Cheetos in my Cabinet

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What is friendship?

What is the purpose of it?

No, seriously, I’m not being profound… I just find myself asking that question a lot lately and discussing with Daniel on why it is so difficult. Many good things are difficult, but maybe friendship is so hard because people don’t know how to define it?

I think the meaning must look different to everyone, and I think some people must hit closer to the genuine mark than others.

To me, friendship is something meant to be holy. Further still, it is for God as much as it is given by God. 

Daniel wisely said that it is a mirror to our relationship to God and that it is meant to encourage us in our friendship with Him. If I look back on Daniel’s life, I see that it is because of a friendship that my husband was brought closer to God through the Catholic Church, and, like dominoes, I was brought in through that friend too, because of his strong friendship with my husband. Friendship and love — they are supposed to point us to Christ, right?

Just like our marriage is supposed to reflect Christ and His Church. And just like the marriages in our culture, why aren’t our friendships holy a lot of the time?

Maybe it is the fact that people don’t know what a friendship really is. Maybe it’s that the counterfeit is so much easier, more attainable, and more fun at times, just like how our culture often chooses shallow sex lives over a meaningful marriage.

One is easy. It requires little sacrifice. Instant gratification is what comes out of that relationship oven.

The other demands work. Keeping up maintenance. Truckloads of sacrifice. And you can’t do it successfully without having patience and compassion.

You could be speaking of either friendships or romantic relationships in those attributes.

I’ve had people tell me that friendship means being able to go over to somebody’s house without knocking, root around in their fridge, and grab themselves a coke without asking. I’ve had other people tell me that friendship means being loyal in all ways, including the all powerful internet. If I follow you on social media, you follow me, and you automatically want to see all my posts of nothingness. I’ve had people tell me that friendship means you’re always on each other’s sides even if something seems wrong — you stick it out and encourage your friend. A few people I’ve crossed paths with are more concerned with the appearance of friendship than actual friendship.

None of those things add up to a true and holy friendship… how could it? How is rooting around in your fridge and grabbing myself a dr. pepper going to point you to Christ? How is “liking” a meaningless bragging photo meant only to flaunt going to do anything but stroke your ego? How is dishonesty about my wrongdoing going to help me to grow in virtue? And how is appearing to be friends via that well timed thank-you note going to influence my life in a holy way?

So in addition to being holy, sacred, and honest, we’re establishing that true friendship requires a lot of responsibility!

Maybe that’s the reason that many people choose those superficial relationships where friendship literally means Cheetos out of the cabinet.

But is choosing the “easiest” and most “instantly gratifying” option really what we want? Do we honestly feel better and like our life is meaningful? Do we care about that at all or are we happy sitting on our couches living in a virtual world where feelings are as deep as a “thumbs up” or a “heart emoji?”

I guess it does come down to what people want in their friendships. Even deeper still, what do people really want out of their lives? After all, we have the freedom to choose.

I like Cheetos and soda… I do! And I like receiving thank-you notes. I like to “like” your photos on occasion. And I like to be on your side! But none of those things make it into the definition of friendship, and none of those things are going to help you or me down our road to sainthood. Is heaven real to you?

It is to me.

Is God real to you?

He is to me.

What do you want out of your life?

I want sanctification. I want to be with our Lord, and I want you to be there with me.

Let’s make true, valuable, and lasting friendships. Let’s love each other with honesty and patience, and let’s take responsibility for ourselves and each other! Let’s be sheep in the same pasture and not lead each other astray, but instead, let’s let ourselves be shepherded by our God through each other.

Let’s be real friends, and if we’re not real friends, let’s stop lying about it and wasting each other’s time. There’s just too much at stake to not take it seriously anymore, for you or for me.

Celebrating Saint Joan of Arc with Monte Cristo Sandwiches

In 2013, I became a Catholic, and ever since then, I’ve been learning as much as I can about what that means in faith, prayer, and culture. It seems like it was only shortly after converting that Saint Joan of arc became known and special to me, and I picked up all that I could in reading material about her. She’s such a different Saint. I love that she has no “mold” that she fits in and I’ve been very inspired by her courage to be able to be myself and to not force myself into a mold. Better people than me have described her life, mission, and faith, and so I’ll leave that to the pros, but I’d love to share with you our experience celebrating the “feast” part of her feast day.

