Sunday 7 June 2020

The Most Beautiful Sunday

This morning was overcast, breezy and not overly warm but nevertheless the most beautiful Sunday this spring. Today a kind priest came to our home after we watched the Warrington Mass, heard our confessions and gave us Holy Communion.

We had not received Holy Communion since St. Joseph's Day. I won't tell you how long it was since I'd been to confession. (Benedict Ambrose is better about this than I am.) Having Holy Communion today reminded me of my First Communion--the first official one, I mean.*

The government regulations in Scotland are such that we can now visit with a few people from different households as long as we all stay outside and six feet apart. Thus, B.A. set up a chair on the landing right outside our outer door, and I put down our green silk Moroccan prayer rug just inside our hall. When Father arrived, I retreated behind the sitting-room door, and B.A. made his confession before the outer doorway. When B.A. was done, he got me. Then I made my confession before the outer doorway.

Then we had Holy Communion. For this the priest wanted a roof over his head, so he stepped into the hall, gave Communion to B.A., and then, when B.A. moved out of the hallway, gave Communion to me. The sun shone through the little white Disc, and afterwards I cried. Not so tough and sophisticated after all, am I?

B.A. brought the priest water in a china bowl for his finger and thumb, and the water went into the half-barrel herb garden. I shall have to think very carefully in future about exactly what goes into it! Servant of God Dorothy Day, having found herself at a coffee table Mass, took away the coffee cup used as a chalice and buried it, so that it could not longer be used for coffee again. All traditionalists should tell this story when other Catholics denounce her as a communist.

After this very happy and unprecedented reception of two Sacraments at our door, B.A. and I gave the priest Sunday Lunch under the apple tree. It was our first ever meal in the garden. Since I wouldn't let B.A. buy an ugly Made-in-China object (£30), he put his beloved barley-twist table (it looks like this but cost a fraction) under the tree. I covered it with the tablecloth we bought in Florence. Then I brought out a bottle of red wine and two bottles of our homemade apple cider. B.A. brought out the pork loin he had put in the oven before the Warrington Mass and a warm potato salad containing homegrown lettuce, kale, chard and radish.  Unsurprisingly, we were joined by Lightning the Friendly Cat, who clearly had designs on the roast.

For pudding we had slices of an enormous (if I say so myself) Black Midnight Cake, which I unashamedly boast comes from my mother's old Betty Crocker Cookbook recipe. This time I improved upon it by taking my mother's advice to tie wet dish towel collars around the cake tins, so that they would rise flat. They weren't entirely flat, but they were flatter than last time. I spread jam on the bottom of the slightly thinner one, stuck the fatter one on top and covered the whole with cocoa buttercream icing. This I served with peanut butter ice-cream, which B.A. thought slightly odd, but the priest appreciated.

It was a delightful lunch, and B.A. and I both prayed during the Warrington Mass "Prayer against Pestilence" that we would not pass along COVID-19 to the kind priest. We don't have symptoms--and have never had symptoms--so we think he is safe-- from us at any rate.

Not so safe my radishes. As Father and B.A. sat at the table talking about shoebills in Japan, I lingered nearby fussing with my veg trug.  Espying an insect on a fallen radish leaf, I picked up bug and leaf and asked Father if he knew what it was. He did.

"It's an aphid," he said.

Aphids have discovered my trug! I shall have to consult my growing collection of gardening books.

*My first unofficial "First Family Communion" occurred thanks to the liturgical experimentation of the 1970s. It felt very strange, and had none of the ceremony of my official First Communion, in which I wore the white dress and veil my mother made me, the next week. Yes, in the Church of the 1970s, you could have two First Communions: first First and, er, second First. Bizarre.

It, was, however, an excellent metaphor for the schizophrenia in the Church during the 1970s (and to a certain extent, ever since). Not being Europeans, my family didn't celebrate First Communions with parties, etc. But God bless my Grandmother Cummings: she sent me a gold cross and chain to mark mine.

Gardening Update: Two of the five scarlet runner beans have germinated and appeared above ground.  The trug has released the biggest of the radishes so far. Some of the radish thinnings don't have proper round radishes growing, but red fingers. This may be due to over-crowding. 

The thinned out lettuces are growing bigger in both the raised bed and the trug. A bad cat has been digging around one of my new rows of radish seedlings in the raised bed for the usual reason. More wooden anti-cat spikes have now been inserted.

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