What is Good Friday and why do Catholics NORMALLY (sans COVID-19 stay at home orders) go to church on this day? Watch this short, 3-minute video from Catholic Online for a thorough explanation:

 

Understanding Holy Week in 4 Minutes!

Understanding Holy Week in just 4 minutes? It’s a great start! Holy Week is quickly approaching, the most sacred week in our Church’s year. Do you know why it’s so holy and sacred? Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite drink, sit back and take 4 minutes to watch this enlightening video. Enter into Holy Week with a whole new understanding of why this week is “Holy”!

Don’t Stop Understanding Holy Week!

This video took just 4 minutes. Obviously, there’s so much more to know and understand about Holy Week. 4 minutes simply can’t do it justice. Why not take some time to visit a Catholic website to learn more (simply Google “Catholic Information Websites” to find excellent sources)? Or when the pandemic is over and the stay at home order is lifted, take some time to visit a Catholic store such as The Angelus (located on Diamond across the street from St. Isidore Church in Grand Rapids). Another great source is Michigan Church Supply located on the first floor at Cathedral Square downtown on the corner of Wealthy and Division Streets in Grand Rapids. Not sure what you’re looking for? Someone is always there to help and make suggestions for you.

No matter our age, there is so much to continually learn about the Catholic Faith. Don’t ever stop learning as it takes more than a life-time to know all there is to know about our beliefs!

The Blessed Virgin Mary promised to Saint Dominic and to all who follow that “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted.” She left for all Christians Fifteen Promises to those who recite the Holy Rosary.

Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Basically every situation we face in life has a heavenly intercessor specifically linked to it.

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

We Catholics have a lot of patron saints, such that basically every facet of life experience is covered by some saint who has a connection to it.Even if a situation looks plain impossible, we can always turn to St. Jude, the patron of Impossible.

The reasons that saints are connected to their patronages can be obvious and direct, or sometimes quite humorous. But it’s consoling to know that a heavenly intercessor is always at the ready to present our needs to the Lord.

 It’s not surprising, then, that we have a handful of saints to call on in pandemics. Since coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints with whom we can strike up a conversation about our present needs.

Let us start with the Four Holy Marshals. Of the four, we are only including two: St. Quirinus of Neuss, a patron saint for fighting smallpox, and St. Anthony the Great, a patron saint for combating the plague.

St. Quirinus of Neuss – Patron for those affected by bubonic plague and smallpox

Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D.  Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian.

But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for becoming Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.

Move ahead 1,500 years. Documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirinus’ body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against bubonic plague and smallpox.

This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’ feast day of March 30, a similar tradition to Groundhog Day. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.”  

St. Anthony the Great – Patron of those affected by infectious diseases

One of the greatest saints of the early Church, Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian monasticism.

He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes.  He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.

St. Anthony the Great is also invoked as a patron against infectious diseases.

Edwin the Martyr (St. Edmund) — Patron for victims of pandemics

Edmund is an acknowledged patron against pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly though, hardly anything is known for certain about him. Yet there are churches all over England dedicated to him. The Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869.

Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint invoked against pandemics, is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.

We might mention a few more saints who are patrons for those who struggle with familiar illnesses and afflictions:

    • St. Damien of Molokai: Patron saint of those with leprosy (Hansen’s disease)
    • St. Dymphna: The 15-year-old Irish girl who is patroness of emotional disorders
    • The Fourteen Holy Helpers: Epidemics, especially the bubonic plague (the Black Death)
    • StMatthias: Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
    • St. Tryphon:  Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts

The list is endless. What’s certain is that the saints are waiting for your call.

Looking for something to do with the kids while they’re off during this crazy Corona time? Look no further than your kitchen! These treats can be made any time of the year so watch, enjoy and have fun making these cute snacks and desserts. Food? $20 Electricity? $2 Time spent with kids? PRICELESS.

Enjoy Paczki Before Observing Lent

If you’re not familiar with paczki (plural, pronounced ‘POONCH-kee’), here’s some interesting facts. The singular is paczek (pronounced ‘POON-check’). Don’t order just one “paczki” as that’s the plural. Order one paczek. If you happen to make a mistake, don’t worry. How are you to know if you’re not Polish? Indeed, one thing’s for sure: if you don’t enjoy a paczek or two before Lent, you’re missing out!

In any event, whether it’s one or many, paczki are Polish pastries that are inextricably linked with Fat Tuesday celebrations. People not of Polish heritage compare it to a jelly-filled donut. But it’s not comparable at all. And I’m Polish so I know! Why is it not close? Because authentic Polish paczki are made with extremely rich dough, literally made of everything rich found in the Polish pantry. Catholic religious law forbade the consumption of lard, sugar and eggs during the Lenten fasting season. Paczki is the result of cleaning out the Polish pantry and indulging before Lent which generally begins the Thursday before Lent.

Enjoy Paczki from a Bakery

Before you stop just anywhere to buy paczki, make sure you know if the bakery uses an authentic paczki recipe or if they simply use their donut recipe for the dough. Last year I excitedly made a stop at a new bakery and was not happy to find a “donut” paczki. It makes a difference! A true, authentic paczki is super rich and delicious. Eating one brings a body joy. Eating more than one at a time makes you sick! That’s why Polish people start the Thursday before Ash Wednesday so they have a few days to eat more than one!