First off, a little explanation about why and how our family chooses to celebrate the Liturgical Year.

Why we celebrate: In the Catholic Church, there are six seasons which make up the “Liturgical Year.” Those seasons are Advent, Christmas, Lent, the Sacred Paschal Triduum, Easter, and Ordinary Time. But the Liturgical Year is not just made up of seasons, it’s also made up of feasts! Those feasts are meant to celebrate and honor the lives of the Saints. For instance, my husband loves the feast day of the Conversion of Saint Paul as he is his confirmation Saint. Daniel and I have chosen to celebrate the Saints that are important to us in our lives and of whom we feel a special connection with as we walk through our day to day. We celebrate so that we remember their road to Sainthood and we pray for their help on our own road. We celebrate as a sign of their holiness and the holiness that God calls us toward. It’s a reminder that we were made in His image and we are meant for more than what this world offers.

How we celebrate: Our celebrations generally include one meal (usually dinner, but we have done breakfast before) eaten together that in some way, reminds us of the Saint or symbolizes something about them or their life (finding out about their patronages really helps too!). We’ve taken advice from the Stewart’s and their wonderful book of Feasts in that they suggest using the Saint’s region to come up with a themed meal. This usually means adding Italian wine for an Italian Saint, cooking something common in the area that the saint grew up or died in, and learning as much about the Saint as possible while coming up with your celebration. We also usually pray the Saint’s litany and sometimes a Novena to the Saint which ends on the feast day. Lastly, in our home, we typically sit around the table while we eat talking about the Saint and telling each other things we didn’t know but recently discovered (as we are both converts and are still learning every day).

How We Feast for Saint Joan of Arc’s Day

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Last year, I made French Onion soup for Saint Joan’s feast day. I love soup. I could eat soup every day! But Daniel, sadly, doesn’t usually like to eat soup for a whole meal. He always prefers something heartier and knowing that, I set out to find a french themed meal that would meet those requirements. After all, it’s a celebration! Enter, sandwiches with plenty of meat and cheese to make a man happy.

Who knows about the Monte Cristo sandwich? The Monte Cristo isn’t “exactly” french. But it came from the French! It’s an offspring of the Croque-Monsieur sandwich that is most definitely french in origin. The Monte Cristo is a variation of the sandwich and was apparently titled “french sandwich” in a lot of early 1900’s American cookbooks. Maybe I would have wanted something authentically french at some point, but now, I am happy to be serving a reminder of this patron Saint of France on a dinner plate, and if it generates conversation about its origins, I think it’s doing its job.

On May 31st, a day after Saint Joan’s feast day (which is May 30th because that was the day she was burned at the stake), Daniel lovingly began preparation for our feast day since I’m quite pregnant and slightly out of commission in the kitchen. We had to celebrate a day late since Eliot was determined to cause anxiety on Saturday and I was in bed the entire day.

While I would have preferred to celebrate on the actual day, I was just happy to remember and honor this Saint (much like how some birthday parties aren’t on their birth days). I was in charge of pulling up the prayer while listening to the sizzling sounds of fried sandwich creation and “Man, I love Catholicism” exclamations from my dearest. I also prepared the preserves (ahem, I scooped some raspberry preserves from the jar into a microwavable bowl and heated it slightly…) and it wasn’t long before our feast was ready with minimal work!

As a side note, Daniel has only just begun “Captaining” in the kitchen, meaning he doesn’t usually feel comfortable cooking alone. So if he felt comfortable with this (it’s man food, I think that’s why) and was successful following the recipe, anyone can do it! He used this recipe for the batter and we just bought whatever meat, cheese, and bread we liked. That happened to be:

french bread

honey smoked ham

some kind of sweeter turkey

classic swiss cheese

medium cheddar cheese

And of course we sprinkled powdered sugar on the things and  dipped them in store brand Raspberry preserves. Healthy, right?

After they were served up, we gathered for the litany and prayed together, and then chowed down our delicious meal! We discussed that next year, we’d love to celebrate with others in our home and thought it would be fun to serve the soup as a sort of appetizer and the sandwiches as the main dish + dessert. And obviously this year, I had to skip the wine part, but next year, I’d love to have a french wine to serve as well! Not to mention that I would really love to incorporate reading a children’s book about Saint Joan to Eliot and maybe having a fun themed activity to make the day special for him too.

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Saint Joan, pray for us!