26 February 2024

The Declaration of Independence Condemned Catholic Culture

How low we've sunk since 'Dagger' John Hughes said, ''Our mission [is] to convert ... the inhabitants of the United States – the people of the cities, and the people of the country, . . . the Legislatures, the Senate, the Cabinet, the President, and all!"

From One Peter Five

By Timothy Flanders, MA

…Yet God Brought Good out of this Evil Through Mary

Author’s note: this is the final text of a talk given at The Collegium Gala last fall. The video of this presentation, which is an earlier draft of this essay, can be viewed here:

In the year 1774 of the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, on October the 14th, in the city of Philadelphia, the First Continental Congress of the American revolution condemned what was happening in Canada: “establishing the Roman Catholic religion in the Province of Quebec, abolishing the equitable system of English laws, and erecting a tyranny there.”[1] In fact, this grievance against our Catholic Faith made it into the Declaration of Independence as:

Abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.

This “free system of English Laws” were the penal laws against Catholics in England and Ireland. This was a condemnation of the Catholic culture of Canada. Why did the revolutionaries condemn Canadian Catholicism? And why, moreover, did the Marylander Catholic Charles Carrollton, sign this condemnation? In this essay, we will attempt to show how God brought good out of this evil through Mary for Catholic culture in the United States.

The colony of Maryland was founded by a Catholic, George Calvert, aka, the first Lord Baltimore. He was a pious Catholic who renounced all his political power and publicly professed his Catholic faith in 1625. He made plans to build a colony in the Americas which would allow the free celebration of the Holy Sacrifice for the faithful. At that time the “free system of English Laws” made Holy Mass illegal. Attending an illegal Mass could get you the death penalty. This illegal Mass was the ancient Roman Rite – the “Latin Mass” – which, as Michael Davies showed in his trilogy on the liturgical revolution, is again made illegal in a similar way today, as it was then.

The plans for the colony of Maryland were carried out by his son, Cecil Calvert, aka, the second Lord Baltimore. The legal charter of the colony was named Terra Mariae, which made it named after the English King’s Consort, the Catholic Queen Henrietta Maria. But according to historian Charles A. Coulombe, we may safely assume that the Catholics who founded Maryland also took it to be named after Our Lady.[2]

The Baltimore family members were the governors of Maryland, but they stipulated that they would treat their Protestant colonists with kindness and that the practice of the Catholic Faith would not be forced upon them in any way. When they landed on one of the unclaimed islands in the Potomac on the feast of the Annunciation, Jesuit Father Andrew White sung High Mass on the island and named it after Pope St. Clement, the patron saint of mariners. As a result, the feast of the Annunciation is celebrated every year as Maryland Day.

We may see this as Mary’s hand in forming her own colony for the glory of American Christendom. This was not the first Mass ever celebrated in the continental United States (that distinction is found in Spanish Florida), but it was the first Mass celebrated in the “thirteen original colonies,” dominated as they were by heretics who had left the Faith.

It was the year 1634 of the reign of Christ the King. This is the Anglo-Catholic founding of American Christendom. What about Canadian Christendom?

Well, meanwhile to the north, the French Catholic brethren of the Baltimores were building Canadian Christendom extended through modern Canada, Michigan, and down the Mississippi to the great Catholic civilisation of New Orleans. Maryland and French Canada are the Anglo and French founding Christendom in the Americas. But only one of these was condemned at the American revolution – why is that? The reason is Catholic culture.

Every pious Catholic parent who is forming their children in the Faith is attempting to form Catholic culture from the domestic church into the parish and into the community. Let’s pause in our history to ask this question: what is culture?

As I discuss in my book City of God vs. City of Man, that great Catholic historian of the twentieth century, Christopher Dawson, breaks down the definition of culture into basically four main elements: cultus, tradition, elders and piety. Every culture known to man (until modern times) has these four elements.

The first is the most important: cultus. What is a cultus? A cultus is a religious ritual which provides contact with the divine. Everything in a culture flows from this cultus. St. Thomas says that the offering of sacrifice – the cultus – is a part of natural law. Therefore every culture, every civilisation, every government that has ever existed, has offered a public cultus – that is, a state-sponsored religious ritual – to the divine in order to make contact with the gods.

So we have the cultus, which makes contact with God. Obviously the cultus of Catholic culture is the Apostolic rite passed down from the Apostles. Many pious Catholic parents in our day are seeking out the Latin Mass or at least some reverent liturgy in order to form Catholic culture in their domestic church. Many Catholic parishes suffer from a lack of Eucharistic reverence itself, which leads to a lack of Catholic culture. But Eucharistic reverence is more than just the rite itself; it includes all of the customs surrounding the liturgy, which brings us to our next element of culture: tradition.

The cultus in a culture rests on a tradition – written and unwritten. The tradition is what explains the cultus. The word tradition is a verb which means to “pass down.” What is Catholic Tradition therefore? Everything that is passed down, from the smallest and most obscure pious custom to the greatest pearl of great price in our tradition – the Apostolic Roman Rite, the Latin Mass. Indeed, the Second Council of Nicaea decreed regarding the lowest and least authoritative form of tradition (that is, sacred art): “if anyone despises a Church tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema.”

