We're back at that time of year again and Christmas is right around the corner. So I might as well try and the least I could do is write something about it. Once again it has become the challenge of the department stores to sell, and they have hired a lot of expensive people to figure out how to disguise it more and create a feeling of need for their products, to sell more, and I have nothing against it. It has become such an integral part of the holiday season that it wouldn't be the same without it. However, the holiday marketing makes Christmas a celebration of gift giving, and this can blur out the true meaning. Have we forgotten the true meaning?
Just yesterday I went to see a film, very good by the way, and it brought me to the point where I am now. I thought that I would let my imagination slip into the movie and let myself wonder what I'd done in those moments. Would I have acted the same? Could I have stood so tall in the face of such glaring personal adversity? The logical answer is no, but the truth is I am not certain. Perhaps it is a good time to apologize for our personal blindness, for our ingratitude, for our lack of interest in knowing ourselves; Jesus knew himself, his limitations and he overcame them.
Have you ever thought about how you reflect him? Faced with the same trials could you have taken that place knowing what was at stake?
It is not enough to go to help some young people or children in need, once a month (or even a week), that is a cheap awareness, a personal tranquilizer, simply attending church on Sundays and the forget about the message throughout the rest of the week. To someone who is loved, who is born and who has given his life for each of us, the least we can do is dedicate a piece of ourselves to him, even if it is just a few minutes each day.
This time of year makes it glaringly clear that we do not see an opening in our schedules for even that.
Perhaps it is best to have a moment's pause to reflect seriously on our lives, on God's role in our daily existence, and how we can improve ourselves. I'll take care of this next week when I do my personal planning. For now, I have nothing left but to wish you a wonderful holiday ahead.
It's really amazing how the real meaning of Christmas has been lost. I was looking for a photo to accompany this post and I put the word Christmas in, and of course, out of the first 50 results, only 3 were of the birth (one of them was Star Wars inspired with Jesus replaced with Darth Vader which I found in particularly bad taste), the others were Santa Claus, snowmen, gifts, etc.
The same thing happens in our minds. With the mindless consumerism it is easy to loose focus on what it means. Here is a test, think about the birth of Jesus, and how much space it occupies. Probably at this point in the game, the 10th of December, we have already bought and wrapped all the gifts, we have planned the Christmas Eve dinner, the Secret Santa in our office is finished, and most importantly? Will we have pondered what the coming of Jesus means for us? Right? Hum, actually as I have repeated more than once, I am not a religious fanatic, I am far from being anything of the sort, but I have always been interested in talking clearly about the issues that deserve to be addressed, and Christmas is worth commenting on, and its importance.
The gospel narrates the following: "There was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7) as we know, this is why Jesus was born in a stable. Well, that's exactly what's going on now. In the inn, that is, in our hearts, there is room for many things (gifts, New Year's Eve parties, dinners, etc. all of them very valid by the way, I have nothing against that), but the problem is that since we dedicate so much time to those activities we do not leave a place for Jesus in our inn (our heart) to be born.
And what does it mean, give him a place in our hearts? Pray a prayer on 24 at 12? No! We should do that but it's not enough. The idea is to let him be born and grow in our hearts. And how do we do that? It's easy, no one can love what they don't know, so let's start by knowing him. But to frame these ideas in concrete activities in our daily lives. You'll see how the themes will appear on their own, all that matters is your willingness to start dealing with it.
It's worth it, it starts this week, it starts today, it starts right now, and I assure you you won't regret it.
On Saturday at nine o'clock at night, when I was already determined that I would not make any greater commitments, I opened the first page of "The Reader," a Bernhard Schlink's novel. I haven't experienced something like this book in years. I did not stop reading until I finished reading "The Reader", which was about one o'clock in the morning.
I was tired but it was fulfilling and I put the book down satisfied that I had read it cover to cover in one sitting.
