Sunday, May 31, 2015


Carl Bloch

St. Mary, the Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, is honored in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopal, and Lutheran Churches. In the Western tradition, the Feast of the Visitation is celebrated on May 31. In 2015, the feast is transferred to June 1 due to the conflict with Trinity Sunday. The feast day in honored on March 30 in the Eastern tradition.

She has many names; Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, etc. In Italian, Virgin Mary is Maria Virginia. She’s the one for whom I’m named, the reason Saints and Recipes exists, and my muse.

She is the Mother of God and a name for the divine feminine.

But first she was a pious Jewish girl, obedient and betrothed. Then, St. Gabriel, the Archangel, appeared to her at the Annunciation (First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary) to prepare her for the miracle that she was to be a part of forever.

The norms and life spans of her era puts Mary’s age at the time of her betrothal at around 12 or 13. Most likely, try as she might, she couldn’t understand the magnitude of the Angel of the Lord’s message, so she journeyed to visit her elder cousin, Elizabeth, whom Gabriel announced was also miraculously with child. The Visitation is the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary:

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
Luke 1:39-45

Biblical commentators believed that Mary was so moved by Elizabeth’s deep recognition and understanding of the miracle within Mary’s womb, that her heart filled with joy and the Holy Spirit spoke the next words through her. Known as the Magnificat, it’s a passage encompassing the past, the future, and the political conditions of her time:

And Mary said,

“My soul magnified the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Luke 1:46-56

There are other ancient texts which state that Elizabeth is the one who spoke the Magnificat about Mary. I believe that version to be more accurate based on their characters. Mary was a young woman who journeyed to her elder cousin for help in understanding what was happening to her. At such a young age, Mary was probably unaware of the broader political conditions of her time. Due to advanced age and experience, Elizabeth would have been much more aware, so it would make sense that Elizabeth would see the grander picture, speak for the poor and say, “Surely, from now on all generations will call you blessed.”

Also, Mary was and is too humble to say these things about herself. Because she’s selfless, she allowed God to replace her self with his Goodness.

Mary grew in years and knowledge along with her Son during such times as The Boy Jesus in the Temple (Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary), the Wedding at Cana (Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary), and the Assumption (Fourth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary). Much about her life story also appear in my posts about St. Joseph and St. Mary Magdalene.  

Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints


Blessed Mother Mary remains a strong presence in our world. Visitations from her to people such as St. Bernadette of Lourdes have happened throughout history. Prayerful pilgrims to Marian sites continue to draw Mary’s presence even to those places that are replicas of an original site.

In this way, I offer Saints and Recipes as a place of pilgrimage to Mary. The idea for this blog grew from prayers to her for intercession and guidance. Her presence is embedded in every word about the Saints whom inspire us with their recipes for sacred living. I offer this site to you, dearworthy readers, with prayers that you enjoy your visit with Mary.

This past Holy Saturday, I received not a visit from Mary, but something more like a postcard or an Instagram. I’ll start my story with a bit of advice:

When the Lord calls you to serve in a particular way, but your community makes it clear that your gifts are neither needed nor wanted, don’t panic, don’t take it personally, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Because as soon as you turn around and focus outward, you’ll see the community or communities in need of your gifts waving you over in friendship.

Or, you can do what I did which was panic, take it personally, and begin what turned out to be a spiritual quest. Some of the boulders blocking my way were huge, but on the other side of each was a life-changing truth.

At first, I learned important general things:  I’m an introvert, I feel the emotional energy of others, and shame triggers are universal. The works of the following authors helped me in areas of recognition and self protection; Susan Cane, Doreen Virtue, and Brené Brown.

I also learned that forgiveness is the key to letting go and moving forward. But knowing that and doing it are two different things. Basically, I needed help in the forgiveness department. So I forgave in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and I’m allowed to do that even though I’m not clergy.

After climbing over all those boulders, learning all those truths, and making all those changes, I couldn't understand why I was still unhappy. On Good Friday, in an effort to do something, anything that would move me forward, I began several devotions, the three-day process of making homemade brisket, a visit to a neighbor’s outdoor Stations of the Cross and the planting of my Spring Mary's Garden:

In the morning of Holy Saturday, a friend posted a reference to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I found a poignant version and listened to it on a continuous loop throughout the day. Slowly, I began to understand that Jesus desires broken hallelujahs most of all. They connect to Him on the Cross and are therefore filled with empathy and compassion.

