sharing themselves with others in place of their husbands or wives show that they have not made that total gift of self, but instead are looking for a self-gift of sorts.
How does the Catholic Church address the issue of divorce and troubled marriages? In this overwhelming culture of self-gratification, it will be more difficult than it looks. This does show, though, one big reason for the Synod to be called, and why Erdo’s opening statement focused so much on the question of bolstering marriage preparation from a younger age by catechetizing on the real meaning of intimacy.
In the end, people aspire to that level of intimacy and bonding. Even the search for “back-burners,” in the context of Dewey’s article, shows a perhaps unconscious yearning for complete gift of self and the same in return. The challenge for the Synod will be to craft a new pastoral approach that teaches what true intimacy actually means so that expectations can be properly established, and to expose the bleak nature of “back burners” in any age, let alone in a globally-connected world. The Synod fathers have a big job on their hands with just that one task.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. 
-St. Augustine

Monday, September 8, 2014

cheap grace vs. Costly Grace

"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves...the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."
                                                                                        -Dieterich Bonhoeffer, German priest/martyr

Friday, August 22, 2014

As a man is...

As a man is, so he prays. We make ourselves what we are by the way we address God. The man who never prays is one who has tried to run away from himself because he has run away from God. But unreal though he be, he is more real than the man who prays to God with a false and lying heart.
-Thomas Merton

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Frozen Chango

Serving size: 1 glass

  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed
  • 2-3 prunes
  • 2 tbsp real coconut flakes (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla kefir   
  • Water to get the desired consistency 
Blend all until smooth. This one's nice and tart.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fig, Prosciutto, and Mixed Greens Pizza

Serving Size: 1 big pizza


  • 1 prepared multigrain dough ball (from Whole Foods)
  • ~3 cups Mixed greens (such as spinach, arugula, swiss chard, kale.....)
  • 6 large figs, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 oz package of prosciutto, thinly sliced.
  • 8 oz fontina cheese, sliced or shredded into small pieces
  • 1 red onion
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • cornmeal

Preheat oven to 450. Place pizza stone in oven to preheat.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Thinly slice red onion and add to skillet. Cook slow and steady until onion caramelizes (about 10-15 minutes). Reserve on the side.

Put sliced figs in a small bowl. Add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and toss well to combine. Let sit on the side.

Sprinkle counter top with flour and roll out dough to desire shape. Sprinkle fontina cheese all over it. Then sprinkle crushed black pepper all over it. Take pizza stone out of the oven. Sprinkle cornmeal over pizza stone, then immediately transfer pizza to the stone. Place in oven and bake around 10 minutes...or until edges brown and cheese is bubbly. You should be able to smell it really good!

Meanwhile, place mixed greens in a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Reserve on the side.

Take pizza out of the oven and immediately arrange prosciutto slices, figs, and caramelized onions evenly over the top of the oven. Put entire pizza back in the oven for 1-2 minutes, just until the figs/prosciutto/onions get hot. Remove pizza from oven and top with tossed mixed greens. Some might be a little it a salad or a pizza??  (i.e. Paul Sprehe) Taste and see.

Let cool for about 5 minutes and then slice and serve. Unbelievable.

The "Too Good to Be True" Smoothie

Serving size: 1 glass

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 generous handful of super greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards...whatever you have)
  • 5-7 prunes
  • 1 generous splash of vanilla kefir
  • enough water to give it a smoothie consistency

Add all to a blender or magic bullet and voila. It is too good to be true.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Choose Life

No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of "freedom" can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God's gift of motherhood destroys his most precious gift to women -- the ability to love as a woman."
Mother Teresa

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Hidden Power in Our Suffering

Making Sense out of Bioethics column by Fr. Tad Pacholczyk
Making Sense out of Bioethics: June 7, 2012

