Tag Archives: Liguori

For the unemployed, here’s a powerful, prayerful guide from a Catholic who was there

November 7, 2011


What was Timothy Mullner going to do without his vice-president’s title, a staff to direct and an expense account?

Terminated — by phone yet — the life-long Catholic turned to God to ask where God was calling him.

One of the answers was to write “A Spiritual Guide for the Unemployed.”

This is a book filled with realistic, down-to-earth, from-the-gut emotional releases that will likely resonate with most of the 9-plus percent of the U.S. population that is out of work. Yet it’s a prayerful, powerful work with touches of humor, anecdotes that will make you misty-eyed, and will probably have many of the unemployed among God’s children nodding their heads in agreement.

Easy to read and relate to

Mullner, who once was youth minister at St. Stephen in Anoka, Minn., writes about asking for God’s grace — “Help me be gracious” upon learning that his position was being eliminated. Among the thoughts and questions for reflection at the end of each chapter he suggests “Write a prayer or poem about ‘Hearing the news.” “Don’t think, just write,” he says.

There’s both prose and easy-to-read poetry — prayers in poem form, really — in this unique self-help book. Readers will find it full of understanding. Having been unemployed myself at one time, I could related to thoughts like, “I kept wondering what I could do and whom I could talk with to correct this ‘obvious’ error.”

There’s this great line in a prayer/poem to the Lord: “Your will be done, and quickly wouldn’t hurt.”

Advice and encouragement

Mullner’s unemployment period wasn’t over quickly, however. His 15 months without a job meant selling a house, moving in with friends, and taking a call from an adult son who says, “You’ll be OK, Dad.”

Now employed, Mullner advises, “Choose hope over fear and faith over despair.”

The book’s closing section is a useful “Top Ten List for Finding Your Way Through Unemployment.”

As beneficial as I think that will be, I can’t help but wonder if these words of Mullner’s may not be even more supportive — yet challenging — to those still looking for work: “God is waiting to see what you’ll do with the gifts you’ve been given.”

It’s beautiful writing, not unexpected from Mullner, who contributed to the Catholic Bulletin during his time in Anoka.

Thanks to Liguori for publishing something so helpful.

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Recipes & Religion: Feast on both food and faith

December 16, 2009


appledumpling“Sacred Feasts

From a Monastery Kitchen,”

by Brother Victor-Antoine


In the grocery produce area, without looking at the signage, can you spot the leeks?

Although I’d heard of leeks, I’d never known what a leek was — or even what a leek looked like — until a recipe in “Sacred Feasts From a Monastery kitchen” called for them.

Our neighborhood supermarket had a small stack of the onion-family root veggie — imagine a tall onion about half the height of a softball bat.

They helped to make the most delicious soup, if I do say so myself.

Leeks from the garden of Our lady of the Resurrection Monastery in upstate New York find their way into a number of the dishes that Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette shares in his latest collection of recipes and reflections.

With the feasts of the church and the saints’ days as his structure, Brother Victor-Antoine cooks his way through the calendar, walking us through his rationale for preparing specific dishes. Easter and Christmas get the attention they deserve, of course but not forgotten are the small feasts that require the serving of St. Bernadette’s Creamy Rice Pudding, for example, St. James Egg and Avocado Salad and St. Nicholas Bread.

Reviewing books for a blog on http://www.TheCatholicSpirit.com has never led me to cooking before. But how do you review a cookbook without testing a few recipes?

Soup for a saint

The St. Joseph Leek, Potato and Squash Soup intrigued me. For the monks, the March 19 Feast of St. Joseph is cause for a more festive meal than usual fare, coming during Lent as it does, and Brother Victor-Antoine pulled a number of veggies from the monastery cellar to fashion a soup he named in honor of the saint of the day.

That’s why I had to buy the leeks.

The recipe also called for onion, garlic, potatoes, and acorn squash, but truth be told I skipped the squash; never could warm up to the taste.

Thanks to watching my mom and wife, I make a pretty decent vegetable beef soup when the spirit moves me, but I’ve never made a soup in which you put the cooked ingredients into a food processor or blender to puree.

