Bob and three of our boys traveled back home to the "old country" of Dayton Ohio, where we were born and raised. Among the happy meetings with friends and family, there were many happy meals at all our favorite restaurants. Thinks Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives!
A great imitation Milano's Ham Grinder
A list of "must eats" in Dayton/Cincinnati included:
Frisch's Big Boy
Tilton Hilton (at Indian Lake, OH)
and of course, Marion's Pizza
Upon returning home, Bob was able to re-create the famous "Ham Grinder" from Milano's. This makes for a great quick dinner or weekend lunch, sandwich for all the bowl games or New Years parties.
Slice a nice hoagie roll in half, length-wise. We think Publix's hoagies are as close to Milano's home made hoagies as you can get in Florida. On one half, spread a thin layer of Hellman's mayonaise on it, topped by some chopped onion and a sprinkle of crushed red peppers (shaker peppers). On the other half, spoon on some spaghetti sauce (they brought Mamma DiSalvo's home!) then top with cheddar cheese. Chop up a bunch of deli ham and put it on the baking sheet next to the two halves of the hoagie. Put it all in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so to thoroughly heat. Scoop up the ham from the baking sheet onto he hoagie, put the two halves together and ENJOY!
That’s the way it was around the Musselman house in 2010.A year of changes, but familiar feelings that seemed like déjà vu all over again.Though the first day of kindergarten, and opening day at Little League, sure feel different when you’re 46, not 33.
Bobby, 19, went off to FloridaStateUniversity, majoring in Chemical Sciences (I think).We haven’t heard much, but assume he’s doing ok—if you hear from him, let us know what he says.Over Christmas we hope to get caught up.
Kate, 6, started kindergarten.She’s a real girly girl, much to Julie’s chagrin and secret pleasure.Mary, almost 9, is in third grade.She likes to get up early—like —and walk with Julie.It’s a chance for her to get some precious alone time with her mother—“Mommy, can we skip the Rosary and just talk?”
John, 16 and a junior, continues to be our family’s maintenance man along with getting good grades in the challenging IB program at St. Petersburg High, being active in service clubs and lettering in golf.He’s also an excellent cook—his Alfredo sauce is awesome.
Joey, 13, is in eighth grade and blessed with a big social network and a million dollar smile.He’s getting tall like his older brothers and hopes to graduate from flag football to high school football next year.
Will, 11, speaking of football, is the biggest kid in fifth grade, but his love is baseball.He rooted the Tampa Bay Rays all the way to the playoffs this year and anchors his little league team at first base.
It’s been a blessed year, in that we’ve gotten through it.All the good mentioned above, and much more in our hearts, trumps all the bad and ugly of 2010.We’re looking forward to the joys and sorrows of 2011 and beyond, with faith and trust that God will give us the grace to handle anything that comes our way.
A blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.
Julie, Bobby, John, Joey, Will, Mary and Kate
St. Petersburg, FL
See all the Christmas Letters on the "Musselman Christmas Letter" page above right.
First the "Holy Hoovers" vacuum and clean the church. Then the "Mary and Martha Brigade" follow. They begin by attending mass and praying the rosary. This is the "Mary" part. Then the "Martha" part takes over as these ladies roll up their sleeves and get to work decorating the church.
This year was special as we had four young girls assist. Bella and Selma are sisters who came with their mother Michelle. Mary and Kate came with me. We brought in all the poinsettias, put out chairs, arranged the manger scene, put on the white cape for the Infant of Prague and then decorated the four Christmas trees. Led by a sweet group of "seasoned" veterans, we ladies had a great time transforming the church and serving our parish.
John, Joey and Will standing on frozen Indian Lake in front of Musselmans' old cottage
When Bob was growing up, his family had a home on Indian Lake, in Russells Point, OH. I went there for the first time when I was 15. We always rang in the New Year there. We were engaged on a pontoon boat there when I was 19. Until the mid 80s when the house was sold, Bob and I and his family and neighbors spent many happy weekends there. We had happy summer weekends singing "Get Down On It" on the Searay boat. We had many happy winter weekends on snow mobiles running on the ice. We had great neighbors who played cards and board games with us and cooked food in the "pot" for a true pot luck.
This week Bob is back in Ohio, touring the "old country" with three of our sons. They are hitting all the old haunts; Our childhood homes, St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, Marion's Pizza, University of Dayton, Milano's, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Flying Pizza, Mama DiSalvo's, White Castle, Frisch's Big Boy and the Tilton Hilton. (Note heavy emphasis on food--but you can't get any of that in Florida!) Primarily, they are visiting with many aunts, uncles and old friends.
What better way to prepare for Christmas then to reunite with friends and family--all the while having a big, long, snowy drive with your sons!
"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"
Is 7:14 and Mt 1:23
In today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we have the original prophecy of the sign that God will give to show His faithfulness to His promises to Abraham and David. Ahaz the King of Judah, in the line of David, has not been faithful to the covenant. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he won't. Yet God is ever faithful and to show His faithfulness, God Himself will provide the sign.
St. Matthew's gospel then quotes this passage from Isaiah and shows how in the most difficult circumstances of an unplanned pregnancy, God has now fulfilled the prophecy from hundreds of year before.
Many people today look for signs. Our faith is weak. We want to know for certain. We want a message, a confirmation, a plan, a sign. But Jesus is really the only sign we need. God became Man, Creator entered into creation. He came and fulfilled perfectly all the Old Testament prophecies. He is the sign that God so loved the world that He sent His only son.