Therefore, in the broadest possible sense of the term, “Tradition” – all things passed down – would also include Scripture itself. Scripture is simply written tradition, as opposed to oral tradition. The Tradition explains the cultus, teaching the faithful to have Eucharistic reverence, which is what builds Catholic civilisation. From the cultus, mediated through Tradition, divine grace and divine wisdom illuminate all things in Catholic culture: family life, political and economic life, and all the rest – literature, sciences, music, visual art, architecture. Think, for example, of the treasury of Sacred Music all composed for the Holy Mass – Mozart, Beethoven, even the Lutheran Bach – or the immensity of Catholic architecture all built to orient the heart to reverence the Blessed Sacrament.

In French Canada, this was the case. The Holy Mass built French Canada.

Flag of Quebec with the Sacred Heart

The third and fourth elements of culture are simple: elders and piety. The elders are the ones who guard the cultus and teach the Tradition to the next generation. Piety is the virtue by which the younger generation reveres the older generation in order to receive the cultus and the Tradition.

So there you have it: what is culture? A culture is a society which flows from the cultus, explained by tradition passed down from the elders to the next generation by means of piety. The Catholic cultus is the Mass, the Tradition is the whole of Christendom which is centred on Eucharistic reverence – which is passed down by the elders – both priests and Catholic parents – to the younger generation, who receive it with reverence and piety.

As children grow to become adults, they make the transition from the Catholic culture of the domestic church to the Catholic culture of the parish and community, which is just an expansion of the same Catholic culture, all united in the same cultus.So let’s get back to Canada and Maryland.

First, the Catholic culture of New France was “ordinary Christendom” – this is the form of Catholic culture that had already been spreading in Asia, Africa, and later western Europe. The government of Quebec paid public obeisance to the King of Kings by means of the cultus – the Latin Mass. But after the French-Indian alliance lost a war to the British-Indian alliance in 1763, the Catholic culture of Canada came under the dominion of the Anglican King George III. Showing favour to the Catholic Faith in a way quite remarkable in the history of the Anglican regime, the British parliament passed the Quebec Act in 1774, which permitted French Catholicism to not only be freely practiced in the new English domains known as Canada, but also allowed Eucharistic reverence to continue to govern society. In other words, the Catholics could continue running things in Canada as if Canada was a Catholic nation, since it already was and had been for more than two hundred years at that point. The Quebec Act secured and protected state-sponsored, unapologetic Catholic culture in Canada.

This is why the Declaration of Independence condemns the Quebec Act. It is one thing to have Catholicism tolerated as a private devotion of those backward, superstitious papists. A private papist religion would still allow the culture to be Protestant or Deist.It is a totally different thing to have Catholicism define the culture. That would mean that the culture would be fully Catholic. Therefore, the Deceleration of Independence condemns Catholic culture itself.

Now why did Catholic Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, sign a document that condemned Catholic culture itself? Some Catholics say the Carroll family of Maryland was not very pious, and that its members were just Liberal Americanists. Yes, there is truth to this assertion, especially since we have Daniel Carroll’s name not only on the US Constitution, but on the Masonic cornerstone ritual performed by George Washington “in the year of Masonry 5793” as my book describes.[3]

Despite this fact, there is, concurrently, another positive side that can be seen in the Carroll family and Maryland Christendom. You see, what had happened in Maryland since Lord Baltimore was completely different than Quebec – Maryland had to create a new form of Christendom in order to pass down the faith. Catholic culture was in survival mode in Maryland, surrounded by heretics who wanted to destroy the Mass and kill Papists. Catholics chose to love their enemies, to protect the non-Catholic Marylanders and promote the Holy Mass not by state-sponsorship, but by the holiness of their own lives. Maryland was a different form of Catholic culture, for the sake of survival. There was at least a public cultus indirectly, by the very fact that Catholics were involved in government and intended to exclude non-Trinitarian heretics. The four elements of Catholic culture were still secure, albeit in survival mode.

But shortly after Maryland’s founding, the heretical Puritans seized the Catholic government of Maryland and passed laws to remove Catholics from any political power whatsoever. Thankfully, the heretics did not have the power to hunt down the Catholics and kill them like they did in England, so they were forced to tolerate them. The Catholics fought back and passed the Maryland Toleration Act, which put to death non-Trinitarian heretics, but permitted Catholics and Protestants free exercise of each faith.

(Note this well: this law is not at all a foreshadowing of the American Constitution’s First Amendment, as Liberal Americanists will later claim. Maryland at this point is nothing less than a Christian state that recognises the poison of non-Trinitarian heresy, but, applying the traditional Catholic doctrine of the state, also tolerates non-Catholic heretics for the sake of civil tranquility. The First Amendment, by contrast, is nothing less than rank Liberalism, since it creates an Atheistic state in practice by denying the public cultus to the state in any way whatsoever. In the words of Archbishop Lefebvre, it is “state Atheism without the name.”[4] Maryland was several things – including those which can be critiqued by Catholics – but it was not State Atheism. Jesus was still publicly King over Maryland, the Land of Mary. The laws of Maryland from the very beginning, and restored in the Maryland Toleration Act, were an application of the Catholic doctrine of toleration.[5] Catholics today may debate as to the prudence of Maryland’s acts from the beginning, but they cannot claim that this Toleration Law was the same as the heretical Liberalism of the First Amendment, which uncrowned His Majesty and denied His right to rule over nations. Let us return to our history.)

