Very Tricksy: I’m a Cafeteria Catholic because “Jesus was a Cafeteria Jew”

The Quartermaster actually chuckled.

In the “I’m a Catholic, but……..” line of dissent which is ever too popular these days, over at HuffPo we’re treated to some warped hand-wringing over the “standard list” of things (female ordination, same-sex marriage, communion for the divorced, and birth control as sacrament) that a self-described “Cafeteria Catholic” thinks the Church should change. And we should agree with her, because she’s read Summa, for fun. 

Someone ought to let her know that it’s not Summa This, Summa That. 

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

But seriously, it doesn’t matter what we’ve read or where we’ve gone to school, or whether sister was really open-minded or smacked the back of our hands with a ruler.

What matters is our faith, and faith isn’t something we obtain by reading or pretending to be erudite. In fact, it is a great mystery that a great dullard (a certain “ox” comes to mind) or even a total illiterate can be very holy. Why? Because faith is a gift, given by God to those who ask for it.

Faith does not belong to those who say on the one hand “I’m very open-minded and I learned from a bunch of other open-minded people” but on the other they say “I reject” or “I find it impossible” what the Church teaches…..

A Cafeteria Catholic is someone who simply lacks faith.

And therefore, Jesus was no Cafeteria Jew, because he never lacked faith.


Canada and Conscience: a Decade behind Europe; a Decade ahead of USA…

A major Canadian newspaper becomes another shill for Planned Parenthood and reports that three family physicians in Ottawa are distributing letters to patients which indicate that they will not prescribe oral contraceptives, “…saying doing so conflicts with their ‘medical judgment, professional ethical concerns and religious values.'”

drletterThe article goes on to quote the infallibly correct “comment” of “Kate Suppa” (just a random person with an opinion, apparently): “When you become a doctor, you take an oath to do not harm. Impeding someone’s ability to receive the care they need is doing harm and should not be legal.”

Does the Canadian Medical Association publicly support the doctors? Not really. They call the issue a “grey area”, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says “…that physicians should not promote their own religious beliefs when interacting with patients.” Get that? Objections to prescribing birth control have nothing to do with sound medical care; it’s all about crazy religious beliefs.

The article closes with a quote from a Planned Parenthood official who says that Ottawa patients who find their doctors will not prescribe contraceptives can contact Planned Parenthood for help finding a doctor who will.

Hatchet jobs like this article are going to get more and more outrageous. We’re talking about medical care and the safety of medications here. Yet “journalism” is turning to the same “man on the street” mentality found on late-night talk shows where one idiot goes around polling a bunch of other know-nothings to arrive at the conclusion that whatever moronic notion held by the majority of ignorami must be correct.

The article is flawed and lacking in merit because it assumes an entirely fallacious premise: that refusing to prescribe oral contraceptives constitutes “impeding someone’s ability to receive the care they need”.

Oral contraceptives are not health care. Contraception is not health care. Rather, contraception has serious risks and is harmful — it is an abortifacient, it can cause blood clots and embolism, it has been linked to certain forms of cancer. Physicians must be free to exercise sound medical judgment and follow their consciences in treating their patients. They should not ever be required to dispense medications that they believe are not therapeutic and safe for patients. Doing otherwise is a gross violation of the doctor-patient relationship.

But nobody cares about what’s actually healthy. If they did, they wouldn’t be taking the contraceptives in the first place. So “harm” is euphemized to mean “exposed to risk of pregnancy” or “inconvenienced with having to go to another physician who belongs to the other 99.99% of medical providers for birth control”. “Harm” means inability to have consequence-free sex (and by consequence-free, I mean less-likelihood-of-pregnancy, since birth control does not protect against STDs).

And the comments to the article are chillingGet ready for conscience-free “health care” where ideology and pregnancy-free sex trumps everything else:

“People who are religious should not become medical professionals, as their personal opinions get in the way of medical ones.”

“…physicians should not be able to hold their own religious or moral convictions over their patients. If the physician is uncomfortable with that, he or she should look for another line of work or another specialty.”

