St. Joseph: Patron Saint for Dads

14559691119_b68d69dbf8_oSt. Joseph’s adopted fatherhood of Our Lord is near mystery in itself, miraculous. He is a universal model of fatherhood. And he’s the guy for us dads.

Consider, in St. Joseph, the theological virtues. He has FAITH. He trusts in God, hears His voice. He listens. He has HOPE because St. Joseph is not troubled by troubling news. He gives thought and consideration to what he learns, but he does not despair in them. He follows. All the while, St. Joseph LOVES. He loves his family. He desires their highest and best good.

Consider also, that St. Joseph is perfectly CHASTE, at all times, in all ways, beyond all normal expectation. He is TEMPERATE. He does not give way to rash judgment. He is the very image of CHARITY, in that what he does is for the good of his wife and son. He lives the Golden Rule.

14723320066_eed36e551a_oSt. Joseph’s DILIGENCE is found in his respect for the laws of Caesar, and his determination to do the will of God. And his work. He works to provide for his family. He shows us dads that all honest work has dignity.

PATIENCE. I laugh. Imagine Jesus for a son and Mary for a wife! OF COURSE HE WAS PATIENT!

Was St. Joseph KIND? He was righteous (Matt 1:19), but he was “unwilling” to expose Mary to shame. Yes, Scripture shows us that he was KIND even when he might have felt wounded.

And finally, St. Joseph’s HUMILITY. Just as any true human father should be, St. Joseph allows himself to be completely eclipsed by the Goodness that surrounds him. He is in the midst of God Incarnate and His Mother, so there can be little doubt that St. Joseph was the kind, loving, devoted, and dedicated father that God intended him to be, without any of the earthly rewards claimed by the rest of us dads.

He was simply the perfect human father and greatest dad.

Happy St. Joseph’s Day.

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Denmark: First to Legalize; after less than 50 years: Catastrophic Disaster

This article in the Guardian (before following the link you should be aware that it contains a picture at the top of the article that is NSFW) almost defies belief.

Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography (in 1967). A recent study indicates that in Scandinavia, 99% of boys and 86% of girls have viewed pornographic films by the time they’re 16 years old. Mandatory sex education has been the law in Denmark since 1970, and in some schools already includes a pornography component.

Prof. Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University in Denmark suggested on public television that pornography should be shown in the classroom in Danish schools. This, he claims, is preferable to sex education classes that are “boring and technical.” Of young Danish teens, Prof. Graugaard says that “They should become conscientious and critical consumers.”

We are in trouble.

Limonicello Update

I’ve been rather busy with work stuff lately, which has cut into the blogging (sorry), but last weekend I did manage to find time to brew a batch of Religious Liberty Ale, and keg my newest DIPA after dry-hopping with an obscene amount of hops (more than a pound total of Cascade, Simcoe, Columbus, Amarillo and Centennial).

FullSizeRender 3Also, on Sunday, I took the next step in the Limoncello project. Since last month, I’ve had nine liters of potato vodka from Trader Joe’s “marinating” in the peels of over 70 lemons, extracting the citrus oils and esters from the lemons, along with a nice pale yellow color. Every so often I’d take the glass carboy out, shake it up a little bit, and put it back.

The next step was to add the sugar syrup; slightly less than a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar, boiled on the stove for five minutes, and cooled before adding to the lemon-ized vodka.

The objective is to arrive at a sugar and alcohol concentration that provides about 20%ABV, and more importantly, does not form ice crystals. The limonicello should pour without any solid or semi-solid ice formation even when taken directly from the freezer. Any freezing indicates that there is too much sugar and water, and not enough alcohol.

The contents of the carboy should continue to sit out at room temperature for another month or so before bottling. In other words, there should be a bit more flavor and color extraction from the lemon peel. The bottles that you see on the side were filled on Sunday because I didn’t have quite enough space to fit everything in the carboy. And they also have a bit too much syrup, so I’ve been “removing” a little bit from each bottle and “replacing” it with straight vodka to get the ratio right.

IMG_1402The bottles I filled Sunday won’t be quite as good as the “final” product that has had another month in contact with the peels, but I am very pleased already. The flavor, aroma and texture is definitely in line with commercial examples. In fact (not to be too self-congratulatory), I think it’s rather better than most commercial examples.