I also realized that ignorance is bliss. Wisdom brings true understanding of pain, along with the recognition that I can be content with my place in the world and sad about things going on in the world, close to home and farther away. In other words, it’s entirely possible to be happy and sad at the same time, and it’s, in fact, a natural state but one that we must allow through wisdom.

That evening, after I placed the brisket back in the fridge for its second overnight rest, I drove to the garden center and returned home with my Mary’s Garden plants. And soon after walking through the front door, I received a sign from the Blessed Mother Mary via the angels – my house key chain had connected to the chain of the Rosary I carried in my pocket. I wondered what the sign meant, and I heard the message, “It’s time to come home.”

I believed then that my journey was over. I was supposed to come home to my identity in Mary and her connection to and through me. It’s a powerful connection, one that I hadn’t maintained due to feelings of unworthiness. But this time I stood crying in great relief, “Okay, okay, okay.”

Early Easter morning I sat on my front porch with the setting moon to my right and the rising sun to my left and I prayed the Rosary with joy and thanksgiving.

Shortly thereafter, I began to receive one angelic message after another. I remembered learning in St. Michael and all Angels that Mary and the Saints intercede on our behalf while angels intervene for us according to God’s instructions. The signs and messages came through the unexpected actions of my cats, song lyrics, dreams, intuition, light and color flashes, number sequences, social media posts, birds, chance encounters, and answered prayers. It was a bit frightening, but one of the messages was, “Don’t be afraid.”

The biggest message was that I was supposed to work towards becoming a healer.

This is a good place to stop and mention all of my friends who’ve helped me size up some of the boulders on my path and suggested that I look at them from a certain angle or take my first step in an unexpected direction. You know who you are because I’ve thanked you. But I’d like to thank you once more this way – sometimes the Lord needs human beings to step in and do the work of His angels, so thank you for being my particular earth angel when I needed particular help.

I rejoiced in my Easter clichéness and allowed myself to shine. I began to take baby step towards becoming an energy healer and enjoyed being happy again because it was all over. This was the final message and the end of my journey.

I didn’t know it then, but when you are divinely helped over the really big boulders on the path to your true self and you feel a strong connection to something bigger than yourself, that’s when the journey gets the most difficult. It’s as if someone wants you to know they’ve got your back, that when you take the next turn along the path, you’ll fall into the river and the rapids are going to bash you around those boulders something fierce. But they’ve got you, and you won’t go under.

And that’s what happened.

That someone was the Blessed Mother Mary. When the river ran smoother, she did what she always does, she pointed to her Son as He climbed out of the water with us indicating that I should listen to Him.

Comprehension dawned! I had been studying the saints and devoting myself to Mary because I hadn’t believed I was worthy of Jesus’s specific attention. But, the journey and the messages cleared the blockages that had been preventing me from understanding this truth for myself, that we are all worthy of God’s attention -- every single one of us. And that the person who most needed my healing energy was me.

In other words, I knew that Jesus was with me every step of my journey. He never abandoned me. I felt the faith He had in me, but now I was ready to stand, face Him, and be assessed.

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:5

So what does Jesus tell us to do?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

“The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 12:30-31

I read and heard that one often. I’ve even blogged about it. In rereading my post on St. Mary Magdalene, I saw that my own words explain everything about what I’m to do, and how to do it. It’s a perfect recipe for saintly living.

So why hadn’t I followed my own recipe yet? I think I was so focused on the difficult process of understanding and sharing the metaphysics of Holy Wisdom that I believed that to be my mission. But really, it was an assignment within the mission. Also, there were other specific reasons that come to light, here beyond many boulders:

When I was a child, I remember having a serious reaction to the love-God-above-all-others page in the catechism. So much so that I pretty much stopped reading the book. How could I possibly love anyone more than Mommy and Daddy? Mommy and Daddy were everything, without them I was nothing and I was frightened at the merest possibility of the merest thought of not loving them enough to make them stay with me.

Then I grew up. Not over years, but over my recent spiritual journey. My parents are human beings, and human beings are, by our very nature, fallible. Miscommunications and misinterpretations of a little girl notwithstanding, they were never going anywhere. They’ve been championing me all along.