The heretics could not tolerate Catholic toleration, and, after 1688, they were able to remove all Catholics from public office in Maryland. The Mass was illegal again, and Catholics were forced to celebrate the Latin Mass privately in homes. The “free system of English laws” was imposed on Maryland.

Compared to Canada, the survival mode Catholic culture of Maryland had been greatly suppressed. True, the public cultus of the Latin Mass had never been truly public and political since Maryland Day at the Annunciation, 1634. But removing the Catholic governors and statemen of Maryland truly relegated the cultus to private devotion, with very little influence on Maryland culture.

At that time, despite the heretical takeover of Maryland, the Carroll family had managed to become the richest and most powerful Catholic family in Maryland – and indeed, in the whole thirteen colonies. And what did they do with that wealth? They raised altars on their own land so that the Holy Sacrifice could at least be celebrated privately, keeping the remnant of Maryland’s Christendom alive. If the Puritans or other Protestants came with a mob to threaten them, the Carroll family would meet them with a small army of their sons and slaves, putting down their hubris with the musket. The Carroll family lived on 17,000 acres at Carroll Manor, just 41 miles northwest of DC.

So when the American revolutionary war of Independence was breaking out in 1774, the Carroll family must have seen an opportunity to re-establish the American Christendom of Maryland, and indeed in these whole United States. If we can safely assume that some of the Carroll family were Liberal Americanists, we can also safely assume that some of them had real Catholic piety. They saw that the Patriots, led by George Washington, were willing to tolerate and even promote the Catholics if they contributed to the cause of independence. The Carroll family took action, and, for the first time, these Catholic noblemen returned to government, forming the Annapolis convention in 1774. This was Maryland declaring its own independence from the Crown even as the Philadelphia Continental Congress was condemning the Quebec Act. Maryland’s Declaration of Independence happened in 1775, and it implicitly abolished the “free system of English laws” which had hitherto prevented Catholics from holding political office in this state.

So what happened next? By siding with the Patriots, the Carroll family was able to secure not only the legalisation of the Latin Mass again, but also an intimate place for the Faith in the American culture of these United States. The cousins of Charles Carroll were the aforementioned Daniel Carroll and John Carroll – the latter became the first bishop of the United States. As Providence had it, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits, causing John Carroll to flee to Maryland in 1774 at the moment when Maryland was declaring independence and removing anti-Catholic laws.

In that year, Fr. Carroll said the first Mass in his mother’s home, but after the Revolution gave more influence to Catholic culture, this quickly became St. John’s parish in Silver Spring, MD, 8 miles north of DC. You remember Maryland Day when Fr. Andrew White celebrated the Annunciation? John Carroll was also able to re-establish his mission site as St. Ignatius Parish in Port Tobacco, MD (see here and here).

And in the same year as the Masonic ritual of Daniel Carroll, out of Maryland, Mary had her own plans: Bishop John Carroll dedicated these United States to the Immaculate Conception in the year 1793 of the reign of Christ the King. This is when Maryland, the “Land of Mary” extended to these United States: henceforth America was the Land of the Immaculate Conception.

What happened with Quebec? The Carroll family actually travelled to Quebec and attempted to win over the French Catholics there to their cause. But unfortunately, Bishop Briand of Quebec had read the anti-Catholic pronouncements of the Continental Congress and issued an excommunication against Fr. John Carroll, which meant he had to travel back over the Atlantic to receive his episcopal consecration after American Independence.

(In a twist of Providence, the Catholic kings of France and Spain, meanwhile, also sided with the Patriots, which forced the Patriots to favour the Church, allowing the Spanish king to finance a Catholic Church built in New York City, the historic St. Peter’s Church.)

But because of the Carroll family siding with the Patriots, Bishop John was able to begin construction not only on new, public churches but the first Catholic university among the heretical English for centuries: Georgetown University in 1791. This institution greatly expanded Catholic Culture, passing down the Faith in these United States. Because they sided with the Revolution, the Carroll family helped form Maryland and indeed, American Catholic culture in these United States, leading to the traditional Catholic see of Baltimore. (perhaps you’ve heard of the Baltimore Catechism). In this way, Maryland Christendom became the mustard seed for American Christendom.

This is not the French Christendom of Canada, but an Anglo Christendom which formed a unique Catholic culture here. Because of the Carroll family’s efforts to restore Catholics to political office and the freedom to build churches and universities in the United States, Catholics have been able to gradually influence the American Protestant culture more and more for the true Faith. This reached its climax in the interwar period of the 20th century, when Catholics led a cultural movement against Hollywood pornography in the 1930s (known as the Legion of Decency), and eventually won the Presidency itself in John F. Kennedy.

