May 12, 2006



À votre santé!

The history of the famous Bénédictine liqueur began during the Renaissance when a Venetian monk at the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir from twenty-seven plants and spices from the four corners of the globe. This elixir was highly regarded in the court of King François I. It was produced by the Benedictine monks up until the end of the 18th century.

However, in the turmoil of the French Revolution, the recipe was almost lost forever. In 1791, a Fécamp notable bought the 16th century manuscript containing the encoded formula for the elixir. In his ignorance of the secret the manuscript held, he put it away in his library and forgot about it.

In 1863, Alexandre Le Grand, a distant relation of the Fécamp notable, came across the document by chance and discovered the secret recipe. He succeeded in deciphering the formula for the liqueur, and began production, giving the elixir the name Bénédictine.

The liqueur quickly became popular: by 1873, nearly 150,000 bottles were being sold each year. In 1882, Alexandre Le Grand commissioned a unique palace-museum, "Le Palais Bénédictine", in Fécamp to house the distillery where the famous liqueur is still made today.

Among the twenty-seven herbs and spices in the recipe:
aloes, myrrh, cloves, mace, tea, thyme, citrus, arnica, vanilla, saffron, nutmeg, ambrette, cinnamon, cardamom, hyssop, coriander, lemon balm, sandalwood.

There is even a suggestion of the flavor of toasted bread in the liqueur.

Before bottling, the elixir is aged in oak barrels that add other qualities to the flavor.

The complete list of ingredients and processes for making Bénédictine are guarded secrets. It may take more than two years to produce the liqueur from the raw ingredients.

"Orient Express"
1 measure of Bénédictine
1 measure of Cognac
3 measures of orange juice
Pour over ice in a glass and stir.
À votre santé!

The following link represents one attempt to replicate the authentic Bénédictine elixir.
Click HERE for it.


This coming thirteenth of May will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day a man shot Pope John Paul II in front of the basilica of St. Peter. The Vatican has now set a new marble plaque into the pavement on the spot where the Pope was shot in the northwest area of the square. The new plaque replaces the one reddish cobblestone that had been the only marker.

May 11, 2006

An Icon of Pope John Paul II

Click HERE for it.

I spotted this image on the Vatican’s website. Who’s who?

Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God

upper left
Institute of the Canossian Daughters of Charity
Sudanese, abducted as a slave at age 9, bought at age 15 by an Italian who took her to Italy and set her free, received baptism about age 21, professed religious vows at age 27.

upper right
Order of Saint Augustine

lower right
Foundress of the Institute of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence

lower left
Society of Mary
Founder of the Institute of the Little Brothers of Mary (Marist Brothers of the Schools)

May 10, 2006

A Syrian Catholic asks for our prayers

Zouheir Mansourati said...

It's good to see the history of the Eucharistic Liturgy briefly, yet clearly, described and made available to the "masses".

As a Syrian Catholic and native of the Middle East, it is especially important for me that people understand the eastern origins of the western church and to realize that these churches are alive and working hard to survive... Therefore, when Catholics in the US think of Irak, Syria, or Lebanon, they should keep in mind that they have brothers and sisters there in need of their prayers and support.

- - -

Zouheir Mansourati wrote that as a comment on my post, "The Family Tree of the Eucharistic Liturgy".
Click HERE for it.

May 09, 2006

Cathy channels the Spirit, while the pope and bishops are out of touch

Amy Welborn blogged on Monday about a book that blames male clerics for the collapse of the active women’s religious communities in the United States.

One of Amy’s blogvisitors named “Cathy” claims that the “Spirit is behind the demise of” active religious life. She wrote the following.

- - -

Just yesterday I was at the formal recognition/commitment to ministry of 80 lay people in Chicago. They are all full time paid parish ministers.

So, I think that people are STILL parish ministers - and working in the schools, too, just not as vowed religous.

Sociologically, women had few choices in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For those drawn to professional service in teaching or medicine, it was often done at the sacrifice of a marriage and family.

Even in the 50's it was sort of glamorous and radical for a 'career girl' to live on her own.

With the change in society, women don't necessarily need the structure or protection of religious life to be educators, health care professionals or pastoral leaders. It was a fairly short lived pheonomenon anyway. (Active religious life, outside the cloister, was basically unknown before 1800.)