Trappist Beer Review: Affligem Tripel

I don’t buy a lot of beer, since most of my beer budget goes to beer ingredients and beer-making equipment. Some friends brought several bottles of different Trappist beers over to try, one of which was from the Affligem Monastery. According to the bottle, Affligem is the oldest abbey in Flanders, founded in 1074. Artifacts indicate the Abbey was brewing beer for pilgrims as early as 1129.

Beer-monksWe in the First World, now that we live in a much more technological age, can give thanks for clean and sanitary drinking water. The fact that brewing beer permitted people to survive centuries ago is somewhat forgotten, or purely a historical footnote now. But back before people understood anything about microbes or bacteria, they could observe that drinking beer rather than water prevented illness or death.

Beer was a safe drink compared to water, because it required boiling, which had the effect of sanitizing the water used to make it, rendering the beverage potable. Not that you’d want to, but the safety of beer can be demonstrated by brewing with sewage and then testing it. Boiling for an hour pretty much kills the nastiness that can be unsafe or deadly. All the same, I prefer to use water in brewing that doesn’t need to be boiled to be safe to drink. But centuries ago beer was crucial to the survival of European populations, because water was rarely safe to drink.

So Trappists brewing beer for pilgrims wasn’t entirely about encouraging revelry or drunkenness, but rather the only hospitable thing to do. Pilgrims needed to drink something, and serving water would have subjected pilgrims to disease or death.

IMG_5478At 9% ABV, a Tripel such as this is a “sipping beer”. You customarily find stemmed wide-brimmed glassware is the serving vessel of choice, and a standard serving size is well under the Imperial pint used to serve lower alcohol beers.

The Affligem Tripel is “amber” in color, although I’d say it’s closer to golden than amber, which is to say that it’s a bit lighter in color than most tripels. On the nose are pronounced aromas of malt and bread, with much lighter fruit esters and some detectable mild hops. The mouthfeel is full and round — the beer is quite effervescent, small bubbles from natural carbonation in the bottle, similar in many respects to how sparkling wine becomes sparkling — with a slight heaviness secondary to the high alcohol content. Beers of this style oftentimes suffer from an over-sweetness because beer yeast strives to fully ferment all of the sugars and sometimes lags toward the end. While there is a true malt flavor, I would not call it over sweet. I’d agree it’s a sipping beer, but not in the way that signifies the beer is not delicious.

It’s quite delicious, and a good “starter” beer to try if you’re looking to be introduced to tripels.

Visit to New Clairvaux: Sacred Stones and Altar Wine with Brandy

IMG_5361A couple of weeks ago we went up to the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina for a little field trip. The Sacred Stones project is ongoing, and is a reconstruction of an actual 12th-century Cistercian Chapter House that was originally built in Spain. It’s a fascinating story how it was purchased by William Randolph Hearst, transported to California in the 1930s, and then forgotten for decades, before it came to belong to New Clairvaux. The monks hope to actually use the Chapter House when construction is completed.

The Chapter House was a very important structure for medieval monastic communities, second in importance only to the abbey church. While most liturgical celebrations occurred in the church, the Chapter House would be a meeting place for the community, used in some places and situations for the Liturgy of the Hours, and also for voting and elections, such as selection of a new abbot.



Detail of Column: notice the “old” original stone column base on the left versus the newly cut on the right


Detail of stone wall: notice the rough ancient stones intermixed with newly cut stones

Another major project at New Clairvaux is the vineyard and production of high quality table wines. The climate at the Abbey is not as temperate as Napa Valley or the coastal areas. It gets quite hot, well into the 100s in the summertime, and conventional wisdom held that growing grapes in such climate would not produce excellent wine. The monks, with the help of a third-generation Napa winemaker, have wisely chosen grape varietals that do well in the Mediterranean, and can tolerate the extreme Northern Californian heat.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 4.33.46 PMWe went to the tasting room, and tried the Abbey Angelica, which is being marketed as a dessert wine. Angelica is billed as “the oldest wine of America,” which “was first made by Franciscan monks in the 1700’s.” The Abbey Angelica is made from “100% Muscat grapes and is fortified with pure grape brandy. It’s aroma are of sweet baked figs with similar flavors plus honey. The wine has a warm alcohol feel with a sweet, lingering finish.”

