Sunday, 12 December 2010

Benedict XVI (Gingerbread) House

Take one off-duty musicologist...

...add some freshly baked slabs of gingerbread... well as lots of sweets...

...Leave for three hours, and you end up with...

...a charmingly ramshackle gingerbread house!

And somehow, mince pies - a batch to eat now, a batch to freeze for Thursday - were also magicked up at the same time.

A toast to this semester

I'm typing this in the House kitchen, as early preparations for this Thursday's House Christmas dinner are underway (photos to follow). The dinner will just be for the (now 7-strong) community itself. On Wednesday evening, however, there'll also be a Christmas party - for all our friends here in the college - following our final advent talk.

In the relative lull between mince pies going into the oven, and us starting work on assembling and decorating our gingerbread house, it seems an opportune time to look back on some of the House highlights of the past three and a half months. This seems particularly fitting, given that we've just bottled up seventeen bottles of ale as gifts for (in fact, just a small selection of) our friends and benefactors.

Of course, the most important aspects of community life here aren't the ones that get blogged about. Weekdays' lauds and vespers (more and more parts of which are now being sung, sincerely albeit sometimes falteringly); chats around the dinner table, or - more often - in front of the television (the Apprentice being a big House draw); cooking for each other, whether impromptuly (yes, that is a real word) or on a designated 'community' night (which we try to have once a week, though don't always manage due to everyone's different commitments). Things aren't always fun and games, naturally. But our 'joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties' are shared - and, it has to be said, so far we've had rather more of the former than we have of the latter.

Most of the other 'events' that have happened here have been mentioned previously: our tea party in celebration of the Papal Visit, Advent talks, the various Frassati Masses and goings-on, baking for Wells for India, etc. Things which, for no particular reason, failed to be blogged include a talk on science and religion from a priest in the Faith Movement, two of the girls making a snowmanblob (called Dave), various 'eventful' evenings following talks or dinners across the road, and a series of five three-course dinners for (in theory, though not in practice) all the fresher Theology and Religious Studies students at St Mary's.

All in all, not a bad first semester's life and work at Benedict XVI House!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Ale, Holy Queen!

Benny House's homemade cakes, bread, jams and chutneys have previously been mentioned here. For the past couple of weeks though we've been brewing up something even more exciting...

Our homemade beer - Ale, Holy Queen! (would you believe that Ale Mary was already taken?) - will be formally launched after the final advent talk next Wednesday. But in order to toast Our Lady's immaculate conception, we've decided to have a sneak preview this evening.

I can't say that it fully lives up to its name, but it's really rather nice.

(I'll let you know tomorrow morning how well 'Immaculate Mary' fares as a Student Prince-style drinking song...)

'The only solution is love and that love comes with community'

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! (It is also, of course, the college's feast day. Hopefully, I'll get chance to post more later on - depending on how late I get back from the chaplaincy festivities this evening...)

Belatedly as ever...

The first of the Benedict XVI House advent talks was held last Wednesday. Susan Clarkson of St Francis House, the Oxford Catholic Worker, came to speak to us on the subject of 'Practising the Works of Mercy, Resisting the Works of War' - both of which Susan, in common with other Catholic Workers, does in plenty.

The talk was accompanied by tea and cake, and followed by watching a fairly recent, excellent documentary on Dorothy Day: Don't Call Me a Saint. It's just under an hour long, and comes thoroughly recommended.

The 113th anniversary of Dorothy Day's birth was remarked upon a month ago. Between then and now, there was also the 30th anniversary of her death. Pleasingly, this was widely marked in print and online, including fine articles in both the Tablet and the Catholic Herald, and two excellent blog posts over at Fr Stephen Wang's Bridges and Tangents (here and here).

Don't Call Me a Saint? Sorry Dorothy, but we already do...