Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Saint John of the Cross
Patron Saint of Mystics, Contemplative life; contemplatives; mystical theology; Spanish poets
Saint John of the Cross’ Story
John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.
Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and, like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.
Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.
But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full.
“Let us suppose that God is like an immense and beautiful dwelling or palace and that this palace, as I say, is God Himself. Could the sinner, perhaps, so as to engage in his evil deeds leave this palace? No, certainly not; rather, within the palace itself, that is within God Himself, the evil deeds committed by us sinners take place. Oh, frightful thought, worthy of deep reflection, and very beneficial for those of us who know so little. Let us consider brothers and sisters the great mercy and compassion of God, and be extremely thankful to Him. The greatest evil of the world, is that God,our creator, suffers so many evil things from His creatures within His very self.”
– from St. Teresa of Avila’s “INTERIOR CASTLE”
Monasterio de los Carmelitas Descalzos
(Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites)
Alameda de la Fuencisla
40003 Segovia, Spain
*The body of St John of the Cross rests within an ornate tomb in the church at this monastery. In life he was both a theologian and a mystic.
His writings in these areas have made an enormous contribution to the modern understanding of the mystical experience.
Oratorio de San Juan de la Cruz /
Museo San Juan de la Cruz
(Oratory and Museum of Saint John of the Cross)
Calle Carmen 13
23400 Ubeda, Spain
*St John of the Cross died in this city. Shortly thereafter, his body was transferred to Segovia, Spain.
In 1596 Pope Clement VIII agreed that some of his relics should be returned to Ubeda.
These relics are now preserved within the sacristy of this church.
Also within this church is the grave where his body originally rested before it was transferred to Segovia.
St. Teresa of Avila & St John of the Cross, Carmelite Mystics
St. Teresa of Avila & St John of the Cross, Carmelite Mystics
Songs of the season:
It came upon a midnight clear
Harry Connick Jr -
"Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow"
Roscón de Reyes
1 cup white sugar
Lemon peel from 1 full lemon without the white
Orange peel from 1 full orange without the white
1/2 cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
1 ounce fresh yeast
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
4 1/3 cups flour
Pinch of salt
Dried-in-sugar fruit, sugar in chunks, humid sugar, almonds, or whatever you like, really!
Chop the lemon and orange peel very fine (in a mixer) together with the white sugar so that the sugar gets the citrus aromas and becomes finer. Make sure that you dry the peel well before chopping.
Mix the fresh yeast with lukewarm milk until it is completely dissolved.
In a mixing bowl mix all of the following ingredients together: eggs, milk with yeast, orange blossom water, butter, flour and salt and knead for 10 minutes with the dough hook at low speed (1.5 or 2 maximum).
If you don´t have a mixer, you will need to mix by hand all the time. It will become a very sticky mix; try to not add more flour at the beginning. Knead the dough by stretching it with your hands and mixing again until you see that the mix is more elastic and less sticky.
Once the kneading is done we will have activated our gluten and it will help make the Roscón very soft. Take a large bowl and spray with Bake Easy spray, then leave the dough to rest in the bowl and cover with plastic film until it has doubled its size. This process might take more or less time depending on the temperature in the kitchen. Under normal circumstances it could take 2 hours.
Once it has doubled its size then you can start shaping it. If you want to have a high and perfect shape I have a trick I can tell you…
How to get a perfect high and round Roscón de Reyes.
First I use Bake Easy spray in a springform mold to make sure that the dough does not get stuck to the mold when it is growing in size. I have used a basic Wilton 22 cm (about 9 inches). You can use a larger one, up to a maximum of 30cm (almost 12 inches) – when it grows, the pan will be covered completely.
Once the dough has doubled its size I try to get all the air out by pressing a bit and I make a ball. I leave it to rest for 5 minutes and I set it up in a baking mold which has been sprayed with Bake Easy and has parchment paper at the bottom so that it is easier to unmold it.
I make a hole in the middle and then I place a glass in the middle so that it does not close – be careful, whatever you place needs to hold the oven heat.
At this moment you can insert the little present in the dough. (There is no photo here because the place is top secret!) To do so, pick up the dough somewhere high and hide it inside.
It is time to set up the oven at 200ºC (390ºF). If at this moment you place a baking mold with water inside you will create a bit of humidity which will ensure that the Roscón does not dry inside during baking.
Now we get to the nicest part: to decorate it! Brush the Roscón a bit with beaten egg and decorate on top with dried fruit, almonds, sugar chunks etc. … if you add water to a bit of sugar and then place it on top it is also very crunchy.
We bake it for 15 to 20 minutes approximately and during the last 5 minutes we lower to 180ºC (350ºF).
Once it is finished baking, let it cool on a cooling tray for approximately 15 minutes, and get it out of the mold. You will see how nice, round, and high it turns out.
You could eat it just like that, but I love to fill it with this delicious filling:
1 1/3 ml cream
150 gr white chocolate
Melt the chocolate au-bain-Marie and allow it to cool until it reaches room temperature. Au-bain-Marie is a water bath, also known as a double boiler method. Make sure no water gets into the chocolate!
Beat the cream with the flat paddle of your kitchen mixer and when it is nearly making peaks add the chocolate. You will have a delicious cream, which will all of your dear ones will love when eating this Roscón de Reyes.