If you can’t find authentic paczki, why not try making your own?

Authentic Recipe

My Polish Busia made wonderful paczki. Most recipes are similar and this one is very close to my Busia’s. Any way you look at it, paczki are good, and all that is good comes from God. Whip up this recipe, try a homemade paczek, start a new family tradition and have a blessed Lent!

 Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 2 pkgs. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2-3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled slightly (Busia used 1/2 butter, 1/2 lard)
  • oil for frying (preferably lard but canola works if lard isn’t available)
  • any fruit jam (optional for filling)
Directions

Scald milk and allow to cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast into lukewarm milk. Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed and let stand for about 30 minutes or until bubbles form.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy. Add sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg and continue to whisk to combine well.

Grease a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Add the sugar/egg mixture to the dough mixture and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon. Add melted butter and continue to stir. Gradually combine remaining flour until a slightly sticky but soft dough comes together. Flour your hands, knead the dough a few times and form into a ball.

Place dough in prepared mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Punch down dough. Roll to a 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out dough rounds using a round cutter. Or you can use an upside down drinking glass. Just dip the rim in flour after each cut if it sticks. Place onto a wax-paper (or parchment) lined cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place.

Heat a deep skillet with 1 1/2-inches of oil to about 350 degrees F. Place 3-4 paczki in the skillet at a time and fry until dark, golden brown on each side. Use tongs to flip only once! It’s important to let them get dark in color to make sure they cook all the way through. Gently place on paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil. Repeat the process for remaining paczki.

Sweetening the Paczki

After they drain on paper towel, dip into granulated or powdered sugar. My Busia would put the sugar in a brown paper bag. Then she’d add the paczki a couple at a time and shake until well coated. This way they get sugar on all sides equally. Using a piping bag, fill paczki from the side with fruit jam of choice, if using. Stewed prunes are the traditional filling, but raspberry, blueberry, cherry and more taste great, too. Enjoy!

Polish Hints

Frying hints:

Test the temperature of the fat by dropping in a cube of bread, about one inch in size. If it browns in one minute, the fat is hot enough. This is a good general rule to remember when frying any uncooked food. Be sure, above all, that the fat does not smoke. That means it’s too hot.

Prior to cooking:

Add a tablespoon of cold water to the cold fat . This keeps it from burning easily and insures a nice browning of the food. Fat may be used over and over again, if clarified after each use and stored properly.

To clarify oil:

Let the fat cool and add a few slices of raw potato. Heat slowly until the potato is well browned. Strain through several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place. When re-using, fry a quartered apple in the fat to remove any flavor prior to use.

Did you know Assumption “caters” to butterflies?

Throughout the many flower gardens and beds spread across Assumption Parish’s campus, our Garden Club and the students from Assumption School take care of special plants. There are numerous flowers and plants that were planted specifically to encourage the propagation of butterflies! If you stop for a moment and look at the gardens, chances are you’ll very quickly see a butterfly gently fluttering by.

Take some time to enjoy the beauty of the flowers and plants and, most importantly, the featured guests – the butterflies!

This chubby caterpillar was found in one of the butterfly gardens at Assumption by a Garden Club member. Look at the beautiful colors and lines!

 

See the visitor above? This very hungry caterpillar will soon form a chrysalis. Watch the video below to see the amazing process!

Once the transformation is complete, the newly formed Monarch butterfly will break free from the chrysalis and flutter freely in search of nectar to drink! See this amazing feat here:

Now that you know this amazing process, take some time to visit the Assumption gardens to see the beautiful creatures. God is amazing!

What is Holy Thursday and why do Catholics celebrate this day with a special Mass? Watch this short, 3 minute video from Catholic Online for a thorough explanation:

The first 48 hours of any movie is the most important. Today, Unplanned (a movie based on a true story about Abby Johnson, the youngest director ever at Planned Parenthood) is opening in theaters. You will not see posters advertising this movie in any theater, but they do have times listed on their websites. Will you please go see this movie to [hopefully] put this in the top 3 this weekend? If you’ve read the book, if you’re pro-life, if you’re pro-choice, if you don’t have an opinion – it doesn’t matter. Every person should see this movie.

Locally, the movie is being shown at the following theaters:

  • Celebration! Cinema North located at 2121 Celebration Dr. NE, Grand Rapids 49525
  • Celebration! Cinema located at RiverTown Crossings Mall at 3728 Rivertown Parkway, Grandville 49418
  • Celebration! Cinema South located at 1506 Eastport Dr, Grand Rapids 49508
  • AMC Grand Rapids located at 3000 Alpine Avenue NW, Walker 49544
  • AMC Holland 8 located at 12270 James St., Holland 49424
  • AMC Classic big Rpaids 4 located at 213 S. Michigan Avenue, Big Rapids 49307-1809

Please be sure to thank these theaters for showing this movie. Other theaters simply chose not to show it.