One of the themes of the novel is how German society worked to overcome Nazism. How post-World War II generations judged the protagonists and how they built a collective memory about the Holocaust. The subject catches me because of the unfinished business so often left to be forgotten in time. Do these wounds close? What is justice for? Who was to blame for the crimes? The members of the Nazi party, or all of German society as a whole for letting it come to be? Do we as a society have anything to take away from the lessons history offers us? I am interested because it feels like there is a similar process of apathy and dissatisfaction going through our societies which allows rise of certain narratives, making them become more prevalent and accepted in recent years. Those threads of hate, fear, xenophobia, and misogyny which guide so many of our society's darker moments.
I learned this morning that there is also a film adaptation which seems difficult, given the gravity of Schlink's writing so I am unlikely to watch it.
Would I recommend it? I think today's note speaks for itself.
We could say that two people are growing together in marriage if it would not sound like a cliché.
Yes, I know that this title sounds kind of trite, and that there probably are a million books with titles like this, which in truth makes me shudder a bit, but the truth is that the sentiment has become too devalued, people aren't dumb, they don't believe in those promises anymore. And yet, knowing this, why did I ever think of placing a title like this on the post today? Well, because there are a few few of us out there still who believe in a title like that.
I am one of them.
Regardless, I know it has been widely abused as the key to our pocket books. But the value is still there, it is not the product of my imagination, we just have to ignore all of the hyped rhetoric that you see around. The values are simple. I can summarize them in just a few words, and it won't cost either of us a thing. But we can both be enriched by them.
Renew your love. This is easy to do. Surprise your loved one, introduce new novelties into your life and enjoy your time together with them. Next, fight the mundane and the routine. Be aware that routine is the main enemy of life together, it is easy to fall into a pattern that works but works against you. It steals the love from a marriage, this is a constant struggle, but it is important to keep fighting and keep giving love without reservation. This can become a good habit, one that allows you to continue to build your love every day. And you can always strive to love more, to maintain affection and tenderness. Because when you give affection and tenderness you are able to express your feelings. When you express your feelings you share, which builds a strong relationship. A practice which makes you permanently anchored in each other's lives; offering a chance to communicated with one another knowing how to do it with tact, prudence, share experiences. But so much can be said without words, sometimes you just need to be next to each other when you need it. Close relationships are those that have been able to adapt. Can the partners get used to the other person's customs, without needing to change them, to love them with their virtues and flaws, to learn to live with differences that make the union strong. Another technique is to jointly develop projects, engage in common tasks, continue to work toward a common goal. And in all things maintain mutual respect through our words and deeds, take care not to forget our manners and courtesy, and make sure we show our appreciation. Finally never forget to find a time to be together and be alone every day, this is our time to talk about everything and anything.
Huh, 307 words. Not enough for a book is it? But it has everything they try so hard to sell us and so much more. It isn't impossible, in fact it is easy once we realize that it is a labor of love.
Communication rules in healthy happy relationships. There is an increasingly widespread idea that the important thing for people to keep in mind when entering a union our their feelings as well as the feelings of their partner. These can often get lost in the hubbub. According to this idea, our feelings should be the compass that guide the relationships between two people, influence them when making decisions, decide what is right or wrong, define the aspects of their relationship that they want to develop.
It's been often put aside in favor of one's will and intelligence, today it is seen as one of three important factors, which is also the key element in the relationship because it was common belief that it's going to be the easiest sense of reason to follow. This is seen a lot at work especially when we "feel tired" (feelings/emotions are exhausting to handle at times) we don't finish our job well, rather than being strong and doing it right.
This makes sense.
Therefore it also makes sense that the same be applied to the principle of marriage, this would work so long as we are clear about our feelings, so rather than when you stop "feeling" love for the spouse, the marriage loses its meaning. Taken from this perspective it is no wonder that it is increasingly widespread phenomena. That is to say when feelings begin to disappear a couple's coexistence is made into an uphill battle. Situations like these ultimately begin to force many people to start looking outside for what they do not find inside. Instead of focusing their attention and effort on regaining or rebuilding that love, they get carried away with what they feel is the easiest solution: feeling like victims and seeking comfort elsewhere.
