"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

Saturday, February 24 2018

Learning to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ are frequently a child’s first foray into the somewhat bewildering world of etiquette.  Although many Miss Mannerisms have become extinct over the years(some, ‘mores the pity’), these two phrases remain constant.  They are often the first two forms of prayer learned as well.  Please God…Thank you, Lord!

‘Please God’ includes our intercessions for others. In our Sunday liturgies we pray for the world, the church, the environment, the parish, for healing and other concerns of the moment.  These are the Prayers of the People, part of the common prayer of a community at worship.  Occasionally, depending on the litany used, or the intercessor, we add thanksgivings “for all the blessings of this life”.  They are also fairly general in nature as we give thanks for family and friends, for health, safety, food security, shelter and faith.

We all also cry out ‘Please God’ for answers to our own needs, for relief of pain, for the assurance of God’s loving Presence, forgiveness, peace…and a multitude of other personal requests.

How, besides mealtime grace, do we offer thanks on a regular basis?

Perhaps the music of thanksgiving should be a chorus which echoes through our lives every day; a pervasive  ’attitude of gratitude’ melody offered to God. Have you ever kept a ‘blessings book’? Or spent time making a list of all those things for which you are thankful, that which delight the senses, which speak of beauty, joy, laughter, peace? …autumn leaves reflected in still water; ripe mango, savoured; the call of a loon; a true ‘belly laugh; old jazz; firelight; spring peepers or crickets; a walk on the beach with a loved one; a sincere hug; a good ‘read’; soft, warm wind; dinner with friends; sunlight through leaves; shells; ivy; kissing baby toes; fresh basil; a long swim; good coffee; star gazing; a slow motion passionate kiss; afternoon tea and cookies…honesty, appreciation, encouragement, prayerfulness, respect… Take a few minutes now and record your musical notes of thanksgiving…add to your list throughout the Lenten season.

Recipe: Torta Caprese (Say it with an Italian accent!)  If chocolate is on your blessings list, you might like this rich, dense, gluten-free chocolate cake.  Best made the day before, it keeps well and will be perfect on Sunday(not a fast day!) I often halve the recipe to make a smaller, or flatter, torta. Oven at 325 degrees; 9 inch spring form pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a circle of parchment paper

2 cups ground almonds; 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate; ½ pound of butter
6 large eggs, separated; Icing sugar to decorate

Mix ground almonds with 6 Tablespoons of the sugar.  Melt chocolate with butter. Beat egg yolks about 5 minutes; beat in 10 Tablespoons of the sugar; add to the chocolate mixture. Stir into ground almonds.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with remaining ¼ cup sugar until they peak.  Fold into chocolate mixture.  Pour batter into pan, place on cookie sheet and bake for about 55 minutes (sometimes longer). Do the toothpick test to make sure the centre is done.  The top is supposed to crack as it bakes and cools. Let cool, remove the sides of the pan; just before serving sift icing sugar on top.  Garnish with whipped cream, ice cream, berries as desired.