Today is the first Feast Day of Saint Bernadette. While the Church celebrates her official Feast Day on April 16, the day of her death and assertion into heaven, in many parts of the world, including France, today is the Feast Day of Saint Bernadette.
As a dutiful Catholic, I celebrate her Saintly Feast Day with the Universal Church in April. Yet I also acknowledge today’s significance for two reasons. First, February 18 was the day our Blessed Mother promised that Bernadette would be happy, and that true happiness lay in the Kingdom of God. Secondly after a canonical investigation into Bernadette’s claims of a Marian Apparition, the church declared her “worthy of belief” on February 18, 1862. The apparition became known as Our Lady of Lourdes.
Once her visions were deemed true, Bernadette became a celebrity of sorts. Yet the simple and modest woman that she was shied away from all of the attention. Bernadette withdrew from public life and joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse in Nevers. When asked why she chose a life away from the limelight, Bernadette responded “The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.”
Saint Bernadette suffered throughout most of her life due to her poor health. One day a group of visitors to the convent asked her if she was aware of the miraculous healings that were occurring at Lourdes, and why she, the woman to whom the healing waters had been shown, did not go there for own healing.
Saint Bernadette simply responded, “You see, my business is to be ill.”
She offered her suffering up to God. She accepted her illnesses without resentment. Like our Blessed Mother, Bernadette carried herself with quiet dignity. For even in her suffering, there was grace.
Each of us has a choice to make in life. We can choose to be angry about the cards we have been dealt, to feel somehow cheated of all we feel entitled to or we can choose to realize that suffering through difficulties brings us closer to God. Everyone suffers at some point in life. What we choose to do with that can make the difference. Find the blessings or allow our suffering to rob us of joy by embracing anger and resentment instead.
Saint Bernadette eventually died as a result of poor health and tuberculosis of the lungs and bones. She was only 35 when she died on April 16, 1879. It is said she died praying the rosary. Forty-six years after her death, her preserved body was removed from the original pine casket and placed in a crystal coffin. She was then placed in public view in the chapel of the Church of Saint Gildard at the convent in Nevers, where she has remained ever since.
Today is also National Caregivers Day (the 3rd Friday in February), National No One Ever Eats Alone Day and Drink Wine Day. This beautiful Feast of Saint Bernadette, in keeping with Abstinence Friday, is also a way to show the caregivers we know how much their selfless sacrifices are appreciated. This is definitely a meal meant to share, so no one eats alone. And wine – that’s just a silver lining to a beautiful supper.
Feast of Saint Bernadette
Crab Imperial Stuffed Lobster Tails
Simple Toss Salad
Warm French Bread
Chilled White Wine
Crab Imperial Stuffed Lobster Tails
12 ounces Lump Crab Meat
2 teaspoons Flat-leaf Parsley
2 teaspoons Roasted Red Bell Pepper
2 large Egg
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Pick over crab meat, removing any bits of shell that may be in the meat. Flake crab, set aside.
Finely chop parsley and bell pepper, set aside.
In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk mayonnaise, egg, sugar, old bay, red peppers and parsley together until blended well. Gently fold in the crab meat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
1 cup (16 tablespoons) Butter
2 Lemons, divided
4 large Lobster Tails
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter, keep warm. Cut 1 lemon into wedges, set aside. Trim ends from remaining lemon, cut into rounds to garnish the plate.
Split lobster tail down the middle, without completely splitting lobster in two. Gently pull the lobster meat out of the shell, leaving the end flap inside the shell.
Fan the end of the tail and bend it upwards till you hear a little snap, this will help keep the fanned tail end in place.
Push both sections of the shell together and prop the lobster meat on top of the shell.
Spoon some of the melted butter over top of the lobster. Place lobster on a rimmed baking pan. Bake in the heated oven for 5 minutes to par-cook.
Remove lobster from oven; divide the crab imperial into four even portions. Stuff the tops of the lobster meat with the crab, forming a mound of the crab imperial.
Return lobster to the oven and continue baking for 15 minutes or until stuffing has a nice golden color and the tails are cooked through.
Remove Stuffed Lobster from the oven. Plate lobster, drizzled with more melted butter. Give each tail a squeeze of juice from a lemon quarter.
Serve tails with melted butter and a garnish of lemon round.
8 oz Mixed Greens (4 large handfuls)
2 oz Chervil
2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
1 pint Grape Tomatoes
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Truffle Oil
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Note: If you absolutely cannot find chervil, use a blend of parsley and tarragon – the parsley will give you the look and texture of Chervil, while the tarragon will impart that hint of licorice.
Wash the greens and spin dry. Press garlic over the greens and mix with your hands, gently “rubbing” the garlic onto the tender leaves. Sprinkle greens with freshly snipped Chervil. Add tomatoes, toss gently to mix everything together. Set salad aside.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk vinegar, olive oil and truffle oil together. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Pour oil mixture into the bottom of a serving bow. A chilled metal bowl works well.
Set the greens on top of oil mixture and refrigerate. Toss salad with dressing at the table when ready to serve.
Warm French Bread with Garlic Butter
1 loaf French Bread
1/2 cup soft Butter, divided
1/2 tablespoon Roasted Garlic Powder
1/2 tablespoon Parsley Flakes
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Add garlic powder and parsley flakes. Smash remaining 1/4 of soft butter into the mixture to create a nice spreadable paste of butter. Taste, if more flavor is desired, add a little more garlic powder.
Split bread lengthwise, leaving about 1/2 inch still connected to create a butterflied loaf. Open bread and brush with butter mixture. CAREFULLY close bread, turn so that cut side is up, hinged side is down. Slice bread almost all the way through, leave “hinge” in tact.
Lay bread open on a shallow baking pan. Place in oven for about 6 minutes to warm.
Remove from oven, close loaf and place in a bread basket wrapped in a large linen napkin. To serve, pass loaf around the table, inviting diners to “break” off a piece of bread.