The notion that something so fundamental and natural affects such intimate aspects of people -- as love cannot be based exclusively on something as fragile and brittle as feelings -- that by their very nature are oscillating and subject to ups and downs that. In fact in most cases they do not merely depend on the will of oneself. As most well know feelings depend on many factors, both of which are internal and external to oneself. Factors such as climatology, tiredness, hormonal disarrays, stress, etc... make our feelings and moods vary greatly. Marriage must be entrenched and built on something more solid like than emotion, but it cannot survived with will and intelligence alone. It must be guided by the heart and head, which makes an intelligent love, a lasting bond.
I love vegetarian food. For one, the food is paramount, quality, flavor, and texture are all important whenever you want to cook well, but they become consumed when you pile on the meat and cheese. With vegetarian food you don't have this to fall back too.
I found this recipe while browsing pinterest a while ago and have cooked it for us several times since then. This vegetarian recipe is simple but that does not impact the taste in anyway.
The last time I made it I wanted to make a quiche full of vegetables, so the recipe has changed and we'll make a quiche filled with carrot, zucchini, red pepper, green pepper and yellow pepper. It also has a little emmental, which is the cheese I like the most with these vegetables and to switch a little to the typical cheese you find in most quiche. Ricotta cheese and feta are also here. If you want, you can put onions on it. I didn't put it on this time.
Well, here we go: Let's make a vegetable quiche!
Processing time: 45 min approx with 20 minutes in the oven
Ingredients for 4 people:
We will start by cutting the vegetables. First, wash them well. Then cut the peppers into strips. Slice the carrot as well as the zucchini. If you've chosen to add onion, cut the onion into tiny cubes too.
Once you have all the vegetables cut, put in a large frying pan a bit of olive oil to heat on high. When you are are ready, add the onion (if you've decided to put onions on it) and after about 3 minutes, add the rest of the vegetables and put the heat down to medium heat. Let them cook until they start to get soft (but not super soft, remember that after this they will still have 20 minutes of oven time, so you should cook them to the point that they start to get soft).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180° C.
I love quiches. They are dishes that serve both as an aperitif at dinners with friends, as a starter menu, as an easy meal for when we plan a picnic, or as a main course accompanied by a good salad. One example comes to mind of what to serve with the quiche if you want to have a healthy meal: with a cream of peas and mint, with a cream of carrots and ginger, with a goat cheese salad etc.! You can also split them into small portions and it will serve as snack when you host parties.
They are easy to do and you can reinvent the wheel as often as you want, there are so many varieties of quiches, basically as many as you have ideas in your head.
My grandmother used to say "May your medicine be your food, and feed your health." Back then it sounded sage like and complicated but eating well, really is a medicine and one that can work wonders on our mind and bodies. For me quiche is one of those meals.
Today is the anniversary of my grandmother's passing. One thing about my life is certain, which is death, whatever I do, all of this will one day be over.
You always read in the papers and online that there are countries where people die in unimaginable numbers and I am thankful that I was able to be born and grow up in a country like ours. Where my grandmother got to be close to 90 years old and for the majority of those years lived a happy healthy life. This hasn't been the case for everyone that I have been close to in my short life. In this regard, the Pope once said in one of his talks that the untimely death of a person who is dear to us is an invitation, not to stop living, but to tend to life as soon as possible and work towards the fullness of life. The cliché of dedicating oneself to living as if it were the last day of our life. What this does not mean is to become a pessimists or drowned in depression, but quite the opposite. Instead it is a call to remain enthusiastic, finish our work well, seek to support those who need you, have ethics at work, because in that way, there will be nothing to fear if the time comes.