I looked at the label, and noticed some other very interesting information: Abbey Angelica was originally created as an altar wine for use by the monks at New Clairvaux, and is claimed to be licit for use in the Eucharistic Liturgy pursuant to the Code of Canon Law.

But, the label also indicates that Abbey Angelica is fortified with brandy, and I was under the impression that only the fermented juice of grapes (i.e., wine) can be used for the Eucharistic celebration, while brandy is a distilled spirit. 

How is it that Abbey Angelica — or wine fortified with “pure grape brandy” — can be used at Mass?

Section 3 of Canon 924 of the Code of Canon Law, states that the wine used for Mass must be “natural, made from grapes of the vine, and not corrupt.” This, standing alone, would seem to indicate that wine fortified with brandy, even a pure grape brandy, could not be used.

In 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued an Instruction entitled Redemptionis Sacramentum, “on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist”. Paragraph 50 of the Instruction deals with the wine that can be used:

[50.] The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it. Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured. It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.

This does not appear to explicitly deal with the addition of grape brandy to wine, but does generally regard the need for the wine used at Mass to be “from the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.”

However, in 1896 the Congregation of the Inquisition (now the Congregation for the Defense of Faith) issued a directive on additives to sacramental wine, published in Acta Sanctae Sedis (see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Altar Wine for translation):

To conserve weak and feeble wines, and in order to keep them from souring or spoiling during transportation, a small quantity of spirits of wine (grape brandy or alcohol) may be added, provided the following conditions are observed (1) The added spirit (alcohol) must have been distilled from the grape (ex genimime vitis); (2) the quantity of alcohol added, together with that which the wine contained naturally after fermentation, must not exceed eighteen per cent of the whole; (3) the addition must be made during the process of fermentation.

Thus, altar wine such as Abbey Angelica may contain a measure of “pure grape brandy” so long as the brandy is added during the fermentation process, made from grapes and the total alcohol content does not exceed 18% (the alcohol content of Angelica is “18.0%”).

Apart from use at the altar, it would be quite delicious at dessert, especially if paired with berries or fruit, or — even better — a cheese course.

Son Number 2 is 8 Years Old Today…

JP is a young man with many talents, but what makes him so very special is his open heart. His is a soul that always seems ready to say “Amen”, which is a great gift to all of us who know and love him.

Here in CA, we are being told that the current drought could be the worst in 500 years, and our bishops have asked the faithful to pray for rain. We need a month of non-stop rain, without which crops will suffer from lack of irrigation, and food prices will increase for everyone. Well, yesterday we had our first measurable rainfall in over 50 days, and upon seeing the rain, he jubilantly exclaimed, “DADDY, GOD HEARD MY PRAYERS! IT’S RAINING!”

He’s right, of course.

No matter how sage or mature you become, dear boy, I will always think of you like this:


Food for Spectatin’

IMG_5474Apparently there is some kind of important professional athletic competition coming up soon. I understand that for this holiest of high holy secular holidays, people gather around the largest television screen in their house to observe highly paid celebrities wearing brightly colored leotards and shiny helmets as they vie over possession of an inflated sheep’s bladder, or some artificial reproduction thereof, which must be carried down a rectangular field of grass, or some artificial reproduction thereof. Depending on which of the two groups of ruffians you choose to support, cheering (or cursing and frustrated yelling) occurs when said artificial bladder is carried or caught at the end of said field.

Frankly, all of this sounds like a mere excuse — a pretense, an artifice — to consume food and drink.

Well, I’m ready to announce that I’ve been working on something very special and important to me, which has been in development for several months: the ultimate chicken wing.

TimOtooleIt begins with a pub in Chicago called Timothy O’Toole’s (i.e., Timmy’s) where my wife and I used to go when we lived there, down the street from our apartment just off of Lake Shore Drive in the Streeterville neighborhood. You’d enter the pub from the street and go downstairs where you could either sit at the bar, play darts or pool, watch one of the million games on television, or sit in a little booth off the bar and order food. After a hard day of my wife enduring anatomy lab and me putting up with the inanity of the Socratic method, we’d arrive at home too lazy to cook anything for dinner, and walk down to Timmy’s to eat and have a pint or two.