When modern religious life began to develop, bishops hated the idea of these women 'out of control' setting up schools and hospitals and being independent of male control. Then they realized that they couldn't have schools or hospitals without them.

The Spirit was behind that development. I wonder about our institutional reluctance to see the Spirit behind the demise of that form of evangelical service. But, we continue to pray for vocations which don't seem to be coming and often ignoring the vocations with which the church is being blessed.

That is perplexing and disappointing, but I think of the hundreds of women religous who died in the 19th century thinking in their heart of hearts "The bishop really doesn't get it!" Eventually they did, but the institution is a bit slow to respond to charisms.

It has been ever thus.

- - -

I respond to her as follows.

- - -

Cathy, you wrote:
"It was a fairly short lived phenomenon anyway. (Active religious life, outside the cloister, was basically unknown before 1800.)"

I point out, Cathy, another short-lived phenomenon that you yourself mentioned earlier— and it (to apply your words to it) “was basically unknown before” 1960. It’s the following.
"Just yesterday I was at the formal recognition/commitment to ministry of 80 lay people in Chicago. They are all full time paid parish ministers."

Basically unknown before 1960! How flippant your hypocrisy in dismissing “Active religious life, outside the cloister … basically unknown before 1800”!

Also, still speaking of active religious life, you say:
"I wonder about our institutional reluctance to see the Spirit behind the demise of that form of evangelical service."

Cathy, are you claiming infallibility about the Spirit here? Go ahead and respond by dismissing "papal infallibility"— but just don't claim it for yourself!

You wrote:
"we continue to pray for vocations which don't seem to be coming and often ignoring the vocations with which the church is being blessed."

Don't ignore the vocations pouring into active (not cloistered) communities like the Nashville Dominican Sisters, the Los Angeles Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart or the other devout religious communities associated with the “faithful-to-Rome” Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

I hope you aren't going to presume again to speak for the Spirit, and dismiss THESE plentiful "vocations with which the church is being blessed" as you say (or, in this case it seems, would NOT want to say).

As for vocations to the priesthood....

Worldwide, the number of theology-school seminarians (“candidates for the priesthood”) in the year 2000 was 165.92% times the number in the year 1980. Meanwhile, the worldwide Catholic population between 1980 and 2000 has remained at about 17% of the world. In other words, the percentage of the world that is Catholic did not increase during those twenty years, but the worldwide number of candidates for the priesthood multiplied by practically one and two-thirds. Those were the years of Pope John Paul II. Indeed, the institution seems to be inspiring charisms.

What kind of men are choosing to become priesthood candidates now?

The New York Times, October 13, 1998, published an article entitled, "U.S. Catholic Seminarians Turning to Orthodoxy."

The Los Angeles Time, July 31, 2004, in "A New Breed of Priest," wrote of the same continually strengthening phenomenon.

Cathy, you wrote:
"the institution is a bit slow to respond to charisms. ... It has been ever thus."

Don't be too hasty (and don't presume infallibility on behalf of the Spirit) in dismissing the charisms that are being responded to by the institution and the charisms that are responding to the institution.

The institution has been around since nearly ten times the number of years that have passed since 1800. Remember, you discount the two centuries that have passed since 1800.

Since you are not the Spirit, you simply cannot say that the Spirit is not working through the institution.

Cathy, you are not the Spirit; you are unable to speak infallibly for the Spirit; and "It has been ever thus"— to apply your own words to yourself. Such supremely pontificating and ex cathedra sounding words!

- - -

Go read Amy Welborn’s blog!
Click HERE for it.

Sisters . . .

. . . of the Valentine Box of Chocolates

It's curtains for you, Sister

[Click on the following photo for a larger version. The facial expression on the right is precious.]
Let it party! Let it party!

Is she wearing big hair under that?

Antioch is the birthplace of "Christians"

The first reading at Mass today (Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter) is Acts 11:19-26.
The last words of the reading are:
“in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.”
In Greek, the word for a male Christian is
which in our Roman alphabet is
Christianós— stressing the last syllable
The Greek word for a female Christian is
Christiané— also stressing the last syllable.