For one thing, the color is totally natural; in contrast a lot of makers add yellow dye to produce the neon yellow color. Also, there is a very full and authentic LEMON flavor and aroma in my homemade version; sometimes limonicello veers toward the flavor/aroma of furniture polish or candy.

Although we’re a few weeks from bottling, barring any surprises I think we can call the pilot limoncello project a success. It’s delicious. We took some to a family gathering on Sunday evening and everyone who tried it seemed impressed with it.

Once I get the right sugar/water/alcohol ratio (I don’t anticipate any problems here; and I have a little more plain vodka on hand for this purpose) we will have made about 22 liters total. I plan to keep about half on hand under refrigeration for ourselves and our guests, and I’ll be giving the rest away to friends and family.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, each 750ml bottle costs about $4, versus around $18 for a cheap commercial example. Yay!

Weekend Report & Prayer Requests

It was a great weekend. We enjoyed nice warm weather for the season, sunny skies, and had some (brief) opportunities to rest and pray!

The freezer door, teeming with bacon

The freezer door, teeming with bacon

On Friday evening, we had a “family date night”, frozen cheese pizza, etc. and a movie, which was fun. Earlier in the day went to the butcher to pick up our pig. It’s always a special day when the freezer is once again fully stocked with a pig’s worth of pork, even if, being that it was a Friday in Lent, we had to wait until Saturday morning “family breakfast” to sample the bacon and sausage.

On Saturday I brewed 10 gallons of The Oliphaunt. I’m refining the recipe just a bit. I wanted to increase flavor and body just a few degrees, so I upped the Roasted Malt and Flaked Oats by 4 ounces. Also, this batch will ferment with good ole’ “Chico Strain” rather than the “British Ale” from Wyeast, because that’s what I had on hand. Now that I’ve got my beer gas and stout faucet, I’ll be trying to keep a stout or porter on hand most of the time.

On Saturday evening, I cooked a “Hogmen’s Pie” (i.e., Shepherd’s Pie, but instead of lamb [=Shepherd’s] I used ground pork from the pig). There is still some of the first batch of The Oliphaunt from Christmas, which paired well with the pie. Fr. A ate three heaping helpings and we managed to drop off some for Mrs Q’s mother who was sick with a cold (pray for her!).

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 6.18.08 PMThen we had our “men’s group” monthly gathering, with the requisite whisky, pipes and cigars. This month we discussed the first half of Benson’s Lord of the World, which, as you should know by now, Pope Francis has mentioned on two separate occasions during interviews. There was a bit about Carroll’s 1917; Fr. A and I recently finished it and are both excited to discuss it. We’re hoping the rest of the group will read it for an upcoming meeting.

Sunday was Mass, followed by RCIA, followed by a couple of EMHC visits. Then, in the afternoon, we took a drive so I could submit two beer entries in the National Homebrew Competition. Last year I did not do very well. One of my entries earned a Bronze, but it was a dark time in brewing for me; if you recall, I was having trouble with some kegs.

Since it is still Lent, and during Lent we are called to prayer, fasting and almsgiving, perhaps you could help me in the prayer department? It’s for a personal intention. Something has started for me, and it will take years — years – for it to reach any kind of endpoint. It is not the kind of the thing that I have any kind of real control over; my prayer is to get out of the way and let His will be done. At some point in the future I may be able to share a bit more about it.

God bless you!

Big Brother asks for eyes in your bedroom to help “trap burglars”

Head of Scotland Yard (channelling P.T. Barnum) suggests that homeowners — as sort of a DIY project — should install video cameras for CCTV in their homes. Why? So it can match faces inside dwellings with the 12 million images of “suspects and offenders” in Big Brother’s computer database.

Big Brother orders you to FEEL SAFE!

Avarice: Pampering Pets while People Suffer in Poverty

Here is a picture of one of a million dwellings in Guatemala, where people actually live (and entire family, in fact):

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On the day that I visited this family last summer, they were receiving a new stove (a non-electric, wood-burning, made from cinder blocks, cement and dirt kind of stove). The mother had almost nothing to offer us as a welcome, but showed us hospitality by sharing the family’s bananas growing on a small tree in the yard. Here’s a peek at their bathroom, in the corner of their tiny lot:

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People live in such places. Millions and millions of people. I’ve never spent one day of my life in such squalor. I’ve never even camped in a place with reasonably comparable facilities. Almost ANY American campground has better infrastructure than this.

