Fifth Century–Loaves Multiplying

Twenty loaves of dark Irish soda bread

Mixed, molded and baked from 5 am -7:30 am

Fed 225 hungry church goers

In honor of Saint Brigid, our family, along with a close friend, hosted coffee hour at church. We decided we would serve dark Irish soda bread, tangerines, nuts, butter and creamed cheeses along with the coffee, tea and juice. At first I was planning on making about ten loaves.

But, after speaking with my friend, and learning we were meant to feed over 200 people, I revised my baking plan, bumping the number of loaves up to twelve.

The alarm clock sounded at 5am. I fell out of bed at 5:15. My fellow baker, my husband, who signed up as co-pilot the night before, didn’t stir. The first batch went in at 5:45–already behind schedule, and that’s when I noticed how very small a loaf of dark Irish soda bread really is…

Hmmm.

The co-pilot stumbled into the kitchen at 6 am, looking sheepish. Did the alarm clock go off?

Yup.

That’s when we had a pow wow about the amount of bread we were baking–how in the world we were to feed all the five thousand–and this prompted him to drive to the market in his PJ’s for more ingredients. I mixed furiously.

All through Saint Brigid’s life there are miracles recorded about how food was multiplied through her prayers. Butter overflowing their vats, milk spilling over the rim of the jugs, water turned into ale–these acts of God’s abundance helped feed, and sometimes heal, her poorer neighbors and show the mighty and merciful hand of the Christ she prayed to. I love this simple prayer. It makes the duties of the home so much more joyful:

O God, bless my pantry!

Pantry, which the Lord has blessed.

Mary’s Son, my friend,

Come and bless my pantry!”

So, with Saint Brigid in mind I mixed and baked, hoping that the now sixteen loaves I was baking would be enough. By 7 am everyone was awake, and the loaves were stacking up on the cooling rack.

I shifted and squeezed bread into all corners of the oven, and when we were finished, and dressed and ready to head out out the door, I counted the loaves as I placed them in brown paper bags. Twenty loaves.

Now, how did that happen?

A blessed Saint Brigid’s Day everyone!

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Christmas Miracles

Countless cranberry muffins–some specifically for Tina.

One pain a la Suzanne for the Butlers to eat at midnight.

One jaco for Evelyn and her crew.

More bread in the works…

It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is lit. The healthy members of the family are about to head out the door to our late night church service. The gingerbread house is half eaten. A present or two have been opened. The little ones are drifting off to sleep in between bouts of coughing.

I think of St. Romanos on this Christmas Eve–hundreds and hundreds of years ago. The last straw breaking, tears streaming down his face–so many that they watered the wood floor at his feet, so tired of being laughed at for his lack of melody, for being illiterate and unlearned, for being so simple, for spending his life just cleaning, and polishing and dusting the church. I think of him and marvel at the Christmas gift he received. And wonder why we put things like scarves, and new ipods, and jewelry on our Christmas lists. We should be asking for miracles on this night, on this night that epitomizes miracles. On this night when God became man.

And I rewind further and think of Mary, forging Christmas history for all of us, and the new life she held in her arms. What child is this? Could she see the heavens, the earth, the planets, the future, in his baby brown eyes?

I needed yet another bag of flour today–I’m going through a five pound bag a day, it seems, and there was a new homeless woman outside Trader Joe’s where I went to brave the crowds and purchase more. She held a Merry Christmas sign, and sang out a cheery hello and thank you when I offered her a pre-made bag of food that our church distributes. (I keep them in the trunk of the car…) I wondered what talents she longed for Once Upon a Time–like St. Romanos. If she wanted to be a singer, or an actress, or a doctor once. If she got tired of cleaning and polishing and dusting. If abuses were ever shouted her way… If she even knows that hoping–that crying out–for Christmas miracles is an option?

And I wonder what mother held her, and looked into her eyes–and what did that mother see? Does she know what’s become of her baby daughter, that she’s holding a sign, sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk–the sun setting behind her?

St. Romanos was illiterate. He was frequently mocked by his coworkers. Called Stupid more than once. People can be so cruel–even people tending the church, people pretending to be holy. He cried out to Mary for help after a particularly humiliating Christmas Eve service, and to his surprise she came. His Christmas gift arrived in the form of music–the voice of an angel and the ability to write and compose. He eventually wrote over a thousand hymns for the church…

Yesterday I really didn’t know what to think of Christmas this year. I’ve been scattered, not centered, and the fevers have got me whirling between beds, dodging coughs, and picking up the endless trail of tissues. I was counting on our midnight church service to help me refocus… But God has sent me this moment of quiet and reflection–this story of St. Romanos, who was brave enough to cry out.

I think I’ll light a candle, and then slump my body over for a bit and pray. I can think of some folks out there who could use a few mighty miracles tonight. I could always use a little healing of my own… I think some has already come my way…

What sort of miracle would you like to see this day–this day of God being born for man and all of creation?

I’d love to know…