Season Your World

Season Your World. On Being the Salt of the Earth for Easter 2016. #DailyGraces

Happy Easter! Alleluia Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and is alive!

So this might seem like a rather unorthodox Easter post, but I promise if you stick with me it will all come together in the end.

I’m a bit of a Food Network fan, especially the competition shows. I find it incredible how chefs are able to come up with such delicious, intricate dishes in minimal time and often with minimal or odd ingredients available them. It sounds like my kitchen at 5:15pm, though typically minus the “intricate dishes” part and sometimes the “delicious” part.

I was recently watching a show called “All-Star Academy” which involves home (not professional) cooks who are mentored by celebrity chefs through a series of challenges until there is a winner (There can only be one! – shout out to my husband who enjoys yelling that at the TV whenever the judges of any competition show say something along those lines, he’s a goof and I love him for it). One of the mentors this season is Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel show, Bizarre Foods. While his mentees were cooking, Andrew threw out this piece of advice:

Salt is for bringing out flavor. Pepper is for adding flavor.

I was struck by this simple, straightforward piece of cooking advice that I had never heard before. Starting from my first days cooking with my mom and grandma I was always told to make sure to “salt and pepper” (and usually garlic too, we are Italian to the core) whatever we were making. It’s so automatic that I had never thought about why these two ingredients were so essential so nearly every dish we created.

Based on Andrew’s one-liner, salt is not for adding flavor. That’s pepper’s job. Rather, salt is used to bring out and enhance the flavors already present in the ingredients. According to Michael Wignall, a Michelin star British chef, “It’s [salt] the basis for any great cooking,” he says, “you can have a great dish, but if you’ve not seasoned it, it’s just not there. Salt brings the best out of food and – regardless of whether people say it’s bad for you or not – the body needs salt to work properly.” Salt must be used properly in cooking. It’s not just to sprinkle on your plate tableside or to season meat before searing, never to be touched again. Different types of food will require salt at different times, but it sounds like nearly everything requires even just a touch of salt.

I like to think in an “if, then” pattern, it helps me to find the logical flow between ideas. So, in that model, here’s what we know.

  • If salt is missing,
  • Then, a dish is lacking.
  • If salt brings out the best when used appropriately,
  • Then we have to know how, when and where to use salt in a dish.

Transition now to me driving in the car the next day and while listening to the radio hearing this Gospel verse:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?” (Matthew 5:13)

I was already thinking about how I use salt and pepper in my cooking and now God had layered into my thoughts the notion that we are salt in the world. This verse took on a whole new light. Actually, I had to completely re-think my understanding of it.

Prior to the revelation given by Andrew Zimmern, I had not thought about how salt functioned in my meals, just that I needed to use it. Salt isn’t necessarily supposed to add to the dish, instead it brings flavor out, enlivens, makes the best version of the dish.

Before understanding how salt works in food I don’t think I properly understood what Jesus meant when he said “You are the salt of the earth.” We aren’t necessarily bringing something new to the table. We aren’t a new flavor profile, we aren’t meant to “spice things up.” That’s not the purpose of salt. If we are the salt of the earth, then we are intended to bring out the best in the earth. We are to enliven the people we meet and help them become the best versions of themselves.

Let’s go back to those “If, Then” statements, but updated. Instead of “salt” we will say  “My witness.” “My witness” means specifically your faith, your personal witness to the mercy and love of Jesus working in your life. The “dish” is “my world”, meaning everyone and everything you come in contact with.

  • If my witness missing,
  • Then, my world is lacking.
  • If my witness brings out the best when used appropriately,
  • Then I have to know how, when and where to use my witness in my world.

Jesus doesn’t command us to be salt. He doesn’t ask us to be salt. Jesus tells us who we are: You are the salt of the earth. Our very identity is wrapped up in the mission of Jesus. Jesus sends us on mission to bring out the best in our world around us. We share our gifts and talents in order that others might come to know God better. We speak out when we see injustice and we actively work for the protection of the dignity of all people. We live each day in such a way that proclaims “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” even when the weather is crummy, we lost our temper with our kids, we had to wait in traffic or we received difficult news.

Season Your World. On Being the Salt of the Earth for Easter 2016. #DailyGracesIf we fail to live our life in this manner it is as if we have lost our saltiness. We aren’t bringing out the best in others or ourselves. We  aren’t helping the lost, comforting the sick or feeding the hungry. We are complaining, wallowing and despairing. Guess what – we all, and often do, fail.

Thank goodness this isn’t the end of the Gospel! Through the glorious resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate today, we are able to regain our saltiness. Jesus says that sin and death is not the end. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are able to renew ourselves as the salt of the earth. Every time we receive the Eucharist we are renewed. Every time we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation we are cleansed. Every time we choose God instead of choosing despair we are refreshed. Every time we choose things that bring life instead of wallowing in the culture of death we are reborn. Every time we embrace the cross Jesus greets us with arms outstretched, welcoming us home.

Through the blood Jesus shed for our sake, the salt of the earth can regain its saltiness. Salty once more, we find ourselves able to bring the Good News of Jesus to all corners of our world.

May you each have a blessed Easter and feel God’s love surround you. I hope you find yourself salty this Easter season.





Divine Mercy Sunday

I know I should be posting Part II of my Lion King reflections (which by the way, since that first post I’ve heard the soundtrack about 15 times. It’s a miracle that I can sing any other song in my head at this moment). But I would be remiss to let this very special Sunday pass by without a few words of reflection.