Meanwhile, a manufacturer of gadgets and electronics develops a $31,000 kennel for affluent pets:

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This is avaricious idolatry. It’s another sign of the sickness of our culture.

Cardinal Morton, St. Thomas More, Beer and Ecclesiastical Heraldry

Although beer has always been a part of Catholic life in Europe since the Middle Ages, it is not associated directly with Jesus in nearly the same way as wine. This is because (1) Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding at Cana involved wine; (2) Jesus changed wine into his Most Precious Blood at the Last Supper; and as a result (3) only bread and wine are the necessary types of matter used at mass.

Because of this, ecclesiastical heraldry occasionally contains symbols relating to wine or grapes, most commonly with reference to a chalice or the Eucharist.

As noted above, while the Gospels clearly show that Jesus and his disciples consumed wine, there are no explicit references to beer anywhere in the New Testament. Beer is mentioned in various translations of the Old Testament (cf. Isaiah 28:7, 56:12), but in our New American Bible, it appears as “strong drink”. Since beer was commonly consumed during biblical times, it is not unlikely that the disciples, or even Jesus Himself, quaffed the beverage on occasion.

With this in mind, consider the following somewhat unusual coat of arms belonging to John Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury (1420-1500):

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In 1486, Morton was made Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry VII. The King appointed Morton the Lord Chancellor of England in 1487. In 1493, he was named Cardinal-priest of the Church of St. Anastasia by Pope Alexander VI (one of the “Borgia popes”, Alexander was reputed as one of the very worst popes in the history of Catholicism).

Morton was also a mentor to the young Sir Thomas More, who worked for Morton as a page and mentioned him in his later work, Utopia. Morton may have had a hand in the authorship of More’s history on Richard III, but that remains a subject of some debate.

A German rebus, c. 1620

A German rebus, c. 1620

The barrel/cask of beer at the bottom of Morton’s arms is referred to as a rebus (i.e., “an allusional device that uses pictures to represent words or parts of words. It was a favourite form of heraldic expression used in the Middle Ages to denote surnames.”). While we in the modern age associate heraldry with a more serious form of expression, in fact the rebus illustrates the sense of humor and play on words present in family crests and other heraldic imagery.

In the case of Morton’s own coat of arms, another word for “cask” or “barrel” is “tun“, which is a term still recognized by brewers today. A “tun” emblazoned with an “M – o – r” comes out as sort of a pun on the Cardinal’s surname.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.07.27 PMThe rebus for Morton is repeated at Canterbury Cathedral, where he was buried before the altar of the Our Lady Undercroft. The tomb was badly damaged in the 17th Century, and Morton’s remains were removed and transferred to a more safe location, but there is still an eagle atop a barrel with “M – o – r” in the chapel.

It would be great if we could prove that Morton used the beer barrel reference to signify his own fondness for beer, but alas, while he may have been inspired to employ such a rebus in his heraldic arms upon drawing drafts of ale one evening, he may have simply liked the pun enough to use it.

While the “Mor-tun” pun is the most likely explanation, there is another possibility (or at least, an added meaning behind the rebus): according to The British Gazetteer, Political, Commercial, Ecclesiastical, and Historical, 142 miles from London, in Dorset, was a town called Beer-Heath, the “most distinguished” native of which was Archbishop John Morton. It could be that the Archbishop saw in the rebus a further reference to the place he was born.

In any case, if you know of more heraldic “beer references”, let me know and I will share them here.

A Movie about a Road to Nowhere?

IMG_1302You’re never going to believe this. According to the Washington Post, a motion picture based upon the board game “Settlers of Catan” is under development.

Upon receiving the news from me, a missionary friend of ours (and fellow devotee) noted: “This is outstanding. ‘This has to be wrong. It’s not like they could have replaced the city with a village overnight.’ ‘What makes you so sure? Lots of things happen here that shouldn’t happen.’ Roads going nowhere, knights who don’t do anything, and robbers who care not for what they plunder. Ah! The joys of Settlers!”