Maggie, December 2011


My new kitchen, that is! -- in our new house, with its new breakfast nook, where previous days are now reviewed and noted in my Lee Valley Garden Journal, and plans for the coming day are (with any luck and measure of self-discipline) plotted out. As attached as I was to our little apartment over the garage across the driveway (which Bp Mercer dubbed “Treetops”) -- as attached as I was, I can now hardly wait to finish the move. But wait I must. My husband is now saying “Before Christmas”, which I can well understand, considering how much trim-work needs still to be installed, with nail-hole-filling and paint touch-ups thereto. The missing smoke alarm has been found under the gyprock, and nothing seems to leak anymore, but closets need shelves, and on and on. It’s that last 5% that seems endless. We’re “short-timing” it, as they say in the military and in prisons, a frame of mind that engenders ill-considered attempts to shortcut the process. It seems to me that our move into communion with Rome bears great similarity. We have been happy in our little (shall I say cosy?) ACCC nest in the treetops, and are not always sure we want to relocate ourselves and our meagre belongings across the driveway into larger quarters. There are so many complications, equivalent to building inspectors and leaky plumbing, not to mention the very mortgaging of our souls. If I woke up with night terrors at what we were undertaking with a mere house (and I confess that I did, for a long while), no wonder we’re experiencing the same terrors at the prospects of an Ordinariate. In both cases, the cure is the same: prayer. In the middle of the night, I find, a brief cry for help suffices, followed by Compline or the Rosary from memory (the faultier the memory, the better!), and then I’m asleep, having just begun either of them. “For so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127).

Anyway, we Anglicanorum Coetibus hopefuls are nearing our last 5% of preparation, and ought not to be surprised that the process seems even more endless and hopelessly complicated than ever. Nor should we be surprised that things in the proposed Ordinariate don’t look exactly as we had envisioned them. So our ACCC furniture doesn’t all fit where we had expected, despite our careful planning? Some of it won’t serve as well in the new quarters? The colour scheme needs tweaking? These are hardly insuperable obstacles to our settling into our new quarters. Still, we rankle -- understandably -- at having no say at all in the choice of furnishings or colours. Early in our own process of house-building, I approached a recommended home designer about floor plans. When he kept adding in little features I’d made it clear I didn’t want (features his wife liked which were in no way necessary to anything) I paid him off and left. Further to this not unimportant matter of personal taste, our granddaughter’s bedroom is already painted a colour she herself chose, because she’s the one who will be sleeping there, and her concerns about where to put her cherished possessions have all been taken care of to her satisfaction. We want her to feel like a full member of the household, not just a boarder.  She would have moved in with us anyway, the time having come, but
it will be good to have it as positive a move as possible. 

I can’t help but think, as we come to December, of St Nicholas, who came to the church simply to pray and left having been elected bishop -- certainly not his choosing, but God’s. Can we be as humble as he in accepting what God chooses?

For the Feast of St Nicholas, December 6 -- or, rather, for its Eve (appropriately enough, as we are at the eve of the Ordinariate) -- something traditional first from the Dutch and then from the Slovaks:

There are many versions of Bishop’s Wine. One: Heat just to boiling a bottle of red wine (Claret or Burgundy)
with a 4-inch cinnamon stick, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp orange zest. Serve hot with a slice of orange.
Alternatively, add the cinnamon stick and 6 whole cloves but omit the sugar and orange zest; simmer for five
minutes, strain, and serve hot. (The longer it simmers, the less alcohol will remain.)

With the mulled wine enjoy: 

“Bishop’s Bread”, a quick sort of fruit cake. Cream 1/4 pound butter with 1/4 cup icing sugar and 4 egg yolks.
Beat the 4 egg whites to a froth, add 1/4 cup icing sugar, and continue to beat to soft peaks. In another bowl,
combine half a cup of flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 2 oz chocolate chips, 2 oz finely chopped almonds, 2 oz
chopped dried figs, 1 oz raisins, and 2 oz chopped candied fruit. Fold half the dry ingredients into the egg yolk
mixture, then half the beaten whites. Repeat. Butter and flour a bread loaf pan, then fill with the batter to 3/4
full. (Any remaining batter can be baked in another dish.) Bake at 350 degrees 45-60 minutes. Insert a
toothpick to test for doneness. You may sprinkle the top of the still-warm loaf with powdered sugar. Cool
before slicing.