In recent years, I thought I was allowed to love my children most of all as part of the package of being a mom. My children are almost grown up now and mostly no longer in need of my services. My daughter has three more years of high school and my son just completed freshman year of college. They no longer need me for hours of attention and nurture, the strength for which is sustained via deep parental love – an energy that searches now for a new purpose.

Also, I guess that I’ve been waiting for my husband. The idea that we could someday love the Lord together with one love as one being really appeals to me. The reality is that my husband’s beliefs are different than mine. But my husband believes in me and I believe in him and that's where our divines meet.

And so – “It’s time to come home.”

A few days before Pentecost, I was drawn to the beach, to ground myself in the sun-baked sand, to wash in the salt water, to open up to the mighty winds and the understanding that as vast as the sea is, there is no real comparison to the immensity of God’s love.

And then I prayed – Dear Lord, You are my Protector, my Beloved, and my Sweetness. I love you above all others. I turn my life over to you. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Light and use me in your name and by your will so that when I shine forth, I shine for you. Amen.

“Love your neighbors as yourselves.” It’s amazing how much easier this second part is once you surrender to the first part. We are one. All of us.

My love for my family, friends, and neighbors is not diminished; it’s divinely partnered and strengthened for all time.

So that was it then, the clarity for which I so desperately searched, the purpose of the intense struggles along my path – I found it within my own words and within my own heart, there where God waits for us to turn around and give Him the gift of our whole being.

I was shocked by the revelation that I had been working so hard to earn God’s love, when all that time He’d been waiting for me to give Him my love.

But soon I felt an overwhelming sense of release, relief, gratefulness, and oneness.

I also felt a sense of exposure. Stripped of so many layers (boulders on the path), I didn’t know how to be the God-infused me. As if in trying to get dressed, I realized that my clothes no longer fit.

But here’s another wonderfully miraculous thing, the signs and messages have not stopped. They keep coming and guiding me, and the next one was, "Mission accomplished."

I’ve done it! I’ve studied the saints, followed their recipes, and successfully graduated from the program!

I am now a saint! Ta da! Aren’t you so proud of me?

Yeah, here’s a “secret” I discovered and shared in my All Saints, Jesus, & Rice and Beans post:  Saints are those for whom Christ died – all Christians. It happens at baptism. That’s it. You, my dearworthy Christian readers, are saints, too!


But, you know, devoting yourself to strengthening your connection to God couldn’t hurt.

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16

There is another meaning in “mission accomplished” for me. The idea for Saints and Recipes Blog came about after a failed attempt to write a book about the saints, when I realized that I didn’t know enough about them, when I thought maybe I should switch to cookbook writing, when I had stopped writing to work on mommy-do projects for a while.

Towards the end of Lent in 2012, I prayed to the Blessed Mother Mary for intercession and guidance one night and awoke with the idea for Saints and Recipes. It wasn’t just a vague notion that I formulated on my own later. It was a clear directive including – “three years of saint research, then book.”

Sharing my research on this blog was way to practice the craft of writing, include my love of cooking, maintain contact with the world and not be lost to the loneliness of the research library. I appreciate every connection I’ve made through this blog, especially to Lent Madness.

Lent Madness is a snarky, intelligent, big hysterical deal over nothing (they’ve already got their halos), peaceful place to hang out. I’m simultaneously a fan and a teammate. It’s an awesome feeling to have the crazy in you accepted by a bunch of like-minded crazy people who get that all this saintly stuff; bio’s, recipes, brackets, kitsch, and competitions, is a way to do what the saints do  -- direct us to Jesus Christ.

It was more than coincidence that along my journey these past many months, Lent Madness was a beacon in the dark – a way station filled with coffee, laughter, and perspective. A place of You’ve got this, get going, here’s a snack for the road.

But, it’s time now to listen to my Mother, "Three years of saint research, then book." It's time to complete the project called Saints and Recipes Blog -- to wrap it up and gift it to you, my dearworthy readers. To let it go in faith that the connections I’ve made through it will hold strong without it.

It’s a good place to begin devoting yourself to the Lord via the Saints and Blessed Mother Mary. Remember that devotion is active prayer. And when we devote ourselves to a study or task in the name of saints, we are not worshiping them; we are honoring and learning from the lives they devoted to God.

It’s no accident that the climax of my story happened in May, a month of motherhood, roses, and renewal – Mary’s month. She’s more than a Saint; she’s an important part of the whole Package and a name for the divine feminine. 