Since 1776, there’s been this tension in American Catholicism – some Catholics have sought to establish the fullness of Catholic culture – the Catholic cultus informing the whole society – like French Canadian Catholicism or the Legion of Decency. But others, like Cardinal James Gibbons and John F. Kennedy, have sought not to make American more Catholic, but to make Catholicism more American. This is “Liberal Catholicism.” This may be a result of the divided nature of the Carroll family itself from the beginning.

To make a long, sorry story short, in the 1960s, Liberal Catholicism gained the dominant influence. The centerpiece of this effort was to reverse Catholic culture itself. Instead of transforming the society by means of the cultus, the Liberals have transformed the cultus by means of the society. They have not tried to subordinate society to the Latin Mass but make the Mass more subordinate to modern society. They have tried to abolish the Latin Mass again, just like the “free system of English laws” formerly in Maryland. Following Cardinal James Gibbons, they used the history of Maryland Christendom to argue against French Christendom as somehow “backwards” and “immoral.”

The American psychological warfare empire took occasion from Vatican II and its ambiguous declaration Dignitatus Humanae to impose on the world (with the direct or indirect support of the Holy See) the heresy of Liberalism in the form of the First Amendment of the United States, which is State Atheism without the name. This is meticulously documented by David Wemhoff.[6] And this is true whether or not the Vatican II document actually teaches the heresy of Liberalism. (In some sense, this question is irrelevant, since this is the historical fact, whether or not the Council erred.) This only added fuel to the Americanist claim that Maryland’s Christendom is per se opposed to Quebec’s.

French Canadian and Maryland Christendom were two forms of the same Catholic culture, formed by the Latin Mass. Both had the four elements: cultus, tradition, elders and piety. But one was French and Indian with a Catholic majority, and the other was Anglo with a Catholic minority. What the Liberal wing of American Catholicism wants to do is make French and Maryland Christendoms into enemies, repeating that condemnation of Catholicism by the Continental Congress we first quoted. And this history is obscured even in pious Catholic homeschool history textbooks.

Yet what a pious domestic church gives students is the experience of Catholic culture which is completely opposed to the Liberal Catholicism. It is through the domestic church and its supporting organisations such as homeschool co-ops where the elders of Catholic culture pass down to students the tradition, informed by the cultus, which is received with piety. And this is what Maryland has done for American Catholicism since its founding. It provided a space for Catholic culture to be passed down in a hostile environment before and after 1776. It is the Anglo mustard seed of Catholic culture here.

This is the good that God brought out of the evil of the Declaration of Independence condemning Catholic culture. Instead of stopping the spread of Catholic culture, it grew in Maryland and spread to all the States. This is why “the Land of Mary,” Maryland, matters for American Christendom, and why we should be celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception every year as our patronal feast in these States with much solemnity, fanfare and thanksgiving. While we’re at it, let’s all celebrate the Annunciation as Maryland Day and thank God for what the Land of Mary has done for these States.

Let God speed the day when December 8th, the Immaculate Conception, and Maryland Day March 25, will become another Federal Holy Day with the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that all Americans can give thanks to God through Mary. VIVA CHRISTO REY! JESUS IS KING!

[1] Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress,1774.

[2] Private correspondence.

[3] The heresy of Americanism can be described simply as claiming, directly or indirectly, that the American nation (and its laws and customs since 1776) must teach the Catholic Church about politics and social justice, not the other way around. This is a particular form of the general heresy of Liberalism, which has other particular forms in England and France, as elsewhere. On the “Year of Masonry” ritual performed by George Washington and Daniel Carroll et al., see Flanders, City of God vs. City of Man (Our Lady of Victory Press, 2021), 284ff.

[4] Marcel Lefebvre, They have Uncrowned Him (Angelus Press), 24.

[5] On the Catholic doctrine of toleration as opposed to the Liberal heresy of religious liberty, see Ibid., passim.

[6] Current edition: David Wemhoff, John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and The American Proposition: How the CIA’s Doctrinal Warfare Program Changed the Catholic Church, new ed. (Presence LLC, 2022), 2 volumes.

A Guide to Vegetarian Food in Romania Written by a Local

More ideas for Lenten meals, this time from Romania. The Sarmale de Post sounds delicious but it's the same as the Serbian sarma I recommended a few days ago.

From The Romanian Cookbook

Romanian cuisine is hearty and heavy in general. However, if you are a vegetarian visiting Romania, you need not worry as there are plenty of Romanian vegetarian dishes for you to enjoy. Romania is a religious country, which means that Lent is still an important time before Christmas and Easter. During this time, religious people do not consume animal products. Sugar is also not allowed as it is considered to be sinful during these periods. Whilst some people will adhere to the fast for religious reasons, others just to reduce the amount of meat they are eating. Because of this, many traditional Romanian meat based dishes are adapted during Lent, making them vegetarian. 

Vegetarian food in Romania includes traditional dishes such as sarmale or stuffed peppers. All meat free of course. Because more and more people adapted a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, restaurants have adapted too and are offering plenty of meat-free options throughout the year.

In this article I have created a guide on vegetarian food in Romania, in which you can see there are plenty of delicious dishes that you can enjoy as someone who doesn’t eat animal meat or products.

