Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feast Day: Our Lady of Lourdes

This is one of those feast days that really means alot to me and mine!

Dh and I met at Our Lady of Lourdes School in North Carolina -- we were both teaching and it was the wedding of science (him) and technology (me). The middle schoolers thought it was SOOOO romantic. [Don't tell anyone, but so did I!]

After we got married, we took our (then) four children to Europe for pilgrimage during the 2000 Jubilee Year. We made a special trip to Lourdes ... to see the Grotto, join in the celebration of a few Masses (Brikhead got to read the English-language petitions at the big Mass), attend the candle-light ceremony and rosary (Kotch got to read the English-language decade of the rosary) and receive the Sacrament of Confession. It was a most memorable trip -- not least of which was being dunked in the miraculous waters (including String Bean who was just three-months old!). We were also lucky enough to visit French-Basque region where my great-grandparents were born (Oloron-Ste-Marie, just above Lourdes; and Arles-sur-Tech, closer to the Med).

The next year, when we were moving to Europe, we again pilgrimaged to Lourdes, staying in the same lovely hospitality house run by the L'Emanuelle community, and again participating in much of the spiritual activities of the Shrine.

Millions of people visit this Shrine each year -- and they're not all Catholics, either. This is an amazing site where all come to seek the intercessions of Our Lady, the Blessed Mother. Here, Pope John Paul the Great came to pray before the Shrine. I like this picture as it gives a great idea of the magnificence of the natural grotto ... a place of peace and hope ... a place of faith!

Me and mine owe so much to Our Lady, particularly under this particular name. We continue to invoke the intercessory powers of Our Lady of Lourdes ... and she is a powerful ally. So, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is a big deal around here.

We were able to attend Mass this morning at dh's high school, but unfortunately won't be eating together as a family tonight due to various commitments on Wednesday nights (which I wish I could change, but no such luck.) I did go ahead and make one of our favorite French desserts, Clafouti (French Cherry Dessert), which I've made every year since our first pilgrimage to Lourdes!
String Bean and I MIGHT leave some for the others .... or not ....
Here's the recipe:

Clafouti -- French Cherry Dessert
(from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz)

Preheat oven to 350.

3 cups cherries (either fresh, frozen or canned/drained)
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tbls vanilla
2 tbls butter
Powdered sugar

Place butter in a 9-inch square or 9/10 inch round pan. Place in pre-heated oven and allow to melt – swirl melted butter around pan to “grease”.

Thaw/drain cherries and set aside.

Mix the flour and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Beat in the sugar. Gradually add the milk and vanilla (yes, one tablespoon!), stirring until the batter is very smooth.

Put about 1/4-inch layer of batter (almost one cup) in the pan and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly set. Remove the pan and spread the cherries over the surface, covering (pouring gently) with the remaining batter. Return and bake for 70 minutes or until puffed and brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

You can also use any fruit … apples, peaches, pear … using 3-3-1/2 cups of peeled, sliced fruit ... but we love cherries!

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