Continuing what the Pope said, I recall that he posed the observation that the world considers those who live long lives fortunate, but God, more than age, looks at the righteousness of the person's heart. Even before this life is over, those who welcome God can already live during their earthly existence, a foretaste of eternal life because it is the happiness to which we aspire in depth the heart of every person.
I was talking to a friend a while ago about the subject and she was telling me, yes, you may be right, but we're still young, when I'm 60 I'll be dedicated to changing my lifestyle. I told her, the day the tower of Pisa falls, which side do you think is going to fall toward? Obviously the side that's been leaning toward all of the time. Well, the same thing can be said about us, the day we pass, we will fall toward the side that we have chosen to live.
My dad, an extraordinary man used to say: "you don't die, the scenery just changes." In short, what he wanted to visualize is that life is not lost, it is only changed, and it is a change for good, because God always calls us at our the best time.
Don't be afraid of death. It will come in time, in the place and in the way that suits you best. In our lives everything has been so carefully arranged and planned except death, and death is the one certainty we have in this life.
There are no impossible things, only inefficient people. That is, the sentiment that, given reason there are no possible tasks, rather people who make the possible harder than it needs to be. I heard the expression yesterday in a meeting and the phrase stayed with me, it got me thinking all night because it has a great application for life as a whole. There are many cases in which we have to fight every day to improve who we are, this begins from the moment when we get up, we start a fight against the inner slacker, those extra minutes that we tried to sleep through the snooze and then, forced to hurry, we try to do everything fast and often unavoidably wrong. The fight continues once we get to work, and we see that there are a lot of tasks to do, which we find impossible to finish, and when we start using the defeatist thinking that we will "do our best" without committing to doing anything completely.
Have you noticed how many ways we can make life more complicated for both ourselves and for those who live with us?
Perhaps our wife to whom has become accustomed to our bad character, our little ability to surprise her with some flowers, or a box of chocolates when we return from work, out lack of desire to help with the things around the home, or perhaps in our work, with our co-workers, to whom we send the hardest work, we treat them badly. Or perhaps it is the treatment to our parents, of whom we choose to forget everything they have done for us, and we hurt them with our unthinking treatment, we answer them harshly, we hurt them with our bad attitude.
Are we aware of our bad attitude? Is it impossible to change?
I don't think so.
In this life everything is possible, another issue is that it does not depend exclusively on us, but if we do not internalize it and we really believe it, we will not achieve anything, we will continue with the same way of being, of acting, of treating others, of working, thinking that it is impossible instead of committing to improving ourselves every day, and not to be the reflection of the inefficiency of the people who are in our environment, simply because everything easy is fashionable, everything that does not involve effort or commitment to success.
I know that it is easy to say: "yes, I'm going to try to change some things," but nothing is that simple, it takes more than good intentions.
You may be wondering how to start -- to begin changing from this moment forward? It's not easy, but we already have the first part outlined, the commitment, the real desire to want to do improve. The next thing is to think specifically of three or four points where we know we can change, not tomorrow but now: for example: get up from this week forward at a fixed time and not give into the temptation of the snooze button. Another way is to buy a small gift for someone you love and haven't shown it to in a long time, and give it to them fondly, they can be your parents, your grandparents, siblings, a friend. Maybe it is somebody who needs to talk. The gift can be simply listening to them, dedicating time to them (the easiest way to be generous is to buy something, but the fact of dedicating time to the person, listening to their problems , implies a greater effort and therefore greater satisfaction). Finally we can make the effort this week not to lie or exaggerate (which is in truth the same as a lie), if we analyze ourselves well, we will see that throughout the day one tends to say not one, but several lies.
How can you be certain you are on the right track? To know if we have done well or not is easy, at the end of the day we can focus only on these three topics: punctuality in the morning, generosity and the struggle to tell the truth. At the end of next week you will see how it was not impossible, that it is not a fight to live better life. Rather it flows naturally when you set simple goals and work toward them.