3 Reasons to Marry an Irish Girl

1) We sing like angels

2) We smile with our eyes

3) We make kick-ass Irish Soda Bread. (See Testimony)

I got this recipe, btw, from my Italian mother in law!

Maria Lucia’s Irish Soda Bread

4 c sifted flour
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1 c raisins (or cranberries for a nice change)
2 tblspns melted butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients. Mix butter, eggs and buttermilk. Stir into dry ingredients. Use a 2 qt pan (like a pyrex) because it works the best. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.25 hours.

And as the thing is baking, trundle on over to the Catholic Portal Main Page and grab Pat McNamara’s excellent piece on Why St. Patrick’s Day Matters for Everyone.

And then Pray the Breastplate

And here’s some background music for you!

And while you’re there, read Deacon Greg’s very personal and helpful essay on his difficulties with the sacrament of Confession and how he came to love it.

Somehow, I left the confessional feeling worse than when I went in.

I remained skeptical of the sacrament for years after that. I drifted away from regular Mass attendance, and went for years without darkening the door of a reconciliation room or slipping behind the velvet curtain of a confessional. What was the point? In my mind, I was right with God: He knew where I was coming from (and, no doubt, where I was going) and I apologized to him, privately, when it seemed like the right thing to do. End of discussion.

But no.

And, um…Heather King’s musings on the importance of having a story and why that matters to believers, and should matter to atheists

I’ve . . . come to see there is only one story, and an infinite number of ways to tell it: the story of death and resurrection.

The story can’t be “I’m a victim” and it also can’t be “I’m a hero,” though in some sense you are telling of the hero’s journey. But what makes for an authentic personal story is that the hero is not you; the heroes are the people who put up with you, or helped you, or accompanied you along the way.

The star of the story is not you; the star is something greater than you.

The astonishment of the story is never that the world finally recognized your genius and showered you with the love and attention you so richly deserved. Nor is the story that the world finally admitted its terrible betrayal of your innocence and apologized. The story is that a God exists who is so kind, so loving, so merciful, that he sees fit to forgive all your transgressions, wrong turns, and mistakes; a God who ministers, with infinite tenderness, to all the hurt that’s been done to you and all the hurt you’ve done to others, and welcomes you back to the banquet table.

For those with teens, or who teach/deal with/mentor young people, Lisa Mladinich has culled together some terrific resources to encourage discussions on chastity and modesty:

Our teens today are inundated with ugliness. Fashions objectify their sexuality in the crudest and most blatant terms, while the media sells them the lie that promiscuity is freedom and not the horrifying, debilitating slavery that it is. [. . .] For Catholic parents and catechists, our work is cut out for us. Young people need to hear the Church’s unique and transcendent teachings on human sexuality, and to share it with them, you’ve got to do some homework.

If you’ve not read Slubgrip’s Seventh Lesson from Hell you’d better catch up; lesson VIII appears on Friday! Meanwhile you can also read Dwight Longenecker’s take on what the devil really, really hates!:

When considering conflict with Satan some people think it is all about crucifixes and holy water and exorcisms and putting on the spiritual armor of God and wading into battle like mortal versions of St Michael the Archangel. That’s not for us. We best trample down the head of Satan through supernatural normalcy.

What do I mean by ‘supernatural normalcy’? First you have to start by understanding Satan and all his works. Satan has nothing original in his toolkit. He can’t create sin because sin is the absence of grace or the distortion of something good. God made everything and everything he made is good. Evil is therefore nothing positive in itself, but the perversion and destruction and distortion of all that is good. It follow therefore that Satan loves everything that is perverted, twisted, destroyed and diseased. He can’t do anything good or create anything good. All he can do is twist or attempt to destroy that which is good.

And don’t miss Max Lindenman’s fascinating advice to the priesthood

Todd Aglioloro writes of a new breed of clergy who assume a “husbandly” posture toward the Church and affect a decidedly butch style. Here he quotes Monsignor Stewart Swetland of the Franciscan University of Steubenville: “[Younger priests and seminarians] work out, they play sports, they want to look and dress and act like men.”