For the Quartermaster, the Brewhouse becomes the Fryhouse, because Mrs. Quartermaster does not like him frying in the main house.

For the Quartermaster, the Brewhouse becomes the Fryhouse, because Mrs. Quartermaster does not like him frying in the main house.

Ahh, good times. Child-free (carefree) times. I digress (lest I become too smitten with the idea).

The wings that made Timmy famous are not “Buffalo Wings”, which were purportedly invented in Buffalo, NY by a bar owner who ran out of food and only had a bunch of chicken wings, and made them into a snack. Buffalo Wings have a distinctly flavored sauce made from butter and Frank’s RedHot Sauce (or some similar variant). They are supposed to be spicy, and vinegary, and not sweet at all. Buffalo Wings are served with blue cheese dressing.

IMG_5470In contrast, Timmy’s wings were sweet and tangy, with much more flavor going on with the sauce than just pepper sauce and vinegar. They were deep fried, and then tossed piping hot with the sauce (of which you could choose the degree of spiciness you wanted, mild, medium, hot, extra hot), resulting in a wing with a crispy crackly skin coated in tangy sauce, best with ranch dressing as the dipping sauce.

In setting out to make my own version, I did not try to “copy” or “clone” the Timmy’s sauce; rather what I have developed is a method that you can use to achieve good results with chicken wings, and a good starter sauce that is neither Buffalo-style nor exactly like Timmy’s.

The Quartermaster Method Chicken Wing

Makes 24 Wings


24 chicken wing pieces, raw
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. good-quality barbecue sauce (preferably homemade, without artificial smoke flavoring)
2 tbsp. “Tapatio” or equivalent hot sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. white vinegar, or to taste


1. Heat the vegetable oil in your deep fryer to 250 degrees.

2. While waiting for the oil to heat, melt the butter, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, honey, salt and vinegar in a small saucepan until warm and fully incorporated. Adjust seasoning and flavorings to taste. You can, for example, variate with: Siracha sauce, cider vinegar, ketchup, balsamic, bourbon, sweet chili sauce, ginger, garlic, etc., etc., etc.). Make a sauce you like. The only rule is that it you should make it sweeter, tangier, spicier, and saltier than you desire the actual wing, because the sauce will season and coat the unseasoned wings.

3. Once the oil reaches 250 degrees, divide the wings into two batches of twelve (or whatever your fryer will accommodate) and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove wings to a towel or piece of parchment and cook the second batch.

NOTE: You CAN use frozen wings, or partially frozen wings. Just add at least an additional minute or two cooking time.

4. Raise the heat on the fryer to 350 degrees and wait until the oil reaches temperature. Once the oil is ready, cook the wings, again in two batches, for 6-7 minutes, until the wings are golden brown and the skins are extremely crispy.

5. Remove the hot wings from the fryer and transfer to a large bowl. Add the sauce (you may not need the entire quantity of sauce, and it depends on your preference how much to use; I like the wings coated but not dripping with sauce) and toss the wings.

6. Transfer to a serving tray and enjoy with Ranch Dressing.

Also, Hidden Valley makes a lot of money selling little envelopes of seasonings for $2.00 that you mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk to make ranch dressing. There’s no need. You can make great ranch dressing out of the stuff in your spice cabinet.


Quartermaster Ranch Dressing

Makes one quart


16 ounces mayonnaise
16 ounces buttermilk
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried chervil
1/4 tsp. dried basil and/or oregano, to taste


1. Mix together.
2. Enjoy.
3. Keeps for several weeks, but never lasts that long.

Cats don’t Care: It’s just another Litterbox…

…even when the “Litterbox” is actually ancient, priceless, and historically significant ruins of past civilization. Consider that, in Rome, there is such sufficient number of said creatures who make use of such ruins for their litterbox, that peddlers of touristy kitsch there make and sell wall calendars of said feles in situ. They are, it is said, part of the charm. For myself, I’d prefer to see a live tiger in the Colosseum (from a safe distance).