The first Sunday following Easter is a unique Sunday celebrated by the Catholic Church called Divine Mercy Sunday. We are celebrating the incredible love and mercy that flows from Jesus, our savior. At Mass today we even had a large portrait of the image of Divine Mercy. John and Rosie were so intrigued by the change. They kept asking about the colors coming from Jesus. I loved watching them notice the change in our liturgical space. It means that they really are observing and starting to participate in the rituals, which is so incredible as a parent.

On the topic of parenting and mercy, what a huge job parents have. When you really stop to think, from the earliest of days a parent’s actions, words, tones, looks, etc., are all taken in by our children. Lessons of discipline, respect, obedience, trust, and honesty are all so important for the development of both the child and the parent. Mercy, however, may be one of the most important things that a parent can teach. We demonstrate mercy when we are compassionate. We teach mercy when we extend forgiveness. We live mercy when we do not let yesterday’s hurts shadow over today’s triumphs (or struggles, or joys, or hurts).

Pope Francis, our wise pope, has declared that starting in December this year, the Church is going to be celebrating a extraordinary Holy Year (usually these happen every 25 years, the last being in 2000, hence the “extraordinary”) of Mercy. This is going to be an incredible year. We all have a chance to make a difference, make a change, for mercy. Pope Francis says “Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life…The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.” One of the really cool things about our Church is that it sees families as the foundation, the building blocks of the whole Church. Families are called “domestic churches,” a microcosm of the global Church. If my family is a microcosm of the Church, then my family is called to have mercy at our cornerstone.

I hope to focus on learning about mercy and teaching/modeling mercy for our family. Keep up with Pope Francis if you can, he’s shaking things up all over the world.

Lessons from The Lion King: Part 1

John and Rosie love to watch TV. We try to be strategic and careful about how much they watch, because they get so sucked in. They usually get to watch a little bit before bed, especially when Ben is gone. I am able to get Clare down and it gives me some time to release the frustrations of the day so that everyone can go through the bedtime routine in a relaxed and loving manner, rather than uptight, hurry up, why aren’t you sleeping already I’m exhausted mood.

As we have explored different shows for them to watch, we have discovered that John has a sensitive soul. He doesn’t like to be scared or concerned for a character. After we have watched something a few times, he methodically will walk away from the TV during the parts that he knows upset him or make him uncomfortable.

Because of this, we have tried to introduce new shows and movies slowly, giving him time to learn the story and realize that everything turns out alright for the heroes and heroines. One of the ways that we have been doing this, especially for Disney movies, is by listening to the soundtracks and reading the books. Our current project is The Lion King. We have been listening to the soundtrack in the car, essentially on repeat, (the musical soundtrack since that really walks through the whole story) and borrowing the book from the library. Both John and Rosie know the whole story, can tell you what is happening during every song and John is even inserting himself into the scenes (Mommy, Simba and I have to give a mighty roar and chase the hyenas away from Sarabi and Nala). It’s pretty adorable, especially he and Simba’s mighty roar can solve almost any problem any character in any story is having.

Mufasa Needless to say, if I didn’t have the soundtrack memorized before, I do now. I have always loved the scene from the movie when Rafiki (the baboon for those who need a refresher) comes to Simba and helps him remember who he is and gets him to come home. Mufasa, from the cloud, tells Simba to “remember who you are.” In the musical, there is a song during this part. It is a reprise from earlier in the musical when Mufasa takes young Simba and tells him about the great kings of the past and how they look down on us from the starts. The song says “They live in you, they live in me. They’re watching over, everything we see.”

If we take these two ideas, “Remember who you are” and “They live in you” and think about Jesus, we have some powerful stuff to reflect on.

“Remember who you are.” It seems that this statement implies that I’ve forgotten something important about myself. What could it be? I know my name, where we live, what I like to eat and what activities I enjoy. But we all know that this is about something deeper. Something more fundamental.

Who am I? I am a human being. I have a mind that can make decisions, select a lifestyle, choose a career path and discern, to the best of my ability, God’s will.

And still, there is more to remember. I can go even deeper. All the way back to the beginning, when God saw that all was good. When God created the world, the Bible tells us He created all manner of wonderful things. Plants, animals, fish, birds, oceans and mountains – all were created through God’s love. And then we get to when God created man.

“God created mankind in his image;

in the image of God he created them;

male and female* he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

We are made in the image and likeness of God. I am made in the image of God. Wow – it’s hard to believe. It is so much easier to say that Clare, my sweet baby, is made in the image of God. She is so innocent, so sweet, so pure. The only thing that shines out of her bright eyes is love and complete acceptance. Yes, she is made in the image of God. But me?

If I am made in the image and likeness of God, then that means I am capable of the purity that Clare has. I am capable of the love and acceptance she shows. I am capable of giving someone my complete attention, without judging them or their life choices. I am capable of childlike trust, waiting patiently for God’s timing rather than insisting on my own timeline. I am capable of sacrificing new clothes, a fancy dinner, a new electronic device, and using that money to help those who do not have the necessities of life that I take for granted. I am capable of so much, but it is much easier to do so little.

“Remember who you are.” The more I remember who I am, at the core, the happier I am. This is because I am in touch my Creator’s purpose for my life.

Looking forward to exploring “They Live in You” for Part 2 in a few days

Easter joy and blessings for you all