Friday, 24 May 2013

The Holy Trio

 It is that time of year again: the feast days of three saints that occupy pivotal importance to the lives of good friends of mine occur this week. Friends who have freely given their lives for what they believe in.

So, what do St. Dominic, St Madeleine Sophie and St. Philip have in common? The congregations they  have founded and inspired have markedly different and beautiful charisms. Born in the 12th, 16th and 18th Centuries, they are spread across history. What strikes me is that each of them are born, live and die with symbols of fire surrounding them.

The earliest sources recording St Dominic's arrival into the world are from Jordan of Saxony. His parents are not named, but his mother made pilgrimage to Silos in Spain and dreamt that a dog with a flaming torch in his mouth leapt from her womb and 'seemed to set the world on fire'. That is exactly what he went on to do with his life, example and preaching.

Madeleine Sophie is born on the night of the 12th December 1779 in the midst of a raging fire in Joigny, France. The terror of the blaze sent her mother into labour. She founded a congregation that battled for love in the midst of a France caught up in the hateful fires of the revolution.

St Philip Neri was born in Florence, but he died in Rome having experienced a Pentecost of his own. In 1544 he had a vision in which he saw globe of fire descend from heaven and penetrate his heart. He continued to live out his priestly life sensing the burning love of God within his heart. An examination after is death revealed that his heart was indeed abnormally large, so much so that it had forced two of his ribs apart to accommodate it.

Three saints, three visions and experiences of fire, three feasts after Pentecost. Perhaps the message here is passion. Each of these saints lived passionately, uncompromisingly dedicated to love. They were not afraid and we should not be afraid either. 

This weekend I am not sure what the weather will do, but I know what I will do. I am going to cook, walk, chat and be with those I love. And, for those I love I cannot be with, I am going to hold them in my heart. I am going to use my rest time from school to think about how to live in love through my work. I adore teaching and there are exciting syllabus developments ahead. This week my adorable Sixth Form bought me chocolates, champagne, flowers and a framed quote from Aristotle as they bid adieu before their examination leave. I shall be thinking of them, and their journey towards examinations and the future beyond. I will be praying that whatever they do in the future they will choose to do something they have a fiery passion for, and that they will do it with all the love they have. So far as I know that is the only way to spread the Gospel.

This might seem odd, but I am going to make a different take on burgers.....

Pork Burgers with Thyme and Mozzarella

Serves 3 - 4

4 Spring Onions (Scallions) 
2 Cloves Garlic
25g Butter
50g Cubed Pancetta
A good handful of Thyme
750g Minced Pork
The grated zest of a Lemon
One ball of Mozzarella

Finely chop the spring onions and cloves of garlic and fry them gently in the butter, allowing them to colour slightly. Add the pancetta. Strip the thyme leaves from their stalks, finely chop them and add them to the pan, letting the mixture cook a little. Leave the pan off the heat and cool for a while.

Mix the pork into the onions, add the grated lemon zest and season it generously with black pepper and a little salt. Cut the mozzarella into small cubes and stir these through the mixture. Shape into pork burgers about the size of a digestive biscuit and leave to settle for half an hour. Fry in a non-stick pan, browning on each side, and cooking through for 8 - 10 minutes.

Serve with fresh swiss chard, spinach or asparagus, sauteed new potatoes and your favourite mustard concoction. 

I am planning something beautiful for dessert. I think it might be based around lemon, but my flatmate might cook something beautiful with apricots. Oh, of course, I'll be testing the champagne and the chocolates!

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