And yet, God knows our weakness and so He does give us other signs. Sometimes the sign comes in the form of a phone call, a friendship, a happy event that comes to pass. And sometimes a sign comes in the form of a difficulty, a broken relationship, an illness, a death. When we look at the events in our lives with the eyes of faith, we can see these signs. May we keep our eyes on Jesus, The Sign, and look around for the other smaller signs too.
The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent. The importance of the "O Antiphons" is twofold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David )
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with us )
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other mightily, and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Isaiah had prophesied: "The spirit of the Lord shall rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." Is 11:2-3 "[...] He is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." Is 28:29
My younger sister Colleen and husband Jon have 5 children. With a busy household, there is always lots to do each afternoon and dinner is sometimes hard to plan. Colleen is lucky like me in that her husband likes to cook. Inspired by the Food Network and perhaps Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Giant Burrito was created.
Colleen writes, "Jon took 4 large burritos and overlapped them. He put ground beef on one side and chicken on the other and layered Mexican rice and refried beans over the meats. He rolled it up and put enchilada sauce, queso and Mexican cheese on top, and baked for 20-30 minutes at 350. Each of us had a big slice with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole on top."
During these hectic days of Advent, let's make this simple meal for our families. Let's gather everyone home, light the candles on the advent wreath and use the extra time saved by having a quick and simple meal to pray the rosary (or even just a decade) after dinner.
Ordained a Carmelite priest at 25 (1567), John met St. Teresa of Jesus (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.
Thomas Merton said of John: "Just as we can never separate asceticism from mysticism, so in St. John of the Cross we find darkness and light, suffering and joy, sacrifice and love united together so closely that they seem at times to be identified."
--From Saint of the Day by St. Anthony Messenger Press
Fun Fact: Fr. Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) considered entering the Discalced Carmelite Monastery as a young man, but in 1945 gave up that idea in order to become a parish priest. Fr. Wojtyla was always inspired by St. John of the Cross, so much so, that he taught himself Spanish with the goal to read St. John of the Cross in the original language written.
The Third Sunday of advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. The Latin term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, and means "Rejoice". Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.
Today the first reading and gospel reading at mass fit so beautifully together. The first reading is from Isaiah chapter 35. We read in verses 5 and 6 "then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing."
In St. Matthew's gospel from chapter 11, the disciples of John the Baptist are questioning Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" Jesus replies by reference to Isaiah 35:5-6 “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus' answer may seem cryptic to us, why doesn't He just answer the question Yes or No? We have to remember that Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience who would have been very familiar with Isaiah and the Old Testament scriptures. By referring them back to Isaiah 35, which is predicting Israel's deliverance from foreigners, Jesus is very specifically answering them. By referring to the outward healings that Jesus is performing, He is fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would restore and heal. And all of these outward physical healings are pointing to the internal deliverance and healing from sin that Jesus can perform any time for everyone of us.
Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we all our healed from the sins that weigh us down. Many parishes offer a lot of confession times during advent in addition to the regular Saturday times. Sacramental confession is such a gift of Jesus and His church. In it we are not only forgiven of our sins but we are given grace that helps us avoid sin in the future. If you haven't been to confession in a while, please "give yourself the gift" of a clean heart for the Christ child for this Christmas.
December 9th we celebrate the feast of St. Juan Diego and three days later, December 12th, is the usual feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is preempted this year by the Third Sunday of Advent.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the title of Mary as she appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531 asking him to have a church built in her name. St. Juan told the Bishop of the request and he asked for a sign. Mary sent St. Juan to the top of a hill in mid-December, to gather roses there.
When St. Juan returned to the Bishop carrying the roses in his tilma (a poor quality cactus-cloth) they discovered that Mary's image was imprinted on the tilma.
There are many interesting facts about the apparition one of which is that the image can still be seen today on the actual tilma. The tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years of the apparition but it has not. Another interesting fact is that when scientists use a microscope to look into the eyes of Mary on the image, they can see what was in front of Mary that day in 1531.
But the reason I love this title of Our Lady so much is that at the time that Our Lady appeared and in the 20years that followed it is estimated that more than 9 million native Mexicans were converted to the Catholic Faith. And this all happened at the very same time of the Protestant reformation in Europe, were many there were leaving the Church.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is patroness of the United States, of the Americas and of the Unborn. This last patronage is because in the image, she is pregnant (we know this because of the black belt she is wearing.)
All of us working toward an end to abortion need to constantly invoke our Mother's prayers under this title for the unborn and their mothers.
A fun family idea to honor these feast days is to have a Mexican dinner. Tacos, beans, rice, nachos are all easy to make and each member of the family can add their ingredients. (see post on December 15 for Giant Burrito recipe!)
When decorating the family tree in 1972, Barbara Schmitz hung a small, clear plastic angel. The ornament was new that year, but Schmitz didn't mention it to anyone. It was her quiet way of acknowledging the baby she lost to a miscarriage eight months earlier.The next year, the Dublin woman bought another angel ornament. Each Christmas she added another.
"I kept it to myself for a long time," said Schmitz, now 69 and the mother of three. "After I told people, my family, friends and relatives all started giving me angel ornaments."Schmitz estimates that she now has 75 of the decorations, in all shapes, sizes and materials - glass, wood, pewter, paper, porcelain, steel, even a shell angel from Hawaii and a small plastic red angel once filled with juice that her daughter bought long ago at the checkout counter of aGold Circle store.The angel ornaments became so numerous that she bought a larger tree a few years ago to accommodate them all.