Friday, March 24, 2006

On to a New Mission

Last night, the status or the list of new assignments for Jesuits in the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus was posted in every Jesuit community. One of the entries there says, "J Haw: leaving Xavier School - going to Loyola House of Studies for theological studies."

I must admit that I felt some kind of sadness because few weeks from now, I have to leave the community that has become my home for two years. I have to leave friends who have become very supportive of my vocation as a teacher and as a Jesuit. I have to leave the teaching profession which I have discovered I am so passionate about. I have to leave the students who became my friends. I have to leave a certain kind of stability that I have enjoyed for two years.

"His assignments always have something of the provisional about them; he must remain open to the summons of obedience to another place, to another task. This detachment from stabilitas, from the definition of himself within a single family or extended set of relatives or even a particular church, culture, and place, characterizes a Jesuit. It is constitutive of his obedience, and it is his remaining celibate for the Kingdom of God that makes such obedience for mission possible. If this apostolic availability is not to cripple his affectivity, it is only because his chastity embodies a contemplative love that includes all human beings and makes the Jesuit open and able to find God everywhere. " [GC34 #238]

Despite the sadness, however, there is also a sense of peace and consolation. I might be leaving the place, the profession, the events and the people, but I bring with me a whole gamut of experiences that will help me in my vocation of becoming a Jesuit Priest. There is a sense of peace because the connection with the people I met was all the more strengthened by the fact that I am pursuing this kind of vocation.


Today, I together with my fellow regent went on a picnic with our co-teachers to celebrate our friendship and to celebrate this "moving on to a new mission". We went on a resort in a semi-rural town in Bulacan and enjoyed each other's company the whole day. We shared stories, played games and enjoyed a Filipino proven├žal food. I wasn't able to escape their request to cook for the group since they used the magic word for nostalgic appeal to emotion-- "for the last time." But since, we already have so much food that day, I decided to prepare a salad for the group.

Seafood Garden Salad


for the salad:
Rommaine Lettuce (washed and pat dried)
1/2 cup tuna flakes (in brine; drained)
1/2 cup Pitted Prunes (cut into half)
1 cup diced Ripe Mango
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

for the dressing
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic (minced)
6 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Arrange the lettuce in a salad bowl.
  2. Top the lettuce with the rest of the salad ingridients (except the cheese) in this order: mango (and/or orange) cubes, tuna flakes, pitted prunes and pine nuts. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Top the salad with parmesan cheese.
  4. Prepare the dressing. On a sauce pan, combine garlic, rosemary with balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to at least half the volume or until it achieved a syrupy consistency. Put a dash of salt and pepper according to taste. Pour in olive oil after the mixture has cooled down.

Some suggestions:

  1. If you want to serve the salad for a big number of guests. Serve the salad in buffet style with the dressing on the side. This will give your guests a free hand on how much dressing they want to put into their salad. This will also make life easier for you.
  2. Follow the same procedure for individual plating. Decorate plate with the balsamic dressing. You may also want to use shredded parmesan cheese instead of grated one.
  3. Try the following substitutes for your salad.
    - substitute mango with chico(zapodilla) fruit
    - substitute pine nuts with cashew nuts
    - substitute tuna flakes with steamed crawfish meat, shrimp or squid (you may also want to use a combination of different steamed seafoods.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Food is Sacrament Too!

(Hello there! We're back after a two-month long hiatus. We, the Jesuit gourmets, got busy with our individual apostolates so we have to force ourselves to "pause in silence." Since most of contributors here are either students, teachers or involved in student formation, the month of February and March are really months of "testing in the desert" or what some of our students refer to as "hell months" due to the voluminous requirements to finish.)

Sacraments, as any religion teacher would explain, are the visible signs of Christ's presence in his Church. These are acts which are supposed to make the people of God feel and experience the real presence of Jesus in the church. And so we have the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, reconciliation, ordination, marriage,and anointing of the sick.

What's interesting about these seven sacraments is that one of these uses food and meal as main symbols. Yes, the sacrament of the Eucharist, revolves around our basic experience of celebration and making past experiences alive and alive again. It makes use of bread and wine to make Jesus's presence real. In fact, we Catholics believe that the bread and wine become the real body and blood of Christ.

"Of all the possible human activities why are the appearances of the Risen Lord frequently associated with meals? What is in a meal that makes it the experience of the Risen Lord? Food is always associated with life. Therefore, it is no mystery that the Risen Lord who brings new life uses the symbolism of food. Food and the activity of eating are signs of the presence of life in people and in Jesus." (from An Easter People by Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle)

One of the things that helps me understand this sacrament is my own experience with my students. Last year, I accompanied them to Subic Bay for their class outing. Aside from being responsible to their parents during the entire outing, they also turned me into an instant chef. One dinner, they asked me if I can prepare pasta for them. I gladly obliged and prepared for them Spaghetti Amatriciana. The gang, finished the pasta in no time at all! Up until now, when we see each other along the corridors, we always go back to that experience and talk about it as if it just happened the day before. It always brings back memories and make them alive in each one of us. As one of my students said, one thing that he will never forget in that vacation is the pasta, haha!

In the Jesuit tradition of haustus, Scholastics and Brothers usually congregate in the pantry area to take some snacks. Here, all the creativity in making a common pantry supply like spanish sardines comes out. From dips to sandwiches to pasta - we've learned to make this ingredient versatile. What comes after is a lively chit-chat about anything under the sun. At the end of the day, when the Jesuit scholastic or brother sits alone in prayer, he gently goes back to that occasion and finds Jesus very much present there.

And so, I guess, food really has a power to bring back and make memories alive. Aside from filling up our hungry stomachs, food is a sacrament too!

Carabao (Water Buffalo) Cheese & Sardines Panini

2 med slices of Foccacia Bread
2 - 3 pieces of spanish sardines (preferrably in olive oil); drained.
carabao cheese or cottage cheese

romaine lettuce
fresh basil
alfalfa sprouts (if available)

1 tsp olive oil
2-3 tsp reduced balsamic vinegar w/ rosemary

  1. Spray or drizzle olive oil over slices of foccacia bread then grill
  2. After grilling, gently rub a piece of garlic in both sides of the bread. This will give the bread a subtle garlicky aroma and taste (I got this idea from Mario Batali)
  3. Arrange sandwich in this order: Rommaine Lettuce, Slices of Spanish Sardines, Slices of Carabao Cheese, then the alfalfa sprouts. Drizzle a little of reduce balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top.
  4. Serve the sandwhich on a plate. You may put some of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture around the plate as an extra sauce and to give your sandwhich that gourmet look.