I connect to Mary not only in my name and heritage, but because she transmits on an open frequency deep inside all of us. She has been for countless people and she can be for you a loving guide who points you, no matter where you are on your path, always and forever to her beloved Son.

Meanwhile, I need to rest, enjoy semi-retirement, and take the summer off. Wow. Those were hard words to write. Take the summer off. But I know I can do it. I know because He wants me to get to know Him better now that we are both on the same page, as it were. He wants me to gift myself a time of transition as I surrender into my future.

I know that I’m not stepping off my path here, because I now recognize that the journey never ends. I’m just hoping for a boulder-free trail for awhile, as I bring my toes to the beach, read lots of books and magazines, do crafty things, play in the garden dirt, and revel in cooking for my family, which for an Italian mama is a particularly joyful devotion.


Italian mamas share many characteristics with Jewish mamas and, as you know, Mary was a Jewish mama. Therefore, let’s make:


(More photos below.)

There are three steps to this recipe. Steps one and two can be completed on the same day, but I like to devote myself to this task over a three-day period because it’s a third of a novena and three times three is nine because that’s how math works.

Wait a minute, 339. Let’s see what angelic message is associated with that number:

“You and your Divine life purpose are fully supported by the ascended masters. Ask them for help with any aspect of your career or spiritual path.”
ANGEL NUMBERS 101, Doreen Virtue

Wow! See how these messages keep coming at me?! The ascended masters include Jesus, Mary, and the Saints!

Okay, okay. Focus, we’re cooking here.

Step 1

French Onion Soup Marinade/Gravy


4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
48 ounces chicken broth
14 ounces beef broth
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs fresh parsley (or one teaspoon dry)
1 sprig fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dry)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste


 1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.
 2. Stir in salt and onions.
 3. Cook for about ½ hour, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized.
 4. Add chicken broth, beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, cook over medium heat for about ½ hour.
5. Remove bay leaf, add vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for at least one hour. Two is better.
6. Cool and place in refrigerator overnight.

Step 2


Beef brisket, untrimmed is better. Figure about one pound per person.


 1. Trim most of the fat off the brisket, but leave some there for flavor.
 2. Place brisket in large roasting pan.
 3. Pour French Onion Soup over the meat.
 4. Cover in aluminum foil.
 5. Bake in oven at 325 degrees F for about 4 hours.
 6. Remove meat from pan, cool, refrigerate overnight.
 7. Pour sauce back into the soup pot, cool, and refrigerate overnight.

Step 3

 1. Remove and discard the large pieces of fat on the brisket.
 2. Slice and place in large roasting pan.
 3. Skim fat from top of French Onion Beefy Sauce.
 4. Pour over sliced brisket.
 5. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until hot.

Serve with cooked vegetables, potatoes, and salad. Bread and wine are optional, but always highly recommended.





Fascinatingly, my last post is also my forty-second post. According to the late, great Douglas Adams, author of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42. So there you go.

Wait a minute. Let’s see what the angelic message associated with 42 is:

“The angels are urging you to keep the faith.”
ANGEL NUMBERS 101 by Doreen Virtue

Oh baby. I’ve been listening to the late, great Jerry Garcia sing me that one for weeks now via the repeated listening to his cover tune "My Brothers and Sister." 

And so, let’s keep the faith together.


Thank you, God! Thank you Mary; Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, & Uriel; and all the Saints in heaven for guiding me on my journey.

Thank you particular saints in heaven whose presence I've felt throughout -- Phillip Alexander Ross and Antoinetta Nolletti.

Thank you daughter, best friend, and copy editor extraordinaire -- Julia Elizabeth Ross.

Friday, March 13, 2015


St. James Theodore Holly was born on October 3, 1829, in Washington, DC, USA. He was one of the first three African-American bishops in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and the first Episcopal Missionary Bishop of Haiti where he established many churches, hospitals, and schools over the course of 50 years.

He is the author of several books, lectures, and essays including a bound edition of FACTS ABOUT THE CHURCH’S MISSION IN HAITI: A CONCISE STATEMENT. He died at the age of 81 on March 13, 1911, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Episcopal Church honors him on that date. However, some parishes transfer his feast day to November 8, the date of his consecration as bishop.