Attention Homebrewers: Register and be Recognized!

Registration is currently going on right now until February 2, for entry in the 2014 National Homebrew Competition! AHA Members only (don’t worry, anyone can become a member). If you think you’ve brewed something that might be “award winning”, this is your chance to make it so. The National Homebrewers Conference is in June, in Michigan, but as long as you can get your entries to one of the “judging centers” (it’s not legal for homebrewers to ship beer by a common carrier), you’re in the competition, regardless of whether you attend the conference.

The Quartermaster aspires to be a Mason…

…No, not that kind of Mason.

It seems that practically any small town or village in Italy has at least one or two little shrines or grottoes where townspeople can stop and pray, or leave a spray of flowers. Lots of these little niches are dedicated either to Our Lady or Padre Pio. I’d like to build a small shrine in my backyard, which would require me to dabble in amateur masonry. Fortunately, the old homespun look is rather charming. Precision is not required, which is good, because I seriously doubt that I will be adept at being a Mason.



DSC_0185 2

Diabolical Symbolism: Purveyors and Handmaidens in Pop Music?

I understand that it’s “awards season” for Hollywood and Musicland, and I would have blissfully missed all of the hullabaloo from the latest Grammys thing were it not for the MSM treating these self-congratulatory-narcissism-fests as newsworthy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.57.40 PMUnlike the MTV Video Music Awards from a few months back, where Miley Cyrus garnered most of the attention for “twerking” in a latex “outfit” and doing a bunch of other raunchy stuff on stage, this time there’s a bit of controversy over whether Katy Perry or Beyonce gave the weirdest, scariest, and most inappropriate performance of the night on network primetime television.

Apart from the blatant violation of decency standards (it really is unbelievable that these shows can be broadcast at 8 o’clock!), there’s an even more disturbing element, which is the unmistakeable introduction of occultish or demonic imagery. Smoke, broomstick stripper poles for an ersatz burning at the stake, shadowy figures in the background wearing masks with great horns, gnarled forests of dead trees, with only illuminated red templar crosses to prevent wardrobe malfunction. And all of this with no mention of Lady Gaga.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.51.03 PM

We are being conditioned to believe that this type of imagery and activity is totally harmless. Look, there’s a beast figure with horns gyrating in the background, but it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just an aesthetic. Just listen to the music. Hey, we’re far more enlightened now that women who publicly reject Christ and seek to become an occasion for sin are only subjected to simulated stake-burnings. We should be congratulating ourselves on having become so much more evolved than those terrible olden times when morality had a place and value in entertainment.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.43.28 PMAll of this may seem rather innocuous, but I guarantee that it is made to seem that way. There is something behind the surface, and the fact that more of what may have previously been shadowed is now visibly apparent should not be taken as a comforting sign.

And, consider this “coincidence” although I don’t think it is truly coincidental, and there are plenty more examples: the female “performer” is always clad in a skimpy outfit (and oftentimes peels off some of the “excess skimp” during the performance), while she grinds and gyrates, until about the midpoint of the performance, when a male performer — a “rapper” or some other “talent” — shows up to be “gratified” by what the female “performer” is doing.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 2.50.44 PMThe male performer is dominant. He has the power. He’s fully clothed, wearing a fancy bespoke suit. He’s usually wearing dark glasses, you cannot see his eyes. He is the contemporaneous purveyor and consumer of the sex on sale. He watches the female performer whip up the crowd until he feels like rolling out on stage to show everyone who’s really in charge of things. And he has no qualms about leading the audience in further objectifying the female performer. She won’t be paid, won’t be given a stage upon which to perform in the future, and won’t be permitted to continue to be a role model to young women unless she surrenders her dignity, and subjects herself to the power structure.

In this sense, occult symbolism or not, the male performer is there to personify the Devil. He enjoys reducing female talent and beauty to the lowest common denominator of sexual degradation, and it delights him that all he has to do to get her to take of her clothes and offer herself is give the same empty promises of fame and fortune, of which he has plenty of both.