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Grace in a Coffee Pot View Comments
By Charity Vogel

IT’S OCCURRED TO ME lately that maybe the single-serve coffee dispenser is what is wrong with us these days.

OK, maybe that’s overstating matters a bit. Still, I’m starting to wonder: do those little single-serve coffee capsules signify something going awry in the American spirit, a push toward individual wants and desires over the good of the larger community?

Think about it: the premise behind the single-serve coffeemakers—which use hot water and small plastic containers of ground beans to dispense hot coffee in one-cup increments—is beguiling at first blush.

Advertisements for these single-cup coffeemakers admonish us with, “Don’t make a whole pot! Just make one cup at a time, fresh and steaming whenever you need it.”

This is attractive in its simplicity, nearly foolproof in its appeal. Indeed, this sort of consumption could even be interpreted as pious in a vague sort of way: I am not going to use energy and a filter and a pile of grounds to make a large amount of beverage at one time, the user may think.

Perhaps this is why these machines can command as much as $100 in stores. We seem to love paying a lot for the chance to be seen as socially conscious.

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Charity Vogel, a western New York native who earned a doctorate in English from the University of Buffalo, is finishing a book on a forgotten American train wreck, The Angola Horror, for Cornell University Press. Learn more about this project at angolahorror.com.

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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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