The result was an amazingly flavorful, tasty soup.

My wife suggested “doctoring” it with a bit of chicken bouillon, and that made it just about perfect.

Simple-to-follow recipes

I figured I’d better try a dessert recipe, too, and thanks to the prolific apple tree in our yard I didn’t have to shop for the filling for the “Apple Dumplings German Style” that Brother Victor-Antoine prepared for late October.

If I acknowledge that I downed five of the six apple-filled pastries, will that be evidence enough of how good they were? And why we just joined a gym?

The recipe was so simple even a journalist couldn’t screw it up.

That’s the case with most of the dishes in this 208-page hardcover work from Liguori Publications.

Some ingredients may be new to less-veteran cooks, but the step-by-step directions are thorough, clear and specific, often taking the time to explain the required technique known to good chefs but not by us some-time cooks.

You should know that the monastery diet is primarily vegetarian. Just a few of the dishes offer adding meat as an option. The monks east out of their garden and buy locally grown produce from the farms nearby. And hearty soups are a mainstay of the monastery diet.

But the French background and training of Brother Victor-Antoine pope out in hi use of wine in many of the dishes he’s gathered for the feasts of the church year.

More than a cookbook

What makes “Sacred Feasts” valuable is that as good a chef as Brother is, he’s also a wonderful teacher about both Catholic traditions and Catholic beliefs.

Remember ever observing Candlemas?

Today the Feb. 2 feast is called the Presentation of the Lord, but Brother takes advantage of the day’s former title to wax prosaic (pun intended!) on the central place of candles in the liturgy, reminding how the candle symbolizes Christ’s presence in our midst.

Throughout “Sacred Feasts” there are these little catechizing moments, simple words of wisdom to remember and to share, reflections on the faith to nourish the conversation around our own dinner tables.

He explains that we fast during Lent primarily to enable us to better contemplate the suffering of Christs and actually participate and share in that immense sacrifice Jesus made to atone for our sin, but also to help us remember the pain and need of others, especially the poor and suffering.

Reading cooks will find out why we bless our food before meals, learn to see the maturation of the fruit and vegetables as seasonal blessings from the Lord, and absorb the legacy of the saints in the church calendar.

Lovely woodcuts of monastery life and interesting quotes in the book’s margins spice up the pages, too.

Together with flavorful recipes, sprinkles of faith formation and Catholic identity building, “Sacred Feasts From a Monastery Kitchen” is a filing package, so much more than a cookbook. — bz

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Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere — and so will you

June 19, 2009


“When’s God Gonna Show Up?”
by Marge Fenelon
Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere -- and so will youMarge Fenelon will tell you she doesn’t know when God is going to pop into every-day life, but she has a knack for finding the divine in just about every aspect of human existence.
Fenelon’s brief, two- and three-page stories come from the things that happen in her home, in the ophthalmologist’s office, as the van starts making a funny noise, you-name-it. They’re often funny, mostly poignant slices of the life of a 21st-century wife and mom, and they’re not unlike the incidents in your home and mine.
What Fenelon does, though, is find God lurking in the corner, creeping into mind, finding a way to influence her thinking and her actions in all those every-day moments.
Great conversation starter
Fenelon suggests you don’t read this book from cover to cover but one scoop at a time — a story a week. There is a lesson in each chapter/story, and each is worth savoring, processing, reflecting on. And those book follows the church year chronologically, with a special back section on feast days.
Each story ends with two elements to help readers get to that reflective end: They are questions — “What does Scripture say?” and “What does my heart say?” — that teach (the Scripture piece) and force readers to internalize the lesson.
I can see how a formal faith-sharing group could use a chapter as an easy way to get a discussion started, especially a moms’ group.
But I also can see spouses sharing this book — “Honey, you’ve got to read this and tell me what you think!” — and finding their communication blossoming.
Fenelon writes a regular column for the Catholic Herald, the Milwaukee archdiocesan newspaper, and thanks go to Liguori for getting this 163-page paperback into circulation.
The best thing about “When’s God Gonna Show Up?” is that reading Marge Fenelon’s wonderful book, you’re going to start finding God in your life, too. — bz
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