His grandfather was a former slave who moved his family from Maryland to Washington, DC, in 1799 to work construction on the new U.S. Capitol building when James’s father was 13 years old.

His father grew up to marry and raise James and his siblings in Washington, DC, as Roman Catholics:

The family attended Holy Trinity Church, Georgetown, as most conveniently situated to our residence, West 26th, Washington. I was baptized, confirmed, and made my first communion in that church.
FACTS, Page 6

James attended private and public school until at age 14 in 1844 he moved with his family to Brooklyn, NY, where he learned the shoemaker’s trade from his father along with his brothers.

In 1851, at age 22, James married Charlotte and withdrew from the Roman Catholic Church because the copy of his bible:

Although full of explanatory notes in the Roman Catholic sense, gradually weaned me away from the unscripted ways of that church.
FACTS, Page 6

He and Charlotte joined the Protestant Episcopal Church before moving to Windsor, Ontario, Canada, on the border with Detroit. James worked at a weekly newspaper called Voice of the Fugitive, and he helped organize the Amherstburg Convention of free blacks.

In 1854, he moved with his family to Buffalo, NY, and began working as the principal of a public school. That same year, James attended the first national Emigration Convention in Cleveland and became a commissioner of the National Emigration Board. Here his interest in Haiti became public action.

Haiti had been in the forefront of the news since 1804, when after a sustained slave revolt due to horrific conditions on sugar plantations; Haiti won its freedom from French rule and became its own nation under the leadership of the head rebel.

This news fascinated African American people at this time, many of whom suffered as slaves in the south or under heavy discrimination in the north. (Anna Julia Cooper wrote her doctoral thesis about French slavery and Haiti’s revolt in 1925. More recently, author Amy Wilentz wrote several books about Haiti’s history and modern condition. See below.)

About twenty years after the revolt, the American Colonization Society began helping thousands of African Americans to emigrate to Haiti where they could be free. However, many returned to the United States due to the difficult living conditions on Haiti.

In 1854 (seven years before the beginning of the American Civil War), James focused less on the harsh conditions and more on the idea of escaping the discrimination he and his social class suffered as free blacks and on building a new life for himself and his fellows. He traveled to Haiti to see if it was a suitable place for blacks to begin a new life, free of discrimination.

Finding it so, he returned and began sending requests for a missionary commission from the Board of Mission of the Episcopal Church, but was denied each time. Meanwhile, he entered seminary and was ordained a deacon on June 17, 1855, in Detroit, MI. He co-established the Union of Black Episcopalians to address discrimination against blacks in the Church. (About 40 years later, Anna Julia Cooper wrote about this situation as well.)

James was ordained a priest on January 2, 1856, in New Haven, CT. He served as rector of St. Luke’s Church in New Haven from 1856-1861. During that time, he made several trips to Haiti and gave and published lectures such as Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Governance and Civilized Progress.

His many requests for missionary funding from the Episcopal Church and the U.S. Government were denied. Nevertheless, in 1861, he resigned as rector at St. Luke’s and traveled with his family and 110 African Americans (mostly from his former congregation) to Haiti.

He and his people were well received by the leadership of Haiti. James was named a citizen of Haiti after only two weeks.

Tragically, rampant disease and poor living condition did terrible damage to the group. Forty-three people died within months from yellow fever, typhoid, or malaria:

During the contagion, five members of my own household had been laid away in the silent tomb. Of my family of eight persons of which, when we sailed from New Haven, CT, on the 1st of May, 1861, I was the head, but the 1st of February, 1862, nine months after our arrival in Haiti, only three remained alive, myself and my two little sons, aged respectively three and five.”
FACTS, Page 9

Historic records show that James lost his wife, his mother, his daughter, and one of his sons. (The fifth family member’s identity is unknown, perhaps an infant, or James’s sister, sister-in-law or aunt.)

About half of the remaining group returned to the United States even though the American Civil War had started and it was a dangerous time and place.

It should also be noted that the United States was not free from epidemics of disease. For example, in 1878, St. Constance and her Companions became martyrs as they fought to care for the ill during a city-destroying outbreak of yellow fever in Memphis, TN.

Although James traveled regularly to the United States to request funding and for speaking engagements, he, his sons, and the other hardy emigrants created lives for themselves in Haiti. They also established churches, schools, and hospitals for their fellow citizens in need.

In 1865, the American Civil War ended and the Episcopal Board of Missions finally began to financially support his mission.