Sarmale de Post – Lent Sarmale

A white plate with three cabbage rolls on it, covered with sour cream. Besides them there are three dollops of polenta

Sarmale is the national dish of Romania. It consists of a delicious meat filling wrapped inside pickled cabbage leaves. However, during the lent, the sarmale are made vegetarian by replacing the minced meat with a mix of chopped mushrooms and rice.

This is one of the most popular Romanian vegetarian foods. Compared to the original recipe, the lent sarmale are much lighter but just as delicious. In summer, these sarmale are usually wrapped inside vine leaves rather than pickled cabbage, which is mostly used during the winter.

Ardei Umpluti de Post – Mushroom and Rice Stuffed Peppers

A close-up of rice filled peppers

Another popular vegetarian food in Romania, which is also consumed most often during Lent, are the vegetarian stuffed peppers. Same as in the case of sarmale, the original recipe for stuffed peppers requires pork meat. When it comes to the vegetarian version, the meat is replaced with a mixture of onions, carrots, mushrooms, and rice. The rest of the recipe remains the same, which means that the peppers are cooked inside a tomato broth, and served hot with sour cream.

Cascaval Pane – Fried Cheese

A white plate with two triangles of fried cheese on it. They have a golden crust. They are served alongside fries.

Fried cheese is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes in Romania. It consists of the traditional cascaval cheese, which is hard, rolled though egg and breadcrumbs, and deep fried until the outside becomes crunchy and the interior oozy and decadent.

Cascaval is a traditional Romanian cheese that has the consistency of Cheddar, but with a bit more elasticity. It tastes quite mild. This dish is usually served alongside fries and pickles salad.

A black container with a light coloured dip in it. The dip is topped with caramelised onions

The bean spread is one of the most popular vegetarian appetisers in Romania. It consists of white beans that are cooked and then mashed into a paste, mixed with garlic and paprika. Sometimes, the dip is served with caramelised onions on top.

The best way to eat the bean dip is by spreading it on crusty, rustic bread.

Zacusca – Aubergine and Peppers Spread

A close-up of a pair of hands, one holding a slice of bread and the other one spreading on it the red zacusca with a knife.

Another great classic Romanian vegetarian food is the zacusca. This is a delicious spread that my mother used as a sandwich filling, when I was in school. There are different versions of how this spread is made, sometimes with the addition of mushrooms and even beans. However, the classic recipe asks for grilled aubergines and red peppers. They are slow cooked on an open flame alongside onions, tomatoes and a combination of spices. Zacusca is usually made in the autumn, and preserved in jars for the entire winter. You can also buy jars of zacusca from the supermarket, however it doesn’t taste the same. Mothers always put an extra ingredient in, which is love, as it takes a long time to make zacusca.

Salata de Vinete – Grilled Aubergine Salad

Three slices of baguette bread topped with the aubergine spread. They are sitting on a wooden chopping board, on salad leaves

The grilled aubergine salad is one of my favourite traditional Romanian foods. It consists of aubergines which have been roasted on a coal fueled grill, over open flames, until charred. The aubergines are then cleaned, drained, and chopped small. The salad comes alive once the aubergines are mixed with chopped onions, oil and egg yolk, which creates a homemade mayo.

Many traditional restaurants around the country serve the grilled aubergine salad. Once you taste it you will know you’ve made a great decision ordering it.  

You can check my recipe for the aubergine salad here.

Bean soup served inside a bowl made from a hollow bread.

Bean soup is one of the most popular soups in Romania. In restaurants, it is usually served in crusty bread bowls, which makes it an attraction among tourists.

The bean soup is hearty and contains a lot of root vegetables such as turnips, celeriac and onions. It also has many herbs, which give an extra layer of flavour: thyme, lovage, parsley.

A white bowl filled with the vegetables soup, through which you can see chopped potatoes, carrots, green beans, tomatoes. The bowl is a on a wooden board, surrounded by a yellow tea towel

All traditional Romanian restaurants will serve vegetable soup. This is a very easy to make ciorba (sour soup), made with a variety of different vegetables, such as onions, carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, cauliflower, potatoes, etc. Each one has its own recipe for the vegetable soup, which can be made with any vegetables that you have lying around the kitchen.

You can check my vegetable soup recipe here.

A white plate filled with a red soup, sitting on a wooden serving board.

Red orach soup is a very special dish that you can find in Romania only during the springtime. This is when the orach is in season. This is what we call “sour soup”, red because of the colour of the orach. Besides this leaf vegetable, the soup also has carrots, onions, rice and spring onions. The soup is dressed with the traditional bors, as well as eggs, which give it texture.

If you see this soup on the menu of a restaurant, you are in for a treat!  

Ciorba de Salata – Salad Soup

Salad soup might sound off, but it’s a great vegetarian dish to have during summer, when the temperatures in Romania are very high. The salad soup can be eaten either hot or cold, and it is very light on the stomach.

The main ingredient in the soup is lettuce, spring onions and wild garlic, as well as paprika and dill. This is a dressed soup, with milk, eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, and flour, which make it very creamy.