Though published two years ago, Aglioloro’s article fascinates me, for several reasons. He sees the Church as a battleground—girls on one side, boys on the other. “The post-conciliar Church in this country,” he writes mournfully, “has . . . been run by women.” Aglioloro proceeds to snap wet towels at those he considers fifth columnists in the struggle: “the effete”; “priests with squishy handshakes”; “Father Reilly, once his mother’s darling”; “the Phil Donahue generation, limp caricatures of sensitivity.”

To his credit, Aglioloro stops short of making any facile equations between homosexuality and pedophilia, or even between effeminacy and homosexuality. But what he does do, in a way, is even more daring. In short, he blames femininity for everything he doesn’t like about the Church, from bad catechesis to “the worst crimes of the Lavender Mafia.” He does write critically of the “rough or aloof” priests of the postwar generation and their “hyper-rationalized” theology. Still, when he writes of “manly virtue,” one gets the sense that, for him, manliness is virtue.

There – all that good stuff should take you until the bread is baked to get through!

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  • jeff

    Oh boy here we go again. The second a tiny correction is seen in the priesthood we have an over-reaction and caricature of non-feminine priests as “butch.” That only took about two seconds. I agree with some of Mr. Lindenman’s comments regarding any priests putting on tough guy airs, but I don’t get the urge to mock the tiniest sign of heterosexuals actually acting like men in the priesthood. It’s actually kind of comical given what homosexuality in the priesthood has caused over the last 40 years.

    But I do like soda bread.

  • http://twitter.com/free_pioneer The Free Pioneer

    Fruit in the bread? That must be an Italian recipe.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Quite honestly,I’ve never met any of these supposedly overly-masculine, “butch” priests Mr. Lindenman is talking about. I’ve met some very manly Irish priests—but their manliness was natural, and unaffected. And I’m a member of the Orthodox church, which, again, respects the masculine—but, March is a month they’ve spent honoring women, and, let’s face it; as with many churches, it’s the ladies guild and the church women who manage the actual machinery of the church.

    Having come from the Episcopal church, I have to say that, while I don’t blame femininity for Christianity’s current woes, the fact is there is a great deal of femininity/softness/ in many demonimations, which is not always a good thing.

  • Anonymous

    Deacon Greg testifies to the decliciousness of my Soda bread, here:


  • Rhinestone Suderman

    It’s another one of those cases where the church just can’t win, Jeff; if priests are gentle, soft spoken and empathetic, it’s because they’re all members of the Lavender Mafia. Lock up the altar boys! If they’re gruff, aggressive, obviously hetero, outspoken (and some old Irish priests, can, trust me, be amazingly gruff, outspoken, aggressive, etc.) they’re putting on airs, trying to act like He-men, etc.

    It doesn’t help that masculinity, itself, is in bad repute these days.

    Toughest church guy I ever knew was a black African seminarian from Uganda, who’d survived persecution. The time may come when all Christians, male and female, will have to learn some of the harder virtues, such as courage and endurance.

  • Mandy P.

    Bread sounds great. I think I’ll make it this evening so we can have it for breakfast tomorrow. Since I’m cutting out refined sugar, I’ll be using Splenda instead. Hope it turns out well.

  • Mandy P.

    I can agree with your sentiments. Coming into the Church from a Southern Baptist congregation and a Church of Christ upbringing, I can tell you that even the more conservative Protestant denominations have developed a habit of pushing natural masculinity out of a boy’s upbringing. I’m trying very hard, as is my husband, to teach my own son that love is not an exclusively feminine trait.

  • jeff

    It is such an extraordinarily difficult thing to be a priest nowadays that i do have a lot of sympathy. They get it from all sides. I would like to see the Lavender Mafia face off with the Corleone Family, however.

  • kelleyb

    Instead of being VERY envious of the Deacon for his share of the Irish Soda Bread, I’ll just go make some….now. My Irish mom disliked Soda Bread, so it was not an item in my childhood.