He particular focused on creating schools for pastoral training in order to spread the Word and staff the churches with Haitian clergy.

He served as consul for Haiti and Liberia from 1864-1874.

At some point, he married again. His second wife, Sarah Henley, and he had nine children.

In 1874, James earned a Doctorate of Divinity from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

On November 8 of that same year, he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of Haiti by the American Church Missionary Society, a branch of the Episcopal Church, at Grace Episcopal Church in New York.

Along with his family and dedicated missionaries, James Theodore Holly worked in Haiti (as well as Liberia and the Dominican Republic) caring for the body, mind, and especially spirit of his fellow citizens.

Bishop Holly died on March 13, 1911, and is buried on the grounds of St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. In 1936, the Haitian Government honored his memory with the National Order of Honor and Merit. Plans made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his death were postponed due to the terrible earthquake of January 12, 2010, the after effects of which continue to spread throughout the whole everything of Haiti.

Most gracious God, in his quest for life and freedom, James Theodore Holly led your people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom you call from every family, language, people, nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints



In order to understand the level of good created by Bishop James Theodore Holly in Haiti, one must understand Haiti, and to truly understand Haiti one might invest practically a life’s work. So, dear worthy readers, let’s just shoot for a general knowledge of Haiti. Something of which I was certainly lacking.

I found what I was looking for (and more, of course) in a book called, FAREWELL FRED VOODOO: A LETTER FROM HAITI by Amy Wilentz. This book is a work of history, literary non-fiction, and an autobiography all in one. I highly recommend it. It answered all of my questions about why Haiti is the way it is now. I’m embarrassed by my naiveté and my donations to at least one wrong charitable organization after the 2010 earthquake. I greatly appreciated being set straight by the author, and while I don’t necessarily share her deep cynicism after her 20-year relationship with Haiti, its condition, and its people, I totally get it.

First off, she delved into the history of an island whose native population was completely destroyed by invaders who established colonies and sugar plantations which they operated with the “unlimited” supply of fresh slaves from Africa to replace those they worked to death. Then, she describes the revolt of these slaves against France. Next, she discussed the greedy, cruel regimes that cared not so much for the actual people of Haiti. She also explained how all the foreign interference over the years caused many problems and continues to be of not much help, to say the least.

She explained that Fred Voodoo is a cliché name journalists had for the average Haitian citizen who isn't part of the tiny, but powerful, wealthy class. A few days after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people, she was watching the news from her kitchen in Los Angeles, CA, shortly before she made the decision to travel back to Haiti herself:

That’s how the camera crews were shooting. You didn’t need to say Fred’s name in order to summon the sentiment, which is a kind of condescension filled with pity. . . Yo, the morgue is just a scene of damnation! Look how bad it is over here! Can you buh-lieve people are living like this? (That was always an aspect of Haiti coverage, but especially after the earthquake.) The objectification of the Haitians’ victimization - that’s one aspect of the Fred Voodoo syndrome. How beautiful the Haitians look in their misery; they always do. You can count on them.
FRED, Page 15

Here’s what she had to say about the collapsed buildings and houses that were assembled in a hodgepodge -- never quite finished, always adding on, with cement roofs being the norm:

Black Rouge doesn’t think about how things might have turned out if his house had been built to some code or standard. This is not because he is irresponsible or unthinking, but because he lives inside Haitian reality.

Since here there is no state as one thinks of it elsewhere, no long arm, no reach into the daily life of people, (except as a vacuum or omission, a negative force, a blank space), the idea of norms, standards, and regulatory control is not part of the common language. When such concepts are introduced, mostly just on theory, they are often batted away as just too expensive or difficult or as unacceptable intrusions or personal freedom.

In this way, Haiti can be seen as a libertarian’s dream. The lack of responsive government has understandable generated a civic tendency toward rejection of regulation. In many ways, Haiti feels like a country still in the throes of self-creation – something like the Wild West in the United States, little more than a century ago. That’s also why the country attracts so many rogues and speculators from the outside.
                                                                  Fred, Page 71

And aid workers -- Large aid organizations and people who are trying to reshape Haiti into their own vision. While acknowledging that much of the aid the country received, especially immediate after the earthquake was vital, the author believes that the massive amount of financial aid (much of it spent in lining the pockets of the already rich) has caused some serious problems with Haitian finances on a national as well as an individual basis.

