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Thanksgiving season is every season for Christians. In fact, the word eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving.” In these weeks leading to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, enjoy our special feature on some Thanksgiving themes. In this installment, we talk to Amy Heyd, author of "Saints at the Dinner Table."

Special Features
Saints at the Dinner Table


Looking for saints who shared her love of cooking, Amy Heyd discovered several, such as Sts. Margaret and Christine, whom she would like to invite to her house. She writes:
"I realize now more than ever that when I pray to a saint, I need to have some connection with that saint. Because I am a mother of three children and enjoy cooking for my family as well as friends, I thought I would research saints who shared my interest in food and caretaking." (Click here to read the whole article.)


Amy Heyd talks with AmericanCatholic.org about Thanksgiving, food and family gatherings


Why are food and faith so closely linked? Both our body and soul need nourishment. God provides food to nourish our bodies and opportunities for prayer and service to nourish our souls.

What do you, personally, get out of cooking? For me, cooking is a release. It calms me when things feel out of control. If I can control what comes out of the oven it makes it easier for me to give God control of the rest.

Does your family have any Thanksgiving traditions? We move to the living room after dinner and team up to play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving recipe? Definitely my grandmother’s German Sausage dressing. The recipe only calls for five ingredients, but wow, when those ingredients combine together it makes my taste buds shout for joy.

What are you thankful for?
I have been very blessed with a terrific family and great friends.

I don’t like cranberry sauce. Other traditional Thanksgiving sides get old. What other options do I have?
Thanksgiving is so steeped with food traditions you run the risk of starting a riot if you don’t serve the old standbys. Sometimes it is a good idea to try a new twist on an old favorite. I hate cranberry jelly that comes out of a can, but my mom used to make a cranberry relish that was fantastic. The sweet and tart relish is a nice light accent against the heavy Thanksgiving dinner.

What saints—if any—come to mind for you this holiday? St. Francis Xavier is the patron saint of Missionaries. Just like the pilgrims, he spent his life in new lands living in difficult conditions.

Pumpkin pie is a mainstay at Thanksgiving but it can be overplayed. What other desserts do you recommend? My husband is not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, (truth be told, I am not either) so, one year I made a Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe I found in a Pillsbury circular. We loved it! Now every year my husband asks for that pie.

 Do you encourage families to cook together? Why? I encourage spending time with your family. Cooking can be a great way to do that. When my children were younger, we cooked together all of the time. Now that they are older we don’t cook together as much. When we do, the kids usually have some friends over to participate. It has been a great way to spend time with my kids and get to know their friends better.

Any quick-and-easy recipes you’d like to share?
 
Gee’s German Sausage Dressing
3 (24 oz.) packages of Pepperidge Farm white bread
1 (1 lb.) package of mild pork sausage (not sage flavored)
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 (49 oz.) can chicken broth
 
Cut the bread into dice size pieces. Ideally the bread should sit out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry out a bit. I don’t always plan that far ahead.  It works fine to cut the bread and then place it into a very large soup pot or bowl. In a large skillet, break up the sausage and cook for 5 – 7 minutes over medium heat until the sausage is fully cooked.  Remove the sausage from the skillet and drain on paper towel. Remove most of the grease from the pan leaving just a little. With the sausage out of the skillet, place the onions and celery in the skillet and cook over medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent. Sprinkle the onions and celery over the bread cubes. Sprinkle the cooked sausage over the bread mixture and stir together. Slowly pour one third of the can of chicken broth over the bread mixture and fully combine. Add the second third (that sounds funny, doesn’t it) of the chicken broth and fully combine.  Spoon the mixture into a 9 x 13 pan. Once the mixture is evenly distributed, pour the final third of the chicken broth over the bread mixture. At this point the dressing can be refrigerated overnight if you desire. Bake the dressing in a 350° oven for 30 minutes.
 
Cranberry relish
 
1 seedless orange
1 (12 oz.) bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
 
Zest the orange and place the zest(the very outer orange part of the orange’s peel) into a food processor.  Remove the bitter pith(the white part of the orange peel) of the orange and then cut the orange into quarters and place into the food processor.  Add the cranberries and the sugar to the food processor and pulse for about one minute.  The cranberries should be processed into small rice size pieces.  Do not pulse into a liquid.  Cover the relish and refrigerate for 24 hours to let the flavors blend.  (This is great because when you are making a Thanksgiving meal the last thing you want to make is one more dish that has to be assembled at the last minute!!)  The relish will last in the refrigerator for two weeks.







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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá


 
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