  • Annie

    It’s the combination of eggs AND buttermilk. Some recipes call for buttermilk OR regular milk with eggs…but using both really keeps it moist.
    Now smear some Kerrygold Irish butter on that baby and God will be holding you in the palm if his hand!!

    ps. I am pro-caraway seed

  • kelleyb

    Oh my, we have hit the mother load. This is yummy bread!! Hubby and I can’t wait for breakfast. This recipe will get tucked into my bread notebook. Any other recipes you want to share?

  • Mandy P.

    Well, the Splenda worked out quite nicely in place of the sugar. I have to admit that I was worried that it was going to burn with the cooking time being so long. At the 45 minute mark it was golden on the outside and smelled wonderful- which is usually an indicator of a baked good being done. But the knife came out still wet-ish, so I kept baking and it did take the full hour and fifteen minutes to get totally done.

    Turned out great! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Mwalsh

    Personally, I have not met the straw-man Lindenman is thrashing. I have not read the Aglioloro article, either. To be sure, as he describes it, it does qualify as over-the-top, like the signifyin’ sacerdos striding the campus with his rosary and attitude. That said, there is something a bit creepy about Lindenman’s article; he protests too much. And to be honest, yes, in many ways the post Vat. II church could be a bit too feminine. For example, while I respect the girls and welcome their service, the decision to admit them as altar-servers was a mistake, IMHO: The distinction of the “altar boys” offered a means of socializing young men into the faith at a crucial time in the development of their identity. I never saw any reason for changing that other than as a cheap concession to feminist critique of the Church’s exclusively male clergy.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Also, I found Lindenman’s comparison of the hyper-masculinity of the subprime mortgage industry with the church, somewhat, um. . . strained. It’s too bad, I guess, that the place he worked was so hypermasculine; but that doesn’t necessarily mean the church is going the same way, or even that all people who work in subprime mortgages ae that way.

    Speaking of cheap concessions. . . one problem I’ve noticed, from my experiences in the Episcopal Church, is that the “activists” and “progressives”, neither slumber, nor sleep. They’re always up to something, be it trying to get altar girls, instituting “Liturgical Dance”, demanding a service devoted to ecology, labyrinths, pushing for gay marriage—whatever the latest trend is. The rest of the congregation might not particularly want these things, but they’re handicapped by the fact they have jobs, children, obligations, and can’t fight this stuff full time. These activists, by the way, were usually well-to-do, extremely liberal women, with too little time on their hands, dragging along their male followers into the fray, and only too happy to tell the rest of us what we’re all doing wrong! Jane Austin would have had a field day, writing about these women!

  • Jen

    Elizabeth, is that all there is to the recipe? No letting the dough rise or anything? Just mix together and bake? You shape it into a nice round ball, obviously. It just seems too easy.

  • Anonymous

    It’s that easy. You don’t shape it into a ball, and the baking soda/salt is what makes it rise. You just pour it into a 2 qt dish and pop it in the oven!

  • Anonymous

    It’s that easy. You don’t shape it into a ball, and the baking soda/salt is what makes it rise. You just pour it into a 2 qt dish and pop it in the oven!

  • Jen

    Wow! Thanks! I will definitely give this a whirl. And I don’t think you’re mean. :) Happy Day!

  • Anonymous

    Before you use Splenda, you should read this: http://www.truthaboutsplenda.com/factvsfiction/index.html. Most of these artificial sweeteners are untested for long-term health effects or have already been implicated in health problems. I’d stick to sugar — at least it is natural.

  • Esther

    Well, I am going to go to my kitchen right now and try your recipe. Mahalo for sharing it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Melissa.Phipps.Feagins Melissa Feagins

    No offense, Dear Anchoress, but bread has neither eggs nor sugar in it. I made Irish soda bread – flour, salt, soda and buttermilk as above – on Tuesday. It makes an wonderful hearty bread…good stuff. Perhaps over the weekend, I’ll try your soda bread based cake, it really does look yummy.

  • Mary

    “The story can’t be “I’ma victim” and it also can’t be “I’ma hero,” though in some sense you are telling of the hero’s journey.” You’re missing the point – the hero/ine incites change – see Kal Bashir’s 510 stage hero’s journey / screenwriting work at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html