Amy sees value in micro-aid organizations such as “little Protestant churches” with schools and medical clinics. Also of value are aid workers that are in Haiti for the long haul, people like Bishop James Holly and Dr. Megan Coffee.

Dr. Coffee is a specialist in infectious diseases who traveled to Haiti immediately after the earthquake and stayed because she was needed. She established a tuberculosis ward first out of tents and then in the building the hospital provided for the new department after she had shown that it was necessary. She and a team of nurses took expert care of the patients. Right after the earthquake, she was able to obtain lifesaving supplies through her friends in the United States. She also received funding from her social media fans to whom she tweeted about her challenges and observations in Haiti. She didn't live in the “safety” of the compound or eat in the hotels. She slept in borrowed housing and got herself to work in whatever transportation was the most convenient. She learned how to speak Kreyol (Creole).


I believe that Bishop James Holly would appreciate a traditional Haitian recipe for his feast day, so I’ll share the ones I learned from Dr. Megan Coffee and author, Amy Wilentz.

For many months after the earthquake, the only food the displaced people of Haiti had to eat in the tent camps was spaghetti with a particular kind of sauce they invented themselves.




1 pound uncooked spaghetti
4 tablespoons ketchup
4 tablespoons mayonnaise


 1. Boil spaghetti according to instructions on package.
 2. Divide into four servings.
 3. Add one tablespoon of ketchup and one tablespoon of mayonnaise to each serving.

The sós (sauce) is a necessary part of this recipe providing the same umami (Japanese for "yummy") flavor found in meat, according to the authors of THE COMPLETE VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK.

The other night, I tried it for myself. It was a pretty good snack that filled me up and kept me going while I prepared the next course of our dinner. But what if this was dinner tonight and tomorrow night and the next and the next?

This second recipe is a typical meal prepared by Haitian working-class families about nine months after the earthquake who were still living in the tent camp because of the delays in rubble removal and the rebuilding of their homes and work places.



4 cups cooked rice
1 tablespoon margarine
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can sardines (or one cup cooked beans or diced cooked chicken)


1. Cook rice according to package instructions. (1 cup uncooked rice equals 4 cups cooked rice.)
2. Melt butter in pan, sauté pepper and onion over medium high heat.
3. Add water, tomato paste, mayonnaise, thyme, salt and pepper.
4. Stir until mixed thoroughly.
5. Add sardines (or other protein).
6. Cook until heated through.
7. Serve over rice.

My family and I enjoyed this second course immensely. It was flavorful, varied, and nutritious. But what if the four of us had to share this meal on one plate with one spoon, and what if it was our only meal of the day?

This next recipe meal is really the main course of a dinner in the hotels where most of the foreign aid workers, wealthy class, and other foreigners eat at the end of the day. The dish would be served with bread, rice, salad, fruit, wine and dessert. It’s also served regularly in the homes of the wealthy class.



 1 beef bouillon cube
 2 tablespoons water
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
 1 teaspoon black pepper
 1 ½ pounds beef sirloin, cut into ½ inch cubes
10 wooden skewers, soaked in water for one hour
 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


 1. Crush and dissolve bouillon cube in water. (Heat water a little in microwave to make this easier.)
 2. Pour into bowl.
 3. Add garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
 4. Toss meat in marinade, cover.
 5. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours to marinate.
 6. Place about seven pieces of beef cubes on skewers.
 7. Coat each kebob with vegetable oil, either with a brush or by rolling each one in oil poured onto a plate.
 8. Preheat grill to high heat.
 9. Grill kebobs, turning frequently for about 12 to 15 minutes until cooked to taste.

Beef is much desired by the poor of Haiti who simply can’t afford it. But sometimes, they can afford to buy the street-vendors sausages made with some sort of meat or meat-by-products. Definitely not grilled beef, but pretty good with ketchup.

By the time my son finished grilling our beef kebobs for our third course, I was no longer hungry. But my family enjoyed it, so I'll probably make it again at some point.

But what if we ate less beef and redirected some of our grocery or dining out budget to a quality charity group working in Haiti?

What if?


Bonus Material:

TiKay Haiti - Tikay means "little house" in Haitian Kreyol and is the medical non-profit organization started by Dr. Megan Coffee and Haitian health care workers. Follow her on Twitter @doktecoffee.