In a 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, patients with serious illness were asked to identify what was most important to them during the dying process.
Many indicated they wanted to achieve a “sense of control.” This is understandable. Most of us fear our powerlessness in the face of illness and death.
We would like to retain an element of control, even though we realize that dying often involves the very opposite: a total loss of control, over our muscles, our emotions, our minds, our bowels, and our very lives, as our human framework succumbs to powerful disintegrative forces.
Important spiritual journey
Even when those disintegrative forces become extreme and our suffering may seem overwhelming, however, a singularly important spiritual journey always remains open for us. This path is a “road less traveled,” a path that, unexpectedly, enables us to achieve genuine control in the face of death.
The hallmark of this path is the personal decision to accept our sufferings, actively laying down our life on behalf of others by embracing the particular kind of death God has ordained for us, patterning our choice on the choice consciously made by Jesus Christ.
Sharing in Christ’s giving of Himself
When asked about the “why” of human suffering, Pope John Paul II once stated, with piercing simplicity, that the answer has “been given by God to man in the cross of Jesus Christ.” He stressed that Jesus went toward his own suffering, “aware of its saving power.”
The pope also observed that in some way, each of us is called to “share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished.” He concluded that through his only-begotten Son, God “has confirmed His desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and He wishes to make His power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self.”
The Holy Father echoes St. Paul’s famous passage: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Love-driven sacrifice
The greatest possibility we have for achieving control, then, is to align ourselves in our suffering and weakness with God and his redemptive designs. This oblation of radically embracing our particular path to death, actively offered on behalf of others and in union with Christ, manifests our concern for the spiritual welfare of others, especially our friends and those closest to us. We are inwardly marked by a profound need to sacrifice and give of ourselves, a need that manifests our inner capacity to love and be loved.
As no one had ever done before, Jesus charted the path of love-driven sacrifice, choosing to lay down his life for his friends. He was no mere victim in the sense of being a passive and unwilling participant in his own suffering and death. He was in control. He emphasized, with otherworldly authority, that, “nobody takes my life from me: I lay it down, and I take it up again.”
Yet we see that his life was, in fact, taken from him by those various individuals and groups who plotted his death and sought his execution. His life was taken from him by evil men, even though, paradoxically, nobody took his life from him, because nobody had power over his being, unless granted from above.
Freedom elevated to new heights
We experience a similar paradox in our own deaths: while it may seem that our life is being taken from us through the evil of a particular ailment or the ravages of a particular disease, we can reply that nothing takes away our life, because nothing has power over our being, except what is ordained from above.
In his providence and omniscience, years before the fact, God already knows and foresees that unique confluence of events that will constitute our death, whether it be by stroke or cardiac arrest, liver failure or Alzheimers, or any other means. By spiritually embracing in God that specific path to death, our freedom is elevated to new heights; indeed, we “achieve control” in the most important way possible, through willed surrender and radical gift in our innermost depths.
Immersing ourselves in hope
Jesus foresaw that his greatest work lay ahead as he ascended Calvary to embrace his own powerlessness and self-emptying. Although we may feel condemned to our powerlessness as we receive help from others in our sickness, and although we may feel supremely useless as we are “nailed” to our hospital bed, our active, inward embrace of the cross unleashes important graces for ourselves and others, and reveals a refulgent light beyond the obscurity of every suffering.
Jesus’ radical embracing of his Passion — and our radical embracing of our own — marks the supreme moment of a person who achieves control over his or her destiny through immersion into the hope-filled and redemptive designs of God.

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., and serves as the director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
-Pablo Picasso

Thursday, January 16, 2014


A new year. Certainly, a time in which we are encouraged to make resolutions, generally with an eye to bettering ourselves: study more regularly, lose 10 pounds, be nicer to _____ (insert name of a person who taxes your patience)—and the list can go on and on. In the midst of a mountain of possible changes, I invite us to examine those lines of continuity that are important to maintain.

Think of the relationships that form the fabric of our lives: family, friends, colleagues, classmates. Think of the different roles that each of us is given to play: child and parent, student and teacher, athlete and coach, to name but a few. Finally, think of our primary purpose in life: the praise, reverence, and service of God, Our Lord.
All of these features stretch over many years, indeed, decades. True, they develop as we do; but they are with us for the long haul. Each new year offers us a chance for a resolve to cooperate with God in His perfecting the most important elements that constitute our lives. These continuities help us to decide properly the sorts of changes that we want to see in 2014, to choose the best means of growing into the persons that God has created us to be. Whether 2014 will see our sixteenth or sixtieth birthday, we ask for the grace to live AMDG and thus to allow this year to be set as another stone of a foundation that builds for eternity.
Fr. Raymond Fitzgerald, Jr., S.J. ’76
President, Jesuit High School New Orleans