Clatite cu Spanac – Spinach Pancakes

A white plate with folded, green pancakes on it.

I still remember the first time I had the spinach pancakes and their delicious taste that stayed with me until now. My mom tried out a new recipe and whilst I am not a fan of spinach, this vegetarian dish tasted incredible. The spinach is chopped and included in the pancake batter. The pancakes are then filled with a mixture of telemea cheese, garlic, dill, and eggs, and put in a tray to be baked in the oven. Over them is poured a mixture of sour cream and grated cascaval cheese which will create a beautiful tasty crust.

Salata Orientala – Romanian Potato Salad

A grey ramekin with two handles wrapped inside a grey tea towel. Inside the bowl there is the potato salad, with red onions, black olives, slices of boiled egg and parsley on top.

The Romanian Potato Salad can be a lunch on its own, or a side dish. Whilst it is a very simple dish, it is flavoursome and extremely popular around the country, especially during Lent. Besides the potatoes, this salad also has eggs, red onions, pickles, and black olives.

The Romanian potato salad is dressed with a classic olive oil and vinegar mix, which enhances its flavours creating a delicate balance between sweet and sour.

You can see my Romanian potato salad recipe here.

Salata de Ardei Copti – Grilled Peppers Salad

A black bowl with two roast peppers inside a garlic and vinegar dressing. Next to the bowl there are a couple of spring onions.

Grilled peppers salad is a classic at open air barbecues. The peppers are charred over the open fire, before any other ingredient is placed on the grill. Then their skin is taken off and they are soaked in a garlic vinaigrette. It is delicious!

You can see my grilled peppers salad here.

A white plate with the fried slices of courgette on it, which have a golden crust. On top there is a dollop of yogurt and garlic dip.

Courgette is a very popular vegetable used in Romanian cuisine. There are quite a few dishes in which the courgette is the main star. One of them is fried courgettes. The vegetable is sliced, salted and dried, until it’s completely dry. The slices are then passed through flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, before being deep fried in hot oil.

The fried courgette slices are served alongside a yogurt, garlic and dill dip.

Sufleu de Dovlecei – Courgette Souffle

A large white baking tray with the souffle in it. It has a yellow crust on top, and you can see pieces of grated courgette through it.

Another fantastic vegetarian recipe using courgettes, is the souffle. The courgette is grated, drained of all liquid, and mixed with a white Mornay sauce. The egg whites are mixed until stuff, then carefully folded into the mixture. Before putting the tray into the oven, the top of the souffle is sprinkled with grated cascaval cheese and slices of butter. The end result is a delicious dish that is usually served with green salad.

Salata a la Russe – Russe Salad

The a la Russe salad arranged in the shape of a dome. It is covered with mayo. You can see chopped carrots, potatoes, and peas in it.

Russe Salad is the vegetarian version of the Beouf Salad, which is one of the traditional Romanian dishes served during holidays such as Christmas or Easter. It is also made during Lent, when many Romanians, especially in the countryside, respect the religious holidays.

It consists of a mix of potatoes, carrots, pickles, eggs, olives, and sometimes peas then, all bound together with mayonnaise.

Pilaf – Vegetable Rice

Pilaf is another vegetarian Romanian dish that can be served as a main meal or as a side dish. It is practically rice with vegetables such as onions, carrots, red peppers, mushrooms and sometimes, tomato sauce. The pilaf has a saucy consistency and it’s not dry, like an Indian rice dish for example. When it is served as a main meal, the pilaf is often accompanied by salad or pickles.   

Ghiveci – Vegetables Stew

A wooden plate filled with a dry-ish vegetable stew.

Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of ghiveci. I don’t know why as it is a very flavoursome dish. This dish is a medley of vegetables cooked together in a tomato sauce. It is a versatile dish, easy to customise with whatever vegetables you have lying around: potatoes, cauliflower, leeks, aubergines, carrots, green beans, onions and garlic. Once the liquid has evaporated, it is ready to serve.

Mamaliga cu Branza si Smantana – Polenta With Cheese and Sour Cream

a white plate filled with soft yellow polenta. There is grated white soft cheese on top. Behind there is a white ramekin filled with sour cream.

I have always loved polenta with cheese and sour cream. I remember when I was only a few years old and my grandparents took them with me on several spa breaks in Covasna, a thermal water town in Romania. Whilst they would eat a specific diet recommended by the doctor, the hotel would always make me polenta with cheese and sour cream. I loved mixing all together and always asked for more sour cream. The dish is very simple: soft cooked polenta with pieces of butter melting inside it, telemea cheese and dollops of fatty sour cream on top.

Iahnie de Fasole – Baked Beans

Baked beans is a very popular Romanian dish. It is a hearty stew, served mostly in winter. It consists of white beans cooked together with onions, root vegetables, and tomato sauce. They are all slow cooked for a couple of hours, and towards the end, garlic is added.  This is a main meal which is served with rustic bread.  

Spanac cu Oua – Spinach with Eggs

A black pan with cooked spinach which looks like a green cream. On top there are two fried eggs, sunny side up. A fork is lifting a bit of spinach and part of the egg white, from the pan.

