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
alfalfa sprouts (if available)
1 tsp olive oil
2-3 tsp reduced balsamic vinegar w/ rosemary
- Spray or drizzle olive oil over slices of foccacia bread then grill
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.