Spinach with eggs is a light vegetarian dish that is usually made during spring time. Instead of spinach, some people also use nettles when they are in season. The spinach is cooked with garlic, and mixed with sour cream which creates the creamy consistency of the dish. The spinach is then topped with fried sunny side up eggs before serving.

Mancare de Mazare – Peas Stew

A stainless steal pot filled with the peas stew. You can see the peas and the onions on the top, inside a brownish sauce

Pea stew is another Romanian dish that can be made vegetarian during Lent, by removing the meat. Usually this stew is made with chicken, but the vegetarian version replaces the meat with potato and carrots. I have always liked this stew because it has a slightly sweet taste and it’s a light meal.

Praz cu Masline – Leeks with Olives

A white plate with a red saucy stew in it. You can see the slices of leeks and a few olives under the vegetables

Leeks with olives is a classic traditional Romanian recipe for lent. Originating from the south of the country, the leek with olives is a light dish that is very easy and quick to make. Among the ingredients for this dish, besides the leeks and the black olives, are tomatoes, onions, garlic, paprika, white wine and sometimes even red pepper.

This is a dish with plenty of sauce, so make sure to order some crusty bread, for dipping in.

Tuesday After the 2nd Sunday of Lent

Today's Holy Mass from Corpus Christi Church, Tynong, VIC, Australia. You may follow the Mass at Divinum Officium.

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent ~ Dom Prosper Guéranger

Tuesday, Second Week of Lent

From Dom Prosper Guéranger's The Liturgical Year

The Station is in the Church of St. Balbina, This holy virgin of Rome was the daughter of the tribune Quirinus, and suffered martyrdom during the pontificate of Alexander I, in the second century. She consecrated her virginity to God, and led a life rich in good works.


Grant us, Lord, we beseech thee, thy assistance, whereby we may go through the observance of this holy fast, that what we have undertaken by thy appointment, we may accomplish by thy grace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lesson from the Book of 3 Kings (1 Kings), 17:8-16.

In those days: The word of the Lord came to Elias the Thesbite, saying: Arise, and go to Sarephta, a city of the Sidonians, and dwell there; for I have commanded a widow woman there to feed thee. He arose, and went to Sarephta. And when he was come to the gate of the city, he saw the widow woman gathering sticks, and he called her, and said to her: Give me a little water in a vessel that I may drink. And when she was going to fetch it, he called after her, saying: Bring me, also, I beseech thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand. And she answered: As the Lord thy God liveth, I have no bread, but only a handful of meal in a pot, and a little oil in a cruse; behold I am gather two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, and we may eat it, and die. And Elias said to her: Fear not, but go, and do as thou hast said; but first make for me of the same meal a little hearth cake, and bring it to me: and after, make for thyself and thy son. For thus saith the Lord the God of Israel: The pot of meal shall not waste, nor the cruse of oil be diminished, until the day wherein the Lord will give rain upon the face of the earth. She went, and did according to the word of Elias; and he ate, and she, and her house: and from that day the pot of meal wasted not, and the cruse of oil was not diminished, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke in the hand of Elias.

The instruction of the Catechumens is continued by means of the Gospel facts, which are each day brought before them; and the Church read to them the prophecies from the Old Testament, which are to be fulfilled by the rejection of the Jews, and the vocation of the Gentiles. Elias, who is our faithful companion during Lent, is represented to us today as foreshadowing, in his own conduct, the treatment which God is one day to show towards his ungrateful people. A three years’ drought had been sent upon the kingdom of Israel; but the people continued obstinate in their sins. Elias goes in search of someone that will provide him with food. It is a great privilege to entertain the Prophet; for God is with him. Then whither will he go? Is it to any family in the kingdom of Israel? Or will he pass into the land of Juda? He neglects them both, and directs his steps towards the land of the Gentiles. He enters the country of Sidon; and coming to the gates of a city called Sarephta, he sees a poor widow; it is to her that he transfers the blessing which Israel had rejected. Our Lord himself has taken notice of this event in the Prophet’s life, which portrays, in such strong colors, the justice of God towards the Jews, and his mercy towards us Gentiles: In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel: and to none of them was he sent, but to Sarephta of Sidon, to a widow woman. (Luke 4:25-26)

So, then, this poor woman is a figure of the Gentiles, who were called to the faith. Let us study the circumstances of this prophetic event. The woman is a widow; she has no one to defend or protect her: she represents the Gentiles, who were abandoned by all, and had no one that could save them from the enemy of mankind. All the mother and her child had to live upon was a handful of meal and a little oil: it is an image of the frightful dearth of truth, in which the pagans were living at the time that the Gospel was preached to them. Notwithstanding her extreme poverty, the widow of Sarephta receives the Prophet with kindness and confidence; she believes what he tells her, and she and her child are saved: it was thus that the Gentiles welcomed the Apostles, when these shook the dust from their feet, and left the faithless Jerusalem. But what mean the two pieces of wood, which the widow holds in her hands? St. Augustine, St. Cesarius of Arles, and St. Isidore of Seville (who, after all, are but repeating what was the tradition of the early Church) tell us that this wood is a figure of the Cross. With this wood, the widow bakes the bread that is to support her: it is from the Cross that the Gentiles receive life by Jesus, who is the Living Bread. While Israel dies of famine and drought, the Gentile Church feeds abundantly on the heavenly Wheat, and on the Oil, which is the symbol of strength and charity. Glory then be to Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light of faith! (1 Peter 2:9) But let us tremble at witnessing the evils which the abuse of grace has brought upon a whole people. If God’s justice has not spared a whole nation, but cast it off, will he spare me or you if we dare to resist his call?


Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 23:1-12

At that time: Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying: The Scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do; but according to their works, do ye not; for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all these works they do to be seen of men: for they make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge their fringes. And they love the first places at feasts, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and salutations in the market-place, and to be called by men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi; for one is your master, and all you are brethren. And call none your father upon earth; for one is your Father, who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, Christ. He that is the greatest among you, shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and he that shall humble himself, shall be exalted.

The doctors of the law were sitting on the Chair of Moses; therefore, Jesus bids the people abide by their teachings. But this Chair—which, in spite of the unworthiness of them that sit on it, is the Chair of truth—is not to remain long in Israel. Caiphas, because he is a High Priest for the year, will prophesy; but his crimes have rendered him unworthy of his office; and the Chair on which he sits is to be taken away and set in the midst of the Gentiles. Jerusalem, which is preparing to deny her Savior, is to be deprived of her honors; and Rome, the very center of the Pagan world, is to possess within her walls that Chair which was the glory of Jerusalem, and from which were proclaimed the prophecies so visibly fulfilled in Jesus. Henceforth, this Chair is never to be moved, though all the fury of the gates of hell will seek to prevail against it; it is to be the unfailing source, at which all nations are to receive the teaching of revealed truths. The torch of faith has been removed from Israel, but it has not been extinguished. Let us live in its light, and merit by our humility that its rays ever shine upon us.

What was it that caused Israel’s loss? His pride. The favors he had received from God excited him to self-complacency; he scorned to recognize anyone for the Messias who was not great in this world’s glory; he was indignant at hearing Jesus say that the Gentiles were to participate of the grace of redemption; he sought to imbrue his hands in the blood of the God-Man, and this because he reproached him for the hardness of his heart. These proud Jews, even when they saw that the day of God’s judgment was close upon them, kept up their stubborn haughtiness. They despised the rest of the world as unclean and sinners. The son of God became the Son of Man. He is our Master, and yet he ministered to us, as though he were our Servant. Does not this show us how precious a virtue is Humility? If our fellow creatures call us Master or Father, let us not forget that no one is Master or Father but by God’s appointment. No one deserves to be called Master but he by whose lips Jesus gives us the lessons of divine wisdom; he alone is truly a Father, who acknowledges that his paternal authority comes from God alone; for as the Apostle says: I bow my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named(Ephesians 3:14-15)

Bow down your heads to God.

Be appeased, Lord, by our prayers, and heal the infirmities of our souls: that our sins being forgiven, we may ever rejoice in thy blessings. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us continue the Hymn we began yesterday; our readers will remember it is by Prudentius, the Prince of Christian Poets.


It was by the observance of a forty-days’ fast, that Elias, the venerable Priest, the guest of the desert, received his great glory. We read that he fled far from the noisy world, and the wickedness of cities, and lived in the happy innocence of silent deserts.

But soon was he carried to heaven in a chariot drawn by swift fiery steeds; for so long is he remained nigh this wretched world, it might breathe something of the contagion of its vices upon the prophet, though his life was one of retirement, and his spirit had long been fortified by holy fasts.

Moses, the faithful interpreter of the dread Throne, was not permitted to see the King of the seventimes holy heaven, until the sun had’ forty times passed over his head and witnessed him abstaining from every food.

Prayer and weeping, — these were his only nourishment. He spent the night in weeping, and lay prostrate on the ground, which was bedewed with his tears; till at length; aroused by the voice of God, he directed his steps towards the fire, on which no man could fix his gaze.

John, too, was fervent in the practice of Fasting. He was the Precursor of the Son of God, who was to make the crooked ways straight, and the rough ways plain, and was to teach men the right path wherein to walk.

The Baptist, as a herald that was preparing the way of the Lord who was soon to come, exacted this of men; that every mountain and hill should be made low, and that all should be in the right path, when Truth should come down upon the earth.

His birth was not like that of other children. Elizabeth, old as she was, was made to bear this child within her hitherto barren womb. She fed him, too, at her own breast. Before his birth, he announced to his Mother the presence of the Virgin that as full of God.

He retired into the vast wilderness, clad in the rough ad bristly skins of wild beasts, and in camels’ hair; for he trembled lest he might become defiled and contaminated by the wickedness of them that dwelt in cities.

There did he lead a life of fasting. This man of rigid penance neither eat nor drank till the evening was far spent; and then, a few locusts and a little wild honey were the only refreshment he took.

He was the first to teach the new salvation, and the first to invite men to receive it. In the sacred stream, he washed away the stains of the old errors; but after he had administered to men this outward Baptism, the heavenly Spirit worked within their souls.